SCRIPTURAL SUGGESTIONS OF THE FEMININITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (CONTINUATION #2)

SCRIPTURAL SUGGESTIONS OF THE FEMININITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (CONTINUATION #2)

Inclusion of Gender in the Creation of Man in God’s Image

Genesis 1:26 and 27 links the creation of man in God’s image as possessing gender:

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

An alternative interpretation of this passage would not only attempt to split an intimately interconnected verse with no substantive justification, but it would also demonstrate an indifference to God’s aversion to the practice of homosexuality (as well as other sexual sins), as may be found in Genesis 19, Leviticus 18 and Romans 1. This strong antipathy of God toward sexual sin would more properly be indicative of misrepresenting man’s creation in God’s gendered image.

In Genesis 2 verses 18, 21 and 22 the detail of Eve’s formation out of Adam is highly suggestive of the counterpart formation of the Holy Spirit out of the Father.

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. . . And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

A shallow interpretation of this passage would suggest that since it follows the story of the creation of Adam and Eve sequentially, the creation of Eve was removed from that of Adam by a significant amount of time. A more logical interpretation would view the insertion of this passage as a matter of emphasis, suggesting perhaps that this extraction of Eve out of Adam was illustrative of the extraction of the Holy Spirit out of the Father.

The Embedding of Feminine within the Masculine

In Genesis 5:1 and 2, Adam and Eve are both named Adam, suggesting that Eve, while being functionally feminine, is also named after her masculine counterpart.

“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 naming convention furnishes some justification for describing the Holy Spirit with masculine pronouns, although it should be kept in mind that the original Hebrew described the Holy Spirit in feminine terms.

The Femininity of the Executive Function

It is generally recognized and specifically noted by Bible scholars that Scripture depicts the Holy Spirit as operating in an executive function, responsive to the Father’s Will. A responsive nature is distinctly feminine. Genesis 1:1,2 furnishes a specific example of the Holy Spirit operating responsively to the Father.

“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. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”

Although I prefer to remain entirely within Scripture in my responses, I also could cite Benjamin Warfield’s commentary in page 122 his book The Holy Spirit that “In both Testaments the Spirit of God appears distinctly as the executive of the Godhead [italics in the original].” This reference is particularly appropriate, in that Benjamin Warfield is held in high esteem within the Christian community. I also point to Warfield’s more lengthy discussion on pages 124 and 125 that elaborated on the role of the Holy Spirit in the act of creation in responsive fashion to the Will of the Father, therefore representing a feminine role.

The linkage given in Proverbs with Wisdom in an executive role, as well as its personification of Wisdom as a complement to God the Father amply justifies the inclusion of the Holy Spirit in that linkage.

Furthermore, in Ephesians 5, Paul repeats Adam’s words to the effect that a man shall leave his father and mother and join his wife, and they two shall become one flesh. In applying this entire passage to Jesus, does not Paul imply that Jesus had a Mother to leave? As there is a general consensus that Jesus existed long before He came in the flesh, we also must agree that here Paul is not speaking of Mary as Jesus’ Mother.

It may be the case that most theologians don’t perceive any compelling reason to equate Christ and the Church to Adam’s words regarding leaving father and mother and joining unto his wife to become one flesh. But Jesus Himself as quoted in Matthew 19:4-8 appears to attach a significance to Adam’s words that transcends a mere man-woman relationship. In addition, there are other passages in Scripture, including Genesis 24 and Isaiah 54, that tend to confirm the notion that in the spiritual realm the Church shall indeed serve in a female role as the Bride of Christ.

The Holy Spirit Identified as Feminine in Original Scripture

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.

It wasn’t always that way. In the Hebrew Old Testament, the Holy Spirit, as the Ruah or Shekinah, was viewed as feminine. The switch to masculinity occurred in the New Testament.

In Isaiah 51:9 and 10, for example, the King James Version reads:

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it who hast cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon? Art thou not it who hast dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; who hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?”

The original, however, read as follows, and some Bible scholars assert that the neutering was deliberate, for there is no way that the original can be construed as depicting other than femininity, in opposition to the oft-mentioned comment that some grammatically feminine words in Hebrew don’:

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not She who hast cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon? Art thou not She who hast dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; who hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?”

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. A prime example of this is the Scriptural passage known as the Siniatic Palimpsest (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) uncovered toward the end of the nineteenth century by Agnes Lewis. The original writing included portions of the Gospel of John of which a quote from Jesus Himself in John 14:26 asserts the following (translation attributed to Danny Mahar):

“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.”

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 is also supported as well by the many references to “Eloah”, a feminine term for God in the Hebrew Scriptures, and the recognition of feminine expressions of God in the books of Job and Judges, as acknowledged by at least one expert in the specialized field of ancient Hebrew.

Why would Church authorities be so boldly heretic as to deliberately alter Scripture as to mislead the Church regarding the gender of the Holy Spirit and to remove all traces of sexuality from God? A number of possibilities have been raised by multiple scholars, among which two stand out as particularly plausible candidates. First, the Gnostic Christian community, which adhered to a feminine Holy Spirit, went overboard on some of its misunderstandings of Christianity, and was considered to be a dangerously heretic sect; in its attempt to stamp out this notion of God, the community that eventually came to represent mainstream Christianity engaged in a wholesale rejection of its precepts, in effect throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Second, the presence of femininity within the Godhead came perilously close to pagan theology, which involved the worship of divine families consisting of father, mother and son, and was often given to lewd ritualistic behavior, as lamented by Augustine among others. Here again, in her attempt to separate herself from these other religions, mainstream Christianity rejected the notion of a divine family out of hand, once more tossing the baby out with the bathwater.

A number of modern Bible scholars agree as to Old Testament references to the Holy Spirit in unambiguously feminine terms. This goes beyond grammatical considerations. R. P. Nettelhorst, for example, Professor of Bible and Bible Languages at Quartz Hill School of Theology in Antelope Valley, California, who is an expert in the Hebrew language, changed his thinking on the gender of the Holy Spirit upon coming across undeniably feminine references to the Holy Spirit in the Book of Judges. After further research, he found the femininity to be scattered about in various locations in the Old Testament, beginning at Genesis 1. Other scholars have found the same feminine descriptors elsewhere, including the Book of Job.

[to be continued]

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