SOPHIA / SOPHIOLOGY See Samuel D.

Cioran, Vladimir Solov'ev and the Knighthood of the Divine Sophia, Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1977. This book documents in great detail the gnosticism and trance mediumship of the Russian Orthodox theosophist, Vladimir Solov'ev, and his contribution to the controversial doctrine of Sophiology in the Russian Orthodox tradition, of which Fr. Sergius Bulgakov became the major proponent in the West. See also Aidan Nichols, Bulgakov and sophiology, Sobornost 13 (2):17-31(1992). "As divine, Holy Sophia is of the very essence of the Godhead. It is God's creative love. As terrestrial, Holy Sophia is rather the realized love of God in His divine energies, His manifested, creatural wisdom. Holy Sophia is, therefore, neither fully divine nor fully creatural, but something both absolutely transcendent to the world, yet still immanent to it. In the succinct words of one contemporary Russian theologian, Archbishop Pitirim (Nechaev) of Volokolamsk, "'Sophia' is something that exists and has real being, being neither God nor the world"" (Robert Slesinski, Pavel Florensky: A Metaphysics of Love, Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1984, with reference to the Sophiology of Fr. Pavel Florensky.). If Sophiology is gnostic, note also George W. Mcrae, S.J., The Jewish Origins of the Gnostic Sophia Myth, Novum Testamentum, 12 :86-101(1970). Raoul Mortley, Womanhood The Feminine in Ancient Hellenism, Gnosticism, Christianity, and Islam, Sydney, Australia: Delacroix Press, 1981, offers a very empathetic understanding of sophiological metaphors of womanhood. Sophiology was never affirmed by the Church, but has remained a temptation and a "creative challenge" for a number of the Eastern philosophers and theologians, Vladimir Lossky and Fr. Georges Florovsky of the "neopatristic synthesis" stream of modern, Russian-background Orthodoxy being two very notable opponents. On Vladimir Lossky's important critique of Sophiology see Messager De L'Exarchat du Patriarche Russe en Europe Occidentale, No. 29, Janvier-Mars 1959, and N.O. Lossky, History of Russian Philosophy, New York: international Universities Press, Inc., 1951, pp.227,231,398, with reference to the book, Vladimir N. Lossky, The Dispute About Sophia, Paris 1935/1936, in Russian. Aware that his sophiological speculations could be taken as gnosticism, Fr. Pavel Florensky pointed out that he really

only intended them as "wretched schemata for what is experienced in the soul" (P.85 of Robert Slesinski, Fr. Paul Florensky: A Profile [continued], St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 26(2):67-88(1982)). For a very informative, recently-published introduction to this subject, written from the point of view of esoteric Christianity, see Arthur Versluis, TheoSophia Hidden Dimensions of Christianity, Hudson, N.Y.: Lindisfarne Press, 1994. Note the definite but subtle influence on Evangelical revival via Pietism. The recent Sophia-veneration fad in some Western churches seems closer to goddess worship than to the classical Sophia-chivalry tradition (although this too can be very "worshipful") and would appear to have little place in the Church according to Kristen J. Ingram's paper, The Goddess: Can We Bring Her into Church?, Spirituality Today 39(1):39-55 (Spring 1987)). V.V. Zenkovsky, A History of Russian Philosophy, New York: Columbia University Press / London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1953 (Volume Two), pages 841-843, helpfully outlines the main characteristics of sophiology over the ages: "The 'Sophiological' theme was first expressed with great force by the Stoics, and elaborated by Plotinus,...In Solovyov ...not only Schelling, but also the cabala and such mystics as Pordage and Bohme were of principle significance in its genesis...There are three themes the inner *combination* of which forms the 'nucleus' of every Sophiology: (a) the theme of nature-philosophy, a conception of the world as a 'living whole' -- what is now called a `biocentric' conception of the world -- with the related problem of the 'world-soul' and the timeless, ideal 'basis' of the world; (b) the theme of anthropology, which relates man and the mystery of the human spirit to nature and the Absolute; and finally (c) the theme of the 'divine aspect' of the world, which relates the ideal sphere in the world to what is 'beyond being', in Plotinus's expression...[We] must distinguish: (1) pre-Christian Sophiological theories in Hellenic mysticism: thecult of the *Magna mater deorum*, etc.; (2) gnostic sophiological theories...; and (3) Christian Sophiology. Elements of the latter are to be found in patristic literature, in various heretical and semi-heretical doctrines, and in modern philosophy beginning with Bohme, and especially in modern Russian philosophy, beginning with Solovyov...The insistent emphasis on the Sophiological problem in Russian thinkers before Solovyov was not accidental: this problem was developed in Russia only in part under Schelling's influence, but in part independently of him." Joanna Hubbs, The Worship of Mother Earth in Russian Culture, Chapter 6 of

James J. Preston (editor), Mother Worship Theme and Variations, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1982, is well worth reading for its description of the religio-cultural background of the Russian tradition of Sophiology. Larry Hurtado (editor), Goddesses in Religions and Modern Debate, Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1990, and Tikva Frymer-Kensky, In the Wake of the Goddesses Women, Culture, and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth, The Free Press [Macmillan], 1992 / Fawcett Columbine [Ballantine Books], 1993, offer scholarly discussion, and critique of the myth of the "the Goddess" commonly held by her modern advocates.
See Kuhn, Koyré, Kojève, Solovyov.

Further reading: Wendy Elgersma Helleman, Solovyov's Sophia as a Nineteenth-Century Russian Appropriation of Dante's Beatrice , Lewiston / Queenston / Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2010.

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