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Is God a Boy Rock or a girl pebble in the Bible?

July 7, 2012

“Returning to the ‘masculine feel’ of Christianity discussion, [started by John Piper],” writes Tony Reinke this week in a blogpost at Piper’s blog,

“it may be worthwhile to address one prominent point in the debate. While God the Father is spirit, and therefore is not a sexual being nor is he ‘male,’ he chooses to predominantly reveal himself in masculine language in Scripture…”

“In his book Our Father in Heaven: Christian Faith and Inclusive Language for God, John Cooper published the conclusions … of [one of] his major discoveries … [that] while feminine metaphors for God’s activity are sometimes used [in the Bible], and used to illustrate the tender nurturing character of God, none of these references include feminine titles for God.”

In wonderful response to Reinke’s post, Joel Hoffman asks at his blog, “Is God a boy god or a girl god in the Bible?”

What Hoffman rightly finds fascinating is Reinke’s would-be infallible conclusion:

“Most interesting is Reinke’s explanation: ‘That explains why in Scripture we find many many masculine titles for God: Lord, Father, King, Judge, Savior, Ruler, Warrior, Shepherd, Husband, and even a handful of metaphorical masculine titles like Rock, Fortress, and Shield..'”

So Hoffman asks:

“What would make ‘Rock’ a ‘metaphorical masculine title’? Not that it matters, but the word itself is feminine in Hebrew (at least one of the words, eh-ven) and in Greek (petra). Similarly, what makes ‘lord,’ ‘savior’, ‘ruler,’ etc. masculine? Certainly nothing intrinsic to the words.”

So I ask, “Is God a Boy Rock or a girl pebble in the Bible?”  And I offer you the Flintstones’s daughter and the Rubble’s son as an illustration of the problem here:

So let’s continue with Hoffman’s brilliant insights, as he says the following with some appropriate humility and wise understanding about language and gender and gendered language in the Bible about God:

“I think that Reinke and Cooper are going about this the wrong way. The gender of the words used to describe or identify God is irrelevant.

Rather — as in so many other instances — I think the key to understanding the language here is knowing how imagery works.”

The rest of Hoffman’s post can be read here.  If you’re interested in the conversation, then please feel free to join in.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    July 7, 2012 12:42 pm

    Can’t help but wonder if these men counted the number of times that God is called “our help” a title given to Eve.

  2. July 7, 2012 4:20 pm

    At least they said “masculine language” signifying a discussion of gender and not “male language” as if God were male in sex. And, since this is about gender, we can just immediately point out that gender is a social construct and ask whose social construct God is masculine within and how it obtained its privileged position to rule us all.

  3. July 8, 2012 1:42 pm

    So I ask, “Is God a Boy Rock or a girl pebble in the Bible?” And I offer you the Flintstones’s daughter and the Rubble’s son as an illustration of the problem here:

    Was there an image or text missing here?

  4. July 8, 2012 2:28 pm

    Was there an image or text missing here?

    Yes, and it shows on my PC, my Mac, my iPhone, and my iPad via Safari, Firefox, and the WP app for Apple devices. The hyperlink to the image at zazzle.com (in the code of the post) is the one that follows, to show the cover of issue #55 of Stoneage magazine, Rock Weekly!, with the girl Pebbles in various ways breaking down and going all out of control. The Boy Bamm Bamm is not only in control in the drivers seat but he’s also the victim to her uncontained emotions. Are you not able to see it somehow?

    http://www.zazzle.com/rlv/isapi/designall.dll?action=realview&pdt=zazzle_postcard&pending=false&pid=239327340328511428&rvtype=product&view=front&max_dim=1000&bg=dddddd&square_it=true&draw_relative_size=true&type=standard_postcard&front=front_vert&back=back_horz&drawareaboundingbox=false&drawsafearea=false

  5. July 8, 2012 2:44 pm

    Thanks. I’ve taken the liberty of replacing the link to Zazzle’s dynamic image generation with a fixed jpeg, so now it should show up in more media, even those with firewalls activated.

  6. July 8, 2012 2:48 pm

    I didn’t even think of the problem for many readers behind firewalls. Thank you for the fix.

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