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This theme finds expression in the wording of the tide of a work published by one of the earliest representatives of this line of thought, A. The questions relating to the religious justification of culture and of creativity which were raised by the Reformation and by humanism and could only find a solution there in secularization, were in turn experienced, and in a far more painful way, by Russian thought. This process occurred, however, not so much within the sphere of official theology, which was insufficiently developed for such a task and was, in addition, fettered by official scholastic orthodoxy, as among the representatives of literature and art.

Artistic creativity was deeply conscious of its religious sources. Gogol was literally consumed by his search, and by his attempt to make of the whole of his creative work a. The life of the Archimandrite Theodore was destined to become a continual tragedy as a result of his prophetic seeking for new ways of life and creativity.

This ascetic monk, one of the greatest men of prayer, found himself in spiritual conflict with the ecclesiastical environment in which he lived. He returned to the status of a layman because he found that only by this immense sacrifice could he procure the right to follow freely his own particular way of service. The problems raised in the works of Gogol and Bukharev are further illumined in a new way in Dostoievsky, with his constant search for the way to that Kingdom of God in the world, which he foresaw as the future destiny of Orthodoxy.

We should also mention in this respect several of our greatest poets who were gifted with special insight into the mysticism of the natural world: especially Tiutchev, the poet of cosmic chaos; Fiet, who was very much akin to him; Baratinsky and others. Although in a certain sense isolated, spiritually and even historically he undoubtedly belongs to the general trend of thought.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century this quest at last begins to find expression in a theology the basic characteristic of which lies in its teaching on Sophia, or sophiology.

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Vladimir Solovyov , is the first representative of this theology, the first Russian sophiologist. All this is further complicated by his own poetic mysticism. In his poetry Solovyov is indeed very far from the Orthodox conception of Sophia. This aspect of his world outlook had a profound and far from valuable influence on the subsequent generation of poets such as the gifted Blok, Biely, and certain others, who expound in their poetry themes for the most part of an erotic-gnostic character concerning the feminine principle.

It is very important to emphasize this general link between Solovyov and all the preceding currents of Russian thought, for his Christian philosophy in a certain sense embraces them all. All the living Russian religious thinkers of our time have been influenced directly or indirectly, positively or negatively, by sophiology, S. Trubetskoy, Berdyaev, Zenkovsky, Karsavin, Florensky and others.

Paul Florensky, formerly a professor of the Moscow Theological Academy, puts the problem of sophiology in an absolutely Orthodox setting. In his well-known work The Pillar and Ground of the Truth The Church he gives in the chapter on Sophia an interesting theological interpretation of the facts of iconography and liturgy referred to above, and further illuminates it by his own ecclesiology.

This book. Under this title a symposium of my articles was published in One of the most prominent places in it is occupied by an article on Solovyov. Its sophiological ideas became an inseparable part at any rate of the problems raised by Russian religious thought. I myself have developed my own position in a series of books, at first mainly philosophical, such as The Philosophy of Economics , ; The Unfading Light, ; The Tragedy of Philosophy [ Die Tragaedie der Philosophie ] , ; and later in a series of theological works published abroad.

It is only by chance that certain things from the treasury of Russian thought by no means the most valuable and authentic rise to the surface of the spiritual vortex of European life. These strike Europeans as peculiar, so that they go on to ascribe the general spiritual atmosphere which the works share to the individual or the work in question. This, of course, does not apply to purely scientific research, where the predominance of. But this attitude is particularly irritating to us at the present time in a period of otherwise developing inter-confessional intercourse.

The present outline of sophiology pursues this course. It has been specially compiled for Western readers with the secret hope of arousing their interest and urging them to become acquainted with the main works bearing on the subject. The main purport of this essay is to expound the doctrine of Sophia, the Wisdom of God. This doctrine is at the present time responsible for a sort of ideological ferment even in our own Orthodox milieux.

It has already evoked a hurried condemnation on the part of some of the hierarchy, in spite of the fact that the whole problem is only on the threshold of dogmatic consideration. The real point at issue is that of the Christian vocation as it is related to the very nature of Christianity; it is the problem of a dogmatic metanoia , nothing less than a change and a renewal of human hearts. Sophiology represents a theological or, if you prefer, a dogmatic, interpretation of the world Weltanschauung within Christianity.

The sophiological point of view brings a special interpretation to bear upon all Christian teaching and dogma, beginning with the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation and ending with questions of practical everyday Christianity in our own time. It is untrue to affirm that the development of the doctrine of the Wisdom of God leads to the denial or undermining of any part of Christian dogma. Exactly the reverse is true.

Sophiology accepts all the dogmas acknowledged as genuine by the Orthodox Church though not those. Wherein, then, does this sophiological point of view consist, and in what way can it be applied to the fundamental teaching of Christianity? This essay is an attempt to give a short answer to this question. The introduction can only indicate quite briefly the general lay of the land. The central point from which sophiology proceeds is that of the relation between God and the world , or, what is practically the same thing, between God and humanity.

In other words we are faced with the question of the meaning and significance of Divine-humanity 4 —not only insofar as it concerns the God-human, the incarnate Logos, but precisely insofar as it applies to the theandric union between God and the whole of the creaturely world, through humanity and in humanity. Within Christianity itself there is a neverending struggle between the two extreme positions of dualism and monism, in a constant search for truth, which can only be found in the synthesis of Divine-humanity.

There are two opposite poles in the Christian attitude to life, which are both equally untrue in their one-sided- ness. These are, firstly, world-denying Manicheism, which separates God from the world by an impassable gulf and thus makes the existence of Divine-humanity out of the question; and, secondly, an acceptance of the world as it. This is the title which Vladimir Solovyov gave to his articles on sophiology— Lectures on Divine humanity [God-manhood ]. Thus in choosing God, humans are constrained to turn away from the world, to despise its works and values, and to leave the world to itself and to its own creativity in a state of alienation from God.

