Archive for June, 2009

From “Father” to “Mother”

June 15, 2009

Rendering “God” as “Godde” and using divine feminine pronouns are straightforward editorial decisions, as we have argued below. But what about the NT’s pervasive use of the masculine word “Father” to describe Godde? Inclusive Bibles have proposed different solutions.

For example, “An Inclusive Version” often simply replaces “Father” with “God,” but occasionally uses the awkward term “Father-Mother” to balance out the gendered parental imagery. By contrast, “The Inclusive Bible” uses the term “Abba God” instead of “Father.”

In the DFV we have chosen simply to render “Father” as “Mother” in most cases. This decision is based on the fact that the type of intimate familial divine-human relationship that Christians associate with the term “Father” are equally, if not more powerfully, communicated by the term “Mother.” Relying on the principle of dynamic equivalence, and recognizing the language of parenthood as a metaphor with reference to Godde, our decision to use “Mother” instead of “Father” seems an appropriate way to highlight the divine feminine.

Christians have long thought of the “Fatherhood” of Godde as an effective metaphor for talking about spiritual intimacy with the divine. For example, many continue to believe that the Aramaic word Abba means “Daddy,” despite the fact that Joachim Jeremias, the scholar who proposed that translation, later retracted his suggestion as “a piece of inadmissable naïvity.” Nevertheless, though the significance of the term Abba is more ambiguous (see Mary Rose D’Angelo, “Abba and Father: Imperial Theology and the Jesus Traditions, JBL III/4 (1992) 611-630), we recognize the importance of the intimate spiritual experience that people associate with the term.

While rendering the Greek term pater consistently as “Mother” instead of “Father,” the DFV actually proposes to retain the term “Father” as a translation of the Aramaic Abba in Mark 14:36,  Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6,  rendering Abba ho pater as “Father, Mother”: Two different ways, among many, of conceiving our relationship to our Godde who is like a loving and caring parent.

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