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  1. #16
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    Nov 2003
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Thank you for the reply, it is exactly what I was curious about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    t starts with the language scripture was written in. God's seeming gender, is merely metaphorical (much like "God's hand" or God's eyes" for the "finger of God").

    When we see the word "He" in scripture, it is not as a statement of gender, but simply a grammatical necessity. In Hebrew, there is no pronoun "it." As in many languages, nouns in Hebrew are either masculine or feminine, and the appropriate pronouns, either "he" or "she" are used when necessary. As has been stated already, the masculine form includes also the gender neutral. And as such, readers of the ancient language understood masculine nouns in this way. Today, we are more inclined to see gender specific as a culture because our language has changed dramatically since. We have many more terms of expression than existed back then.

    See the Mishnah Torah of Maimonides, Chapter 1.
    If it is the case that masculine pronouns are a product of ancient Hebrew grammatical necessity, than shouldn't Biblical translators seek to rectify this when translating into English, which as you say has many more terms of expression?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    There is also the role that each gender has in a relationship. That relationship (between a man and woman, father-child, mother-child) is seen throughout scripture. God taking more of a male role, especially as a male parent to child, tells us (or more specifically at the time, the original writers and their audience) how God should be viewed (according to the role that God is said to have). And example of this is husband is to wife, as Christ is to the Church.

    As far as Adam and Eve...both were made in God's image (possessing will, capacity for love, intellect, etc...). Adam however, more closely represents the role that God has over His Creation.
    But such filial relationships are specific to particular cultures - an African matriarchy would reach very different conclusions when they are told that God is the great Father. I remember from a history course I took that in fact this very misunderstanding happened, and led to problems in some African groups. Apparently in many indigenous African matriarchal societies the father behaved like a stereotypical indulgent uncle in America - he gave gifts freely and was not a disciplinarian. So the missionaries said that Christianity and England (or whatever European country they came from) would act as the Father to the converts, and when they started demanding strict obedience, there was lots of unrest.

    So if the title of Father is intended symbolically, would it be accurate to describe God as the great Matriarch to these indigenous African peoples? (If they are hypothetically being exposed to Christianity for the first time)



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