The second attitude or tendency—the secularization of life—only indicates the general spiritual paralysis of modern Christianity, which is, in practice, powerless to direct or to control life. Instead it submits to the existing order of things. Such worship of the status quo shows that it has no answer to the problems of life. Such is modern atheism, which really represents a deification of the world and of human beings, and which is a special form of paganism. It is not, as it frequendy claims to be, the zero of religion, but a minus of Christianity. Christianity is at present powerless to overcome this cleavage, this gulf between religion and the world which is apparent in modern life, for the gulf exists not only outside, but within Christianity itself.

Attempts to coordinate Christianity with life insofar as, in Roman Catholicism, this is accomplished on the basis of subjecting the world to a powerful organization of the Church are really nothing more than attempts to amalgamate two incongruous bodies which cannot in fact be united, since each insists on its own exclusiveness or totalitarianism. So far Christianity has followed in the train of life, lagging behind, without assuming any leadership. Social Christianity, engrossed with its practical aims, has not yet faced its dogmatic problem, namely, that of justifying the world in God, in contrast to excommunicating it from God, which is what is preached and confessed in practice at the two opposite poles of Christianity, both in the Orthodox Church and in Protestantism.

Is there a. Or is there something else that follows it, something new, in the second coming of Christ into the world, the Parousia, which is not only judgment but at the same time the beginning of a new, eternal abiding of our Lord on earth? The answer to these questions has been given long ago in the Christian faith, but it has remained a dead letter; it has not, so to speak, become a living reality. This answer is contained in the fundamental dogma of Christianity concerning Divine-humanity. The creaturely world is united with the divine world in divine Sophia.

Heaven stoops toward earth; the world is not only a world in itself, it is also the world in God, and God abides not only in heaven but also on earth with human beings. Divine-humanity represents a dogmatic call both to spiritual ascesis and to creativity, to salvation from the world and to a salvation of the world.

This is the dogmatic banner which should be henceforth unfurled with all power and glory in the Church of Christ. The dogma of Divine-humanity is precisely the main theme of sophiology, which in fact represents nothing but its full dogmatic elucidation. Why exactly this is associated with the doctrine concerning the Wisdom of God and how this connection applies will become evident to the reader in the course of the present work, which gives.

Our modern age stands in need of a new apprehension of the dogmatic formulae preserved by the Church in its living tradition. Moreover it cannot be overemphasized that there is no single dogmatic problem that does not at present need such reinterpretation. And at the very heart of things stands, as of old, the basic Christian dogma of the Incarnation, of the Word made flesh, in the dogmatic setting bequeathed to us by Chalcedon. The roots of this dogma penetrate to the very heart of heaven and earth, into the inmost depths of the Holy Trinity and into the creaturely nature of human beings.

Do people, however, sufficiently realize that this dogma in itself is not primary, but derived? In itself it presupposes the existence of absolutely necessary dogmatic assumptions in the doctrine of God and humanity, of the primordial Divine-humanity.

These presuppositions are in fact unfolded in sophiology. The same applies to an even greater extent to another dogma of Divine-humanity, namely, that of Pentecost. This dogma, though accepted, remains comparatively speaking but feebly elucidated in dogmatic thought. It involves the descent and the abiding of the Holy Spirit in the world in connection with the Incarnation. This connection as well as the power of Pentecost in the one Divine-humanity is also disclosed by sophiology. To go even further, the fundamental and still insurmountable difficulty so far in our age in the striving of the churches toward unity is the lack of dogma concerning the essence of the Church as such.

We are not concerned for the moment with the external attributes of the Church, its canonical or liturgical aspects, but with what the Church is in itself. What do we mean by the reunion of the churches in one Church? Again and again will the separated churches dash in vain against the walls which divide them, in a tragic realization of their helplessness, in face of the objective impossibility of genuine reunion.

There is, nevertheless, one true way, which is that of learning to know and understand the Church as revealed Divine- humanity, Sophia the Wisdom of God. We will not refer here to the numerous theological questions of a more special nature, which acquire a new light in the doctrine of the Wisdom of God. We will confine ourselves to mentioning one more. Even so, come Lord Jesus! Two forces struggle in the world in the guise of two basic tendencies, that of cosmism and that of anti-cosmism, the two disintegrated aspects of the one divine- human theocosmism.

Historically, secularization was introduced into the world by the Reformation and the Renaissance, which represent two parallel turbulent streams of the same main current—of what we may call, however contradictory such a definition may sound, anti-cosmic cosmism. The acceptance of the world by humanism was a reaction against its nonacceptance, which only left it a right to natural existence. We need a true Christian ascesis in relation to the world, which consists in a struggle with the world out of love for the world. But again we repeat that this can be accomplished only. This alone can give us strength for new inspiration, for new creativity, for the overcoming of the mechanization of life and of human beings.

The future of living Christianity rests with the sophianic interpretation of the world and of its destiny. All the dogmatic and practical problems of modern Christian dogmatics and ascetics seem to form a kind of knot, the unraveling of which inevitably leads to sophiology. For this reason, in the true sense of the word, sophiology is a theology of crisis, not of disintegration, but of salvation. And finally, in contemplating culture which has succumbed to secularization and paganism, which has lost its inspiration and has no answer to give to the tragedy of history, which seems in fact to have lost all meaning—we realize that we can find a spring of living water only by a renewal of our faith in the sophianic, or theandric, meaning of the historical process.

