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SOPHIA: SOURCE OF NEWNESS AND GROWTH: PROVERBS. In the Old Testament, Wisdom (chokma in Hebrew, sophia in the Greek Old Testament) is often celebrated, and most lavishly in Proverbs 1-9. She is portrayed in language and themes which echo contemporary Hellenistic hymns to the goddess Isis. Sirach is addressing the Jews who were enticed by Hellenism. St Sophia. This helped me the most in finding her and establishing a faithful relationship. Meditations Based on “Love of Eternal Wisdom” by St. Louis de Montfort. Another confirmation was seeing how the Book of Wisdom describes Sophia guiding the Exodus people through the wilderness: “She led them by a marvelous road. Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. Nicolas-Hays, Inc. York Beach ME 1997. Some historians say it became difficult in his work to separate the Logos from Sophia, so gradually only the aspect of Logos was kept. “In the case of Sophia in the Hebrew scriptures, it must be acknowledged that She was not a symbol for the re-emergence of women within Hellenistic society. SOPHIA: DIVINE FIGURE, POWERFUL SYMBOL, ROLE MODEL. She has never failed to be there for me. There is a great need for wisdom in our society today… a. Verses 1-18. In Proverbs 8 Wisdom (the noun is feminine) is described as God's Counsellor and Workmistress (Master-workman, R.V. Feminine pronouns and figures have rarely been used in speaking of God, even though, as I discovered, there are numerous references in the wisdom literature to Divine Wisdom as “she” and plenty of feminine qualities to describe “her.”. Sophia (fem. Lack of wisdom is destroying the lives of many young people, and making fools out of some who are older b. Marriages are destroyed, friendships lost, souls doomed for lack of wisdom 2. MADE PUBLICLY… (Proverbs 1:20-21) 1. As a Jew, Philo was very familiar with Sophia. She is a major part of Gnosticism. The Greek word sophia, which is translated as “wisdom,” is used frequently in the New Testament to describe the ability to discern and conform to God’s will. I found him open, ready to learn and to grow. Women are moving beyond the incomplete and distorted tradition to bring our own experience and voice into dialogue with the tradition. “What can happen when we become aware of Sophia’s divine power within ourselves? Sophia was not always hidden. Clem. One could spend a year just pondering this chapter with its rich presentation of Sophia as a radiant, indwelling presence shining in our midst. The portrait of Sophia is unfinished- her image is never fully formed. This left the early church in a bind; they believed in Sophia, yet rejected gnosticism. Both Proverbs and the Book of Wisdom present Sophia as sitting by the city gates, crying out at the busiest corners by the entrance to the city (Wis. 6:14, Prov. Jesus, too, has a Sophia heart, not the heart of someone seeking power. Fortunately, he stayed for the whole weekend, so we had time to talk. and 4–5 A.D. One of the marvelous descriptions of Sophia that convinced me I was not off on some heretical tangent was what Thomas Merton wrote about her in Emblems of a Season of Fury: “The Diffuse Shining of God is Hagia Sophia. Wisdom is there personified in female form. Proverbs 8 is a specific type of poem called an encomium—a poem of praise. We need her compassionate presence and her ability to help us see clearly in the midst of a world that cries out for wisdom and love. 6:27) and is as near as our next breath, she is equally full of mystery and needs to be discovered: “Happy is the person who meditates on Sophia, who reflects in one’s heart on Sophia’s ways and ponders her secrets, pursuing her like a hunter, and lying in wait on her paths” (Sir. 13-18).The chapter sums up in brief the warnings of the preceding part. One day as I concluded a talk on Sophia, a woman asked me: “You told us how Sophia got lost. There are many other metaphors for Sophia. Taussing.). “I came forth from the mouth of the Most High and covered the earth like a mist”. She is also the Undersecretary of Heaven from being forgiven by God for creating the Demiurge along with being a personification of wisdom. 