Metalogos: The Gospels of Thomas, Philip and Truth

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(2) The Maternal Spirit

As one whom his mother comforts, so shall I comfort you.

Isa 66:13


The origin of the world is its Mother;

recognize the Mother and you recognize the child,

embrace the child and you embrace the Mother.

Lao Tse, Tao Teh Ching, 5


I am the Father and the Mother of this Universe.

Bhagavad Gita, 9.17


It is spoken by the Maker, Modeler, Mother-Father of Life, of Humankind.

Popul Vuh of the Quiché Maya, Prologue.

In a remarkable saying in the Thomas Gospel, the Savior asserts: ‘My mother bore my body, yet my True Mother gave me the life.[1] (Th 101; cf. Th 15/46) This passage—the only recorded occasion in which Christ refers to God as his Mother[2]—is subsequently elucidated by an equally surprising entry in the Philip Gospel: ‘Some say that Mariam was impregnated by the Sacred Spirit. They are confused, they know not what they say. Whenever was a female impregnated by a female?’ (Ph 18) For in this latter logion, attention is being drawn to the fact that ‘spirit’ is of feminine gender in the Semitic languages (Hebrew, xwr [rúakh]: breath, wind, spirit). This fundamental point, traditionally obscured in scriptural translation and largely ignored by commentators, clearly has the most far-reaching theological implications.

It is simply ungrammatical, whenever there are alternate forms either available or readily constructed in a given language, for a word to be used to refer to a being of the opposite gender—thus for example Hebrew/English )ybn/prophet and h)ybn/prophetess.[3] But furthermore, xwr itself is very occasionally used as of masculine gender, as in Ex 10:13: hbr)h-t) )#n Myrqh xwrw, ‘the east wind brought the locusts’, where the verb )#n is in the qal perfect third-person masculine singular. Thus xwr could elsewhere in the OT have been employed in the masculine in referring to the Divine Spirit, if that had been considered more appropriate.

Let us also note the salient parallel between Isa 66:13 LXX and Jn 14:16:

Ως ει τινα μητηρ παρακαλεσει, ουτως και εγω παρακαλεσω υμας.

Like if of-someone mother helpmates, thus also I helpmate you.

Καγω ερωτησω τον πατερα, και αλλον παρακλητον δωσει υμιν.

And-I shall-request of-the Father, and another Helpmate he-will-give you.

This evident allusion strongly conveys a maternal concept of the Paraclete.

Now of course ΠΝΕΥΜΑ in Greek is neuter and ΠΑΡΑΚΛΗΤΟΣ masculine, while SPIRITUS and ADVOCATUS in Latin are both masculine in gender. Hence starting from the earliest versions of both the Old and New Testaments in non-Semitic tongues, the very idea was lost which Thomas is conveying and Philip emphasizing in the foregoing quotations. Thus from having the neuter form ΤΟ ΠΝΕΥΜΑ instead of a feminine form Η ΠΝΕΥΜΗ in Greek, we pass to e.g. ‘el Espíritu’ instead of ‘la Espíritu’ in Spanish, ‘der Geist’ instead of ‘die Geist’ in German, and in English ‘he/him’ in place of ‘she/her’ referring to the Helpmate (Hebrew, Mxn-m: participle, and thus without gender) in Jn 16:7 ff.

We need hardly remind ourselves of the confusions, schisms and even religious machismo to which this gender-shift has given rise across the centuries, as theologians struggled to make sense of a presumably all-male Trinity. Thus, as is well known, the Orthodox/Catholic rupture of 1054 AD resulted from the vexed ‘filioque’ controversy, over the procession of the third member of the Trinity.[4] With the Sacred Spirit as a maternal figure, however, the underlying idea is clarified: Father God and Mother Spirit and Incarnate Son as the basic mystery of three-in-one, the threefold Godhead. Here the concept is evidently that of a transcendental holy family, in which the Divine Childand indeed each child5 (Mt 18:10, Jn 11:52)is eternally born, not of the physical union between human parents, but rather of the mystical union between the paternal and maternal aspects of the Divinity:

Thus, as to the filioque controversy, it is precisely a third possibility—and neither the Oriental nor the Occidental doctrine—that resolves the issue: the Holy Spirit does not proceed from the Father, either with or without the Son; rather the Son proceeds (is born) from the Father joined with the Sacred Spirit. This logically coherent form of the Trinitarian concept has for centuries been effectively obscured by a simple grammatical shift.

One might therefore say that in the flesh Yeshua was once born of the Virgin Mariam, whereas in the Spirit she is eternally born of him; the Virgin is the Incarnation of the maternal Spirit, just as Yeshua is the Incarnation of God the Father (Jn 19:26-27!).