As the dome of St. Sophia in Constantinople with prophetic symbolism portrays heaven bending to earth, so the Wisdom of God itself is spread like a canopy over our sinful though still hallowed world. The Divine Sophia in the Holy Trinity 1. The dogma of the Holy Trinity consists in two basic postulates. The second postulate is concerned with the consubstantiality of the Holy Trinity, which has but one substance or nature ousia or physis, substantia or natura. This dogma is most clearly expressed in a Latin Creed of the fifth century, the Quincunque Vult, the so-called Athanasian Creed, whose authority is recognized by the Eastern as well as by the Western Church.

I, para. For the person of the Father is one, that of the Son another, that of the Holy Spirit another; but the divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one, the ir glory is equal the ir majesty is coeternal. But the other side, the doctrine of the consubstantiality of the Holy Trinity, as well as the actual conception of substance or nature, has been far less developed and, apparently, almost overlooked.

Later this term was extended to the whole Trinity, and the usage became well established in the theology of the Cappadocian fathers, particularly of St. Basil the Great. Still later its use became general in the Eastern Church, and it was largely employed by St. John of Damascus. Aristotle applies this scheme to all individual being, whether it be a stone or an angel, a thing or a human being. The same method is applied by St. Basil the Great and St. John of Damascus to the elucidation of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the one divine essence being here individuated in three hypostatic relations; fatherhood, generation and procession.

Meanwhile in Western theology with Augustinianism the substance or essence in itself, yields precedence to the three hypostases, these being determined in their being through an interrelationship of origin as opposed one to another. We thus see that substance both in the East and in the West is interpreted purely as a philosophical abstraction, and utilized to achieve a logical solution of the trinitarian dogma.

Such a conception cannot embrace the divine revelation with regard to the one common life of the Holy Trinity, of God in three persons.

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The dogma of consubstantiality, which safeguards the unity of the Holy Trinity, thus remains a sealed book so far as we are concerned—for in a religious sense it has been neither assimilated nor unfolded. The Bible, however, though it never alludes to the abstract conception of substance, does give us revealed teaching on the life of the triune God.

In point of fact this teaching seems to have been little noticed and most certainly has not been utilized in trinitarian theology, in. In this particular respect the liturgical consciousness of the Church is superior to the dogmatic, for the earliest liturgical texts have included such revelation in the text of hymns, lessons, and doxologies.

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This witness, however, was disregarded by theology until the middle of the nineteenth century in Russia, when there were fresh stirrings of sophiological though. Chapters obviously make use of this term to express wisdom as a quality—1. There is a double meaning in 1. But there is no longer any doubt that 8. Nevertheless, this principle is with God and is prior to the world.

Even the Athanasian Creed, as we have already seen, speaks of una divinitas, aequalis gloria , coaetema maiestas one divinity, equal glory, coeternal majesty. These expressions, however, have something of a rhetorical air, and are not usually interpreted as authoritative dogmatic formulae. We see a similar conception of the Wisdom of God in Job These together form a sort of metaphysical commentary on Proverbs. In the wisdom of Solomon, in addition to , 8, chapter 7 is of fundamental significance.

Wisdom is portrayed in the same way in Ecclesiasticus. Chapters 1 and 24 sing the praises of Sophia: ainesis. Without going into detail we may say that the striking figure which conveys this teaching on wisdom obviously does not admit of being interpreted in the sense of quality or attribute, for this would destroy the figure itself. But here we should notice yet another point. Though we must disregard the obviously inadmissible interpretation of Wisdom as the Second Hypostasis, or the Logos, 5 yet we must at the same time recognize that the principle of Wisdom has never received satisfactory theological interpretation or application, so that even today it is overlooked by theology and only succeeds in creating misunderstanding.

It is impossible, however, that this should always remain the case. A few words now on the manner in which the conception of Wisdom is applied in the New Testament. We will not consider here the comparatively numerous texts in which wisdom is definitely to be understood as a property 2 Pet. We have a passage 1 Cor. Luke But even this christological adaptation. But if we compare this expression with v. We thus observe in biblical theology side by side with a revelation of the personal being of God, a doctrine of divine Wisdom either in God or with God.

But alongside the idea of Wisdom we see in the Old Testament also yet another striking figure, namely, that of the Shekinah, the Glory of God, in the midst of which God manifests himself. We meet this for the first time in Exod. The Glory of the Lord fills the tabernacle like a cloud Exodus This also took place in a cloud of Glory. In this passage If we compare all these visible manifestations of the Glory of God, we are inevitably led to ask, what does it mean in its relation to God?

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The Glory of God in these instances is obviously intended to represent a divine principle. The same thing could be said about Glory that has already been said about Wisdom, which is that this conception has not only failed to receive any theological interpretation, but seems to have been completely passed over in dogmatics. The following tentative. God has, or possesses, or is characterized by, Glory and Wisdom, which cannot be separated from him since they represent his. Moreover, it should be added that the Face of God, which remains hidden in the Old Testament, is in the New Testament unveiled in its tri-personal nature.

What then is the relation between the dogmatic conception of divine substance or nature ousia or physis and the figurative revelations of the Bible bearing on the one hand on Wisdom Sophia and on the other on Glory? Is there any ground for distinguishing and contrasting them? In the first place, is there any reason for differentiating between Wisdom and Glory, as two distinct principles within the Godhead in its self-revelation, or its revelation to creation respectively?

There is no doubt whatever that they do differ from each other as two distinct aspects of the Godhead in its revelation: Wisdom, the first, concerns its content; Glory, the second, its manifestation. Nevertheless, these two distinct aspects can in no way be separated from each other or. The Arians and the anti-Arians who attempted to equate wisdom with the Son, by their very attempt deny wisdom both to the Father and to the Holy Spirit. The misunderstandings which arise from 1 Cor.

