"Feminine images cluster around the Spirit, as the Syriac word for spirit, ruha, is itself feminine.”
"An early stream of Aramaic-Syriac Christian tradition portrayed the
Spirit as feminine… In the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Holy Spirit is
seen as Christ's mother and also the power that transports him to the
mountain of his transfiguration. In this gospel, Christ says, "Even
so did my mother, the Holy Spirit, take me by one of my hairs and
carry me away unto the great Mountain, Tabor."
The most lush development of female images for the Spirit is found in the second-century Syriac hymns the Odes of Solomon. The language of these hymns is poetic, non philosophical, and explains a plurality of images for the believer's transformed life through communion with the divine. Feminine images cluster around the Spirit, as the Syriac word for spirit, ruha, is itself feminine."
Goddesses and the Divine Feminine: A Western Religious History
By Rosemary Radford Ruether, University of California Press; 2006, page 132
The Qur'an uses two terms "Ruh-Allah" and "Ar-Ruh-Al-Qudus" for the Spirit of God. Such is the case in the following references: "We gave unto Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs [of Allah's sovereignty], and we supported him with the Holy Spirit [ar-Ruh-al Qudus]," (Surah 2, Al-Baqarah, The Cow: 87).
"When Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Remember My favour unto thee and unto thy mother; how I strengthened thee with the Holy Spirit [al- Ruh al-Qudus], so that the Scripture and Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel . . . and thou didst heal him who was born blind and the leper by My permission; and how thou didst raise the dead, by My permission" (Surah 5 Al-Ma'idah, The Table Spread: 110).
"Go, O my sons, and ascertain concerning Joseph and his brother, and despair not the Spirit of Allah [Ruh-Allah]" (Surah 12, Joseph: 87).
"Say (O Muhammad): The Holy Spirit hath revealed it (the Quran) from thy Lord with Truth, that it may confirm the faith of those who believe and as a guidance and Good Tidings (gospels) for those who have Surrendered (to Allah)." 16:102
"And thus have We inspired in thee (Muhammad) a Spirit of Our Command. Thou knowest not what the Scripture was nor what the Faith. But We have made it a light whereby We guide whom We will of Our bondmen. And lo! Thou verily dost guide unto a right path., the path of Allah, unto whom belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Do not all things reach Allah at last?" 42:52-53
"And lo! It (the Quran) is a revelation of the Lord of the Worlds which the True Spirit hath brought down upon thy heart, that thou mayest be one of the warners in plain Arabic speech." 26:192-195
Note: The above quotations from the Qur'an make reference to God, to His Word, and to His Spirit. Ruh is Allah’s own attribute given to human beings. The Quran doesn’t say the ruh of man but Ruh of Allah. In Aramaic, Ruha d-Qudsha means "the spirit of holiness" (corresponding to Hebrew: Ruah ha-Qodes, and Arabic: ar-Ruh-al Qudus). For Jews, Muslims and Syriac-speaking Christians it signifies the Holy Spirit mentioned in both the Quran and the Bible.
For four hundred years the word Holy Spirit was ruha, a feminine word derived from the Hebrew ruach
Rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures and flourishing in a patriarchal culture, Christianity developed its own negative attitudes towards women and the old religion of the Goddess. At times subtle, at other times brutal, the movement was away from partnership and towards hierarchy, from feminine images of the Divine to strictly masculine ones. Despite Jesus' radical inclusion of women as friends and disciples and his refusal to treat them as second-rate, sinfully sexual, or stupid, his followers quickly established as orthodox an all-male priesthood, a masculine Trinity, and a theologically expressed aversion to women.
Thus Tertullian, a Christian theologian in the third century, described Eve as the gateway to the devil because, according to the Genesis myth, she first broke God's law and brought about the loss of original purity. He held her personally responsible for the death of Christ, and his general distrust and distaste of women was based on this rationale.
Origin, a theologian contemporary with Tertullian, wrote of the feminine and the corporeal as essentially one, and unworthy of God. He believed that God saw only the masculine and spiritual aspects of creation, since the Creator could surely not be expected to stoop so low as to regard the feminine and fleshy. St. Jerome, writing a century later, expressed this same equation of woman with sexuality and sin by reasoning that since Paul had written that it is well for a man not to touch a woman (1 Cor 7:1), then it must always be bad to touch a woman. Women were dangerously physical, inferior to men at best and destructive to the eternal souls at worst.