Herewith are the other passages in Thomas, Philip and Valentine which directly concern this topic: ‘Yeshua sees little children who are being suckled. He says to his Disciples: These little children who are being suckled are like those who enter the Sovereignty.’ (Th 22)In the days when we were Hebrews we were fatherless, having only our Mother. Yet when we became Messianics the Father came to be with the Mother for us.’ (Ph 6)She alone is the truth. She makes the multitude, and concerning us she teaches this alone in a love thru many.’ (Ph 12)His (true) Mother and Sister and Mate is (called) Mariam”.’ (Ph 36)A Disciple one day made request of the Lord for something worldly; he says to him: Request of thy Mother and she will give to thee from what belongs to another.’ (Ph 38)Wisdom is barren without Sons—hence she is called the Mother,... the Sacred Spirit, the True Mother who multiplies her Sons.(Ph 40)The wisdom which humans call barren is the Mother of the Angels.’ (Ph 59)Adam came into being from two virgins—from the Spirit and from the virgin earth.’ (Ph 90)The Mother is the truth, yet the conjoining is the recognition.’ (Ph 116)He supports them all, he atones them and moreover he assumes the face-form of every one, purifying them, bringing them back—within the Father, within the Mother, Yeshua of infinite kindness. The Father uncovers his bosom, which is the Sacred Spirit, revealing his secret. His secret is his Son!’ (Tr 17)

In numerous entries in the latter part of Philip, reference is then made to the ΝΥΜΦΩΝ or Bridal-Chamber wherein the Son is born of the mystical union of the Father with the Spirit—thus for example: If it is appropriate to tell a mystery, the Father of the totality mated with the Virgin who had come down—and a fire shone for him on that day. He revealed the power of the Bridal-Chamber. Thus his body came into being on that day. He came forth from the Bridal-Chamber as one who has issued from the Bridegroom with the Bride. This is how Yeshua established the totality in his heart. And thru these, it is appropriate for each one of the Disciples to enter into his repose.’ (Ph 89) This primal mystery is then celebrated in the sacrament of the Holy Bridal-Chamber. (Th 75, Ph 73/79)

It will be of value to list here the fourteen female Disciples who appear in the scriptures: (1) the Virgin [Mt 1:18/13:55/28:1, Lk 2:48 {‘thy father’?}, Ac 1:14]; (2) Mariam the sister of Yeshua [Mc 6:3, Ph 36]; (3) Mariam of Magdala [Lk 8:2, Jn 20:1-18]; (4) Mariam the wife of Cleopas [Lk 24:18, Jn 19:25]; (5) Mariam the mother of John Mark [Ac 12:12]; (6,7) Mariam & Martha of Bethany [Lk 10:38-42, Jn 11:1-44/12:1-8]; (8) the sister of the Virgin [Jn 19:25]; (9) Salome [Mk 15:40/16:1, Th 61b]; (10) Susanna [Lk 8:2]; (11) Johanna wife of Chuza [Lk 8:2/24:10]; (12) the wife of Zebedee [Mt 20:20-23/28:56]; (13) Tabitha [Ac 9:36-43]; and (14) Rhoda [Ac 12:13-17].

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1ta.maau.gar.nta.[s.mise mmo.i.eb]ol.[ta.maau].de.m.me.a.s.5 na.ei.m.p.wn6; see Bear in Th Notes.

2But see the Gospel of the Hebrews: The Savior says:... my Mother the Sacred Spirit’(cited by Origen, Commentary on John, II.6), as well as the maternal image in the Mother Hen parable at Mt 23:37, and also the quotes from Gilles Quispel and Raymond Brown in Modern Scholarly Comments’.

3Nonetheless, the contrary grammatical gender can be used in order to obtain a determined cognitive effect—thus an ordained female may be called a ‘priest’ rather than a ‘priestess’, in order to emphasize an equality of ecclesiastical rôle between the two sexes. ‘The metaphorical meanings of sentences in which are used the masculine or the feminine of ... terms, [are] completely distinct’, Pedro José Chamizo Domínguez, Metáfora y conocimiento, Universidad de Málaga, 1998.

4Filioque: combination of Latin words meaning ‘and of the Son’, added to the Nicene Creed of 325 AD by the Visigothic III Council of Toledo in 589 AD: CREDO IN SPIRITUM SANCTUM QUI EX PATRE {FILIOQUE} PROCEDIT: ‘I believe in the Sacred Spirit, who from the Father {and the Son} proceeds’; the Orthodox Church did not accept the inclusion, leading to the final rupture of 1054 AD between the Eastern and Western Churches.

5I assume that ΜΟΝΟΓΕΝΗΣ (uniquely born) in Jn 1:14 refers to the singularity of the Virgin Birth, and not to Christ's being the only Son; see Jn 1:12-13/20:17.