This would contradict the truth of monotheism, for the one personal God possesses but one Godhead, which is expressed at once in Wisdom and Glory. The fact of there being two figures does not make two Godheads, however much these figures may differ from each other. This doubling of the figures is due to their peculiar nature, though this does not in any way minimize the fact that they are identical in substance. The Holy Bible, however, is not concerned with systematic theology.

It presents us with its similitudes in the form of theological raw material, so to speak. It is the task of biblical theology to understand and to compare these similitudes. Let us consider next what sort of relationship can exist between the abstract Aristotelian ousia or substance, the principle of consubstantiality within the Holy Trinity according to the recognized dogmatic definition , and the Wisdom and Glory which we find in the Bible. Perhaps, it may be said, there is no relationship between them and as a matter of fact, in actual practice, theology has so far tacitly answered the question in precisely this way, for it has failed to observe the existence of any relationship at all.

However, to state this question directly is enough to realize how impossible is such a solution. The denial of the existence of any connection between Ousia on the one hand, and Wisdom-Glory on the other, undoubtedly creates a dualism in the Godhead. If Ousia differs radically from the concrete figures which depict the life of the Godhead in Wisdom and Glory, then it becomes an empty, abstract metaphysical schema.

Monotheism, therefore, necessarily postulates the identity of. But the actual history of dogmatic thought is hostile to such terminological anarchy, for every one of these expressions is associated with a definite shade of meaning. In practice, therefore, we should not restrict the circle of sophiological problems to the single term Ousia. Such a procedure would be useless when we come to consider the place occupied in the history of dogma by this particular dogmatic precision. We are next faced with the question of how to conceive of the Godhead in reference to its hypostatic aspect.

The tri-hypostatic God possesses, indeed, but one. We see an analogy in the history of dogma when the Eastern Church accepted the teaching of St. Gregory of Palamas fourteenth century which regards the Godhead as a Divine Ousia possessing energies, energeiai This teaching regards the transcendent Ousia and the multiform energies which serve to reveal it as equivalent, in spite of the differences between them.

Godhead, Sophia; possesses it in such a way that at the same time it belongs to each of the persons, in accordance with the properties distinguishing each of these persons just in the same way as each one possesses the one common Ousia. Thus Sophia is distinguished by the capacity of belonging to the hypostasis, of being included, that is, in the hypostatic being, which nevertheless appears to be quite compatible with its own un-hypostatic nature. God is Spirit, and it is an attribute of Spirit to possess a hypostasis which abides in its own nature, or to be the subject of its own nature, which is a unity of predicates, in such a way that their mutual relationship and connection expresses the life of the Spirit.

But this very life in itself takes for granted the fact that the nature of spirit is not a thing, but a living principle, even though it is not personal. Ousia-Sophia is the life of a hypostatic spirit, though not itself hypostatic.


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But what is it that permeates the life of the Godhead? In other words, what is God? God is Love—not love in the sense of a quality or a property peculiar to God, but as the very substance and vigor of his life. The tri-hypostatic union of the Godhead is a mutual love, in which each of the hypostases, by a timeless act of self-giving in love, reveals itself in both the others. However, the divine hypostases alone do not constitute the only personal centers of this love, for Ousia-Sophia likewise belongs to the. Augustine, de Trin.

Unde et Pater et Filius simul una Sapientia est, quia una essentia. Therefore the Father too is himself wisdom. It is loved by the Holy Trinity as life and revelation, in it the triune God loves himself.

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But its own being in relation to the divine person cannot be defined as no more than the mere fact of being their common possession. On the contrary, it too is love, though love in a special and un-hypostatic embodiment. Love is multiform: the aspects of love in the Trinity vary in each of the persons. But besides that which is personal there can be a love which is not.

In this sense we can speak of love in God not only in the mutual relationship of the three hypostases and in the relationship of God to his Godhead, but in like manner in the love of the Godhead for God. Thus if God loves Sophia, Sophia also loves God. Apart from this the tri-hypostatic relation between God and his Ousia is inconceivable. To sum up, the nature of God which is in fact Sophia is a living and, therefore, loving substance, ground, and principle.

Again we. A wide range of texts from the Bible, bearing on the love of nature for its Creator Ps. Apart from such an interpretation all these expressions lose their whole significance and become rhetorical metaphors. The general meaning of these texts is that nature praises God, that is, loves the Creator with a special non-hypostatic love. The whole strength of the dogma of the Holy Trinity lies in this insistence on the one life and one substance of the divine triunity, as well as on their mutual identity: God possesses the Godhead, or he is the Godhead, is Ousia, Sophia.

This does not imply that the three persons own in common, and separately make use of, a certain common substance—on the basis, so to speak, of collective ownership. This would lead to tritheism, not trinitarianism. The living tri-unity of the Holy Trinity is founded on a single principle of self-revelation with one life in common, though in three distinct persons.

The Holy Trinity has one Ousia, not three, or three-thirds of an Ousia divided up between the three persons. It likewise possesses one Wisdom, not three, one Glory, not three. Thus of its own accord falls to the ground the first misconception which arises on the very threshold of sophiology. The Holy Trinity is consubstantial and indivisible.

The three persons of the Holy Trinity, have one life in common, that is, one Ousia, one Sophia. Nevertheless this unity of divine life coexists with the fact that the life of each of the hypostases in the divine Ousia-Sophia is determined in accordance with its own personal character, or specific hypostatic features. The divine tri-unity is mirrored in her with all its characteristics. There is, however, a difference to be observed in logical emphasis when interpreting on the one hand the tri -unity of the three hypostases, and on the other the tri- unity of the single divine Sophia.