Virginity and celibacy therefore became elevated as spiritually more pure than marriage or sexual activity of any kind, and sexual sin was judged severely. Expressions of Christianity such as Gnosticism that gave women and men an equal place in the community, in liturgy, and in leadership, and that refereed to the Godhead as "Mother" as well as "Father" were suppressed as heretical, and their sacred writings were destroyed.
Where the Wisdom tradition was brought to bear on Christology, with Christ seen as the incarnation of God' eternal and universal wisdom, the feminine word Sophia was replaced by the masculine Logos. And in Syria, where for four hundred years the word Holy Spirit was ruha, a feminine word derived from the Hebrew ruach, and where the Holy Spirit was described as Mother, complementing the parental imagery of Father and Son in the Trinity, the association of feminine language with heresy led authors to assign masculine gender to the word— grammatical nonsense but evidence of the theological desire to defeminize the Divine."
She changes everything: seeking the divine on a feminist path
Lucy Reid, pages 32-33
Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. (2 Feb 2006)
ISBN: 978 0567026316
"Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from the 4th to the 8th centuries. It was the classical language of Edessa, preserved in a large body of Syriac literature.
It became the vehicle of Eastern Christianity and culture, spreading throughout Asia as far as Malabar and Eastern China and was the medium of communication and cultural dissemination for Arabs and, to a lesser extent, Persians. Primarily a Christian medium of expression, Syriac had a fundamental cultural and literary influence on the development of Arabic which replaced it towards the end of the eighth century. Syriac remains the liturgical language of Syriac Christianity.
Syriac is a Middle Aramaic language, and as such a language of the Western branch of the Semitic family.
Syriac is written in the Syriac alphabet, a derivation of the Aramaic alphabet."
"Aramaic is a Semitic language with a 3,000-year history. It has been the language of administration of empires and the language of divine worship. It was the day-to-day language of Israel in the Second Temple period (539 BCE – 70 CE), the original language of large sections of the biblical books of Daniel and Ezra, likely to have been the mother tongue of Jesus of Nazareth and is the main language of the Talmud.
Aramaic belongs to the Afro-Asiatic language family. Within that diverse family, it belongs to the Semitic subfamily. Aramaic is a part of the Northwest Semitic group of languages, which also includes the Canaanite languages such as Hebrew and Phoenician. Aramaic script was widely adopted for other languages, and is ancestral to the Arabic and Hebrew alphabets.
Aramaic's long history and diverse and widespread use has led to the development of many divergent varieties which are sometimes treated as dialects. Thus, there is no one Aramaic language, but each time and place has had its own variety. Aramaic is retained as a liturgical language by certain Eastern Christian sects, in the form of Syriac, the Aramaic variety by which Eastern Christianity was diffused, whether or not those communities once spoke it or another form of Aramaic as their vernacular, but have since shifted to another language as their primary community language.
Modern Aramaic is spoken today as a first language by many scattered, predominantly small, and largely isolated communities of differing Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups of the Middle East—most numerously by the Assyrians in the form of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic—that have all retained use of the once dominant lingua franca despite subsequent language shifts experienced throughout the Middle East. The Aramaic languages are considered to be endangered.…
The term `Old Aramaic' is used to describe the varieties of the language from its first known use until the point roughly marked by the rise of the Sasanian Empire (224 CE), dominating the influential, eastern dialect region. As such, the term covers over thirteen centuries of the development of Aramaic. This vast time span includes all Aramaic that is now effectively extinct."
1. Beyer, Klaus; John F. Healey (trans.) (1986). The Aramaic Language: its distribution and subdivisions. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht. pp. 44. ISBN 3-525-53573-2.
2. Aramaic appears somewhere between 11th and 9th centuries BCE. Beyer (1986: 11) suggests that written Aramaic probably dates from the eleventh century BCE, as it is established by the tenth century, to which he dates the oldest inscriptions of northern Syria. Heinrichs (1990: x) uses the less controversial date of ninth century, for which there is clear and widespread attestation.
3. Beyer 1986: 38–43; Casey 1998: 83–6, 88, 89–93; Eerdmans 1975: 72.
4. Heinrichs 1990: xi–xv; Beyer 1986: 53.
5.Naby, Eden. From Lingua Franca to Endangered Language. Assyrian International News Agency.
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