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April 18, 2005



Susie it hurts to open up what you are asking for in the last paragraph. Thanks for the link, though, here is a start - the comment I left there.
I have heard shaddai translated as the full-breasted one, so not only was it a reference to breasts, but to full breasts, like those of a nursing woman. I love to think of male-female partnering as showing attributes of El that we can not see in other ways. Like Susie, I believe until we, on both a personal level and a corporate level,look at what we do with power, the beauty of male-female partnering is rarely seen, and thus these attributes of El are hidden from a world that is hungry for them.


Like Anj, I find that last paragraph opening up areas that need to be filled with truth in my life. THis is a wonderful post to look more deeply at.
I have heard before this meaning of El Shaddai and yet found no answers on it. Also Rembrandt must have somehow know this because he painted a feminine and a masculine hand on the father in The Prodigal Son work.
I like your comment that we must take the risk to believe, so speak, to hear, and as Anj says to acknowledge the power of the beauty created in the feminine.
These were not created as weapons to wound but rather as atributes to be active.
I think one way I found the sacred feminine is in tears. The honesty of soul that allows vulnerability to be a window to the depth of tenderness in Abba.


Thank you for articulating more of what needs to be voiced. There is far too much in your last paragraph for me to even begin to unpack my responses, but I so appreciate the space created by conversations like this...

jen lemen

i am totally with you susie. the third way must be cultivated. without it, my faith will disintegrate--i can no longer live on the images of a strictly male god, no matter how benevolent or magnanimous or providential "he" may be.


I ran some of this by my Hebrew professor, a very progressive female scholar....and she responded that this is something that OT scholars often joke about - because it is a false etymology of where the word came from. This was from her email:

But perhaps the meaning of "mountain" is related to "breast"? Not impossible. Nonetheless, see the relevant entry esp. In Kohler-Baumgartner's Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT), which is better than BDB (but is in many volumes). The root for Shaddai is Shin, dalet (doubled), yod. The root for breast is shin, dalet (different vocalization too).

susie albert miller

yes, adam- i have heard this as well. there are many viewpoints on this translation issue. especially as more voices/different voices are being invited to the text (and to the tools of translation).

the best translation insights i have heard are from one of my former OT profs, a well respected male biblical scholar, who has sat on bible translation committes and is fluent in hebrew, akkadian and babylonian literature...and he illuminated the many nunaces of such words in the hebrew text. He was a rare find in my seminary days. As well, my advanced Hebrew prof invited many questions and renderings as we translated and read the text ,as a community in class, as long as we used good exegetical skills and understood the controversies surrounding etymology and hermenetics...

your comment is not an unfamiliar one, and i think many OT scholars laugh at the tedium we wind ourselves up in! i sure do;)

especially when the issues are so much larger, the imagery for a feminine face of g-d is present in the text, but it remains just that, imagery. the larger issues center around our theology of power and position.

as i said in my post... g-d has neither breasts not a penis, but it is essential that we begin to image g-d with more than a patriarchal face or we will miss a great portion of who g-d is, and the current and upcoming generations will want no part of this is a key part of the missional and incarnational 21 century church...

susie albert miller

for all of you who commented or emailed me, thank you for joining this discussion. i have been blessed and challenged by your heartfelt and vulenrable words. you have opened new imagery for me and i hold your stories with reverence.
it is a journey i am fortunate to travel with fellow sojourners such as you...
please feel free to continue to send me thoughts/answers to the questions/stories as the time this is an ongoing discussion
shalom, susie

Matt Stone


I first heard of the "breasted one" translation of El Shaddai from Phil Johnson some time ago, but was acutely aware of the inadequacy such a conversation being limited to the ruminations of two blokes.

I want to affirm you in your exploration of this - you are right, its a risky journey but a necessary one. Not least because Christians do need be able to have meaningful conversations with goddess devotees without compromising our faith, or alternatively, reigniting the burning times. You may find Phil's article on goddess religion of some interest -

susie albert miller

thanks matt, the article is helpful. i am aware that many women are leaving the christian faith or not even considering it because there is little room for finding themselves in the current images of G-d. Expanding our reflection of who G-d is, may offer many a mirror of being a divine image bearer that has long been missing in christendom.


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traveling companions

  • anj
    a finder and holder of stories.
  • jay voorhees
    only wonder understands
  • jeff
    mixed metaphors from my curious brain
  • karyn
  • natala
    and that has made all the difference
  • wes
    wake up...stay curious
  • will
    journey through willzhead

fellow sojourners