In the first case we are contemplating the personal hypostases of the Holy Trinity, which differ from one another —three which are one; in the second instance, there is only the. Now there is a curious sort of prejudice in regard to sophiology, to the effect that Sophia can be associated only with one hypostasis, namely, that of the Son, an association which practically amounts to identification. This conclusion is based on an erroneous interpretation of 1 Cor. Unitarianism is thus introduced into sophiology, in place of the trinitarian principle. Insofar as Sophia is a counterpart of Ousia, she is akin to the whole of the Holy Trinity and to all its three hypostases, both as separate persons and in their mutual association.

The Father 1 represents the. Compare also Die Tragaedie der Philosophie. He constitutes the divine depth and mystery.

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He represents, as it were, that speechless silence which is presupposed by the Word. He is the primal will, the principle of all volition, the fullness participated by all being. He comprises the unity of all, and is prior to all distinction. He is the source of beauty, which must exist before beauty can come to be. He is love, although this love is withheld within himself and as yet unmanifested. He is the Father, the source of being and of love, that love which cannot but diffuse itself.

But this principle of transcendence does not exist in the abstract, shut up within itself, as it were, for it is inseparably united with the immanent in a bond of love. The transcendent constitutes the ground and source of the immanent, and the immanent cannot exist without a point d'appui in the transcendent. The Father is thus disclosed in this bi-hypostatic unity, in the dyad of. Son and Holy Spirit. The unity of the divine Ousia-Sophia is such that the Father possesses her first of all in the tri-unity of the Holy Trinity and therefore in common with the Son and the Holy Spirit.

However, in his personal, hypostatic being, he possesses her as a source of revelation, as the mystery and depth of his hypostatic being, in a true sense as his own nature— natura —which has still to be manifest, and is to be disclosed in the hypostases which reveal him. Insofar as the Father permits the revealing hypostases to disclose her, the divine Sophia abides in the Father primarily as Ousia, the undisclosed depth of his nature.

Thus, the hypostasis of the Father in himself remains undisclosed, for he is only revealed in the other hypostases by the. And in the same way his Ousia abides within him, unrevealed, in the capacity of Sophia. Now let us turn to the Second Hypostasis, that of the Logos, and his relationship to the Father. In the Logos we have a hypostasis which directly reveals the Father, the hypostatic Word of the Father. The Son is the Word of the Father, the image and radiance of his glory, his revelation in the Word.

The Logos is the proper hypostasis of the Word in all the plenitude of the ancient meaning of that term: namely, the Word-thought, Logos-logic, intelligence contemplating itself, both the thinker and the thought, intelligence hypostatized. This Word spoken constitutes part of the hypostatic life of the Logos in his Ousia. It is precisely this content of divine thought which is disclosed in the hypostasis of the Word in the form of Sophia, or the divine Wisdom. The universal nature of the Word is here expressed not only positively, but reinforced by the negation.

How then can we contemplate this all understood as the Word of all words, as the content of divine Wisdom, of Ousia, manifested as Sophia? According to such abstract interpretation, words are but powerless, lifeless symbols. Everything is included in the world of divine being, considered from the point of view of its divine content.

We should now adapt what we have said concerning the hypostatic nature of the Word to the definition of the divine Ousia-Sophia, in the aspect which it acquires in relation to the Second Hypostasis. Sophia, the Wisdom of the divine world, the ideal ground of each distinct specific being. She stands for the wisdom and the truth of all that is worthy of participating in divine being, namely, of everything that exists, since we cannot conceive of the existence of any source of being other than or opposed to the divine.

All the manifold forms of being, as many as, having their own specific character, possess a word or an idea, are thereby included in the content of the divine Sophia. This content includes everything, and nothing is excluded from it. Sophia does not exist apart from her connection with the hypostasis of the Logos, without being hypostatized in him: equally the hypostasis of the Logos does not exist apart from his connection with Sophia.

But if this is the case, if Sophia represents the objective principle which is mutually related to the hypostatic Logos, and is hypostatized in him, then we must establish in this particular case a mutual interrelationship of love. This will be the love of the hypostatic Word for his Word of words—for Sophia. At the same time, this self-revelation constitutes the revelation of the Father in the Son. Different aspects of love—both hypostatic and non-hypostatic—diffuse their radiance here. And so it would be true to say in a certain sense that the Logos is the hypostasis of Wisdom, while Wisdom represents the self-determination of the hypostasis of the Logos.

Or, to put it more concisely, the Logos in himself is hypostatic Wisdom as such —kat' exochen par excellence. This is a favorite formula on the lips of the. Nevertheless, if we want to understand it correcdy, its bearing must necessarily be restricted. It can be accepted only in the affirmative, and by no means in a negative or exclusive sense.

But the Second Hypostasis has the property of being directed immediately toward the Logos, being in this sense identical with the Logos. At the same time the Logos comprises the ideal content of Sophia, so as logically, that is ideally, to determine it. To do this, we must recognize as fully as possible the exact hypostatic place of the Holy Spirit within the Holy Trinity.

For a more extended treatment of the procession of the Holy Spirit, see The Comforter ; ch. II, pp. In this way the Holy Spirit achieves his own fulfillment as the hypostasis of love. The Son and the Holy Spirit, together, inseparable and unconfused, realize the self- revelation of the Father in his nature. If we were prepared above to admit conditionally the truth of the formula that in a certain sense the Logos is equivalent to Sophia, we did so only with a particular and limited interpretation in mind.

