SCRIPTURAL SUGGESTIONS OF THE FEMININITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (CONTINUATION #1)

SCRIPTURAL SUGGESTIONS OF THE FEMININITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (CONTINUATION #1)

Link Between Proverbs and the Holy Spirit

In passages that describe Her presence alongside the Divine Father during the creation epic, the female Persona in the Book of Proverbs is identified as the Holy Spirit. Throughout Proverbs, Wisdom acquires a distinct Personhood and is cast in the role of complementary companion to the Father in the act of creation, which is a distinctly female role.

The prevailing understanding of the Book of Proverbs is that its personification of Wisdom is simply a literary device and was never intended to represent an actual Person. But in opposition to this view, Wisdom in the original Greek has a name of a person, and that name is Sophia. Sophia has a history of being linked, in the Jewish and early Christian religions, with the Personhood of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Himself, in Luke 7:35, associates Wisdom with motherhood, an eminently personal attribute.

“But wisdom is justified of all her children.”

While that verse possibly could be interpreted as being merely a figure of speech, Jesus in Luke 11:49 and 50 more emphatically personifies Wisdom:

“Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute, that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation.”

I also disagree with the associated prevailing Protestant presupposition that Proverbs 8 refers to Jesus Christ, as well as the prevailing Catholic presupposition that Proverbs 8 refers to Mary, because in both cases the presuppositions simply don’t fit the context of that chapter. I also could cite Proverbs 9 and 31 in that regard, and Psalm 104:30 which links creation with the Holy Spirit. (Job 26:13 is similar in that regard.)

The Persona of the Holy Spirit is female throughout; an attempt to assign some of these passages to Jesus Christ, as many do, would constitute an unnatural force-fit, most obviously in the issue of gender, but also with respect to function and role. The frequent Catholic attribution of Wisdom to Mary faces the equally grave difficulty of linking Mary with capabilities such as creation that are reserved for God alone. The attempt to link Wisdom with the Virgin Mary is unsustainable in the light of Mary’s full humanity and consequent absence in the creation epic, wherein according to Chapter 8 Wisdom was at the side of the Father during the process of creation.

On the other hand, the Book of Proverbs beautifully and harmoniously supports a female functional designation for the Holy Spirit. Of particular interest in this regard are Proverbs 3 and 8, from which the following excerpts are taken:

“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. . .She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. . .The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. . .Doth not wisdom cry? And understanding put forth her voice? . . .The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men. Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.”

These passages suggest a connection between Wisdom and the Holy Spirit as furnishing the most likely Person to which a female function may be assigned; they also suggest that the Holy Spirit was active in creation itself, as summarized in Genesis 1:1-3:

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”

In the context of Scripture’s general treatment of the Holy Spirit, the passage in Genesis quoted above more than suggests that the Father was assisted by or in union with the Holy Spirit in the act of creation, the result being, as Jesus Himself suggested in Revelation 3:14 in declaring Himself the beginning of the creation of God, a manifestation of the Son.

In further support of my equation of Wisdom with the Holy Spirit, I cite Isaiah 11:1 and 2:

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots; And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord,. . .”

Any attempt at a rebuttal to the association of Proverbs with the Holy Spirit must address Proverbs 3:19 in the context of Genesis 1:1-5, Proverbs 8:22-36, Job 26:13 and Psalm 104:30. The attempt to attribute Proverbs 8 to Jesus rather than the Holy Spirit must explain the out-of-context insertion into material descriptive of Wisdom, as well as the feminine description of Wisdom throughout the Book of Proverbs as opposed to the depiction of Jesus throughout Scripture as strongly masculine and the image of the Father.

Wisdom, as depicted in Proverbs, is strongly female and only female. The attempt at rebuttal to the contrary must also avoid taking the Jungian notion of the human psyche, both male and female, as containing both masculine and feminine elements, and extrapolating it to his notion of the Trinity. There are logical difficulties in doing so, as described below.

Scripture rather exclusively associates the Father with the Divine Will, which, as an initiating role, also is exclusively masculine. Similarly, Jesus the Son is presented in Scripture as the Divine Representation which, as the perfect image in reality of the Father would also be predominantly masculine. The masculine predominance of Jesus is given further weight by Paul’s characterization in Ephesians 5 of Jesus as the Bridegroom of the (functionally feminine) Church. In Family of God I simply noted what to me was an obvious connecting function of the Holy Spirit between Father and Son: the Divine Means which, in union with the Divine Will, gave birth to the Divine Implementation in reality (Divine Representation). Obviously, this Divine Means, being so closely linked with the other two Members, is also Deity. Because the Divine Means performed a function that was responsive to the Will, an obviously female role, I attached a female gender to this Person. Scripture and Christian tradition both understand this third Member of the Trinity to be the Holy Spirit.