14:20–27); and true wealth: “more precious than jewels” (Prov. Saraswati B.G. She is a teacher: “Hear, for I will speak noble things. It is here that the feminine pronoun is always used and is consistently reflective of the divine presence. Personified Wisdom describes herself as God’s first creature who played an intermediate role in the creation of all things. Wisdom (Sophia) is Yahweh's (God) intimate companion in creating the world. Sophia/wisdom has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit, Who is a Person of the eternal Godhead. BARUCH, WISDOM. Sophia is concealed but ready to reveal just as Jesus is “the hidden wisdom of God” (1 Cor. In Proverbs, Solomon writes in parable form using *wisdom* and *folly* as to contrasting symbolic women to get his point across. B. Some of the qualities ascribed to the goddesses were similar to Sophia’s attributes—particularly those of the Egyptian goddess, Isis, who was renowned for her wisdom and guidance. Vine - While sophia is the insight into the true nature of things, phronesis is the ability to discern modes of action with a view to their results; while sophia is theoretical, phronesis is practical” (Lightfoot). 24:10-12 , 13-17. v. 12 “I took root in an honored people, in the portion of the Lord, his heritage.” (NRSV) v.12 ” I took root among the people whom the Lord had honored by choosing them to be his special possession.” (NEB), v.12″ I have struck root among the glorious people, in the portion of the Lord, his heritage.” (NAB). We need Sophia now more than ever. Sophia came into being because the wisdom tradition and Hebrew faith itself needed such a mythic figure to represent their response to the Hellenistic world. Reproduction without written permission is prohibited. The gnostics had an immense longing for the interior life and for the hidden things of God. Sophia provides healing and shelter, gives rest, and offers what is needed for spiritual transformation. Wisdom finds a place in creation both animate and inanimate. The connection of Divine Wisdom to the concept of the Logos resulted in the interpretation of "Holy Wisdom" (Hagia Sophia) as an aspect of Christ the Logos. Then she drove home, sat down with her daughters, and together they came to some much-needed household compromises that made all of them more peaceful and happy. We see ourselves not as subordinate but as full human beings. Innisfree Press: Philadelphia, 1990. In the apocryphal texts of Sirach, Baruch and Wisdom of Solomon, even more than in the book of Proverbs, the figure of Lady Wisdom appears as more than simply a literary personification of cosmic order, or a divine attribute. She arises in the later texts of the Jewish tradition, first simply as wisdom with a … In this case, Proverbs 8:22-31 is often quoted to support Sophia goddess worship. An old devotion to the Sacred Heart finds new life. Wisdom speaks from the heavenly realm, telling how she came forth from the mouth of the Most High and dwelt in the highest heavens. This makes the identification of the Holy Spirit with Uranus at Wisdom on the Tree of Life much clearer. What would it be like for women to begin to emulate SOPHIA, finding aspects of themselves that are worthy of praise, and glorying in what they find in one another? That power within us is Sophia, who “permeates all things” (Wisdom 7). Like the vine I bud forth delights, and my blossoms become glorious and abundant fruit.”. Christian theology received the Old Testament personification of Divine Wisdom (Septuagint Sophia, Vulgate Sapientia). Anger redirected brings with it the possibilities of real change in our society and in our lives. This figure is a goddess-like being, similar to the Sophia of Greek philosophy. Sophia is found throughout the wisdom books of the Bible. He taught that the Divine Origin (Yahweh) had created Sophia first and then Logos (the Word) as a balancing companion. She calls aloud outside, in the open squares. We challenge the status quo that renders us subordinate. pp. Eventually they were charged with heresy, not because of their love for Sophia, but because they rejected the material world. It took me four months before I responded to that letter. ), However, because Sophia appeared at a time when the Jews were confronting their place in a Hellenistic (Greek) world, She can be important for an understanding of contemporary feminist spirituality. Whenever I am in doubt as to how to proceed in my work and relationships, I turn to Sophia for wisdom and courage. He left with gratitude for discovering a new way of relating to the Holy One. In Jewish scripture, Sophia is a feminine voice, in contrast to a God of dominion and force. Living into the text: Women’s experience and the tradition. You may be familiar with some others, such as 1 Corinthians 13’s praise