For the Logos, in whom the Holy Spirit abides only in a state of dyadic union and not separated from the tri-unity of the Holy Trinity, to suggest which would be blasphemy! Accordingly in a similar sense we can say that the Holy Spirit too is Wisdom, as has in fact been stated by certain Fathers of the Church, such as St.

Theophilus of Antioch 4 and St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons. Autolicum 2, If the divine Sophia represents a mutual revelation of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we must try to determine the relationship which exists between them. It is obvious that they neither repeat one another, nor merge together. In spite of this fact, they are mutually identified in one self-revelation of the Holy Trinity, in the one Holy Sophia.

We find, however, that a very similar statement is made in the trinitarian dogma, which teaches that all the three hypostases—the primary principle, the Father, with the Son and the Holy Spirit—possess one essence and are thereby united in one common life, although as persons they are distinguished. In the same way we should draw the distinction between the two dyadic hypostases in their relation to the divine Sophia. Here we should accept as our guiding line the witness of the Incarnate Word about himself and about the Holy Spirit. Such is the.

The revelation of the Holy Spirit is accomplished in the existent life of the hypostatic Word, his living actuality for the Father, and thereby for the Holy Spirit himself. The one who loves then receives everything for himself or herself only through such a renunciation of self in the beloved. In himself he constitutes this transparency, for he is Love.

And as such the Holy Spirit represents the principle of the quickening spiritual reality within the Holy Trinity, the reality and the life of the Word of Truth. This constitutes the divine fiat in God himself in relation to his own being, the content of which is ideally spoken, and is determined, in the Word. But being in God is not, and cannot be, like being in things—a dead objectivity, which incidentally, we only observe in our world because our powers of perception are so limited.

No, the world of divine ideas, a world of divine realities is a living thing, is in fact life itself. This life of Truth in its own full transparency is beauty, which is the self-revelation of the Deity, the garment of God, as it were; it is that divine glory which the heavens declare Ps. It is of this glory, as an aspect of divine manifestation, or epiphany, that Holy Scripture speaks, as.

The self-revelation of Wisdom is equivalent to the self-revelation of glory. Thus we reach the conception of the self-revelation of the Godhead in the double figure of Wisdom-Glory, which corresponds to the dyad of the Word and of the Spirit. But, it may be said, will not this line of thought lead, as it were, to a splitting up of the one undivided Trinity into two parts: the Father, who alone possessed the divine Wisdom-Glory, and the two revealing hypostases of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, who manifest it in themselves?

Are we not introducing in another form the error which we have already refuted: namely that Wisdom in the Holy Trinity can only belong to or be identified with one of the hypostases as is generally thought, with the second , and not be shared by the other hypostases? In other words, is not Wisdom made a basis of division within the Holy Trinity? In answer to which it may be observed that the Ousia is one and undivided in the Holy Trinity and that the Holy Trinity itself, by a triune act,. In this sense we can say that their own self-revelation is Sophia.

She can therefore be attributed to both the divine hypostases of the Son and of the Spirit, who constitute her diune subject. She represents their self-revelation, and in this sense,. But we must distinguish between the aspects of this predication. The relation of Sophia to the Second and Third Persons of the Holy Trinity is immediate, insofar as she expresses the image of the hypostatic being of each. The relation of Sophia to the Father is mediated through his relation to the other hypostases, who disclose him to Sophia.

The subject is a Hypostasis which, according to its nature, possesses being and which discloses this being in its nature. It would equate with the hypostases a principle which is in itself nonhypostatic although it belongs to the hypostases. Thus we have established the relationship which exists between Sophia and the divine Ousia, and at the same time, through this, her relationship to the triune hypostases. Each of these in its specific way possesses Sophia and in this sense is Sophia.

The Son possesses her as his own revelation, which is fulfilled, and accomplished through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity possesses her as her triune subject, as it exists in three different hypostases; and in its tri-unity has her as its one Ousia, 7 which in its revelation is the divine Sophia. We must here draw attention to the meager interest displayed in the doctrine of the one Ousia in trinitarian theology. This accounts for the absence of sophiology which would otherwise have been evoked by this doctrine. It may even be said that the conception of Ousia has remained in the lifeless scholastic form in which it was taken over from Aristotle.

It has merely indicated the place where future problems would arise, and had been more of a theological symbol than a theological doctrine. Such a state of things could not last forever, and sophiology has come in our time to occupy this vacant place and reveal the meaning of this symbol. The Divine and the Creaturely Sophia 1. The tri-personal God has his own self-revelation.

His nature, or Ousia, constitutes his intrinsic Wisdom and Glory alike, which we accordingly unite under the one general term Sophia. God not only possesses in Sophia the principle of his self-revelation, but it is this Sophia which is his eternal divine life, the sum and unity of all his attributes. If this were so, then, since Sophia is Ousia as revealed, the same consequence would follow for Ousia as such.

I: The Divine Sophia, Ch. II: The Creaturely Sophia, pp. It would imply that God is a Spirit without a nature and that the divine hypostases are in fact devoid of Ousia. Their being would be confined to an abstract relationship of mutual self-abandonment, without any content of nature, a conception akin to the Ich-Philosophie of the elder Fichte. In opposition to this scholastic abstraction which can only lead to heresy regarding the doctrine of the Trinity, we must insist on the full ontological reality of Ousia-Sophia.

This is no mere self-determination of the personal God; Ousia, and therefore Sophia, exists for God and in God, as his subsistent divinity. It is quite natural, of course, for discursive reason to hesitate when confronted with the necessity of drawing a distinction between the hypostatic and the essential, sophianic, being of the one self-sufficient divine Spirit.