Another item that presents itself in a reading of Proverbs with an eye to the Personhood of Wisdom is the implied intimacy between mankind and Wisdom in the warning given in Proverbs 8:36: he that sins against Wisdom wrongs his own soul. Could this imply that our own purpose and function in the spiritual realm might actually parallel that of the Holy Spirit? There may well be a correlation between this caution and the one expressed by Jesus in Matthew 12:31 and 32:

“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

These are strong words, and they make a strong connection between Wisdom and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps theologians instinctively sense this correlation. Perhaps also not wishing to shoot themselves in the foot and instead of attempting to truly understand what is being said here, they duck away from presenting anything controversial regarding the Holy Spirit. Historically, that has certainly been the situation with numerous theological expositions regarding the Holy Spirit, all of which end up complicating an extremely simple understanding of the nature of the Trinity by claiming that ultimately man is unable to grasp it.

As a final comment regarding my association of Proverb’s Wisdom with the Holy Spirit, I note that Church Father Irenaeus of the second century A.D., commonly accepted as a respected Church Father, also directly equated Wisdom with the Holy Spirit. That he seems not to have made the obvious connection of Wisdom with femininity may be attributed to his strong aversion to Gnosticism, whose adherents generally believed in a feminine Holy Spirit. His attack of Gnosticism in his tome Against Heresies is quite humorous at times, as I described in my novel Buddy. A sample is offered below:

“’Now what follows from all this [description of some of Marcion’s more outlandish claims]? No light tragedy comes out of it, as the fancy of every man among them pompously explains, one in one way, and another in another, from what kind of passion and from what element being derived its origin. They have good reason, it seems to me, why they should not feel inclined to teach these things to all in public, but only to such as are able to pay a high price for an acquaintance with such profound mysteries. For these doctrines are not at all similar to those of which our Lord said, ‘Freely ye have received, freely give.’ They are, on the contrary, abstruse, and portentous, and profound mysteries, to be got at only with great labour by such as are in love with falsehood. For who would not expend [all] that he possessed, if only he might learn in return, that from the tears of the enthymesis of the AEon involved in passion, seas, and fountains, and rivers, and every liquid substance derived its origin; that light burst forth from her smile; and that from her perplexity and consternation the corporeal elements of the world had their formation?

‘I feel somewhat inclined myself to contribute a few hints towards the development of their system. For when I perceive that waters are in part fresh, such as fountains, rivers, showers, and so on, and in part salt; such as those in the sea, I reflect with myself that all such waters cannot be derived from her tears, inasmuch as these are of a saline quality only. It is clear, therefore, that the waters which are salt are alone those which are derived from her tears. But it is probable that she, in her intense agony and perplexity, was covered with perspiration. And hence, following our notion, we may conceive that fountains and rivers, and all the fresh water in the world, are due to this source. For it is difficult, since we know that all tears are of the same quality, to believe that waters both salt and fresh proceeded from them. The more plausible supposition is, that some are from her tears, and some from her perspiration. And since there are also in the world certain waters which are hot and acrid in their nature, thou must be left to guess their origin, how and whence. Such are some of the results of their hypothesis.’”

Jesus’ Marital Relationship with His Church

This relationship, which was explored in the posting “Why the Spiritual Marriage Between Jesus and His Church is Substantive and Fully Functional”, demonstrates the existence of gender and its associate romance in the spiritual domain. A summary of the topics covered in that posting are noted below. The reader can refer to the posting itself for more details.

Paul’s stunning statement in Ephesians 5:31,32 regarding Jesus’ marriage to His Church contains multiple elements that identify this marriage as much more than merely a figure of speech.

Romans 7:4 corroborates Jesus’ marriage to His Church; beyond that, it identifies the union as creatively productive.

Jesus first miracle described in John 2, the wedding in Cana, identifies Jesus as anticipating with joy His own future spiritual marriage.

In the parables of the marriage feast (Matthew 22) and the ten virgins (Matthew 25), Jesus describes His own future marriage without ambiguity as an important and joyful occasion.

Isaiah 54, as a follow-on to the great messianic Chapter 53, is a passionate statement of Jesus’ future marriage and is summarized as such by Paul in Galatians 4:27.

The Song of Solomon is a romantic, explicit depiction of the bonding between male and female; it would not belong in the Bible if gender had no place in the spiritual realm.

[to be continued]

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