This is not about the modern cultural war between the belief that gender is binary and genetic and cannot change, and the belief that gender is fluid and can be changed. It is instead the controversial subject of Adam’s gender at creation – and a couple of other related subjects.
You might be thinking, “Well, Adam was created a male, wasn’t he? Problem solved.” Not quite. As we shall see from the Hebrew grammar, while Adam was not created female, he was not created male, either. Dr A Nyland, a language scholar, explains in an endnote of her book Complete Books of Enoch: 1 Enoch (First Book of Enoch, 2 Enoch (Secrets of Enoch), 3 Enoch (Hebrew Book of Enoch):
Adam, the first human. Adam is a word which simply means “human.” The above statement demonstrates the confusion between the English language and the original languages of Scripture. The verse actually reads, “God created adam (the word for the race of human beings) in God’s image – God created it in the image of God, God created them male and female.” Genesis 5:2 states, “God created them male and female and blessed them and called them human (adam) on the day they were created.” The word “Adam” that we see in English translations of Genesis is merely a “transliteration”, the result of putting the Hebrew letters into English letters. The translation is “human”, person/s of both genders. Hebrew has grammatical gender. Many languages have grammatical gender but English does not. In English, we only use words like “he” and “she” when we are speaking of persons, and we try to find out the biological gender of those persons so we know whether to refer to a particular person as “he” or “she.” In languages which have grammatical gender, all nouns, whether or not they refer to persons, have a gender. Hebrew has two genders and Greek has three. These languages use pronouns like “he” and “she” with nouns, such as table, tree and lake. The pronoun goes with the noun to which it refers. This is what is meant by “the pronoun agreeing with its antecedent.” We need to learn the grammatical gender of the noun to know which pronoun to use. It is exceptionally important to note that grammatical gender does not match biological gender – it may, but by coincidence only. Thus, in ancient Greek, the word for “old woman” is neuter gender. Yet if we were translating a Greek sentence about an old woman into English, we would not refer to the old woman as “it,” we would refer to the old woman as “she.” The Greek word for a trench is feminine gender, but in English it would be silly to refer to the trench as “she.” We just don’t do that in English. English is different from Hebrew and Greek. In Hebrew, the word adam is masculine grammatical gender. That means it has to have a masculine pronoun, just as the word for hand (even a man’s hand) in Hebrew is feminine and must have a feminine pronoun. Again, this has nothing to do with biological gender. In the account of the adam in Genesis, Genesis 1:27 states, “God created human in God’s image. In the image of God, God created oto.” Oto is the singular masculine accusative pronoun agreeing with adam, the human. It has to be masculine grammatical gender to agree with the gender of the noun. It simply replaces the word adam. In English we say “him” because tradition holds that the biological gender of the adam was male and the English language does not refer to a person as “it.” The verse continues, “Male and female God created otam.” Otam is the plural gender-unmarked accusative pronoun. Grammatically, this refers to the adam, humanity. Thus the verse means, “God created humanity in God’s image. God created it in God’s image, God created them male and female.” Thus God did not create the male first, God created the human first, humanity. God did not create a male first and identify humanity with that male’s name. The previous verse, 26, states, “Let us make adam … and let them rule.” Adam is here treated as a collective noun, agreeing with a plural verb, that is, the human race. Again, the account does not mention a singular male.
Genesis 1:27 speaks of the creation of the adam. If the noun is a collective it could either agree with a plural or singular pronoun. That means that we do not know, from the grammar, whether the noun means “human” and thus the first human was androgynous (as the ancient tradition holds), or whether the noun means “humanity”. That is, we do not know whether a single androgynous “human” was created, or whether “humanity”, males and females, were created. Further on, the account consistently refers to males and females under the term adam. Adam is the general term for humans, both male and female. At the end of chapter 1, all the references to adam are in the plural. Genesis 2:5 states that there was no adam to cultivate the soil. There is no reference to maleness in the verse. Genesis 2:7 tells us that God formed the adam from dust, breathed into its nostrils the breath of life, and that the adam was a living being. We do not know if the noun is collective or singular (as grammatically it could be either), and no gender is specified. Genesis 2:8 says God put the adam in the garden. Again, the masculine pronoun is used as it must agree with the grammatical gender, unlike English, where a masculine pronoun would indicate a male person. In verses 16-17, God speaks to the adam. At this point, the term adam still encompasses male and female.
