A self-proclaimed atheist who claims that God had a wife and Eve is a victim of sexism is set to appear on TV screens next week presenting a BBC documentary on the Bible.
Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou, a senior lecturer at the University of Exeter, will present Bible’s Buried Secrets on BBC Two next week.
She says she is an atheist with a “huge respect for religion” and wrote in a recent newspaper article that after years of research she had come “to a colourful and what could seem – to some – uncomfortable conclusion: that God had a wife”.
Dr Stavrakopoulou wrote in the Daily Mail: “Archaeological evidence including inscriptions, figurines and ancient texts as well as details in the Bible”, indicate not just that God was “one of several worshipped in ancient Israel, but that he was also coupled with a goddess”.
This goddess was, Dr Stavrakopoulou claims, “worshipped alongside him in his temple in Jerusalem”.
Dr Stavrakopoulou has also told the Radio Times that “as an academic, I think you leave faith at the door”, and has claimed that any suggestion that the Bible can be used as “a reliable historical source” is wrong.
Dr Stavrakopoulou has also argued that the biblical Eve was not the first woman.
She has said that Eve, “particularly in the Christian tradition, has been very unfairly maligned as the troublesome wife who brought about the Fall”.
“Don’t forget that the biblical writers are male and it’s a very male-dominated world. Women were second-class citizens, seen as property”, Dr Stavrakopoulou has remarked.
But former MP Ann Widdecombe, who is a Roman Catholic, said: “I would guess that most other theologians will demolish her theory in three seconds flat.”
Dr Stavrakopoulou’s academic background includes a thesis entitled King Manasseh and Child Sacrifice: Biblical Distortions of Historical Realities.
The BBC says the new documentary will examine, “how recent archaeological discoveries are changing the way stories from The Bible are interpreted”.
Bible’s Buried Secrets is a three part series that starts on BBC Two on 15 March.
The BBC’s head of religion and ethics is Aaqil Ahmed. Mr Ahmed, a Muslim, has been criticised for having a pro-Islam bias.
In January one of the Bible’s most beloved characters was accused of having a homosexual relationship in a BBC programme marking the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.
A programme on Radio 4 claimed that the young David, who is best known for killing Goliath, had been involved in the Bible’s “only gay relationship”.
While introducing a reading from the historic Bible translation playwright Howard Brenton claimed that David had been in love with Jonathan, the son of King Saul.
On the broadcast Mr Brenton said: “To a secular reader the story of David and Jonathan’s love is obviously homosexual, the only gay relationship in the Bible.”
Later in January one of the Corporation’s former newsreaders said Christians are “fair game” for insults at the BBC whilst Muslims must not be offended.
Peter Sissons, whose memoirs were being serialised in the Daily Mail, slammed the BBC for its bias.
Mr Sissons said: “Islam must not be offended at any price, although Christians are fair game because they do nothing about it if they are offended.”
His comments are unlikely to surprise many Christians who have become increasingly concerned about a perceived anti-Christian bias at the public broadcaster.