Holy Spirit: a "female" presence?


#1

If I understand the Church teaching, the people who promote the “female” Holy Spirit are misguided or worse (i.e. they’ve got their own agenda in mind). I know their support goes to the Old Testment: wisdom, Sophia, but where can I find the authoritative teaching on this? (I’m aware of the masculine pronouns in the Creed and the Catechism). What else is there? I’ve heard JP II had a homily equating wisdom with Christ, but I can’t seem to find that? Did CDF address this? Any help would be appreciated…


#2

Christ makes it very clear in the following passages:

John 14:15-18

***15 If you love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. 17 The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.

***John 14:26

*** 26 But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.

***John 15:26

*** 26 But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me. ***

John 16:5

*** 5 But I told you not these things from the beginning, because I was with you. And now I go to him that sent me, and none of you asketh me: Whither goest thou? 6 But because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow hath filled your heart. 7 But I tell you the truth: it is expedient to you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he is come, he will convince the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment. 9 Of sin: because they believed not in me. 10 And of justice: because I go to the Father; and you shall see me no longer. 11 And of judgment: because the prince of this world is already judged. 12 I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you. 14 He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it to you. 15 All things whatsoever the Father hath, are mine. Therefore I said, that he shall receive of mine, and shew it to you.

***I think that is enough!!


#3

[quote=Fergal]Christ makes it very clear in the following passages:

John 14:15-18

***15 If you love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. 17 The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you. ***

John 14:26

26 But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.

John 15:26

***26 But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me. ***

John 16:5

5 But I told you not these things from the beginning, because I was with you. And now I go to him that sent me, and none of you asketh me: Whither goest thou? 6 But because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow hath filled your heart. 7 But I tell you the truth: it is expedient to you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he is come, he will convince the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment. 9 Of sin: because they believed not in me. 10 And of justice: because I go to the Father; and you shall see me no longer. 11 And of judgment: because the prince of this world is already judged. 12 I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you. 14 He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it to you. 15 All things whatsoever the Father hath, are mine. Therefore I said, that he shall receive of mine, and shew it to you.

I think that is enough!!
[/quote]

Actually, all of the above amounts to nothing. It doesn’t matter what the English translation says, the point is this: The Greek words describing the holy spirit are gender neutral.

The Hebrew word describing the HS, “sheckinah,” is a female gender term. So the question becomes, why would the HS inspire the OT writers to always render itself in the feminine?

Thal59


#4

Female Holy Spirit? Of course, so being the spouse of Mary, that would mark the first same-sex marriage this side of history, then, wouldn’t it? :ehh:

In all my understanding, the Paraclete is “supersexual;” that is, he transcends sex. It’s something of a difficulty trying to attach gonads to a purely spiritual being. :wink:


#5

[quote=Thal59]Actually, all of the above amounts to nothing. It doesn’t matter what the English translation says, the point is this: The Greek words describing the holy spirit are gender neutral.

The Hebrew word describing the HS, “sheckinah,” is a female gender term. So the question becomes, why would the HS inspire the OT writers to always render itself in the feminine?

Thal59
[/quote]

Grammatical gender and human sex don’t necessarily correspond.

Gender is a grammatical term - it is not the same in meaning as sex, which is a characteristic of human beings: not of nouns. “The male gender” is strictly speaking a barbarism - persons are sexual; nouns belong to genders.

Burrito is a masculine noun - that doesn’t mean only men or boys can eat it :slight_smile:

In the NT, the daughter of Herodias called a korasion - a young girl. Korasion is a neuter noun - its referent, is a female person.

Christ is called “our wisdom” by St.Paul - sophia, wisdom, is a noun of the feminine gender, used in apposition to a person of the male sex.

Writers have to use the grammar of the languages they write in. There is no “Holy Ghost Syriac”, Aramaic, or Hebrew - any more than there is a “Holy Ghost Greek”. ##


#6

Well, there is the idea of the Holy Spirit being the spouse of Mary but St Joseph is still referred to as one, even though the human marriage is just for this earth…


#7

[quote=Confiteor]If I understand the Church teaching, the people who promote the “female” Holy Spirit are misguided or worse (i.e. they’ve got their own agenda in mind). I know their support goes to the Old Testment: wisdom, Sophia, but where can I find the authoritative teaching on this? (I’m aware of the masculine pronouns in the Creed and the Catechism). What else is there? I’ve heard JP II had a homily equating wisdom with Christ, but I can’t seem to find that? Did CDF address this? Any help would be appreciated…
[/quote]

Oh, how the pride shows in those who spend so much time on such silly things (wanting the Holy Spirit and/or God to be “she”).

