Most of the persons, of whom I am aware, who advocate the restoration of the Divine Feminine to Christianity believe that Jesus was a worshiper of the Feminine Divine either in the form of Asherah, Sophia or even Isis the Egyptian goddess. I do believe that it is possible that Jesus may have had a relationship to the divine feminine in the form of Wisdom / Hokhma. However regarding the other two? The worship of Asherah had been suppressed about 500 years earlier when the Jewish people became monotheistic. Isis? It is hardly worth discussing. Suffice it to say that no temples to pagan gods existed in First century Judea / Palestine.
The Holy Spirit has also been suggested as another possibility. After all the word for “spirit” in Hebrew is “ruah” which because of its ending is grammatically feminine. Since verbs and adjectives in Hebrew also have grammatical gender these are also feminine when used in relation to the spirit / ruah. Note. Aramaic a language closely linked to Hebrew was the daily language of Jews in biblical Palestine and Syria. However in spite of these facts, I have always had some reservations regarding the possibility that Jesus may have envisioned the Holy Spirit as both Feminine and Mother. One problem for me has always been based on my lack of knowledge regarding the significance of grammatically gender in language. In English most nouns words have no gender and verbs and adjectives certainly do not. So I tend to not understand the feeling / meaning of words in a language in which grammatical gender is important.
The other problem I have had with the idea that the Holy Spirit is a female divine being is that most of the ways the “spirit” as used in our Bibles seem to be impersonal in nature and often seems in fact to be just another way of verbalizing God’s force or power. That for instance is how the Holy Spirit is expressed in the bibles of the Jehovah’s Witness church and their interpretation has always seemed fairly credible to me.
Well some days ago I started rereading a little booklet called Finding Holy Spirit Mother by Ally Kateusz, a graduate student at the University of Missouri, and the primary writer for the Divine Balance blog. I initially read it when it was shared here several months ago by an occasional poster Mary Ann Beavis. I read it then and was impressed. On rereading it, I am even more impressed. I think that Ally Kateusz makes the best argument of which I am aware that Jesus may in fact have regarded the Holy Spirit as being both female and as his Divine Mother. To do this she cites from several sources. Among these are those often cited from the Gnostic gospels of Philip and Thomas.
What is unusual, however, is that in addition to these sources, she adds evidence from the writings of the early Syriac Church, the church of Syria in which Judea was a part. The language of the Syriac Church was Aramaic the language that Jesus actually spoke and the language of the earliest church churches. Kateusz cites scholars of the early Syrian church such as Sebastian Brock, who basing their findings on their studies of the ancient baptism liturgy and of the other ch literature of Syriac church during its first four centuries, believe that in this time period the Holy Spirit was almost always envisioned as feminine.
That began to change only in the fourth and fifth centuries after a converted Roman Empire began to suppress the so called Christian “heresies.” At that time the femaleness of the Holy Spirit began to be edited out of the texts. This finding is particularly important because the Syriac Church may have contained traditions that predate even Paul’s letters. The fact that the Syriac Church envisioned the Holy Spirit as both female and mother and believed that Jesus did as well is powerful evidence that perhaps he did.
The same process that occurred in the Syrian church occurred in some of the most important apocryphal Christian texts as well. For example in the earliest version of the Acts of Thomas that the Holy Spirits was viewed both as feminine and mother. As an example within it, Thomas ends a prayer with ” We glorify and praise thee and thine invisible Father and thine Holy Spirit the Mother of all creation.” During the 4th and 5th centuries these references are all edited out of the book.
The same process seems to have occurred in the Acts of Philip in which the earliest protagonists were apparently Philip and Mary Magdalene. Within the book Mary preached “You are guilty of having forgotten your origins your Father in heaven and your spiritual Mother. If you wake up, however you will receive illumination.” In the latter orthodox version of the book Mary and the offensive passages are edited out. Mary is replaced by the safely conventional Peter.
Ally Kateusz ends her book with a discussion of the Biblical gospels. She examines each of the four gospels and notes the number of times Jesus uses the language of the Father as opposed to the times he uses the language of the Holy Spirit. Thus in the Gospel of Mark both the Holy Spirit and the Father are each mentioned four times. In Luke a strong balance between Spirit language and Father language also occurs. There are 11 verses each containing references to the Holy Spirit and to the Father. However in Matthew the situation changes. Here the references to the Father occur 44 times and to the Holy Spirit only 12 times. In John the change is even more radical. Within this book Jesus refers to his Father 110 times and to the Holy Spirit only four times.
Thus it is clear that each of the gospel writers had very clear differences regarding Jesus’ use of language in referring to God. Both Mark and Luke seem to suggest that the Holy Spirit was as important to Jesus as was the Father. In both Matthew and John in contrast Jesus relates primarily to the Father and only quite secondarily to the Holy Spirit. This perhaps explains why we tend to think that Jesus’ primary spiritual relationship was with his intimate Father and that he was only secondarily connected to an impersonal ( and to us abstract) Holy Spirit.
These are just a few of the intriguing things that I found in Ally Kateusz’ book. There are more that may be just as significant. Finding Holy Spirit Mother is only of 31 pages long and I would strongly suggest that those interested in these issues to read it. The link to the booklet is http://divinebalance.org/ebooks/Finding%20Holy%20Spirit%20Mother.pdf
early medieval fresco of Trinity