We all know that the Bible has a long history as the backdrop for domestic, national, and international relations. And, we know that history extends to our time, when the domestic and foreign policy of the United States is currently dictated by the biblical beliefs of some of our leaders. We also know, or think we know, that the Bible is a book about men who lived long ago in the desert with robed women trailing after them. And, that is where we are wrong. The Bible can be read as a narrative of spiritual power for women of all ages through all time, to today.
I am privy to no special knowledge of the Bible but I have been sufficiently interested in the Book's impact on the female body, mind and spirit to have learned cursory Hebrew, how to use a biblical Concordance, and how to read the original texts for myself. I am surprised at how easy it is to do that and how radical that seems even in 2007 AD, or 5767 in the Jewish calendar.
In making my own notes and in writing The Feminine Spirit: Recapturing the Heart of Scripture, two biblical themes are featured.
First, my book offers a corrective and nondenominational reading of the Bible that has, by interpreters for centuries, claimed an exclusively male God. The Feminine Spirit looks at the textbook of current western culture from interpreters of the original text and traces the biblical, textual narrative of a female gendered Spirit, God.
Second, in the light of this female Spirit, my book looks at familiar accounts of the stories of women and men in the Bible and offers a view of their stories in the light of the female nature of God and how that view impacts lives today.
No previous Bible knowledge is required to read The Feminine Spirit, but what if the Bible was easy to read and-in just the turn of a page-you could find the comfort, inspiration, and answers you need today? Here are some tips from The Feminine Spirit that you might find helpful if you want to tackle the Bible or if you are already a reader and student of its texts.
How can you read the Bible easily? Begin by reading the Bible as the woman or man you are today-as the sum of all your experience.
Take the Book, go into a room alone and shut the door behind you. Or, if you prefer, take the Book and go out for a walk.
This simple approach is deliberate. The Bible becomes more immediate if you read it alone. No one hears with your ears, sees with your eyes, knows what you need, what you want, or where you want to go in just the way that you do.
Allow yourself to be alone with the Bible and your own unlimited potential for understanding it. The Bible is a lens that magnifies your spiritual self. Reading glasses, mirrors, camera pictures, and the approval of friends are poor substitutes for the vision that exists when you see the Book as a guide to your own consciousness. A Bible of your own is the passport to the greatest adventure of all-the adventure toward self-realization. Each reader in each age is always discovering the Bible. You are on a voyage of discovery.
The Bible you choose should be one that is yours, that speaks in a language you appreciate. Choose the Bible that suits you, just as you choose the music you listen to in your most private, personal moments. Unless you read Hebrew-the original language of the Jewish Bible-or the biblical Greek language of the New Testament, you will be reading a translation.
Ever since the King James Version of the Bible was first published in 1611 and the Bible became available to the individual lay reader, the idea that God is male has informed literature, language, and national and international policies. But there is a female aspect to the biblical Spirit, the Creator, that already exists in the Book. To read the Bible as it is written, to appreciate the feminine aspect of the God of the Bible, may lead you to revise your view of God and of yourself, improve your sense of self-worth and your spiritual, emotional and some say, even your physical health.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1 KJV
Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 describes the Creation of the universe by an all-good, all-powerful God. The Creation-not just of all objects, but also of all ideas-sets the tone for the entire Bible. All else, all the remainder of the pages that make up the texts of the Hebrew and Christian holy words, are commentaries. Backgrounds and foregrounds, highlights and dim places, all politics, history, art, relations between men and women, all stand in relation to the first chapter of Genesis.
Spirit of God, in the original Hebrew, is ruah Elohim. Ruah, the word meaning, "Spirit," is a feminine noun. Elohim is a grammatical feminine plural form of God. Nothing is said about a bearded old man in flowing white robes. What is said is that Spirit, denoted by a feminine word and a feminine plural word, is Creator and moves.
There is no fearsome Father to run from, no overbearing Mother, no absent parent to search for. Remind yourself, make a note if you need to: No matter what you might have heard before, the Creator is not a large man. This reminder will help clarify the Bible for you. The Creative God of the Bible is described as feminine Spirit. And, there begins a new journey for all of us, and the beginning of The Feminine Spirit: Recapturing the Heart of Scripture.
By Lynne Bundesen
Lynne Bundesen is the spirituality expert for Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging (DrWeilonHealthyAging.com). Her most recent book is The Feminine Spirit: Recapturing the Heart of Scripture. Learn more about Lynne on our Expert's Page.