Pride, I say, pure pride that leads people to do these things. The church needs to go after humility -something you don’t even hear about any longer. But then again, the same people stripped the catechism books of any talk of the virtues and need to exercise them.


#8

[quote=Lux_et_veritas]Oh, how the pride shows in those who spend so much time on such silly things (wanting the Holy Spirit and/or God to be “she”).

Pride, I say, pure pride that leads people to do these things. The church needs to go after humility -something you don’t even hear about any longer. But then again, the same people stripped the catechism books of any talk of the virtues and need to exercise them.
[/quote]

Recently people have been speaking about God to me as a “She” and I find it **really **annoying :banghead:
Often when I hear this it is from men, even priests who tell me they get a hard time from women for always using the male gender. But I am a woman, and it irritates me to hear God called “She”.
Could you explain, however, where you think pride comes into it? It seems to me that when people do this it is more like they are trying to please everyone else and havent really thought about it.


#9

[quote=FionnualaOC]Recently people have been speaking about God to me as a “She” and I find it **really **annoying :banghead:
Often when I hear this it is from men, even priests who tell me they get a hard time from women for always using the male gender. But I am a woman, and it irritates me to hear God called “She”.
Could you explain, however, where you think pride comes into it? It seems to me that when people do this it is more like they are trying to please everyone else and havent really thought about it.
[/quote]

Me too. I know that when the expression “for all men” is used, it means for all mankind, which includes women. People who had nothing better to do, got on some bandwagon and spent a lot of time changing books and the like.


#10

I went to a local Anglican church for a baptism and they responded to “let us give thanks to the lord our god”

with

“it is right to give her thanks and praise”

I was weirded out!


#11

[quote=Lux_et_veritas]Oh, how the pride shows in those who spend so much time on such silly things (wanting the Holy Spirit and/or God to be “she”).

Pride, I say, pure pride that leads people to do these things. The church needs to go after humility -something you don’t even hear about any longer. But then again, the same people stripped the catechism books of any talk of the virtues and need to exercise them.
[/quote]

Oh you are soooooo right about this issue. The very same people will go on and on ad nauseum worrying about the color of Jesus. Is he black or not, and then we get the psuedo-intellectuals parsing the difference between ethnicity and race, blah blah blah. God is a he, Jesus is a he, and the Holy Ghost is a he. Our little terms used down here on earth to describe us cannot adequately describe God, and why should we want them to? It’s the Tower of Babel to do so, and it just carries us further away from the real battle at hand, which is to preserve the faith in its entirety and bring non-Catholics to the faith. And what if, theoretically speaking, the Holy Ghost were a woman? What would that signify? As a result of this breakthrough discovery by the best minds of mankind, oops, humankind, what could we now do, be, or discover? Actually, if the Holy Ghost were a woman, then you’d have a Christianized version of Greek mythology or Hindu mythology filled with gods and goddesses. The love between the Father and the Son spirated a woman god? Oh boy, you’re right. This conversation is just an exercise in rhetoric I guess, but at the end of the day, the truth is this: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and they’re men, generators of life, not receptors. Maybe we should go back to calling the Holy Spirit the Holy Ghost which seems to have a more masculine connotation to it. It seems as though this talk of His gender coincided with His being referred to as the Holy Spirit.


#12

Actually, all of the above amounts to nothing. It doesn’t matter what the English translation says, the point is this: The Greek words describing the holy spirit are gender neutral.

The Hebrew word describing the HS, “sheckinah,” is a female gender term. So the question becomes, why would the HS inspire the OT writers to always render itself in the feminine?

Thal59
Reply With Quote

Right, Thal, the word for sprit πνευμα is neuter in Greek.

However, the word paraclete–
John 14:16 παρακλητ-ον = Accusative case, masc/neuter.
could be neuter, BUT
John 14:26 `ο παρακλητ-ος = Nominative MASCULINE with definite article. Shown masculine, definitely masculine.

