Father-Mother God

When you think of God, are you more inclined to think of Him as masculine? Think again!

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

Categories: Gratitude

Healing is often the result of inspiration and insight gained after studying the Bible and scholarly research. Research provides helpful historical context, lends clarity to confusing phrasing, and even raises more questions for study. Sometimes the scholars we read substantiate common beliefs. Sometimes research challenges traditional theology. For those who are searching, research can open thought to healing messages.

The Bible's second verse alone offers some radically inspiring and healing ideas: "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (Gen 1:2 KJV).

In her book The Feminine Spirit, Lynne Bundesen explains: "Spirit of God in the original Hebrew, is ruah Elohim. Ruah, the word meaning 'Spirit,' is a feminine noun. Elohim is a grammatical feminine plural form of God" (11). In many languages other than English, modifiers of nouns or articles that go with nouns have to be in the same gender as the noun. The modifying word of "ruah" reveals that Elohim, generally held to be a plural form of God or gods, is feminine in this case. When I spoke with Lynne, she told me that more scholars are accepting the concept of Elohim as feminine, but it takes awhile for old beliefs to change.

So let's think about the impact of a feminine God as the source of creation. That fits with the well-known term "Mother Earth." That fits with motherhood, as women give birth. The Mothering God creates, and the creation is all "good" (Gen 1:31). This concept can give women an incredible sense of power and peace, gratitude and love.

Let's combine this concept of the Spirit of God being feminine plural with insights that Olene Carroll shared from her research. She told me that the word "moved" in verse 2 can actually be "brood." The feminine God brooded over the waters. That conveys an entirely different image. We can picture a mother hen brooding over her young, tucking them under her wings, gently caring for them.

The JPS Torah Commentary lends credence to this image. Rather than "the Spirit of God moved," the translation reads "a wind from God sweeping over the water." Nahum M. Sarna explains that the stem for the word "sweeping" is used "in Deuteronomy 32:11, where it describes an eagle hovering over its young" (6). Some other English translations use the word "hovered" for "moved." What a different concept of our Creator, and hence, of creation, this is.

Carroll also explained that the "Spirit of God" used in the story of Creation in Gen 1:2 is the same "Spirit of God" used to announce Jesus' mission. After Jesus was baptized by John, "the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him" (Matt 3:16 KJV). So, if we take Bundesen's view of the feminine God and place it in this context, we could hear a female, Mother God, say, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt 3:17). Wow! We get an entirely different feeling when we think of a mother loving her son, sending him out on his mission.

Carroll also adds: "This same Spirit always comes up when Paul or anyone is about to start something new." She says, "The word 'moved' or 'brood' is often treated as a liquid." So we can see how the Spirit operates. The Spirit is poured out on Jesus, on the disciples, on all of creation. Carroll continues: "The disciples are moved, poured over, filled by the Spirit. So it's a beautiful concept -- God is always behind good works."

How can this view of a feminine God brooding over us like a mother bird, pouring out her Spirit on us when She created us, and filling us with Her Spirit at the beginning of any creative venture affect our view of ourselves and the work that is before us?

Enjoy thinking about the spiritual and practical implications of this tender view of the Creator and Her creation. Enjoy experiencing the healing results that such inspiration can bring.

Works Cited

Bundesen, Lynne. The Feminine Spirit: Recapturing the Heart of Scripture. San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons, 2007.

Sarna, Nahum. JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989.