Sharov K.S. Attempts to Describe God and Divine Categories in a Gender-Neutral Way in the Modern Feminist Linguistic Discourse


Konstantin S. Sharov

Candidate of Sciences (Philosophy), Senior Lecturer, Philosophy Department, M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University

Prosp. Lomonosovsky, 27, Bld. 4, 119991 Moscow, GSP-1, Russia

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Abstract. The article is devoted to the study of feminist linguistic concepts in which attempts are made to re-think the category of divinity. We study gender-neutral (inclusive) versions of English translations of the Bible that depict God not as the Father but as Father and Mother in the heaven. We also investigate quotations from classical versions of the Bible that use the model of imagining God in female terms (e. g., a mother, a nurse, a woman giving birth). The purpose of the paper is to study of feminist preferences is linguistic techniques of the Bible translation into English; to find out to what extent the results of such technique implementations are adequate from the point of view of the classical linguistic-theological approach; to define the limits to which these results are valuable for the linguistic analysis of sacred texts. The research methodology includes a contextual analysis method, comparative, structural, comparative historical methods. For comparison with gender-neutral versions of the Bible, quotations from classical translations are studied: the original edition of the English King James's Bible of 1611, the Elizabethan Russian Slavonic Bible of 1751, the Synodal Russian Bible of 1876 and the Hebrew Masoretic text of the Tanakh. It is shown that, from a linguistic view, God is beyond the gender field and is not traditionally described in the categories of male or female natural gender (sex). It is established that the comparison of God in the classical versions of the Bible with a woman, is no more than a conventional linguistic procedure that does not testify the essentialist feminist nature of the divine. It is concluded that despite high attractiveness and usefulness of feminist discourse in modern times, the academic Christian theology, history of confessions and religious linguistics cannot accept the idea of God as a Creature embodying the two polar gender principles (male and female). Similarly, gender-neutral English translations of the Bible should not be recognised nor accepted by the scientific and Church communities as an Anglican canon.

Key words: gender-neutral Bible, politically correct Bible, feminism, linguistic description of God, English Bible, Masoretic text, Septuagint, Russian Slavonic Bible.

Citation. Sharov K.S. Attempts to Describe God and Divine Categories in a Gender-Neutral Way in the Modern Feminist Linguistic Discourse. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 2. Yazykoznanie [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. Linguistics], 2019, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 204-216. (in Russian). DOI:

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