Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

The Symbolism of Doves: Background information when reading The Dovekeepers

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Dovekeepers

A Novel

by Alice Hoffman

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman X
The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2011, 512 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 2012, 528 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BJ Nathan Hegedus
Buy This Book

About this Book

The Symbolism of Doves

This article relates to The Dovekeepers

Print Review

Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers shows us a world where doves, in addition to serving day-to-day purposes, represent so much more. Along with their close cousin, the pigeon, doves make up the bird family Columbidae. And while they're often thought of as bright white birds, with over 300 species, they actually come in all shapes and sizes.

Asherah Throughout the ages, steeped in rich tradition and lore, doves have served to symbolize many aspects connected with the "Divine." In the ancient world, the dove was a symbol for the Mother goddess, the "feminine divine". Doves served as icons of fertility and procreation and were associated with the goddesses Ishtar, Astarte, Aphrodite and the early Judaic goddess of Canaan, Asherah (statue pictured). Early Israelites believed Asherah to be the consort of their god Yahweh. As the Judaic religion evolved, the dove came to represent the feminine spirit of God and God's love for his people. White doves, a sign of immaculacy, were sacrificed as offerings, both as restitution for guilty acts and as a rite of purification. The gospel of Luke states that Mary and Joseph went to the Temple and sacrificed two doves after Jesus was born, as prescribed by law.

Dove Appearing throughout the Bible, the dove was also regarded as oracular, a means by which the divine could communicate with man. Noah sent a dove out in search of land. When the dove returned holding an olive branch in its beak, Noah knew it was safe to leave the ark - a sign from God that penance had been served.

According to the Pet Doves website, these birds remain faithfully monogamous to their mates; "Dove couples who have bonded with each other will remain together for life unless separated by death or other means beyond their control. They will defend and protect each other..." This fact explains why doves are also seen as symbols of love and loyalty.

Holy Trinity dove As time has progressed, Christian lore has used the dove to represent the Holy Spirit or "heavenly messenger." In Circlot's A Dictionary of Symbols, the dove "is also symbolic of souls, a motif which is common in Visigothic and Romanesque art. Christianity, inspired in the Scriptures, depicts the third person in the Trinity - the Holy Ghost - in the shape of a dove, although he is also represented by the image of a tongue of Pentecostal fire." This illuminates why, in art doves are frequently depicted hovering over the heads of saints or flying into their mouths - a sign of God's spirit and divine authority. As an extension of that symbol, today's modern Western world often considers the dove an icon of innocence, love, gentleness and Peace.

Photograph of dove from Photo Dictionary
Image of Asherah statue by Hanay
Painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

Filed under Cultural Curiosities

This article relates to The Dovekeepers. It first ran in the April 4, 2012 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    Cecilia
    by K-Ming Chang
    In the first few pages of K-Ming Chang's bizarre yet engrossing novella Cecilia, Seven, the ...
  • Book Jacket: Women and Children First
    Women and Children First
    by Alina Grabowski
    After Lucy Anderson falls to her death at a high school party, no one in Nashquitten, her gloomy, ...
  • Book Jacket: Henry Henry
    Henry Henry
    by Allen Bratton
    Allen Bratton's Henry Henry chronicles a year in the life of Hal Lancaster. Readers already ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Murder at the End of the World
    The Last Murder at the End of the World
    by Stuart Turton
    The island is the only safe place left on Earth. Since a deadly fog overtook the planet, the ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Look on the Bright Side
by Kristan Higgins
From the author of Pack Up the Moon comes a funny, romantic, and moving novel about life's unexpected rewards.
Book Jacket
The Pecan Children
by Quinn Connor
Two sisters deeply tied to their small Southern town fight to break free of the darkness swallowing the land whole.
Win This Book
Win Bright and Tender Dark

Bright and Tender Dark by Joanna Pearson

A beautifully written, wire-taut debut novel about a murder on a college campus and its aftermath twenty years later.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A W in S C

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.