There are 13 thoughts on “Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?”.

  1. Awesome! Well, here I am, a year plus later than Rebekah’s comment, to say I really liked this article. It hit my funny bone in a couple of places, too! I always appreciate it when writers incorporate humor into their work. I had just discovered Margaret Barker and Lady Wisdom a few days before finding this gem. I e-mailed her to tell her that my heart hasn’t stop smiling since I read about Lady Wisdom. Now, after reading this article? My heart is grinning from one chamber to the next! It only makes sense: a Heavenly family . . . the Father, the Mother, and the Son. I will have to do more reading and thinking about a daughter, too!

  2. Thanks, Dr. Petersen. This was a joy to read–interesting, thought-provoking, and at times hilarious. I really appreciate your work here.

  3. Mrs. Petersen,
    An excellent review of an excellent scholar; your sensitivity to the nuance in and of LDS doctrine is evident. Revelation is line upon line; how long before we realize that always Heavenly Mother has been there, veiled in symbols and shadows to which we’ve long grown deadeningly accustomed?

  4. No, there isn’t any that I know of, but there are a multitude of assumptive references to the Holy Ghost as male.The English translations of the Bible usually use masculine pronouns to refer to the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, and I believe most English speakers assume a *natural* connection, but that isn’t really fair, because this is not about biological sex, it’s about linguistic grammar.

    In languages that retain the quality of grammatical gender, many of the words that would translate as “ghost” or “spirit” have GRAMMATICAL feminine gender. Our hangup as speakers of THIS stage of English is that the idea of biological sex has become associated with “gender,” but “gender” was originally a language category having little or nothing to do with the referent of any word “having” the biological sex reflected in its linguistic gender. Clear as mud?

    Example: in French, “table” is feminine, “LA table” and “book” is masculine, “LE livre.” And yet, and YET, tables nor books have genitalia.

    So there is this: Hebrew, Greek, and even Latin, older Biblical languages than English, have words for Spirit that are feminine. English translators changed the grammatical gender in those passages to masculine, perhaps(?) to consolidate the male identity of a trinity. I do not know how much those translators were nudged by the religio-political hegemony of patriarchalism, or simple error, or instruction, or for some other reason.

    I do know that claims of the gendered pronoun “he” for God the Holy Ghost in the English Bible are not a legitimate defense for the idea of the Holy Ghost being a male Spirit, but I am equally sure that the feminine gender of the older words did not necessarily reflect a biologically female referent.

  5. As I read this, I couldn’t help but think of the role of the Holy Ghost in LDS doctrine and how many of the attributes such as peacemaker, comforter, spiritual nurturer, seemed to align with what we consider feminine qualities.
    Also we call the Holy Ghost a “teacher of wisdom”, which supposedly is the attribute of the ancient mother God.
    My question is, although the term “He” is attributed by LDS to the Holy Ghost, is there really any specific doctrinal teaching regarding the gender of the Holy Ghost?

  6. The “nothing but” misses the point. The expression is symptomatic of all-or-nothing thinking. That sort of thinking tends to miss important details. The prophets made their contributions to the Old Testament as we have it, but so did the various layers of editors. That is Barker’s point. The evidence that she marshals demonstrates that every time the scriptures have been edited, more has been done to remove evidence of her place and presence. (Have you read Barker’s The Mother of the Lord v1 and/or Dever’s Did God Have a Wife?). After the Deuteronomists did their bit, the later Masoretes did their bit. After that, the Protestant transmitters and translators did their bit. As a consequence, some things that used to be plain, and perhaps even precious, have been lost in transmission.
    And at least one significant prophet suggests that such things might be recovered. (See 1 Nephi 13 and compare )

    And it’s not a matter of salvic worship of a Divine Feminine instead of El Elyon or Yahweh, but of recognition of her place and presence, of learning what various names and titles (Wisdom, for example, who Jesus mentions as having children, or the Woman Clothed with the Son, or Asherah, or the tree of life, or the love of God, for instance) signify when read in their original form and context. 2 Nephi 25:1-5 argues that we won’t understand the Hebrew prophets unless we learn something of the original context. And there is Mosiah 8:20:

    O how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them!

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA

  7. So you’re basically saying that the entire Old Testament, which last time I checked, was canonized by the church, is nothing but a misogynistic fraud. Whew! What a relief. I guess I never have to read Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel again. Here’s another theory: maybe the Deuteronomists were right. There is not a single prophet in the Old Testament who condoned the worship of Asherah, or any other deity, besides the Lord. Barkers hypothesis, and one that you happily endorse, is that all of these men must have been liars trying to suppress the fact that God really has two X chromosomes. This brings another point, why didn’t Christ teach that it was OK to worship this divine feminine? After all he was radical in taking on the Jewish establishment. He didn’t hesitate to cleanse the temple, and attack the Pharisees and their interpretation of the law. Why not simply say that the faith had gone off the track in denying the rightful worship to Gods wife?
    You desperately want something to be out there, but it’s a mirage. Your theory is as dualistic as the Deuteronomists. Either scripture is fraudulent and part of a vast conspiracy to keep women down, or they were putting the faith right by purging out the heretical worship of other gods.

    For me I side with the prophets and with scripture. Heavenly Mother, if she exists, is of no use to us in attaining salvation. Her place in LDS canon owes more to Eliza R. Snow than it does to Joseph Smith. After all she was married to Smith, then later to Brigham Young, and was the sister of Lorenzo Snow, so it’s not like her ideas could be challenged without angering the head of the church. She had powerful protectors, and her beliefs became so enshrined that later prophets didn’t even bother trying to dislodge them outright, they just basically ignored them. Telling the members of the Church not to worship her. If she exists why not give her honor? We unhesitatingly worship the Godhead, why not include her as well? It’s either because the church is a corrupt woman hating institution(which I don’t believe) or there’s no point in worshiping her.

    Barker might be interesting but all she is really trying to do is mainstream old heresies that are best left buried in the iron age.

  8. Pingback: The Lady of the Temple: Academy for Temple Studies Conference | FairMormon Blog

  9. Zina: Fascinating explanation of Barker’s work about our Heavenly Mother. I’m currently reading her “Christmas: The Original Story” and will put “Mother of the Lord” next on my list. I appreciate in your closing paragraph that you say “could each carry our Mother back into the temple, giving her back her place, beside Father”. She is there, and the new cinematography makes it a bit more clear. It seems to me that her presence is “veil”ed from us in the House of the Lord, but that if, following prayer to our Heavenly Father, we LIFT the veil, we will notice more clearly that she was there all along.

  10. Brilliant article in its own right, as the best book reviews should be. And, yes, I’m a fan — a cautious fan, but a fan nevertheless — of Barker’s work, if for no other reason than her quiet yet relentless shredding of scholarly groupthink on monotheism. I think that Barker and Nibley, while certainly not agreeing on many points, nevertheless stand together as two hard-to-easily-refute witnesses against the body of scholars who say, “Of course, it is the way we say it is — how could it be anything else?”

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