Neither male nor female: Poetic imagery and the nature of God in the Old Testament

McConville, J Gordon ORCID: 0000-0003-4789-100X (2019) Neither male nor female: Poetic imagery and the nature of God in the Old Testament. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 44 (1). pp. 166-181. doi:10.1177/0309089218778585

7175 McConville (2019) Neither male nor female Poetic imagery and the nature of God in the Old Testament.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License All Rights Reserved.

Download (185kB) | Preview


The article considers the relationship between the metaphorical language for God used in the poetry of the Old Testament, especially female metaphors, and the Old Testament’s portrayal of the nature of God. It considers two opposing views: first, that female imagery, such as birth imagery, suggests that Yahweh has a ‘female aspect’, and, second, that such language notwithstanding, Yahweh is indefeasibly male. The argument employs cognitive linguistic theory and suggests that male and female metaphors for Yahweh do not bespeak either maleness or femaleness in the deity, but rather Yahweh’s identification with human experience broadly. While the Old Testament emerged in a world dominated by masculine perspectives, it also transforms received concepts, especially in relation to God. This transformative character of the Old Testament can become a model for contemporary readings of the Bible in relation to the contentious area of gender and language for God.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cognitive; Father; Female; God; Male; Metaphor; Mother; Poetry
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2019 11:04
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:54

University Staff: Request a correction | Repository Editors: Update this record

University Of Gloucestershire

Bookmark and Share

Find Us On Social Media:

Social Media Icons Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube Pinterest Linkedin

Other University Web Sites

University of Gloucestershire, The Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 2RH. Telephone +44 (0)844 8010001.