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Author Topic: Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom)  (Read 4449 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: September 03, 2009, 11:27:35 PM »

The following exerpt I pulled from the wikipedia article for Sophia (wisdom)

"In the mystical theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church wisdom is understood as the Divine Logos who became incarnate as Jesus Christ.[2] In the Holy Family, Sophia is often seen as being represented by the Theotokos (Virgin Mary). Sophia is expressed as the Holy Wisdom of God and the saints, obtained through humility, and Mary the Theotokos is the first and greatest of all saints. In Eastern Orthodoxy humility is the highest wisdom and is to be sought more than any other virtue. It is humility that cultivates not only the Holy Wisdom, but humility (in contrast to knowledge) is the defining quality that grants people salvation and entrance into Heaven.[3] The Hagia Sophia or Holy Wisdom church in Constantinople was the religious center of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly a thousand years."

How much of this is actually considered true teaching of the Church? It seems to me to be an oupouring of the entity described in "Wisdom of Solomon".

How has the Church viewed the identity and nature of this "Holy Wisdom" throughout history, and is there some relationship or link between the Theotokos and "Wisdom"?

Thanks
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Alveus Lacuna
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« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2009, 01:33:10 AM »

Most of these things seem incorrect to me, but I am no Sophiologist.  I believe the idea of Christ being Sophia (Wisdom) was condemned at some point, but perhaps someone who actually knows what they are talking about could chime in.

The only people I have heard aligning Sophia and the Theotokos are those scholars of Protestant background who see the Mother of God as a goddess figure appropriated from 'paganism', whatever that is.  These pseudo-scholars tend to lump together all mother-goddess figures, so Sophia = the Virgin Mary = Isis = Savior Goddess = Christian Priestesses = Dawning of the Age of Aquarius = shotgun in my mouth = me being dead.  See the following:

http://www.amazon.com/Isis-Mary-Sophia-Mission-Ours/dp/0880104945/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1252042879&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/Sophia-Goddess-Wisdom-Bride-God/dp/0835608018/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1252042945&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Virgin-Marys-Cult-Re-emergence-Goddess/dp/0750950641/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1252042993&sr=1-6
« Last Edit: September 04, 2009, 01:44:42 AM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
Αριστοκλής
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« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2009, 02:01:18 AM »

The following exerpt I pulled from the wikipedia article for Sophia (wisdom)

"In the mystical theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church wisdom is understood as the Divine Logos who became incarnate as Jesus Christ.[2] In the Holy Family, Sophia is often seen as being represented by the Theotokos (Virgin Mary). Sophia is expressed as the Holy Wisdom of God and the saints, obtained through humility, and Mary the Theotokos is the first and greatest of all saints. In Eastern Orthodoxy humility is the highest wisdom and is to be sought more than any other virtue. It is humility that cultivates not only the Holy Wisdom, but humility (in contrast to knowledge) is the defining quality that grants people salvation and entrance into Heaven.[3] The Hagia Sophia or Holy Wisdom church in Constantinople was the religious center of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly a thousand years."

How much of this is actually considered true teaching of the Church? It seems to me to be an oupouring of the entity described in "Wisdom of Solomon".

How has the Church viewed the identity and nature of this "Holy Wisdom" throughout history, and is there some relationship or link between the Theotokos and "Wisdom"?

Thanks

Did you check to see who wrote the article on wiki? I always do.
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Alveus Lacuna
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« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2009, 12:17:10 AM »

I am reviving this thread because I would like someone who is knowledgeable about the history of councils and such to clarify if the idea of Christ as the Wisdom of God (Sophia) was ever condemned or rejected by the Orthodox Church in a formal setting.  Also any sort of a brief summary on the history of the Sophiological controversies in Russia would be appreciated, as I've only ever encountered brief mentioning of it in passing.  I've also seen some dubious icons from the period depicting Sophia as a part of the hypostatic union as well as Hagia Hesychia: Christ as the angel of Holy Silence, depicted as a representation of the Hesychist ideal.
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LBK
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« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2009, 01:05:27 AM »

Some very brief points:

1. Christ is indeed frequently referred to liturgically as "the Wisdom of God", in similar way to Him being referred to as "the Word of God". No problem there.

