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Count Zinzendorf came to the aid of the Moravian Brethren. He held that the Holy Spirit was matriarchal. Are there any teachings of this perspective in early church history?

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I think this is pretty interesting because in a musical about the Bible I saw a few years ago, which was very reverent and well done called "In the Garden" the Holy Spirit was acted by a woman and the visuals that that inspired made perfect sense. In the Catholic Church we usually refer to the Holy Spirit as He, but in this sense a woman as the Holy Spirit seemed the better fit for the role. – Peter Turner Jun 18 '13 at 22:22
People might be interested in this: – DJClayworth Jun 19 '13 at 15:12
Was "this perspective" that the Holy Spirit was matriarchal, female, or feminine? (I hesitate to correct the spelling error in the title before this is clarified.) Matriarchal would seem to be non-Nicene ("proceeds from the Father", worshiped and glorified together--"rule", to any extent that it exists within the equality and unity of the Godhead, would seem to be from the Father) and female seems to have unclear meaning for a purely spiritual, non-reproducing being (but might be used informally for feminine). – Paul A. Clayton Jun 19 '13 at 21:22
Matriarchal is more like motherly. Essentially Jesus is the eternal Son conceived by the will of God the Father born of the Holy Spirit. Eternal is the key, contingencies that are not time bound. – Rick Jun 19 '13 at 21:51
In a Science article entitled "The Holy Spirit: The Feminine Aspect Of the Godhead” – Rick Aug 28 '13 at 16:58
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You might want to look at my article from several years ago The Motherhood of the Holy Spirit in the 18th century Brudergemeine in Church History.

Zinzendorf claimed that there was precedent for this in early Christian theology, especially Ephraim. Trudy Beyark just published a book on the feminine side of God which looks at feminine language in many Christian traditions, including Catholicism.

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Just read your article, thank you for answering my question! – Rick Jun 21 '13 at 16:41
Welcome to the site. Have you checked out our tour page yet? While I appreciate the addition to the conversation here I think you've failed to address the root of this question: are there any early church teachings from this perspective? – Caleb Jun 29 '13 at 15:17

The theory of Matriarchal Holy Spirit is a Gnostic Heresy. It doesn't have anything to do with the scriptures. Jesus addresses the Holy Spirit by the masculine gender in the following verses of John 14:26 (But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.) and John 15:26 (But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.).

Those who believe in a Matriarchal Holy Spirit are simply alluding to the fact that many in this world tends to understand God by things of the world that are clearly visible. They believe that since the human family on earth comprises of a husband, wife, and son, the family in heaven too should comprise of God the Father, the Holy Spirit as Mother, and Jesus as the Son.

Also remember the present day proponents of the idea of a Matriarchal Holy Spirit are some of the feminist groups and not any seriously religious groups.

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Perhaps a linguistic expert could shed light here. The word translated above as "he" is "autos", a Greek neuter noun. Further any reference to Holy Spirit by Christ would have been rendered from Hebrew, which "Spirit" in Hebrew is a feminine noun. – Rick Jun 19 '13 at 11:14
Ruwach is the Hebrew word for Spirit ( – Rick Jun 19 '13 at 16:05
A correction, the word translated above as "he" is "ekeinos", a Greek pronoun meaning “he, she, it” not “autos”. – Rick Sep 18 '13 at 16:08

Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

No the Holy Spirit is not female nor is He feminine. The Holy Spirit was called a He many times especially in Jesus' introduction to the Holy Spirit.

However Shekhinah the manifestation of the presence of the Lord usually a cloud of smoke is grammatically female in the original Hebrew. Other than that everything about God is masculine.

ἀναγγέλλω which is derived from the male word ἄγγελος

ὁδηγέω which is derived from the male word ὁδηγός

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You have to realize that the gender of pronouns in English bibles is largely a matter of choice of the translators, and may or may not reflect the gender (if any) implied in the original languages. If you understood this you should make a more detailed reference to the original languages. – DJClayworth Jun 19 '13 at 15:11
Wisdom is often associated in Scripture with the Holy Spirit, in both Greek and Hebrew "wisdom" is a feminine noun. – Rick Jun 19 '13 at 15:37
@DJClayworth If this was hermanutics perhaps but i will post greek links since you requested it – user4060 Jun 19 '13 at 19:58
ὁδηγέω which is derived from the male word ὁδηγός – user4060 Jun 19 '13 at 19:59
@caseyr547 If content deserves to be added on request, it should be edited into the body of your answer. Comments are ephemeral second class citizens and should not be used to supplement content. Also, please do format links using [title](url). I just fixed your last four :) Lastly , just a word to the wise: never try to guess who downvotes are from. It almost never works out right. You'd be surprised how not-possible that is (and no it wasn't me). You stand nothing to gain and lots to loose by trying. – Caleb Jun 19 '13 at 21:36

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