Bible Review 10:5, October 1994

Moving Beyond Masculine Metaphors

The holy God is beyond all our categories, including gender distinctions of masculine or feminine.

By Bernhard W. Anderson

Bible Review

A great furor has arisen over the Re-imagining Conference—dedicated to reconsidering the ways we “image” or conceptualize God—held in Minneapolis in November 1993. Gathered together from various religious bodies, women were encouraged to reflect on women’s experience and to use feminine imagery when speaking of God. While many participants found the conference stimulating, they have since been accused of ridiculing Christianity and of replacing it with goddess-worship.1

Appealing to such biblical books as Proverbs, where Wisdom (Hebrew hokmah) is personified as a woman, conference delegates addressed God as Sophia, the Greek word for Wisdom. In the first part of the Book of Proverbs (chapters 1–9), those who seek wisdom are invited to choose between two women: the Strange Woman, who attempts to seduce people to follow her foolish and destructive ways, and the Wisdom Woman, who entices people to pursue ways leading to peace and joy. Wisdom—who is a prophetess like Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4) and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14)—is portrayed standing in the marketplace, summoning people to mend their ways or face the consequences (Proverbs 1:20–33).

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