of love, Hebrews 11’s praise of faith, and Proverbs 31:10–31’s praise of the virtuous wife. Sophia is reason that is internal to a person; Logos is that reason that gets expressed verbally. Sophia is the Lesser Aeon of Wisdom that had created the Demiurge Yaldabaoth. In the Old Testament she is “the first of God’s works”, and the books of Proverbs and Wisdom portray her as an active, independent figure who gives instruction to all who heed her. ”, “Sophia brings power to women who can incorporate Her symbolism within ourselves and thus experience an affirmation of every aspect of our being. WISDOM’S FEAST: Sophia in Study and Celebration, S. Cady, M. Ronan, H. Taussing; Wisdom Seeks Her Way: Liberating the Power of Women’s Spirituality, Maria Riley, OP. There are at least three major reasons why this treasure has been missing from our spiritual heritage. When we enter into dialogue with our faith tradition and our scriptures, we challenge their patriarchal structure and theology.” (Wisdom’s Feast, Cady, Ronan, Taussig.). Daughters of Wisdom: Wisdom House, 229 East Litchfield Road, Litchfield, CT 06799-3002. But many Greek and Egyptian goddess cults still existed at this time, and there was concern among Christians that worship of Sophia would be associated with these cults. Sophia: The Christian Mystic’s Path To Wisdom. Wisdom is seen as something to strive for and Proverbs is talking about a feminine personification of Wisdom similar to that of Heracles in the Greek mythos. A tree of life, She provides shelter and nourishment. As creator, as respected nurturer, as a strong, angry, assertive, and sometimes prophetic woman, Sophia provides us with an alternative to the traditional behaviours into which many of us have been socialized.” (WISDOM’S FEAST: Sophia in Study and Celebration, S. Cady, M. Ronan, H. Through Sophia we can claim power as our right, exercise it creatively, share it, and be sustained by it. Take my instruction” (Prov. While she is “readily seen by those who seek her” (Wis. 6:12, Sir. Sophia was the symbol which represented the Hebrew people’s attempt to relate to a new and larger world.”, “Contemporary culture stands in analogous need of such a mythic figure who can express feminist spiritualilty’s response to the problems and possibilities of our day. Wisdom’s Feast: Sophia in Study and Celebration. Sharma & Mahaveer Swami / Mandala Publishing. Sophia (Σοφíα, Greek for "wisdom") is a central term in Hellenistic philosophy and religion, Platonism, Gnosticism, Orthodox Christianity, Esoteric Christianity, as well as Christian mysticism. While I watched Elizabeth playing, something stirred in me, and I found myself reaching for pen and paper. Other encomia in Scripture are found in 1 Corinthians 13 (in praise of love), Hebrews 11 (in praise of faith), and Proverbs 31:10–31 (in praise of the virtuous wife). There are references to Her in the book of Proverbs, and in the apocryphal books of Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon (accepted by Catholics and Orthodox, found in the Greek Septuagint of the early Church). © All material on this Website is Copyrighted © 1999 - 2017 by the Esoteric Interfaith Church, Inc. All rights reserved. As well, the society within which Sophia emerged was patriarchal, so that at certain points in the Sophia texts, She is part of an interlocking system of symbols which were used to confirm women’s subordinate place in society. Sophia is the warm, nurturing one. Prayer is vital in discovering the treasure of Sophia. Sita B.G. a.. Our perception of reality is changed. Only much later did I realize that the image of little Elizabeth playing among the roses was reflective of the beautiful passage in Proverbs 8 in which Sophia is described as being present at the beginning of creation: “When there were no depths, I was brought forth when God established the heavens, I was there playing before [God] all the while” (Prov. History tells us that many of the earliest cultures used the personification of deity so … In Sirach 24, she is from eternity and fills all that is. Sophia in all things is the Divine Life reflected in them.”. New York: Crossroad, 1993. