Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Reading Genesis I'm a little bit confused about these verses:

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Genesis 5:1 This is the written account of Adam’s family line.

When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind”[a] when they were created.

So we can see that man was created in the image of God = male and female. Does this mean that God has two images, a male and a female one? or is this something lost in translation. Thanks!

share|improve this question
1  
You might be interested to read this answer on a closely related question. The question seems clearly on-topic to me, but it may be close enough to the one I linked to be considered a duplicate. –  Jack Douglas Jun 10 '14 at 8:54
1  
While I don't have research to back it up other than the general pattern of other scriptures (hence a comment and not an answer), my understanding of this has always been that male and female together form the image of God. From the behavior of God (he doesn't reproduce sexually and shows both traditionally male and female tendencies) he doesn't really seem to have a traditional gender, rather I'd argue that men and women working together to create and working as one is the image of the triune God. –  AJ Henderson Jun 10 '14 at 13:45

5 Answers 5

What these verses imply is that, whatever “image of God” implies, sex is irrelevant.

In the Jewish view, since God has no physical form at all, it is meaningless to speak of His sex. The various Hebrew words that translate as “God” all have masculine grammatical gender. (The word for “spirit”, ruach, has feminine gender though, so the “spirit of God” which “hovers over the water’s surface” in Genesis 1 is spoken of in the feminine.)

share|improve this answer

I also think (as in the previous comment) that it is meaningless to speak of the gender of God

And it is unwise, in many cases, to try and equate grammatical gender with actual gender. The word for "spirit" is grammatically feminine in the Hebrew, and grammatically neuter in the Greek, but this tells us nothing at all about the actual gender of the Holy Spirit. It is most likely that the Holy Spirit has nothing like gender.

God created humans in his image. And he made them male and female (just as he did with the animals.) Gender, or sex, in humans is not not necessarily intrinsically associated with "the image of God." God's image does not equal male and female.

As his image bearers, humans are commissioned to act as God's regents on earth. This task is given to both men and women.

God is spoken of in the Bible using masculine and feminine metaphors, but this has been done to help us understand something of God's character. We must not confuse metaphor with reality.

share|improve this answer
    
It could also be argued that due to the Trinity, Yes god it BOTH male AND female due to the point you highlighted - that the Holy Spirit is grammatically feminine. –  James Shewey Sep 5 '14 at 22:49

From my comments here: What the ‘Early Church Parents’ said about God’s gender | Catholic Herald:

What does the Church teach?

CCC 370 In no way is God in man's image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective "perfections" of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband.

"What the ‘Early Church Parents' said about God’s gender? This [words in-bold] is just foolish and adds to the confusion. To me, the confusion consistent with and a product of our sex-obsessed culture and influence by what Vatican termed as radical feminine themes. God has no gender as the article quotes St. Jerome.

What does Scripture say?
From the plain reading of Gn 1:7 (RSVCE)? - So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them, and from Church teaching above, it appears that while God in neither male nor female and not in the image of man [no gender], he is Male AND Female [ and made man in this image], and the better question might have been what is the understanding of this, and why is it God chose to reveal himself in male terms. In summary, in relation to man, God, who alone is Father unlike any other father, is father and husband to man and Israel, and Jesus, the Bridegroom, the husband to the Church, his Mystical body and Bride.

From the revelation of the Son, that we should believe him that he is in the Father and the Father is in him [cf. Jn 14:11 (RSVCE)], within the Church there has come the understanding of Circuminsession the mutual immanence of the three distinct persons of the Holy Trinity. This is one of my understanding of God being Male & Female.

Endnote: I hope it does not escape readers that confusion regarding Trinity, the central mystery of the Christian faith and life, is at a time when there is widespread confusion about the nature of man himself [cf. gender ideology, radical feminism, "gay marriage", etc.].


The Father communicates his whole divine essence to the Son [without alienating it from himself]. Here the Father is giving and the Son receiving. The way I see it, within the Godhead, each Person of the Blessed Trinity receives from and gives to Godhead. The Father, Being [=Good], the Son [Truth], and the Spirit [Love/Spirit]. God generates the Son, they both breathe forth the Holy Spirit and ... that's why God is worshiped in Spirit and in Truth, what the Father, who is "the principle without principle", receives. In the Godhead, there is the eternal exchange among the persons of the Blessed Trinity.

The "Maleness" of the Spirit: For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. [Cf. 1 Cor 2:10 (RSVCE)].

share|improve this answer

God's gender is not measured by the flesh. When God needed to use a masculine description of self, then that is what God did; same as feminine, and neutered.

In a VERY loose regards, you can see that God uses masculine description when showing strength, power, and authority. Feminine when showing compassion, comfort, and love. Neutered when calling about existence.

This is in the same way that God refers to self as a fountain of living waters. Is God a fountain? No, nor is God water, however the imagery is powerful in that living waters are not poisoned or dead, and a living fountain does not dry out.

share|improve this answer

The real God is non-physical, therefore it doesn't have gender as we know it, but it has it all as we're his manifestation.

It's like all the colors of the rainbow is made of white light.

Re: Elohim, it's plural, so it could indicate group of beings, that's why it's "us".

Check for further info: Why is Elohim translated as God rather than gods?.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.