Reflection on Holy Sophia

Sophia or Divine Wisdom is the manner in which we name the infinite nature of God. She is receptive to all existence, and personal existence in particular. She is not a Person in herself, rather she is supra-personal, yet the Father, Son and Holy Spirit infinitely actualize her divine essence as Divine Persons. Likewise, finite persons are actualized from her essence as the very basis of their being. She is the Matrix of Divine activity that is receptive to the Being of all things, both finite and infinite. It would be an error to name her as a fourth person of the Holy Trinity, because her nature is beyond personality yet encompasses all persons – finite and infinite. She is the unity of the Divine nature whereby Father, Son and Spirit abide in Tri-Unity as One, as Three and are manifest in the Divine theophany in all things. Her receptivity circumscribes all things so that God would be shown for to be All in all as the Apostle Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 15. In Sophia’s Wisdom God is manifest in the Tri-Unity of concrete and personal Presence in the endlessly expanding vault of finite creation.

            Sophia is shown forth in all modes of existence: finite and infinite, corporate and individual, and as macrocosmic and microcosmic. With the Father, Sophia is manifest as Mother. With the Son, she is manifest as Mother as well; in addition to this with the Son she is shown to be Bride, Beloved, and Sister. With the Holy Spirit, Sophia is revealed to be the Beauty and Radiance of the Spirit’s infinite glory that illuminates all things and rests upon the Son and all that is in the Son. Her supra-Personal embrace draws all into the womb of Divine Wisdom so that each and all becomes in their finite existence what they are eternally in God – creatures made in the Divine image. As the world or the cosmos, she is shown to be Mother Nature, the Divine reality through which all other natures find their diverse existence. She is the receptivity of Being that answers the Father’s generative Word spoken in his Son, and through this Word (or Logos) of the Father, creation comes into existence and in her Wisdom all beings come into creaturely completion as beings within Being (though, properly she is beyond-Being and utterly suffused with the dazzling darkness of Divine mystery). Sophia is the Dance whereby the dancers are dancing and join in the revelry of the pure Act of Trinitarian motion drawing all into the irrepressible bliss of Being.

            Among the human community, she is the all-Mother as the Mother of all, where every member of the human family revels in the maternal love of God and receives from their Heavenly Father their names as they exist in his Paternal blessing as his face shines on all made in his image. She is the all-Bride whereby all are united in marital bliss to the Son in the radiant and beautifying glory of the Spirit. She is revealed individually and uniquely in Divine-human personal existence in Mary the Mother of God, and diversely and corporately in the Body of Christ as the Bride, showing herself in the corporate assembly of sons and daughters reconciled and sanctified by the work of the Son in the power of the Spirit. Her face shines, however imperfectly as we journey to our Divine completion through every human mother, wife, beloved, sister, priestess, queen, and princess; and her grace embraces every human father, husband, lover, son, brother, priest, king, and prince. She is, as it were the very wax upon which the image of God is imprinted on all things, so that nothing that exists, whether visible or invisible, is left without His impress.            

While she is beyond all taints of the fall, Sophia weeps for her children like Rachel, and her tears are answered by the Son who recovers all from being irretrievably lost. Her Wisdom shines forth in winsome Beauty as she beckons humanity, along with every aspect of creation tainted by the fall to return to the Divine Beauty that is the origin of all things. The winsome Wisdom of Sophia calls us to cast off the illusory character of a broken world and our broken lives, to abandon the folly of egotism and pride, and to find ourselves again in the embrace of Divine grace as we cast off the warped seductions of evil and find ourselves anew in the harmonious unity of Divine love. Within her infinite loveliness we enter into the infinite love of the Father for his Son, and are beautified in his infinite Presence through the Spirit as we are drawn into the Divine dance where God is made infinitely known among all finite things.

6 thoughts on “Reflection on Holy Sophia

  1. Thanks Max! I don’t know if you’re familiar with Jordan Wood, but he has often said that the cosmos entire existence was dependent on Mary’s agreement to bear the Son of God. It’s a pretty massive statement, but I think it is absolutely true.

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  2. Thanks for this, Jedidiah – beautiful and challenging to one who has a strange (unaccountable and, I am afraid, predominantly “negative”) reaction to Theotokos.
    Can you recommend any “introductory” books or articles (etc.) on Bulgakov?

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  3. Jed,

    Is this taking Wisdom that Solomon spoke of and brought into a bigger roll. I am assuming this because other-wise this is adding to the Trinity.

    Thanks,

    Gary

    On Sat, Mar 20, 2021 at 1:53 PM ST. JUDE’S TAVERN wrote:

    > jedidiahpaschall posted: ” Sophia or Divine Wisdom is the manner in which > we name the infinite nature of God. She is receptive to all existence, and > personal existence in particular. She is not a Person in herself, rather > she is supra-personal, yet the Father, Son and Holy” >

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  4. Wayne,

    Sorry for the delayed response. There is a growing body of secondary literature on Bulgakov’s theology which can be quite a challenge to work through, but I would simply recommend reading him first as it is hard to get a sense of how he is developing his theological concepts, so if I were to recommend a place to start, I would say Lamb of God is a good place to begin.

    John Millbank did have a nice discussion on Bulgakov in this YouTube interview that can be a good launching point:

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  5. Gary,

    You’re raising a valid concern. Modern Sophiology as developed by Eastern Christian theologians (typically 19th and 20th Century Russians) is pretty clear that Sophia is not a “fourth” in the Trinity. She has a supra-personal existence, meaning she does not have a concrete hypostatic (or personal) existence like Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – all of whom infinitely actualize the Divine nature as Divine Persons.

    It is, as you point out, a serious theological effort to grapple with the presence of Lady Wisdom in Proverbs (and other areas in the apocrypha that filter into the theological themes in the NT. So, it is an attempt to grapple not with an extra presence within the Trinity, but with very real elements in biblical revelation. If we were to ascribe to Sophia a personal existence in the same fashion that the Triune Persons exist, then this would be heretical and reminiscent of some elements of the theology of the ancient gnostic sects. However, this isn’t what orthodox Sophiology is aiming for – rather it is trying to account for the biblical data and the concepts are well attested in the history of the church’s theological reflection. However, it isn’t without controversy, since many do take these concepts in directions that serve to obscure rather than clarify what Scripture actually teaches.

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