New book by York Professor Emerita Johanna H. Stuckey sheds light on 3,000 ancient deities

Canadian Writers in Person Lecture Series

A new book by York University Professor Emerita Johanna H. Stuckey provides the most complete information available on deities from the cultures and religions of the ancient Near East.

Published this month and co-authored with the late Douglas R. Frayne, who was an associate professor at the University of Toronto, A Handbook of Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient Near East: Three Thousand Deities of Anatolia, Syria, Israel, Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria, and Elam (Eisenbrauns Press, 2021) collects centuries of Near Eastern mythology into one volume.

A Handbook of Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient Near East book cover

The product of nearly 15 years of research, the handbook is more expansive and covers a wider range of sources and civilizations than any previous reference works on the topic. Its alphabetized entries include all known information about a given deity, including the deity’s symbolism and imagery, and how they connect to the myths, rituals, and festivals described in ancient sources. Many of the entries are accompanied by illustrations contributed by Stéphane D. Beaulieu, a York University graduate who was a student of Stuckey’s.

A Handbook of Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient Near East provides a valuable resource for anyone interested in Assyriology, ancient religion, and the ancient Near East, whether they are a scholar or non-academic reader.

Stuckey, a professor emerita in religious studies and women’s studies at York, is a preeminent scholar in women’s spirituality and has taught courses on goddesses and goddess worship in the ancient Eastern Mediterranean and on female spirituality. She received her BA and MA from the University of Toronto, and a PhD from Yale University.

Stuckey joined York University in 1964. In addition to her roles of researcher, writer and teacher, she has served in administrative positions as advisor to the president on the status of women (1981-85), chair of the Senate Task Force on the Status of Women (1972-75), co-ordinator of the Women’s Studies Programme (1986-89), chair of the Division of Humanities (1974-79), acting master of Founders College (1972-73) and as vice-chair, York University Faculty Association (1973-74).

Along with numerous articles, papers and book reviews, she is author of the books Women’s Spirituality: Contemporary Feminist Approaches to Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Goddess Worship (2010) and Feminist Spirituality: An Introduction to Feminist Theology in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Feminist Goddess Worship (1998). In 1985, she published a report to the president of York University on the status of women at the University titled Equity for Women: the First Decade.