Merlin Stone

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Merlin Stone (September 27, 1931 – February 23, 2011) was an American author, sculptor, and professor of art and art history. She is best known for her book When God Was a Woman.


Merlin Stone was born in Brooklyn, New York. She became interested in archaeology and ancient religions from her study of ancient art. She taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo. From 1958 to 1967 she worked as a sculptor, exhibiting widely and executing numerous commissions.[1]

She spent a decade on research before writing the book published in the UK as The Paradise Papers and then in the U.S. as When God Was a Woman (1976). It describes her theory of how the Hebrews suppressed goddess-worshipping religions practiced in Canaan and how their reaction to what she says were existing matriarchial and matrilineal societal structures shaped Judaism and thus Christianity.[2] Her theory builds on the ideas of Robert Graves,[3] but rather than starting from his work, Stone gathered material from the "libraries, museums, universities, and excavation sites of the United States, Europe and the Near East."[4] She observed within these materials "the sexual and religious bias of many of the erudite scholars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries",[5] and challenges many of their conclusions, raising doubts about the criticisms of Graves's theories.

Her other major work, Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood, collects stories, myths, and prayers involving goddess figures from a wide variety of world religions, ancient and otherwise. Stone's hypotheses are radical and challenging to the accepted views of antiquity. She is the author of numerous short stories, book reviews, and essays, including 3,000 Years of Racism.

Stone's book When God Was a Woman had a profound effect on the emerging Goddess Culture of the 1970s and 1980s in the US.


  • The Paradise Papers: The Suppression of Women's Rites
  • When God Was a Woman
  • Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood. Boston:Beacon Press, 1984. ISBN 0-8070-6719-9
  • Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood, Volume 2
  • 3000 Years of Racism

See also


  1. According to the author's information on the 1976 Harcourt edition of When God Was a Woman.
  2. Stone (1976) p. xiii.
  3. Stone (1976) p. 23
  4. Stone (1976) p. xvi
  5. Stone (1976) p. xviii


  • Stone, Merlin, When God Was a Woman, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976. ISBN 0-15-696158-X

Further reading

External links