Misogyny in the Bible

Biblical Scholar April DeConick Explains How the Mother God and the Female Holy Spirit Got Spayed

Biblical studies professor April DeConick (above) of Rice University believes that some scholars may be too quick to apologize for misogyny in the Bible because of a religious belief in the sacred nature of the Bible. In fact, the Israelites worshiped a Mother God as well as a Father God, and some early Christians believed in a female Holy Spirit. But because the female body was considered imperfect in the ancient world, April DeConick says, it affected the theologies, worship and sacred texts that came out of that world.

Is God gendered as a male in the Bible? How could Scripture, the Word of God to so many Christians, be the product of patriarchy and its over-sexed values that are grounded in the perpetuation of male domination and the degradation of the female? How could Jesus be portrayed as someone who valued God as a male spiritual being? With these challenging questions, April DeConick begins her Biblical Views column in the September/October 2012 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, exploring the possibility of misogyny in the Bible.

To begin with, humans—whether ancient or modern—think within gender categories. In much of the ancient world, the female body was considered subhuman, imperfect. According to April DeConick, the Bible came into being within a cultural matrix where the female body was, by definition, substandard and dehumanized. Although ancient Israelites worshiped a Mother God and some early Christians believed in a female Holy Spirit, the dehumanization of the female body affected virtually every storyline of the Bible and affected the way in which the ancient people created their theologies and engaged in worship. Once the Church defined the doctrine of the trinity as consubstantial, there couldn’t be a female Holy Spirit as substantial s a male Father and Son.

To read more from April DeConick about the female Holy Spirit and possible instances of misogyny in the Bible, see her Biblical Views column, “How the Mother God Got Spayed,” in the September/October 2012 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

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  • Clare says

    Mother Earth. Where does that name come from? It is important to remember that Judaism & Christianity are from the Middle East & then adopted by Europeans & a few other continents but by no means all. To look down upon others beliefs is wrong. I respect the beliefs of religious people & atheists. They are beliefs – any body who says they ARE the truth is arrogant & distrespectful. You may BELIEVE they are the truth, but others believe different things to be true that are just as important to them. Most religions teach tolerance – it may shock some that Islam does in the Koran. I chose to keep an open mind to all religions & beliefs. There are wisdoms we can benefit from in some religions & also things no longer appropriate or that we can see are morally wrong in them too. I once asked a religious person whether belief in God waa more important to them than whether somebody was a good person or not & he struggled to answer. I know what I believe a good person is. I think most if us agree on our country’s laws, though these should evolve because we all agree to change them for the common good.

  • Clare says

    I am a fundamentalist agnostic. The bible seems yo me like an account of different humans trying to work out how to have a functioning society. My theory is that scribes wrote it in order to control society so that it did not destroy itself. That it was not a factual document but tgey needed people to think it was so that they would obey its rules. There are many contradictions within it & many things praised by ‘God’ that in modern world are illegal eg: offering your daughters to be raped by men/incest etc. Before the Torah/Old Testament was written icons of a female deity were found. Then with her husband & then only her husband.

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