Thursday, March 29, 2018

Quaeritur: Why the Lack of Feminine Language in Reference to the Trinity?


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Quaeritur: I am reading St. Thomas' treatise on the Trinity (Summa theologiae, Ia Pars, qq. 27-43).  I am trying to understand more about the Trinity, how the Persons relate to one another, and how we can properly communicate about it. One thing that feels amiss to me is the lack of the feminine when I encounter the Trinity. God is obviously neither male nor female, but when I see the term "generation" as it relates to the Father and Son, a maternal force more readily comes to mind. In our creatural experiences women are the generators. I might suggest allowing some of the feminine attributes of God to be encountered here. It is also not uncommon for the Father’s love for us to be described in a maternal way. “As a mother comforts her child, so will I [God] comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” (Isa. 66:13). Some others are Mt. 23:3 and Is. 49:15.

Respondeo: Regarding the feminine aspects of 'generation', St. Thomas is simply being faithful to Scripture (and Tradition) by using masculine terms. Jesus revealed himself as the as the only-begotten (rather than "birthed" or "conceived") Son of the Father: all of these are masculine references. Despite the Divine Nature being asexual, and despite there being some apt maternal metaphors for God and His relationship towards us (as you rightly point out), God did reveal Himself to us principally in unequivocally masculine terms, and so it makes sense that we respect that revelation by echoing it in our theology.

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