Tag Archives: Mother God

God, Goddess, or Godde?

J.K. Gayle has several posts up concerning some book about what we didn’t we in Sunday school.

What is interesting is that Gayle uses Jewish and non-Christian sources, and their reception of the Christian canon for a discussion of gender.

On one comment, I did catch Gayle defending Christian orthodoxy, so I think we can throw out that postmodern, emergent label [imposed upon JK by that guy who is now #2 who is not to be named] :

And since you bring up non-Christian Bible translator Robert Alter, let me now bring up non-Christian and Jewish New Testament translator Willis Barnstone. Barnstone has this for Matthew’s Greek (for further comparison):

“The child engendered in her came from the holy spirit.”

“Washing them in the name of the father and the son And the holy spirit.”

Just to be clear, and absolutely accurate, I don’t think Matthew intended for his readers to think that Mary was pregnant from or through or by anyone or anything other than “the Divine Spirit” or “the Holy Spirit” or “the holy spirit.” Atteberry and Smith and their translation teams with Barnstone all have their English agree here with Matthew’s Greek.


So what of using Godde instead of God or Goddess?

For this, enter Suzanne:

I understand two things. Shawn is using Godde to show that God transcends gender. She is also using the feminine pronoun in the same way that masculine pronouns has been used for millenia by others who claim that God transcends gender.

It is possible that Shawn is not aware that the “e” ending on Godde suggests that it is a feminine word rather than one which transcends gender. But that is an artefact of Indo-European lingistics and does not invalidate her assertion that Godde transcends gender.


The problem with gender for Christians is not only one of  biblical interpretation or translation, (or are they the same?), but I think it has to do with struggling to reconcile God’s transcendence of gender with a God who forever enfolded Godself in the flesh of a Jewish rabbinical day-laboring male. One can take the Christian platonist approach of the Alexandrians (Athanasius and Clement, I will admit) who have what Joerg Rieger called in his Christ and Empire, space-suit Christologies, as if the Word of God was some alien invading the planet. Perhaps one can see a connection between the teaching of theosis and alienness, or being the Other?

I think this is why I find value in the doctrine of the Trinity, and the traditional co-equality of the persons within the Goddehead. YHWH has parental qualities of both mothers and fathers, Christ is the embodied Word and Sophia of God according to Scripture and the early church writers, and the Holy Spirit can be used both in gender neutral, masculine, and feminine terms, as the Spirit dwells in both men and women making Godde all the more immanently transcendent.

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Happy Mother's Day, YHWH!: the Motherhood of God

Anonymous 16th century portrait of Calvin. (Fr...

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“There’s a ghetto up in Heaven and it’s ours, Black Power is what we scream as we dream in a paranoid state And our fate, is a lifetime of hate Dear Mama, can you save me?”- 2Pac, “Only God can judge me.”

“If the Trinity is a community, then what corresponds to it is the true human community of men and women. A certain de-patriarchalization of the picture of God results in a de-patriarchalization and de-hierarchalization of the church too. […]Like Israel’s prophets, Christianity actually replaced the patriarchal and matriarchal powers of origin by the messianism of the Child, as the bearer of hope and the beginning of the future [ala Paul Tillich].”- Jurgen Moltmann, The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation, 160.

Optimistic Chad’s latest tweet inspired this post.  It reminded me of Suzanne McCarthy’s series a couple of years ago on the book, Fire From Heaven: Studies in Syriac Theology and Liturgy: see here. In the Syriac Christian tradition, because the term for spirit is translated from the feminine noun ruha, there was a tradition to refer to God as “Compassionate Mother.”  Suzanne explains,

“That is, the Godhead is in reality neither gendered nor hierarchical, but we use these images to communicate something about God. The trinity can be talked about both as an all masculine cohort of Father, Son and Spirit; and as Father, Mother and Son. The image is not the reality.”

For those that will now come with the weapon we know as Sola Scriptura, I proffer this image from my work on the Gospel of John and the Fatherhood of YHWH. With the exception of the Judeans who claim that God is their father (8:41), Jesus is the lone character in the Fourth Gospel who asserts that God is his parent. Jesus and the Jewish Christians in the Johannine community, while referring to God as Father, would also be aware of the references to God as mother in the Jewish scriptures such as Isaiah 66:13 which compare YHWH to a mother who nurses her child. Systematic theologian Daniel Migliore, in a report to the Presbyterian Church USA on the nature of the Trinity, (see HERE) talks about John Calvin as the God who gives Godself just as mothers give themselves to their children. We must understand that we, as the faithful, are not free to name God anything that we please, for that is the unfreedom and gift sent to us by God’s self-disclosure. However, God, who is beyond our ideas of gender constructs, who is spirit, as Jesus tells us in John 4, has made space for both males and females to speak of God. Therefore, I would say that any attempt to limit God’s being based on gender is adding to Scripture (contrary to sola scriptura), which is prohibited by the author/s of Revelation.

God as a Parent is a metaphor founded upon biblical images; revelation is God naming Godself, while our response is our calling upon God in worship.  The recognition of God as Compassionate Mother, therefore, just like the Creeds, is a petition that should be directing us all in the direction of YHWH, who has made women and men in God’s own image.


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Abolitionist Family Values: West Virginia and The Original Mothers' Day Campaign

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I came across this post via facebook. It gives one lots to think about this Mothers’ Day, with the story of 2 mothers and their fight for recognition. One, the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, Julia Ward Howe, and the other a community organizer for the rights of women workers, Ann Maria Jarvis.

Oh yes, and fact: the USA started Mothers’ Day before Canada. See, we are still better!


Here is the story: ALL VOICES.COM: Mothers’ day: The Radical Roots.

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