And when the Holy Spirit descended bodily ‘as if’ that of a dove? Lk 3:22?
περιστερ-αν --> feminine.

I don’t know much about Hebrew, but I have seen where God dwelling in heaven is the masculine relative of shekina:
IS 57:15 = http://www.ao.net/~fmoeller/shokeyn.gif

So is the Holy Spirit revealed as feminine while on earth, but masculine when in heaven? :confused:


#13

[quote=FionnualaOC]Recently people have been speaking about God to me as a “She” and I find it **really **annoying :banghead:
Often when I hear this it is from men, even priests who tell me they get a hard time from women for always using the male gender. But I am a woman, and it irritates me to hear God called “She”.
Could you explain, however, where you think pride comes into it? It seems to me that when people do this it is more like they are trying to please everyone else and havent really thought about it.
[/quote]

Political correctness! it’s a bitch!! (pun intended)


#14

For a long time it has been standard practice to apply masculine pronouns to the Holy Spirit in the English language. So when people do otherwise, and refer to “Her” and “She”, it immediately sticks out like a sore thumb. Intentional or not, I don’t think it’s possible to do without it sounding like some kind of protest or posturing or agenda-pushing.

And I generally find arguments based on the gender of pronouns unconvincing. As others have probably said, there’s not a strict correlation between grammatical gender and biological sex, in English or in other languages, and there is certainly no consistency in grammatical gender when translating from one language to the next. I’m not sure how noun genders are derived in the first place, but it seems like a pretty basic grammatical convention of the language, like the correct way to form a plural or the conjugation of a verb. To go about arbitrarily changing noun genders sounds silly, kind of like Yoda reversing sentences and placing objects before subjects.


#15

In some languages all nouns are assigned grammatical gender – masculine, feminine, or neuter (this is NOT the same as male and female sexual differentiation).

The word for “spirit” in Hebrew is ruach which is grammatically feminine.

The word for “spirit” in Greek is pneuma, a neuter word; it is pneuma (nominative), pneumatos (genitive). I have seen, even in books, the incorrect statement that this word is feminine. Although some Greek words ending in “alpha” are feminine, those which end in -ma (mu alpha) are mostly neuter.

While Latin is not a biblical language itself, i.e. none of the biblical books were written in Latin, Latin is of interest through the Vulgate Latin translation and later continued use in the RCC. In Latin “spiritus” is masculine grammatical gender.

So in going from Hebrew to Greek to Latin, the word for “spirit” goes from feminine to neuter to masculine!

Although it is true that grammatical gender is different than sexual differentiation, it is interesting that in the Last Supper discourse in the Gospel of John the evangelist has Jesus sometimes referring to Holy Spirit as the Paraclete (which is a masculine term, ho paraklētos) which can then be connected with masculine (grammatically) personal terms instead of neuter, more impersonal, ones.[font=MS Shell Dlg][/font]

[Another factor which leads to some gender confusion is the association of “spirit” with “wisdom”. In both biblical Hebrew and Greek the words for “wisdom” are grammatically feminine – hochmah and sophia respectively. The Latin “sapientia” is also feminine.]

Edward Pothier


#16

For an interesting view of this, read First Comes Love by Scott Hahn.


#17

[quote=Huiou Theou]Right, Thal, the word for sprit πνευμα is neuter in Greek.

However, the word paraclete–
John 14:16 παρακλητ-ον = Accusative case, masc/neuter.
could be neuter, BUT
John 14:26 `ο παρακλητ-ος = Nominative MASCULINE with definite article. Shown masculine, definitely masculine.

And when the Holy Spirit descended bodily ‘as if’ that of a dove? Lk 3:22?
περιστερ-αν --> feminine.

I don’t know much about Hebrew, but I have seen where God dwelling in heaven is the masculine relative of shekina:
IS 57:15 = http://www.ao.net/~fmoeller/shokeyn.gif

So is the Holy Spirit revealed as feminine while on earth, but masculine when in heaven? :confused:
[/quote]

Nice to hear from you again, Huiou Theou.