Such a distinction, however, is only a consequence of the trinitarian dogma, which is a doctrine not only of the hypostases of the Trinity, but also of the consubstantiality of their nature. No more will sound ontology, however, suffer us to reduce the essential nature of the Godhead to the shadowy existence of a logical abstraction. We can see a contrary error in the denial of personality in Spirit, leaving it no more than nature devoid of personal consciousness of self. We are here confronted with an apposition of two postulates, which is for abstract reason an antinomy: 1.

God has Ousia or Sophia, in a sense is his Ousia or Sophia— that is the thesis of its identity; 2. Ousia or Sophia exists only in God, belongs to him, as the very ground of his being—that is the antithesis, distinction. Both affirmations are true: the Ousia or Sophia is the non- hypostatic essence, which yet can exist only in connection with the tri-hypostatic person of God.

This antinomy may be somewhat elucidated by comparison with the relationship between spirit and body in human beings. The human spirit cannot exist without the body, any more than the body can exist in isolation from the spirit. As such, the body is not merely an aggregate of bones and muscles belonging to the matter of the world; it is more than mere matter.

The body should be understood as a revelation of the spirit, of its likeness and of its life. Being informed by intelligence, it provides the outward expression for human individuality—it is, so to speak, an icon of the spirit which dwells in it. The human being, the incarnate spirit, thus provides us with an obvious example of the antinomy involved in the correlation of hypostatic and non-hypostatic being.

To what extent, then, may this analogy be applied to the mutual relationship between the tri-personal God and his Wisdom? It is usual to define spirit in general, and the divine Spirit in particular, by the negative notion of incorporeality , as a being without a body.

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This is to take for granted that the body is simply the principle direcdy opposed to spirit. For the purpose of making clearer what the divine Spirit is, we even make use of a comparison with the angels, the bodiless spirits. The incorporeal nature of the angels, however, only marks their special place in creation and their ministry to humanity; 3 in no way can it be taken to express the nature of spirit as such. The angelic world of bodiless spirits should always be thought of in conjunction with the world of human spirits, associated with the body, and by nature revealing itself through this body.

The angels minister to the world of human beings. That is why they are described by contrast, as bodiless beings, a description which at once assigns them a place in the hierarchy of being, and thereby denotes a limitation of their being. No such limitation can be ascribed to the divine Spirit, which has in the Wisdom and Glory identical with its essence the sufficient medium of its selfrevelation. On the contrary, it would appear that this self-revelation, described in Scripture under the striking figures of Wisdom and Glory, can with greater truth be compared with or interpreted as the real prototype or exemplar cause of human self-revelation through the body.

We know that the Scriptures frequently speak of. It is usual to interpret this only in the sense of an allegory or an inevitable anthropomorphism. But would it not be more exact to understand it ontologically, in the sense that the organs of the human body, being instruments for revealing the spirit, must themselves have a spiritual prototype in the fullness of the divine life? In other words, the bodily form of the human being corresponds to the formal aspect of that divine Glory, which is itself the fullness of the life of God. Indeed we can pursue this analogy yet further.

Hence the body has a twofold determination, which corresponds to the dyadic character of the self-revelation of God through Wisdom and Glory in the Second and Third Hypostases. Thus the essential Wisdom and Glory in God possesses an ontological reality analogous to that of a body. And accordingly it can be compared to an absolute, heavenly, spiritual body belonging to the divine Spirit in all the fullness of its self-revelation.

This life, obviously cannot be without content; on the contrary, it is precisely by its fullness that it tranacends all definition. On the contrary simplicity precisely implies fullness, a fullness in which all qualities meet in one. This unity of all with all and in all is the ground of the energy of love within the Godhead. That, in effect, is what the Godhead is for God. But a question at once arises—can we as creatures presume to penetrate into the inner life of the Deity, itself and pronounce any sort of opinion. Are not such attempts merely the product of an insane daring and an impotent presumption?

Do not the prohibitions of the via negationis, the docta ignorantia , whose wisdom consists only in knowing that we know nothing, come nearer to the heart of the matter? Such doubts are expressed in various quarters in relation to sophiology. Are they justified? Now it is true that the absolute God can never be comprehended by human reason. God transcends the world and humankind to such an extent that even the purely negative theology which denies all possibility of knowing anything about God, has nevertheless already gone too far in affirming so much as that.

Even negation must make one positive assumption. Indeed, the only thing which seems appropriate is the absence of any sort of thought or teaching about God, a form of agnosticism which merges into practical atheism. God in his mercy, however, has not left us in the darkness of such agnosticism: he has given us a revelation concerning himself. He reveals himself to us both in his tri-personal being and in the simplicity of his deity, and only by virtue of such revelation dare we make any positive statement about God; we not only may, we must.

The absolute god, who exists in himself, self-contained in his absoluteness, self-sufficing in his majesty, abandons this state and establishes in dependence upon his own absolute being a relative creaturely being. It is only in relation to this being that he can be called God. This state in which the absoluteness of the Absolute is combined with the relationship joining the world to God, the divine life in itself on the one hand with its manifestation in the created universe on the other, constitutes the ultimate antinomy for our reason and knowledge, a bound.

Deux est vox relativa. Sir Isaac Newton. At this point the fiery sword bars the way to our reason, which can do no more than recognize the existence of this antinomy, accepting both its postulates as equally necessary, though by their very essence mutually exclusive. In practice this antinomy can be expressed for us in the following proposition: the Absolute reveals itself to us as God; and we learn to know God as such only on the basis of this his revelation of himself in his tri-personal being and in his Godhead, that is, the Glory and Wisdom of his essence.

