REBUTTALS TO CLAIMS THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NOT FEMININE

REBUTTALS TO CLAIMS THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NOT FEMININE

The Implied Gender-Neutrality of Galatians 3:28 and Matthew 22:29 and 30

These passages are presented below:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in heaven.”

The claim has been made that since Galatians 3:26 and Matthew 22:29,30 describe humans in the spiritual realm as being gender-neutral, the spiritual realm doesn’t involve gender. Neither of these passages remotely suggest that heaven is a gender-neutral domain. The myopic and unjustified extension of statements beyond their meanings fails to take into account that whereas spiritual individuals will not be gendered, an appropriate interpretation in harmony with Scripture elsewhere and with the understanding that the Church is a collective aggregate strongly suggests that the Church, as an aggregate of individual components, will indeed be gendered.

Jeremiah 10:12 has been interpreted to suggest that power and wisdom, rather than representing a separate Entity, are attributes of the Father

Jeremiah 10:12 is presented below:

“He hath made the earth by his power; he hath estab lished the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.”

This passage which God describes power and wisdom as belonging to Him, is cited as indicative that these are God’s own attributes. This claim fails to comprehend that the union between God and the Holy Spirit, being a romantic one, is also possessive. God here is speaking of the mutually possessive nature of marriage. The implication in this passage of mutual ownership intrinsic to a romantic relationship is simply overlooked by those who fail to understand that romance is a vital part of the spiritual realm.

The “He” issue

The “He” issue, for which the Holy Spirit is referred to in Scripture by masculine pronouns, may be resolved in two distinct ways, both of which permit the Holy Spirit to be viewed as functionally feminine while being composed of a masculine or neuter substance. Scripture’s treatment of spiritual humanity furnishes ample justification for viewing the Holy Spirit to be functionally feminine and compositionally masculine, as suggested by Paul’s description of spiritual mankind as genderless in the face of his description of mankind’s aggregate as the Church as the wife of Christ. In the alternate but equally valid view there is also ample justification for appreciating that in the original autographs in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, the Holy Spirit was perceived as feminine. Examples include John 14:26 in the version recorded in the Siniatic Palimpsest, Isiah 51:9,10 and Romans 9:25.

Basically, I said in Family of God that the Holy Spirit, while performing an essentially female function in the context that I have defined in the introduction above, could also legitimately be considered to be male with respect to substance, composition or union. I went on to speculate that the Scriptural emphasis on the male substance as opposed to the female function may actually be a promise to mankind regarding his future spiritual participation in the Godhead as the Bride of Christ. This viewpoint, however, applies to the entirety of redeemed mankind who constitute the Church, and not to redeemed individuals, who simply comprise components of that Body.

A paradox stands in the way of internalizing this new and welcome information. This inconsistency first must be resolved in order that we may fully accept it. The issue is this: we, redeemed mankind, are collectively treated as masculine whereas in Scripture we are given to understand our spiritual role in relationship to Jesus as feminine. This conflict requires us to differentiate between our gender as an aggregate of individual elements and our gender in a functional application. Thus, regarding our future spiritual identity, as an aggregate we shall be male whereas functionally we shall be female.

I expanded on this thought in my blog friendofthefamily.wordpress.com by noting that as Bride of Christ, redeemed (spiritual) mankind itself, while being designated as male in composition (mankind is a male descriptor), will obviously be performing a female functional role that is harmoniously complementary to Jesus Christ.

Actually, the issue may be taken to a more basic level than that. According to Genesis 2:18-22, God fashioned Eve out of Adam. Therefore Eve, while being female in function, may be thought of as possessing the substance of her male predecessor.

A conflict of much the same nature exists in our understanding of the Holy Trinity: Among the Members of the Trinity, the First and Second Persons, as Father and Son, are naturally considered to be male in gender. Regarding the Third Person, the Holy Spirit, however, there is no small amount of gender ambiguity. Obviously, if future mankind can legitimately be male in composition and female in function, the same attributes may apply in an equally non-contradictory manner to the Holy Spirit, in Her feminine functional role as distinct from Her substance as originating from the masculine Father. Indeed, why would it “not be good”, per Genesis 2:18, for Adam to be without a complementary other, yet be good for that situation to exist within the Godhead?

Scripture as most of us know it attempts to remove the ambiguity surrounding the Holy Spirit by routinely applying the pronoun ‘He’ to this Person. In doing so without explanatory or qualifying remarks, the Scripture handed down to us in the West automatically assigns only the male gender to this Divine Person. It has often been commented, however, by respected theologians, that Scripture elsewhere seems to develop an image of the Holy Spirit that is female in nature. We saw this in the review in Chapter 4 of some Christian authors who attempted to describe the nature of the Holy Spirit. To the Holy Spirit are regularly assigned the attributes of comfort, nurturing and compassion, supported by statements made by Jesus Himself. These female descriptors are functional attributes, whereas the pronoun ‘He’, when applied to the Holy Spirit in Scripture, refers to the Divine Person in the sense of object. There is a striking parallelism here with the object/function gender differentiation of the Church and in mankind itself. It is tempting to point to that parallelism to claim the same object/function gender differentiation of the Holy Spirit: male in substance, but female in function.

Could it be, then, that the use in Scripture of the pronoun ‘He’ in reference to the Holy Spirit, instead of constituting a gratuitous introduction of confusion, is related to this parallelism? Despite that possibility, the mainstream Christian Church is committed to its view of the Holy Spirit as being gender-neutral, masculine or sometimes even hermaphroditic in basic nature.

