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Friday, April 13, 2007
  God and Gender colloquium: my abstract
As I currently plan it my paper for the colloquium, with the title:

The image of the invisible God: (an)iconic knowing, God and gender

Will comprise two main sections, the first:

Aniconic knowing: God beyond gender

Beginning from evidence that the Christian theologians of the formative period (the “fathers of the church”) understood that God was beyond gender categories. Will then argue that the gods of polytheism are commonly gendered, and that this is almost inevitable, because these gods are often imaged in human form, and anthropomorphic images can - indeed almost must - suggest gender. By contrast the Hebrew Bible insisted that God is aniconic (not to be imaged – unimaginable?) and therefore resisted any simple gendering of God.

Iconic knowing: Jesus and the Father

However, the New Testament presents Jesus (a male human) as “the image of the invisible God” and he talked of God as “Father”. This double imaging of the invisible God has resulted in a tendency to imagine God as male. I will suggest that a closer look at Jesus' use of father language shows that it does not simply gender God. Indeed such male imagining of God distorts theology, and also therefore distorts the sayings of Jesus on which it is based.

At least, that's the idea. I will try to blog parts of the argument here, for comment and discussion. In the meanwhile I would appreciate any comments on the abstract!

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