Sunday, August 14, 2016

And George Washington Called Providence "She" and "It"

This is an interesting article -- an op-ed, which by their nature are slanted -- from the NYT on the gender of the God of Abraham. Quoted below is what the piece concludes:
Counter to everything we grew up believing, the God of Israel — the God of the three monotheistic, Abrahamic religions to which fully half the people on the planet today belong — was understood by its earliest worshipers to be a dual-gendered deity.
Along the way the rabbi who authored the piece uses original Hebrew to make his case. I don't read Hebrew. If any readers do, I wonder, are his translations accurate?

8 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

And Jesus calls God "Abba," Father. Daddy, actually. Case closed in the American context.

And I seriously question the scholarship in the article, let alone its bland assertions about what "science" tells us about "gender identity."

Since the author is a rabbi, I think the answer would probably lie outside his expertise: in Christian tradition, Divine Providence is associated with the Holy Spirit, which in scripture--depending on the ancient language--can be masculine, feminine or neuter.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_of_the_Holy_Spirit

What can be said is the rabbi's thesis is ridiculous, that God is "transgender." If anything, God is beyond gender.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Grammatical gender vs. natural gender. The good Rabi is obviously not a linguist.

He acknowledged the fact that he was presenting something new and different - always a bad idea when it comes to theology.

The George Washington ref. to “Providence” as she is not all that hard. The Latin word is feminine. Providence was a Roman goddess. Such qualities as wisdom, providence, justice, and so forth were viewed in the ancient world as being feminine.

Why? Now that makes for interesting discussion. It still doesn’t prove that God is somehow transgender as the good Rabi seems to believe.

Sure. The Bible uses feminine imagery at times for God. He is seen at the end of the book of Isaiah as a mother caring for her children.

We all know that men can display feminine characteristics such as nurturing his children, and a woman can take out her gun and shoot the bad guy who is threatening her children.

That’s not transgender.

IOW, the guy is wrong grammatically, theologically, and no one knows what transgender is anyway.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

That whole comment needs to be rewritten!

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Edit:

Grammatical gender vs. natural gender. There is a difference between the two. English has very few words that are grammatically gendered that are not also references to natural gender.

Calling ships “she” is the only one I can think of.

My daughter calls her care “Yeti” because it’s white and big, and she calls it “he.”

Other languages aren’t like that. I understand that Hebrew even has gendered verbs as well as gendered nouns and their modifiers. Maybe someone can confirm, but it seems to me that the good Rabi is confusing grammatical gender with natural gender.

He may be trying to say that there is more behind grammatical gender than meets the eye - which I also suspect there is. He opens an interesting topic, but his leap to God being transgendered is Olympian in nature, it seems to me.


He acknowledged the fact that he was presenting something new and different - always a bad idea when it comes to biblical theology. After all. The his own Bible says that there is nothing new under the sun. He is going against thousands of years of interpretation from his own people I would think.

The George Washington ref. to “Providence” as she is not all that hard. The Latin word is feminine. Providence was a Roman goddess. Such qualities as wisdom, providence, justice, and so forth were viewed in the ancient world as being feminine.

Why? Now that makes for interesting discussion. It is true that goddesses are definitely feminine.

The fact that some qualities are turned into female deities by pagan religions still doesn’t prove that God is somehow transgender, as the good Rabi seems to believe. It is a fascinating subject, though. He seemed way too anxious to jump from God having certain characteristics that are viewed as being feminine to God being transgender.

His Bible is very clear that depicting God as female or male deities is pagan and to be rejected by His people.

Sure. The Bible uses feminine imagery at times for God. He is seen at the end of the book of Isaiah as a mother caring for her children.

We all know that men can display feminine characteristics such as nurturing his children, and a woman can take out her gun and shoot the bad guy who is threatening her children.

That’s not transgender.

IOW, the guy is wrong grammatically, theologically, and no one knows what transgender is anyway. It’s a huge leap the guy is making.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"We all know that men can display feminine characteristics such as nurturing his children, and a woman can take out her gun and shoot the bad guy who is threatening her children."

I prefer to think of gender as Yin & Yang. But all Yins have a little Yang in them and vice versa. And some more so than others.

Tom Van Dyke said...

That's the rabbi's assertion but it has no proof or bearing on GWash calling providence a she. It is poetry, not science; he doesn't seem to be able to tell the two apart, so God becomes "transgender," a perfect piece of thoughtless nonsense [and thus perfect for The New York Times].

Lee ewell said...

Meanwhile, back at seminary . . . http://concordiatheology.org/2016/08/is-god-transgender-it-helps-to-know-hebrew/

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Jonathan:
I prefer to think of gender as Yin & Yang. But all Yins have a little Yang in them and vice versa. And some more so than others.>>>>

Yin and Yang are opposites, yet they compliment one another as well.

Right? Yet Yin is Yin, and Yang is Yang.

No, I can’t believe I wrote that, either!

Male and female are opposite, yet complementary.

Transgender is what? No one knows.