Up to this point, an argument has been made regarding the legitimacy of viewing the gender of the Holy Spirit differently between function and substance. As I noted at the outset of this argument and applied to the Church, this difference from function may involve other descriptors besides substance, such as composition and union, related to substance but with slightly different connotations. Returning to the human spiritual model of the Church, it is a fact that whereas functionally the Church is overtly feminine as set forth in Scripture, it consists of numerous individual elements which in the aggregate, the collective definition as mankind carries with it a male designation.

While substance or composition or both may be factors that legitimize the application of masculine descriptors to a feminine function, the most basic factor may simply be the notion of union, the loving merging of two complementary others into one. In marriage the male and female members are components of a greater unity than either of them alone and as one, they would rightly be addressed by the gender of the dominant Member, the male.

Exploring this notion further, we readily imagine that the relationship between Father and Holy Spirit is so perfectly close that the Holy Spirit is considered to be One with the Father, as suggested by the wife’s use of her husband’s surname in our own society. There is justification for that in Genesis 5:1 and 2, wherein the perfection of unity in love carries with it an implication with respect to the name of the female partner.

“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.”

This is a love kind of thing. God never intended either a man or a woman to remain as an individual. Instead, He created them to be in union together, one man and one wife. This unity is emphasized by His calling them both by the name of the male, a custom that is practiced to this very day. In that context, the “He” associated with the Holy Spirit may be intended to convey the unity between Father and Holy Spirit, wherein the Holy Spirit is always considered not as separate, but united in everlasting love with the Father.

The significance of this passage to the view of the Holy Spirit as a Complementary Other to the Father is that it justifies the use of a male pronoun in referring to a basically female Holy Spirit. It implies that the bond between Father and Holy Spirit, representing the image upon which the bond between Adam and Eve was based, is so perfectly close that they can truly considered to be one. In that context, the male pronoun applied to the Holy Spirit would represent the perfection of that bond.

Of course, one can’t ignore the possibility of a very simple yet profound explanation: that the Holy Spirit was sent to us in Jesus Christ’s name, which, of course, is male.

After having said all that regarding the gender distinction between substance and function, I now will address a little-known but very significant complicating factor in this ‘He’ business, hinted at earlier, that may well settle the issue in favor of a fully feminine Holy Spirit without the necessity of making an object/function differentiation. It turns out that while we may still be able to claim that Scripture is inerrant in the original, the Scripture to which we have ready access isn’t the original. It’s been tampered with, probably at some time after Constantine made Christianity a state religion in the early fourth century A.D.

It is an undeniable fact that with regard to Scripture, “Church authorities” did indeed engage in a sexual cleansing operation, for not only were the Godhead and Mary stripped of their sexuality, but there is indisputable evidence that Scripture itself was altered to sexually mutilate the Godhead by substituting a weak all-male congress for what always was perceived by the Jews and also by the earliest Christians as a Divine Family consisting of Father, Mother and Son.

According to an Internet search of “feminine Holy Spirit in the Hebrew Scriptures”, multiple modern, deeply serious theologians and ancient language scholars share the view that the earliest Hebrew Christians had access to Scripture that presented the Holy Spirit as a feminine Persona; this feminine persisted within the Syriac and other Eastern branches of Christianity and within the Gnostic sect as well.

According to the words of Jesus in John 14:26 of the Siniatic Palimpsest, (translation attributed to Danny Mahar) Jesus Himself characterizes the Holy Spirit as feminine:

“But She – the Spirit – the Paraclete whom He will send to you – my Father – in my name – She will teach you everything; She will remind you of what I have told you.”

A palimpsest is a recycled writing medium, wherein a second layer of writing was applied over the original, the original usually consisting of more important information. This document was uncovered toward the end of the nineteenth century by Agnes Lewis. The original writing included portions of the Gospel of John that quoted Jesus.

There is a suggestion, from a comparative review of this text with Paul’s letters that Paul, among the numerous early Hebrew Christians, used the version of John’s Gospel from which this passage came. References to the Siniatic Palimpsest may be found on the Internet. Unfortunately, many of the translations into English found under the search phrase “Siniatic Palimpsest” apply without justification the more conventional “he” rather than the “she” of the original language. Some Internet references, however, do acknowledge the proper “she”.

The identification of the Holy Spirit as feminine in the Siniatic Palimpsest is no small matter, for this document is the oldest of all copies of the Gospels, being dated to the second century A.D. It is a recognized principle of textual interpretation, even by the most conservative of Biblical scholars, that the older the text, the closer it is thought to be to the original Scripture. This is particularly important in light of the fact that there are no other Scriptural texts between it and the oldest Greek text dated to the fourth century A.D. One can only surmise that between the second and fourth centuries Scripture had been altered to substitute “he” for “she” in references to the Holy Spirit. Even then, at least one reference to the Holy Spirit as “she”, apparently having been overlooked in the switch, was allowed to remain. As Romans 9:25 reads in our King James Bible,

“As he saith also in Osee [Hosea], I will call them my people, who were not my people; and her beloved, who was not beloved.”

Despite the overt mistranslation of the pronoun “She” to “It” or “He” in modern English translations of Scripture, these modified versions still provide sufficient evidence of the feminine nature of the Holy Spirit to convince all but the most reactionary of individuals. Among the most assertive in that regard is the Glory of God, the Hebrew feminine Shekinah, who indwelt the temples at their dedication. The obvious connection between the feminine Shekinah described in Exodus 40 and 1 Kings 8 and the indwelling Holy Spirit described in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles and referred to by Paul is, of itself, overwhelming evidence of the feminine gender of the Holy Spirit. The link between the Holy Spirit and the Shekinah Glory, as well as the many references to “Eloah”, a feminine term for God in the Hebrew Scriptures, will be discussed in a later posting.

[to be continued]

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