2. Images of Holy Wisdom, and the related one of Holy Silence, showing an androgynous or female winged figure bearing the distinctive halo associated with Christ are uncanonical. Proper icons depict the incarnate God, Jesus Christ, as either the child Emmanuel, or as an adult as is so in countless icons. The only permissible image of the second person of the Holy Trinity prior to His incarnation is as one of the three angels in the Hospitality of Abraham, which is the basis for the Holy Trinity icon associated with Andrei Rublyev. However, there should not be any inscription of IC-XC, nor the distinctive halo, on any of the angels.

3. The sophiological writings of people such as Bulgakov and Soloviev, in which they promoted Sophia as "the divine feminine principle" have been condemned as heresy by the Russian Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2009, 09:18:18 AM »

St. Paul called Christ "the wisdom of God and the power of God" in 1 Corinthians 1:24, so no heresy there.
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« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2009, 11:22:09 AM »

You may want to read Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky's book Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, particularly the Appendices on "New currents in Russian philosophico-theological thought." Here is an online version: http://www.intratext.com/X/ENG0824.HTM

Relevant to this thread is:
- On the religious-philosophical system of Vladimir S. Soloviev - http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0824/_P2O.HTM

- The teaching of the Wisdom of God in Holy Scripture - http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0824/_P2P.HTM
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« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2009, 03:35:37 PM »

Some of the quotes from Soloviev's writings prompted new and unrelated questions, which I have started another thread to address:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23978.msg367326/topicseen.html#msg367326

Concerning the divine feminine principle, are we not allowed to acknowledge this in any way, considering that the book of Proverbs is quite explicit in acknowledging the feminine persona of the Wisdom of God?

How was the Hagia Sophia consecrated to a concept rather than to a saint?  Is this usually done in Orthodoxy?  It would be like having...  Oh, wait, you know what?  I just answered my own question.  There are temples which are consecrated to feasts that are 'concepts' all of the time, but the first example that came to mind was that of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos.  OK, so since that has been established, is there an Orthodox feast in honor of the Wisdom of God?
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« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2009, 06:53:42 PM »

Another couple of very brief points:

1. The word wisdom is of the feminine grammatical gender in most ancient, and many modern, languages. English is one of the few languages which does not have this property. It is a fallacy to conflate grammatical gender and "actual" gender/sex, much less comstruct entire theologies around it. What would those who wish to proclaim the "feminine" God make of Logos or Word, which is, in most languages, either grammatically masculine or neuter?

2. The Protection of the Mother of God is not a mere "concept"; the feast commemorates a miraculous event, witnessed by many people.

3. There is no Orthodox feast dedicated to the Wisdom of God. There are no feasts (unlike in the RCC) of the Orthodox Church which commemorate ideas or concepts, such as "the holy name", or similar. Liturgical commemoration is the verbal counterpart to iconography: both deal with the revelation of God, through His incarnation, or through His Mother and His saints, not with the personification of attributes of God.
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« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2009, 07:44:51 PM »

Some of the quotes from Soloviev's writings prompted new and unrelated questions, which I have started another thread to address:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23978.msg367326/topicseen.html#msg367326

Concerning the divine feminine principle, are we not allowed to acknowledge this in any way, considering that the book of Proverbs is quite explicit in acknowledging the feminine persona of the Wisdom of God?

How was the Hagia Sophia consecrated to a concept rather than to a saint?  Is this usually done in Orthodoxy?  It would be like having...  Oh, wait, you know what?  I just answered my own question.  There are temples which are consecrated to feasts that are 'concepts' all of the time, but the first example that came to mind was that of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos.  OK, so since that has been established, is there an Orthodox feast in honor of the Wisdom of God?

