|Painting by Elisabeth Slettnes|
Jesus described God as his “Father” and taught his disciples to address Him the same way. The God of the Bible is a male deity: grammatically and theologically. In contrast, the Spirit of God is grammatically feminine. Though this is common knowledge in Biblical academia it is virtually unknown among ordinary folks. Moreover, there is evidence that this was not a grammatical detail but had spiritual significance for Jesus, early Christians and many others in ancient Israel.
Once you know this there are some things that will begin to make sense in a whole new way, even in our English translations. For example, at the heart of Jesus’ teachings was the need for believers to be “born again” which meant receiving the Holy Spirit. He created a parallel between being physically born of a women to being spiritually reborn through the Holy Spirit. The reason he used this analogy was because the Spirit is feminine.
This is lost today because all the earliest New Testament texts we have are written in Greek and all translations are based on them. In these, the Holy Spirit is grammatically neuter. But, the sacred language of the Jews was Hebrew, and Jesus himself spoke Aramaic, a closely-related cousin to Hebrew. Speaking about the Spirit, Jesus would have used pronouns like “she” and “her.” Among the evidence for this bearing significance we have numerous early church fathers who wrote that the first Gospel was written by Matthew in Hebrew. In one of the many quotes we have from this original version of Matthew there is one from Jesus where he calls the Holy Spirit “my mother.” This is no small matter. It is a strong indications that it carried theological implications: the Spirit as Mother complemented God the Father.
Her presence can be traced back to the opening lines in Genesis where the Spirit hovers over the waters, and to the creation of Mankind. In Genesis 1:26, God said “Let us make man in our image.” It’s been a longstanding question of who God is talking to. In the early Christian era it was proposed that this was Jesus while modern scholars point to the beliefs of Canaan that were there when Abraham first came. This is important because Abraham understood the Canaanite high god, called “El,” as identical to his God. I.e. the God of Abraham is the same as the god of the Canaanites. In the Canaanite religion there was a pantheon of gods which is what most scholars think the plural pronouns refer to. My proposition is that it is instead El’s wife, named “Asherah,” that God is talking to in the Creation story.
Another feminine presence in the Bible is Wisdom. She is personified and described as no less than a Goddess at the side of God during creation. She comes from God, has the same attributes and function, but is simultaneously a distinct being. These factors suggest that Wisdom is the same heavenly power as the Spirit, and both can, for similar reasons, be understood as a continuation of Asherah.
God created man in His own image and the Hebrew word for “image” refers to a physical likeness. Since men and women are different it is more logical that men were created in the likeness of Him and women after Her. This, in effect, makes her our Mother. Pro-creation on earth is the unification of the male and female. Adam and Eve were “one flesh” in marriage. This is a reflection of the power of Creation in Heaven where the masculine God and His feminine Spirit are One.
Marianne Widmalm is the author of “God is not Alone: Our Mother – the Holy Spirit” released 2015 by Avalonia publishing company. Her book is available here and on Amazon.
Marianne also contributed to Jesus, Muhammad and the Goddess.