Alongside the divine and eternal world exists the world of creaturely being established by God in time. It marks in the first place the fact that no other principle of creation exists outside of God or apart from God. This at once excludes that Manichean dualism, according to which side by side with the true God exists some anti-god, who is the true source of the world of creatures. At the same time this affirmation also does away with the pagan materialism which assumes, in such mythological figures as that of Tiamat, the existence of prime matter, as it were, along with God.

There can be no source of the world but God. This is as much as to say that the world has been established in its being by God, that it has been created by God by his own power and out of himself. Therefore the creature is distinct from the deity itself not in respect of the source of its being, but only in respect of the particular mode of its reception of that being. Every such form of being must necessarily find its origin outside itself. Its emergence represents the filling of a void, of some deficiency of being, by some more positive, though still incomplete, form of being.

In the act of emergence two poles are present: the positive source of being and the void of non- being, which is being replenished by its fullness. It is being in the process of becoming. Creatureliness as such consists in this fusion of being and nothingness, or of being and non-being. The process of becoming lies at the very root of creatureliness—of its lack of power to gain existence for itself, its dependence on the bestowal of that power from above, in which consists the fact of creation.

This is the manifestation outside God of the wealth of divine being, now enshrined in creation and existing in dependence upon the divine being. The first and most fundamental question is this: is the content of the life of the world, or rather are the divine principles on which it is based, something new for God himself, which was unknown to him prior to creation and which was lacking in him, apart from his relationship to creation?

To raise this question it is enough to be able to see the obvious answer. For as soon as we admit that the principle of creation is something new to God himself, we must recognize a certain incompleteness in God without creation. This inevitably forces us to the further conclusion that the creation of the world is, in some sense, a sort of self-revelation for God himself. Let us make this assumption that with creation something new emerges in God, which did not exist before.

We see, therefore, that such an affirmation leads to the theological absurdity and contradiction that the self-sufficient God creates the world in response to a certain need for fulfillment, and in the world discovers something new to himself. It is obviously, then, essential for us to accept the opposite point of view. God creates the world, as it were. Nothing new is introduced for God by the life of the world of creatures.

That world only receives, according to the mode proper to it, the divine principle. Its being is only a reflection and a mirror of the world of God. We find this line of thought in the teaching of some of the Fathers of the Church. We find such teaching even in those Fathers of the Church who in dealing with the subject of Wisdom, especially in their interpretation of Prov. Yet in spite of this, in their teaching on the creation of the world they affirm the existence of the divine prototypes of creation, in full accordance with the sophiological point of view. Such, for example, is the teaching of St.

John of Damascus, 7 St. Maximus the Confessor and St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Augustine, 8 and,. De divin. In Defence of the Holy Icons against Gainsayersr. For images and examples of all that shall be created by God are simply his thought in him of these objects.. Ang Tr. Gregory Nazianzen. What then are these eternal prototypes of creation, which are recognized by the Fathers of the Church as its divine foundation? Although the Fathers themselves do not describe them by the name of the divine Sophia, nevertheless in essence we have here, quite undoubtedly, the divine world considered as the prototype of the creaturely.

Thus the doctrine of Sophia as the prototype of creation finds ample support in the tradition of the Church. If in the light of what has been stated above we turn to Prov. I it will not be difficult for us to convince ourselves that here also the Wisdom of God is represented precisely as a prototype of creation existing with God prior to the creation of the world. Carmina Mystica. The object of his contemplation then was the adorable radiance of his own goodness and intelligence, and the equal perfection of glory of all the thrice-radiant Godhead, no less truly so to himself in his solitude than to those unto whom he has now revealed it.

And likewise that mind whence the world is begotten then dwelt in the depth of his mind upon how he should give shape to that world which was afterward brought into being ,, and which even then was thus present to God. For God has all things ever under his eye, both what is yet to be, and what was, and is now. The division whereby one thing is before another or after in time is imposed upon me; but for God all is fused into one, and held in the grasp of his Godhead. However we may in other respects interpret the biblical teaching on Wisdom in relation to the divine hypostases, there is no doubt that it includes this doctrine of the divine prototypes of creation in God: by Wisdom God made the world cf.

Usually these ideas are rationalistically interpreted in the sense that God created the world wisely, as if Wisdom were no more than an attribute of God. The inadequacy of such an interpretation is, however, obvious. Wisdom is to be understood ontologically, not as an abstract quality, but as the ever-present power of God, the divine essence, as the Godhead itself. The former way of interpreting such passages as Prov. Such an interpretation, however, proves too much, in effect making the Logos alone of the Holy Trinity the creator of the world. This is to contradict the irrefragable fact that the creation of the world was the work of the whole Holy Trinity.

But, further, the usual formula used by the Fathers appropriates the creation of the world to the Father, working through the Word by the Holy Spirit, attributing to the latter an almost instrumental role. Basil the Great among others. Basil describes the Father as initiating prokatarktike , the Son as sustaining demourgike , the Holy Spirit as crowning teleistike the work of creation. Contra Arianos. To this it is natural to add John 1. This is especially strange in relation to John 1. If we adopt this interpretation, then all these texts become evidence for a principle in God which gives rise to the world: God created the world by his divinity, by that Wisdom whereby he eternally reveals himself unto himself.

It is for this reason that the same revelation John 1. In general, our position here is to maintain that God in his three persons created the world on the foundation of the Wisdom common to the whole Trinity. This is the meaning which underlies the narrative of the creation of the world in six days Gen.

We have then the following general scheme of creation: God creates by his Word, calling all things into existence by his creative fiat ,. Skip to main content. Email to friends Share on Facebook - opens in a new window or tab Share on Twitter - opens in a new window or tab Share on Pinterest - opens in a new window or tab.

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