Friday, October 01, 2004

What is the Bible's gender?

I really do like this question - I think I'd go for interchanging he and she at random... not allow anyone to pin down a specific gender on the word. I am sure that gendering the Bible like this will make some people uneasy, especially (sadly) if given the female persuasion...

I was inspired by this question on Doug Pagitt's blog, check the title link.

I also like the "they" concept, as the Bible's own nature is an argument for community. Written by so many, inspired by a triune God - a story of people, not just a person - even if Christ is central...he is there for everyone else..

What do you think?


T said...

Interesting question to say the least...but honestly- I don't think the church would be ready for's a little abstract thinking but not. I get what Pagitt is saying...but is he suggesting that we put the bible on the same level as the Holy Spirit? The Word is God breathed...but I guess I don't understand why it has to have a pronoun attached to it. And although the bible is sometimes more than just a book or an inatiment object, but a counselor and a friend...isn't that God speaking through the Bible to us?

Sarah said...

Call this a concrete point of view, but the Bible is nothing more than wood-pulp and ink, perhaps cowhide and gilding if you've got a nice one. As an inanimate object, the Bible has no gender. Seeing as how it doesn't reproduce, it doesn't *need* a gender. The only power the Bible as is that which comes from God. Scripture is God-breathed. I know Hebrews 4:12 says that "The word of God is living and active..." but that doesn't mean if you burn a Bible that you're killing something. The word is a tool that God the Father created, God the Son spoke, and God the Spirit chooses to work through. And while we're on that topic, let me just say that I'm not even sure what I think about the Holy Spirit having a gender. God is masculine, Jesus is a man, but the Holy is Spirit is...well, its a Spirit. As the Spirit of a living God, I'd say its masculine, but that's neither here nor there. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a female. Personally I disagree with most of the feminine movement, and I think NOW is something of a joke.

Bottome line: I think that by giving the Bible a gender, you're placing it on a podium that it doesn't derserve to be on. I don't even believe that the Bible is anything other than an argument for a God who created us, loves us, wants us to be with Him, and who is living still. It has many themes, and while one of those may be community, another is money. Does that mean we should refer to the book as "$ = the book formerly known as The Bible"? I see no evidence in Scripture that God sees His word as having a gender, or a race, etc. God is refered to as a Father. Jesus as "The Word", the Son, the shepard. The Spirit as a guide, a teacher, a comforter, an intercessor and partner in prayer when we don't have the words to say ourselves. Scripture is God-breathed, God-inspired, and evidence of a God who works through time and through people. If I missed something in here, let me know. Until then I'll think of genderizing the Bible right up there with replacing every generic 'he' with a 'they' because feminists got their dander up.

But as this is not worth dying over, I'll leave all major arguments with acadamians who have the time for it. ^_^

James said...

These are really great thoughts - I like the way you don't equate the Bible with God (Bible=God?)...

Pagitt's goal in genderizing the Bible is to help people to view it as a par tof their community. Like another member. In that sense, maybe there is another way to help people constantly see the Bible as a member of the communtiy?

Any thoughts?

Sarah said...

Well, if the point is to make the Bible a part of the community...well, I'm not sure what I would do. I've heard the comparison of the Bible to a love letter, or a geneology, or testament. Those are easy to see, but its true that the Bible is more than that because it *is* God-breathed/inspired. But I'm still not really sure of what I think of making it a part of a community, not that I'm trying to downplay its significance at all.

Maybe the thought is just too new for me and I haven't put enough thought into it. For me personally, I see the Bible as a scrapbook of sorts - like the one my Grandma is making. It has pics from when she was little girl, and it has little notes about who people are, why they're important, where they went, what they did... It's a record of our family. Now granted, the Bible is a more valuable tool than a family scrapbook, but without the Spirit of God working...or would I be a heritic if I said that without God working through it, the Bible would just be another book?

Perhaps one of the pitfalls I see is that if people start seeing the Bible as just another member of the community, that they might start using it incorrectly. The word of God isn't a magic eightball to be opened, a verse blindly pointed at, and then taking with absolute blind certainty without realizing the context of the verse. I know things like that happened in the past, and I don't know if things like that still happen today, but I do think it's very dangerous to accept just one verse out of the Bible without understanding the work as a whole. Like the verse "You shall not suffer a witch to live." Taking out of context, Christians should be stoning everyone who has the bumpersticker "My other vehicle is a broomstick." Taken within context - from Genesis to Revelations - we see that it is God who is the ultimate judge and that as long as someone is alive they're free to repent, and that murder is wrong. Extreme example, I know.

Well, that's all I've really got at the moment. It's late and I need to be up on the early side of the morning. Perhaps I'll get more coherant later. :P

Anonymous said...

I don't get the whole "member of the community" thing. I guess if God wanted the Bible to have a gender, it would be referred to as such in the Bible. Eh? Giving inanimate objects gender, like boats or storms, doesn't do anything for acceptance. It's usually a romantic notion thought up by men to convey a certain importance to things. Positive or negative. What is with this "member of the community"? Does that mean equal to all other opinions as in merely a memeber of the community? I did go to the website. I didn't get it. I feeling dense. Sorry.
Allie B