The Feminine Gender of the Holy Spirit

Addendum I

The Apostle Paulís Usage of the Divine Feminine

By Steve Santini

Pentecost 2014


The defining text for the feminine nature of the Holy Spirit is that of the ancient Aramaic gospels in the Siniatic Palimpsest..[1] The underlying second century Aramaic text of the palimpsest is written in the dialect Jesus had spoken among his followers. According to the first rule of textual criticism the oldest text carries the most weight as to what the original text of scripture revealed. The Siniatic Palimpsest predates the oldest Greek biblical text in the Codex Sinaiticus and Jerome's Latin translation by roughly 200 years and next oldest Aramaic text in the Peshitta by about 300 years.[2]

During the last several centuries, after accumulating and comparing a stream of ancient Greek and Aramaic texts dating from the first millennium, scholars have realized that over time the original text of scripture had been changed through mistakes, ignorance and biases, among other reasons..[3]

The Greek Codex Sinaiticus was a compilation from a number of earlier Greek texts that no longer exist. It is evident from the editorsí notes with the text that revisions of these earlier texts had been made to produce this codex. Constantine Tischendorf, who discovered the codex in the Monastery of Saint Catherine in the Sinai where the palimpsest was later discovered, asserted the codex was one of 50 copies commissioned by Emperor Constantine. As such this revised codex became a standard text in the empire.

The commission for this Greek codex was made in 331 AD, six years after the first church council at Nicaea in Asia Minor. The resulting proclamation from this council made no mention of the nature and function of the Holy Spirit. The second church council held in Constantinople in 360 AD further obfuscated the nature and function of the Holy Spirit by erroneously identifying the Holy Spirit as the spirit of truth..[4] [5]

By the fifth century the eastern churches had followed suit by producing the revised and standardized Peshitta. This version was written in Eastern Aramaic. In a number of areas it contradicted the ancient Aramaic of the Siniatic Palimpsest and contradicted some textual quotations in ancient Aramaic by earlier Eastern Church fathers..[6] In the middle ages, since the earlier text of the Siniatic Palimpsest was no longer favored it was copied over with a history of female church martyrs.

Even so some signposts to the original feminine gender of the Holy Spirit remained in the Greek texts and the Eastern Aramaic text of the Peshitta. One of the most telling is found in the first chapter of the apostle Paulís letter to the Romans. The translation in the King James Version from the Greek reads:

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Romans1:20

In the Greek texts the word for Godhead is unique. It is θειότης, anglicized as theiotes. It is the feminine derivative of the masculine theos translated as God.[7] In translations more modern than the King James Version the translators translated the word theiotes as divinity or divine nature. This was closer to the mark but still lacking the importance of the wordís gender in the verse.

In Greek culture during the times of the early church theiotes was used to designate a feminine god in contrast to a masculine god. In Lucianís Icaromenippus forms of both theos and theiotes are used within one sentence in this following manner.[8] [9]

διελόμενοι τoν μέν τινα πρoτον θεoν επεκάλουν, τοις δε τα δεύτερα και τρίτα ενεμον της θειότητος

The translation is in accordance with Greek thought of that time. In it the masculine god is first, other gods are second and the feminine god is third Ė revealing, though certainly not the picture rendered in scripture of a feminine Holy Spirit in a familial godhead as a mother with a husband and their child.

In verse twenty the phrase of even his eternal power and Godhead in the King James Version reinforces a relationship between the masculine and the feminine of things divine. The conjunction and is the Greek word kai that annexes one thing to another. His eternal power refers to masculine divinity, or the father, and Godhead in accordance with theiotes, is feminine divinity as the Holy Spirit, or the mother.

Both the immediate context and the scope of scripture reinforce the same. The pattern of ďthe things that were madeĒ that the apostle Paul is referring to in the verse are given in Genesis:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

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

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth Genesis 1:26-28

In the latter immediate context of the cited verse in Romans the apostle Paul uses the relationship between feminine divinity and masculine divinity to point out the pattern of spiritual error inherent in lesbian and homosexual practice.

Just two verses prior to this twentieth verse identifying feminine divinity, what Paul wrote is revealing since it shows that feminine divinity was introduced at the very beginning of Paulís seven letter treatise on his gospel of Christ.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Romans 1:16,17

This also tells us that for both the Jews and Gentiles in the body of Christ during Paulís day the Holy Spiritís role in the loving heavenly family was commonly understood and appreciated. Though once darkened to us for many centuries we can now likewise blend a familial Godhead into our thoughts of faith, hope and love.


Main Article

The Feminine Gender of the Holy Spirit

Related Article

The Woman and the Angels of 1 Corinthians 11

Introduction and Main Index

Copyright, 2014, Steve Santini


[1] A palimpsest is a text that has been written over an older text. For economies and practicalities writers and copyists would scrape text from much older velum texts that had fallen into disuse and reuse them for more current subjects. With careful examination by the use of more modern technologies the older underlying text can be recovered. Old Syriac is another term used for ancient Aramaic. Some scholars call the Siniatic Palimpsest the Old Syriac Palimpsest.


[2] Agnes S. Lewis, The old Syriac gospels, or Evangelion Da-MepharreshÍí, London, 1910 p. iv, v & & International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 8479.37 \(3) Sinaitic Syriac, 1915


[3] The percentage of errors, insertions and revisions in the Codex Sinaiticus is relatively small. Most are insignificant and thereby inconsequential. But there are a some that alter early church history or the scope of original Christian doctrine. More numerous problems arise in the various translations from the Greek.


[4] The Homoian Creed, from the Council of Constantinople, 360 AD,


[5] Chapter fourteen of Johnís gospel records two comforters. Verses 16 through 25 pertain to the spirit of truth. Verse 26 begins with the word but. In the Greek text the word for but is de. De is a moderately contrasting conjunction. The remainder of verse 26 pertains to the Holy Spirit rather than the spirit of truth within the preceding nine verses. In verse 16 of the Siniatic Palimpsest the Aramaic noun for the spirit of truth comforter and its associated nouns are in the masculine gender. In verse 26 of the Siniatic Palimpsest the Aramaic noun for the Holy Spirit comforter and its associated pronouns are in the feminine gender. Jesus describes the Holy Spirit comforter as one that will reiterate and teach all that he has said and done when he was with them, while he describes the spirit of truth comforter as one that will reveal things to come. (John 16:7-15)

See: The Two Comforters of Johnís Gospel,


[6] S. R. Ring, Identifying early Syriac gospel texts, Xth SYMPOSIUM SYRIACUM, last modified 2009,


[7] J. P. Louw, & E. A. Nida, (Editors), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semitic Domains, United Bible Society, NY, 1999, 12:13


[8] A. M. Harmon, Lucian, Works with an English Translation, Harvard University Press, London, 1915, Section 9


[9] Lucian was a contemporary of second century Christianity in the East. He also wrote a fictional satire about second century Christian communities called The Passing of Peregrinus. In it the main character expressed how easily one could take advantage of Christian generosity. It is the oldest surviving work on secular perceptions of early Christianity.