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Home arrow Lecture Series arrow March 4, 2006: Shawna Dolansky-Overton, PhD

March 4, 2006: Shawna Dolansky-Overton, PhD PDF Print E-mail
Shawna Dolansky-OvertonTitle: "The Gender of God" (Abstract)

Speaker:  Shawna Dolansky-Overton, PhD (Bio)

Date: Saturday, March 4, 2006
Time: 5:00-6:45 p.m.
Location: 24769 Redlands Blvd., Ste. A
                Loma Linda, California 92354
Abstract: Dan Brown, author of the bestselling The Da Vinci Code, might have gotten the majority of his historical facts wrong (or at least strongly twisted), but his book touched on something quite true in the history of Western religious traditions.  This is the concept of the "divine feminine" - the idea that in even the strictest of monotheisms, alongside God (or sometimes, as an aspect of God) is a feminine divine presence with whom worshipers can and do relate and interact.

Monotheism developed over a long period of time.  We will examine the ways in which the Hebrew Bible traces the gradual eradication of the worship of a variety of gods by Israel and consolidation of the sovereignty of a single male God who created and sustains the world alone.  By the time of  the New Testament, monotheism was assumed by its Jewish authors and worked into the emerging Christian theologies of the Church Fathers.

Interestingly, with the advent of the rule of one male God alone, divine feminine images did not entirely disappear.  As we will see, some were combined into the figure of God; others found expression in the concepts of Wisdom and Mary.  In fact, throughout the histories of both Judaism and Christianity, the divine feminine has played a prominent role in mediation between God and humanity in a variety of forms.

Many contemporary Jews and Christians are seeking to re-feminize God himself, re-working theology so that God is understood as being beyond gender, or even female.  Others, dissatisfied with the limitations of a male God and the patriarchal institutions of Judaism and Christianity that are perceived to result from a male God, have gone outside the boundaries of traditional religion to explore the possibilities within a burgeoning neo-pagan movement.  We will end the lecture with a survey of the contemporary scene with respect to the gender of God.

About the speaker: Shawna Dolansky Overton, is a Lecturer in Religious Studies  at the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Dolansky-Overton holds a Doctorate in History from the University of California, San Diego, where she also earned a Masters Degree in Judaic Studies.  She is the recipient of numerous academic and professional awards including the University of California Faculty Fellowship Award (September 2002 - June 2004), the Wexler Family Fellowship for Judaic Studies (2001), and the Society of Biblical Literature's Regional Scholar Award - Pacific Coast Region (2002).

Professor Dolansky-Overton  is the author of the upcoming book Now You See It, Now You Don't: Biblical Perspectives on the Relationship Between Religion and Magic (Eisenbrauns), and is currently working on another volume to be published soon.  Dr. Dolansky-Overton is also the author of numerous articles and papers published in leading religious journals and compendiums.

In addition to her teaching and research activities at the University of California, San Diego, Dr. Dolansky-Overton is also a member of the Society of Biblical Literature,  the Association for Jewish Studies, and the American Academy of Religion, among others.  She is fluent in spoken and written French and Biblical Hebrew and intermediate written Akkadian, Biblical Aramaic, Ugaritic, Biblical Greek, Modern Hebrew, German and Spanish.
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