The question I raised has nothing to do with physical gender. Nor does it matter how Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, English etc., or any other language decides to translate the Hebrew of the original text. The question I raised was simply… Why did the Holy Spirit always inspire the writers of the OT to render itself in the feminine? We can bicker over Hebrew from concordances, but to the best of my knowledge, such debates were unheard of amongst the Jews. They universally understood and accepted the feminine gender implications of the OT regarding the holy spirit without any apparent problems.

To me, in a nutshell, although God may not have gender as we know it, He certainly has the best attributes of humanity and to their fullest measure; whether or not these attributes are most noticeable in men or women. (His love, courage, gentleness, strength, etc., are at their purest, most perfect state.) So, there is God the Father, Sheckinah, and Jesus; or Patriarch, Matriarch, and Progeny.

In this way, God is more than a singular diety - He is a divine and eternal “family” unto Himself. Perhaps this is why, above and beyond all other institutions the world has ever known, The Catholic church is the most family oriented and family defending.

Thal59


#18

So, there is God the Father, Sheckinah, and Jesus; or Patriarch, Matriarch, and Progeny.

Analogically this is a problem.

The Father + Holy spirit = son. Matriarch would imply that the Son came from the Mother spirit, which doesn’t fit the pattern either incarnationally or trinitarian wise.

Incarnationally, the Spirit acted such that the son was born of a human woman. Either the spirit acted in a masculine gender, as spose of the church, or creationally which is understood as masculine in function.

The Father was understood as Father in the old testament because of the work of creation.

CCC 283

Many religions invoke God as “Father”. The deity is often considered the “father of gods and of men”. In Israel, God is called “Father” inasmuch as he is Creator of the world.[59] Even more, God is Father because of the covenant and the gift of the law to Israel, “his first-born son”.

Trinitarially, either the son and holy spirit BOTH proceed from the father, or the more specific Latin tradition – the spirit proceeds from the father and the son.

from newadvent.com

As to the Sacred scripture, the inspired writers call the holy Ghost the Spirit of the Son (Gal., iv, 6), the spirit of Christ (Rom., viii, 9), the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil., i, 19), just as they call Him the Spirit of the Father (Matt., x, 20) and the Spirit of God (I Cor., ii, ll). Hence they attribute to the Holy Ghost the same relation to the Son as to the Father.

which shows the strength of the Filioque position.

246 The Latin tradition of the Creed confesses that the Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque)”. The Council of Florence in 1438 explains: “The Holy Spirit is eternally from Father and Son; He has his nature and subsistence at once (simul) from the Father and the Son. He proceeds eternally from both as from one principle and through one spiration… And, since the Father has through generation given to the only-begotten Son everything that belongs to the Father, except being Father, the Son has also eternally from the Father, from whom he is eternally born, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son.”[75]

248 At the outset the Eastern tradition expresses the Father’s character as first origin of the Spirit. By confessing the Spirit as he “who proceeds from the Father”, it affirms that he comes from the Father through the Son.[77] The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque). It says this, “legitimately and with good reason”,[78] for the eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as “the principle without principle”,[79] is the first origin of the Spirit, but also that as Father of the only Son, he is, with the Son, the single principle from which the Holy Spirit proceeds.[80] This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.

I do agree that the Holy Spirit is beyond gender.


#19

[quote=Bobby Jim]And I generally find arguments based on the gender of pronouns unconvincing. As others have probably said, there’s not a strict correlation between grammatical gender and biological sex, in English or in other languages, and there is certainly no consistency in grammatical gender when translating from one language to the next. I’m not sure how noun genders are derived in the first place, but it seems like a pretty basic grammatical convention of the language, like the correct way to form a plural or the conjugation of a verb. To go about arbitrarily changing noun genders sounds silly, kind of like Yoda reversing sentences and placing objects before subjects.
[/quote]

Referred to as male, God was, because external his nature was!

Read JPII’s “Theology of the Body” you will!

MMMMM!!!

(sorry I couldn’t resist :smiley: )


#20

Thal,
Your post was not combatative this time. I like that. Also, the family aspect which Scott Hahn also writes on, attributes the heart to the Holy Spirit.

I think Scott, in his writing acknowleges the imperfection of the covenant approach to the Trinity. I don’t see any problem with your approach on a poetic basis, but I am trying to keep catholic doctrine straight in my head.

I am uncertain what implications you are talking about, which Shekina had to the Hebrews on an OT basis.
Are you referring to some targums or something?


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.