Yes, the feast of the Wisdom of God is celebrated September 8/September 21, 2009
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« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2009, 07:54:17 PM »

Also, it is important to note that in the Greek tradition, churches dedicated to the Wisdom of God tend to celebrate their feast day on the Monday of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost Monday).   There is a theological reason for this.   We see that in Scripture Christ is explicitely called the Wisdom of God, as pointed out above.  We have many hymns that specifically call Christ Wisdom of God, such as the Resurrectional hymns:  "O Christ Great and Most Holy Pascha, Wisdom Word and Power of God, grant that we may more perfectly partake of You, in the neverending day of Your Kingdom."   In the early Church Fathers, both Christ and the Holy Spirit are called the Wisdom of God.  Just as both the Incarnate Logos and the Holy Spirit are Paraclete (in the words of Christ, the Holy Spirit is "another Paraclete"), so also they are both Wisdom.   
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« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2009, 08:02:13 PM »

Yes, the feast of the Wisdom of God is celebrated September 8/September 21, 2009


This is certainly an anomaly on the part of the Russian church, and is most certainly not a "universal" feast of the Orthodox Church. A feast dedicated to an "icon" which several Russian synodal councils, following the precedent set by Canon 82 of the Quinisext Council prohibiting symbolic, "personification of attributes" images of Christ, have repeatedly and explicitly denounced as heretical. Thank goodness the feast which would actually be celebrated for this day all over the Orthodox world is the Nativity of the Mother of God.
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« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2009, 12:05:47 PM »

I believe the idea of Christ being Sophia (Wisdom) was condemned at some point

Huh
Christ IS the Wisdom of God.
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« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2009, 04:40:27 PM »

Samkim, Christ is indeed the wisdom of God. Where the sophianists got it wrong was to make God's wisdom into a kind of fourth hypostasis of God, and overplaying the "femininity" of this "hypostasis".
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« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2009, 09:47:08 PM »

Did the Sophianists consider the Theotokos somehow related to this "fourth-person"?
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« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2009, 08:00:20 PM »

Did the Sophianists consider the Theotokos somehow related to this "fourth-person"?
I have heard this too. Anyone know?
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« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2009, 02:12:15 PM »

Did the Sophianists consider the Theotokos somehow related to this "fourth-person"?
I have heard this too. Anyone know?
Apparently not.
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« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2009, 03:02:57 PM »

Did the Sophianists consider the Theotokos somehow related to this "fourth-person"?
I have heard this too. Anyone know?
Apparently not. 

Patience.  Sometimes the right people don't see the thread while it's still "new," and then it gets buried under the newer material.  That's why it is generally good, if there is an unanswered question for a few days, to "bump" the thread back up into the recent activity, so more eyes can see it.
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« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2009, 09:09:51 PM »

The word wisdom is of the feminine grammatical gender in most ancient, and many modern, languages. English is one of the few languages which does not have this property. It is a fallacy to conflate grammatical gender and "actual" gender/sex, much less comstruct entire theologies around it.

This is a very good point indeed. I do have a question about all of this though. Why have so many seen the Holy Wisdom as some sort of a feminine principle/deity? Is it simply because of the grammar? Why then did the gnostics do the same, when they had quite an extensive background in the Greek language/culture? There always seemed to be something more about Sophia (Holy Wisdom) than just semantics. I can, however, see where you are coming from LBK. Any ideas? God Bless.
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« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2009, 09:45:29 PM »

The word wisdom is of the feminine grammatical gender in most ancient, and many modern, languages. English is one of the few languages which does not have this property. It is a fallacy to conflate grammatical gender and "actual" gender/sex, much less comstruct entire theologies around it.

This is a very good point indeed. I do have a question about all of this though. Why have so many seen the Holy Wisdom as some sort of a feminine principle/deity? Is it simply because of the grammar? Why then did the gnostics do the same, when they had quite an extensive background in the Greek language/culture? There always seemed to be something more about Sophia (Holy Wisdom) than just semantics. I can, however, see where you are coming from LBK. Any ideas? God Bless.

Hello?
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