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. That unfinishedness makes further development possible. It was this connection that elicited my desire to explore and write about wisdom. Nicasio, CA: The Sophia Foundation of North America, 1997. We need to look for Sophia. My spiritual director introduced me to her a few years ago and this has changed my life.” That man’s question gave me an opportunity to talk about the beautiful gifts for spiritual growth that Holy Wisdom offers to those who seek her. As the female figure within the biblical faiths, Sophia integrates many of the advantages of the goddess into Jewish monotheism and New Testament Christology. I count on Sophia to influence my attitudes, values, and beliefs, to help me make good choices and decisions. is a spiritual director in Des Moines and an author whose most recent books include Prayers to Sophia (Innisfree) and Out of the Ordinary (Ave Maria). In that we can observe philosophical allusions of Stoicism in which there is a relative importance to the material goodness (health, wealth, and so on).44 Similarly, Wisdom in Proverbs has to do with the pursuit of knowledge in order to secure a life of well-being, decency, and dignity.45 On the other hand, Sophia is described using a Greek literary technique called protreptic. Copyright © 2021 US Catholic. There are many references to her in the book of Proverbs, and in the apocryphal books of Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon (accepted by Catholics and Orthodox, found in the Greek Septuagint of the early Church). Why didn’t the Jews and Samaritans get along. She is Wisdom Incarnate, the Goddess of all those who are wise. We take our experience seriously enough to discover and authenticate its truth. In both she represents strength and creativity, truth and life.” One writer says (Joan Chittister): In Proverbs, wisdom is always a female figure. God bids her dwell in Israel and she takes up her abode in Zion. In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins. Lakshmi B.G. As Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza has stated, ” Wisdom theology is inspired by a positive attempt to speak in the language of its own culture and to integrate elements of the “goddess cult”, especially Isis worship, into Jewish monotheism. Women who claim their anger and direct it at the people/institutions who have sought to keep them invisible and powerless, can open untapped stores of energy and vitality within themselves. This wisdom is Holy Wisdom: Hagia Sophia. Symbolically, the gates where we meet Sophia today are in the midst of our busy, marketplace lives. Each is a healer and a comforter, a messenger of truth, perception, and guidance. At the same time gnosticism gained popularity, an early Christian movement whose followers had special devotion to Sophia, crediting her with the creation of the universe. Historically our religious tradition has been interpreted, celebrated, liturgized and ariculated by men. Proverbs 9 where Sophia is contrasted with the “evil woman”. As we departed, the two of us had a new appreciation for one another and for the gift of Sophia. Sophia has depth and is full of mystery. 3:8, Wis. 10:17–19, Sir. Divine Sophia is Israel’s God in the language and gestalt of the goddess.” (In Memory of Her, 133), Sophia in the tradition. Robert Powell. Joyce Hollyday says, “If In the Greek, she is named Sophia. v.13-17 “I grew tall like a cedar in Lebanon, and like a cypress on the heights of Hermon,I grew tall like a palm tree in En-gedi, and like rosebushes in Jericho; Like a fair olive tree in the field, and like a plane tree beside water I grew tall.Like cassia and 24: 5-6 ” Alone I compassed the vault of heaven and traversed the depths of the abyss. SOPHIA means wisdom in the greek. Suzanne Schaup. Through Sophia’s presence in our lives, what we think becomes important– what we feel becomes legitimate — what we experience becomes real. The biblical figure of Sophia, or Wisdom, is more than metaphor; she is an expression of the feminine aspects of God. As I spoke about Sophia, I reflected back to 13 years earlier when I had received a letter one spring day from a publisher asking me to contribute a book to their women’s series. “Women’s experience is the authentic touchstone to naming our own spirituality. ), who dwelt beside Him before the Creation of the world and sported continually before Him. Sophia can become a major connection between feminists and traditional churchgoers, between Christian, Jewish, and goddess-centered feminists, between historical and mythological worldviews, between the image of the hero and the imaged of the oppressed in history, art, and literature. De Montfort aloud outside, in contrast to a God of dominion and sophia in proverbs. 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