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Female Images of God in Christian Worship

In the Spirituality of "TongSungGiDo</I> of the Korean Church


Kim MyungSil

Female Images of God in Christian Worship: In the Spirituality of TongSungGiDo of the Korean Church examines problems that arise from the use of exclusively patriarchal images in modern Christian worship. The author asserts that female images in the Bible could help worshippers find a relationship with God and provide encouragement and comfort in difficult situations. As a Korean Christian, MyungSil Kim explores the possibilities of employing God’s female images in the services of the Korean Church, noting that Korea’s native religions, the ancient religions and Muism, had many female deities unlike patriarchal foreign religions such as Buddhism and Confucianism. These female deities have comforted the Korean people when they experienced han, a distinctive emotion of deep sadness and resentment that is characteristically Korean. TongSungGiDo, the unique Korean prayer style of communal lament, provides an opportune space and time for the consideration of female images in the Bible. MyungSil Kim examines how female images could more effectively function in the context of TongSungGiDo in accordance with traditional practices to express the complementarity among the concepts of han, lament, female images of God, and prayer. This book is strongly grounded on biblical studies, feminist studies, Christian ethics, and religious studies, including principles of inculturation. The volume is a valuable resource to pastors who are sensitive about language justice in worship and to those seeking to explore feminist theology and particularly feminist liturgical studies.
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Chapter 3. Female References and Images for God in the Bible

← 66 | 67 → Chapter 3


In the Bible, especially the Hebrew Bible, we can find many anthropomorphic metaphors for God, including female images. These anthropomorphic metaphors help us reflect on who God is and what God is doing for us. Moreover, they assist us in finding our identity in God’s images. In particular, female images help worshipping female-women realize that they are created in God’s image, and thus understand their physical, psychological, and spiritual phenomena in light of the female images of God.

God’s female images in the Bible are significant not only as they relate to the issue of female identity, in the resemblance between God and themselves as the image of God, but also because of the biblical metaphors that describe God’s unconditional love and compassion toward the people as children. While many images and references for God are motherly anatomical images of womb and breast, images of God’s skillful caring as midwife are also used, as well as images of the authority and power of the subjective female, the female householder or supervisor.

The womb image of God1 in the Hebrew Bible was perceived and carefully studied by Phyllis Trible in the 1970s. According to her study, the singular form of the Hebrew noun rahamim (compassion) shown in 1 Kings 3:16–28 (a story of two women’s dispute about a baby) is the noun rehem which means “womb” or “uterus.”2 In other words, the plural form of ‘womb’ is the noun ‘compassion.’ ← 67 | 68 → Thus, Trible...

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