Shawna Atteberry

Baker, Writer, Teacher

The Divine Feminine Version of the New Testament reviewed by Jann Aldredge-Clanton

DFV 2Rev. Jann Aldredge-Clanton has given this gracious review for the Divine Feminine Version of the New Testament:

Congregations who are striving toward more inclusive worship will welcome this new version. Their worship leaders may use inclusive, gender-balanced language in sermons, litanies, and hymns. But they have few options for inclusive scripture readings. The predominantly masculine divine language in these readings then strikes a discord with the rest of the service.

There are two gender-neutral versions of the Bible on the market: The Inclusive Bible, a translation by the Priests for Equality, and The New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Version, a modification of the New Revised Standard Version. These versions are better than those that use exclusively masculine references to Deity, but they do not reclaim biblical female divine language to balance the male divine language so prevalent in most faith communities and the wider culture.

Until recently, congregations have had nowhere to turn for gender-balanced scripture readings. Now we can go to the Divine Feminine Version (DFV) of the New Testament. By including female language for the Divine, the DFV affirms the sacred value of females who continue to suffer from violence, abuse, and discrimination throughout the world. The DFV contributes to a theological foundation for gender equality, social justice, and peace.

You can read the rest of Rev. Aldredge-Clanton’s review here. If you would like gender inclusive hymns to sing along with your readings from the DFV check out Jann’s hymnals which include a rich variety of feminine, masculine, and neuter metaphors for God.

You can download the free PDF copy  of the DFV at The Christian Godde Project. You can buy the paperback version here.

Book Review: The Gospel of Mary by Mark M. Mattison

The Gospel of Mary: A Fresh Translation and Holistic Approach
By Mark M. Mattison
Self-published 2013
$5.42 Paperback
$3.99 Kindle

With the discovery of both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library, several early gospels not included in the canon of the New Testament have come to light. In recent years many books have been written on the Gospels of Thomas, Judas, Mary, and Peter with The Gospel of Judas probably being the most well known with all the controversy it caused. Books written on these extra-canonical gospels fall into two camps: scholarly and sensational, which makes it difficult for the normal layperson to find a well researched book that you don’t need a specialized theological vocabulary to understand. That is no longer a problem with The Gospel of Mary: A Fresh Translation and Holistic Approach.

Independent scholar and general editor of the New Testament: Divine Feminine Version, Mark M. Mattison has written a translation and commentary on The Gospel of Mary that is aimed at the typical layperson who is curious to know more about the only gospel that carries a woman’s name. Mattison offers two translations in his book: first a more dynamic equivalent version, then a more literal public domain version. Mattison has also provided a formatted version of each translation which groups the verses into paragraphs along with an unformatted version where each verse is on a separate line as it is in the original Greek and Coptic texts (Coptic is the result of the Egyptian language being written in the Greek alphabet).

Mattison begins by giving us an overview of who Mary Magdalene was as portrayed in both the canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) as well as the gospels that did not make it into the New Testament. After the translation of the The Gospel of Mary, he provides a commentary that explains the theology and spirituality of Mary’s gospel along with its place among the earliest writings of the young Christian movement. Normally the section of the gospel called the Ascent of the Soul is interpreted to mean the various trials and tormentors the soul must get past on its way to heaven after death. At this point most Christians write this gospel off because we believe that Christ is all we need for entrance into heaven. But Mattison offers another way to translate Mary’s teaching on the ascent of the soul:

It’s difficult to read about these seven evil powers and not think about the seven demons which were said to have “gone out” of Mary in Luke 8:2. Just as Mary was released from the grip of the seven demons that terrorized her and kept her bound, so Mary’s vision in 15:1–17:7 describes the soul’s victory over seven oppressive powers whose ravages we’ve all experienced to some degree–powers with names like “darkness,” “ignorance,” “wrath, “and so on. These powers are thus described in terms that invite us to confront our own “personal demons,” so to speak–demons like addiction, anxiety, and anger (p. 43).

Scholar Karen King and Episcopal priest Cynthia Bourgeault have also advocated this way of interpreting the teachings in the Gospel of Mary. This gospel provides instructions on living an authentic spiritual life based on the teachings and life of Jesus. After the resurrection it gave early believers a guideline on dealing with their own demons and living a Christlike life.

Here is where the genius of Mattison’s book really shines: it doesn’t stop with explaining theology. Following Bourgeault’s example from The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, he shows his readers how to live this theology. He offers a chapter on the contemplative practices of lectio divina and contemplative prayer, so his readers can start putting into practice the teachings they learn from The Gospel of Mary. Readers of this book will be equipped to start or deepen their own soul’s ascent to a more self-aware and Christlike life. Mattison also provides resources for those who would like to delve into contemplative spiritual practices. The bibliography provides plenty of resources for those who want to continue their study of Mary’s gospel.

The Gospel of Mary: A Fresh Translation and Holistic Approach will give the reader a sound grasp and understanding to The Gospel of Mary. I recommend it for both personal and group study.

Mark M. Mattison is an independent scholar who was the founder and is still a contributor at The Paul Page, which keeps up with all the scholarship coming out on the Apostle Paul (no small task). Mark is also one of the founding members of The Christian Godde Project and the general editor of the New Testament: Divine Feminine Version.

Disclaimers: I received a copy of this book agreeing to review it, and I saw and gave feedback on early drafts of this book. I also work with Mark on the New Testament: A Divine Feminine Version as an associate editor. In other words, I am a biased reviewer.

Divine Feminine Version: The Gospel of Matthew is now available for download

As an associate editor of The Christian Godde Project, I am happy to announce that our translation of Matthew is now available to be read online or downloaded as a PDF. It will soon be available to buy as a print-on-demand book as well (we’re still working the last few details out with the publisher). The main goal of The Christian Godde Project is to create a translation of the New Testament that uses feminine names and pronouns for Godde and the Holy Spirit through out the New Testament. Here is more information about our organization:

The Christian Godde Project

is the work of women and men
who are called by the Holy Spirit
to help restore gender equity in churches
by exploring the Divine Feminine within the Christian Godde.

We believe that since women as well as men are created in Godde’s image (cf. Gen. 1:27),
Godde is revealed in Scripture using feminine as well as masculine imagery (cf. Isa. 66:13).

In addition, we believe that Divine Wisdom reveals the Divine Feminine in all three “persons” of the Trinity:

  • As a feminine personification of Godde in the Jewish Wisdom literature, Divine Wisdom reveals Godde as Mother (cf. Prov. 8:1-9:6);
  • As the incarnation of Godde in the New Testament, Jesus is identified with Divine Wisdom (cf. Matt. 11:19; 1 Cor. 1:30);
  • And as the Holy Spirit, Divine Wisdom is revealed as Godde in action (cf. Wis. 7:22ff).

Divine Wisdom is not a “fourth person” in the Trinity
but a key to understanding the Divine Feminine insofar as She reveals Godde.

If you are interested in being a part of our project, please contact our general editor, Mark Mattison.