In Genesis 2:18-19 God says, “It is not good for the adam to be alone, I will appoint a suitable helper for it.” Again, the masculine personal pronoun in Hebrew simply agrees with the grammatical gender of the Hebrew noun adam. It is usually translated as “he” in English, as people have assumed that the adam was a male. There is nothing in the grammar to indicate that the adam was a male, and animals are first brought as suitable companions. There was no initial idea that a female of the species was lacking. There is no idea, grammatical or otherwise, that the adam is a male. In Genesis 2:20, the adam gave names to the animals. The adam here is now presented in the Hebrew as a singular person, but still there is nothing to suggest that the adam was not both male and female. In verse 21, God put a deep sleep on the adam, and withdrew the female portion from it. (Hebrew tsal’ot, Greek pleura, referring to the factor the portion, it was only later Rabbinic tradition that had “rib”.) In verse 22, God shaped that which he had taken from the adam into an isha (female) and brought her to the adam. In verses 23 and 24, the word isha (female) is distinguished from the ish (male). This is the first time the words for female and male have appeared in the account. The adam is now an ish, and becomes the individual Adam. However, the meaning of the word adam has not changed, he is a human. Yes, he is now, at this point, also a male, but the word adam means “human.” The female portion was taken out of the human, the adam, and became an isha. That which was left was still called a human, adam. Someone can remove a piece of pie from a whole pie, but the remaining pie is still called a pie. It does not have to be renamed just because a piece of it was removed. The following verse refers to the new two individuals as ish and isha, male and female. However, Adam as a name does not appear until Chapter 5. This has similar language to chapter 1, where the adam is created in God’s image, male and female. However, this is followed by a significant statement. After the male and female are introduced, God blessed them, and named them adam: “God created them male and female and blessed them and called them human (adam) on the day they were created.” Thus it is clear that the word adam bears no connotations of maleness. Thus Adam is now a male, but the word “Adam” does not mean male, it still means “human”. The Hebrew word adam did not refer to male humans in particular; it means “human,” “humanity,” and did eventually refer to the husband of Eve, but his name was “Human”. Yes, at this point, he was a male human being, but his name was not “Male” in Hebrew, it was “Human.” (Endnote 49)
So, the gist of all that is that Adam was created a hermaphrodite, with both male and female organs. Eve was created by removing Adam’s female portion, not his rib.
Then there is the Holy Spirit (Ruach ha’Kodesh), commonly referred to as a “he” or “it”. It can be established that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic (which I hope to write about in a later post). This was the nearly universal declaration of the early church fathers, and is also supported by the Greek New Testament manuscripts themselves – they are written in very poor Greek grammar, but very good Hebrew and Aramaic grammar. The Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts, on the other hand, have no such problems. It is a historical fact that the first century AD Jews spoke primarily Hebrew, with Aramaic as the language of commerce. Most Jews simply did not speak Greek – Josephus said he went to great pains and expense to try and learn the language, but never fully mastered it. Which doesn’t match the traditional language. Anyway, as James Trimm explains in the preface to his Hebraic Roots Version (HRV) of the Bible:
One problem that presents itself in translating the New Testament from Hebrew and Aramaic into English, is the gender of the Ruach Ha’Kodesh (Holy Spirit). English is very different from Hebrew and Aramaic. To begin with, English had three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter (i.e. he, she, and it). Hebrew and Aramaic have no neuter gender. In Hebrew and Aramaic everything is either a “he” or a “she”, and nothing is an “it”. Also gender plays a much more important role in Hebrew and Aramaic, than in English. In English, gender is usually only an issue when dealing with pronouns. But in Hebrew and Aramaic, nouns and verbs are also masculine or feminine. And while there are no true adjectives in Hebrew (nouns are used as adjectives), noun modifiers must agree in gender with the noun. Now the Hebrew word RUACH (Aramaic RUCHA) is grammatically feminine, as is the phrase Ruach Ha’Kodesh. This is matched by the role of the Ruach Ha’Kodesh as “comforter” (John 14-16), and the identification of the “comforter”, with YHWH acting as a “mother” (Is. 66:13).
Now in English, the Ruach is often referred to as “he” or “it” as also in the Greek New Testament. However this seems very odd indeed, to the Semitic mind.
Now it is very clear that the gender of the RUACH has been revised in many passages of the Aramaic, to agree with the Hellenistic concept of the Holy Spirit as being either a “he” or an “it”. Thus the pronouns used for the Ruach Ha’Kodesh in John 14-16 in the Peshitta [standard Aramaic text of both Testaments], are all in masculine. However the hand of revision is very clear. For example, while both the Peshitta and Old Syriac have “he” in John 16:8, the Old Syriac has “she” just a few verses further down in 16:13, while the Peshitta has “he”.
Moreover there are passages in which the Peshitta itself, pairs the Ruach Ha’Kodesh with feminine verbs and/or feminine modifiers: Mk 1:10; John 1: 32, 33; 6:63; 7:39; Acts 8:29, 39; 16:17; Rom. 8:9, 10, 11, 16, 26a, 26b, 1 Cor. 3:16; 1 Tim. 4:1; 1 Pet. 1:11; 4:14 and 1 Jn 5:6. In fact the Peshitta Aramaic of Rom. 8:16, opens with:
…והי רוחא מסהדא
And she the Ruach gives testimony….
While it is clear the Ruach Ha’Kodesh has no literal gender, it is also clear that the Ruach Ha’Kodesh is grammatically and figuratively a “she”.
So… Adam may have been created a hermaphrodite, Eve was created from his female organs, the Holy Spirit is technically a female… While no doubt somewhat controversial, the above is simply what the original Hebrew and Aramaic of the Bible appears to say.