Women and the Gender of God– The Dialogue Part Seven

Women and the Gender of God– The Dialogue Part Seven March 27, 2023

Q. There is a difference in the Bible between naming and activities.  Yes indeed there are various activities in which God is said to be like a mother, and Jesus as well, but God is nowhere named Mother in the Bible, and to reduce God the Father to God the parent is to depersonalize the language.  Jesus had a human mother and a heavenly Father and in this he was unique, and he did not call God the Father ‘Mother’ for this very reason. That would disrespect and devalue Mary?  Do you view this issue differently?


No, I totally agree. You’ve stated it well to summarize my arguments in the book.


Q. Mary is presented as in some respects a model of discipleship, particularly in Luke 1-2, and perhaps again in John 19. But she is also depicted as one who misunderstands Jesus and with her children tries to take him home when she thinks he is ‘exstasis’ not in normal condition from spending too much time performing exorcisms (Mark 3.21-35). This serious misunderstanding and attempt to intervene in Jesus’ ministry can only be called misguided, if not sin.  Mary is not presented in just a positive light in the Gospels.  And I would not read Lk. 8 about ‘this is my mother, brothers, and sisters, whoever does God’s will’ as referring directly or specifically to Jesus’ physical family (note that John 7.5 the brothers didn’t yet believe in him).  Luke’s way of putting this leaves room for Mary and Jesus’ siblings being included in the family of faith but Mark. 3.31-35 makes a contrast between the disciples as Jesus’ proper family, and his physical family.  The physical family was not part of the disciple group during Jesus’ ministry. Would you disagree at least in regard to Mary?


A. I agree that his brothers were not part of his followers during his ministry, but I don’t think that is a necessary conclusion with regard to Mary. I read Mark 3:21-35 in a more positive light. If she is part of the group mentioned in vv. 20-21, which is not the only way to translate the Greek phrase, then it is not necessarily the case that she is disagreeing with his ministry. You could check out my argument in the chapter on Mary in this book: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/voices-from-the-edge-9780198848844?cc=us&lang=en&

I prefer to read this text in light of all the others in the NT about her, namely that she continually affirms, even as she grows in her understanding of, the ministry of her Son.


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