Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Speaking of Sophia, an open letter

Oh dear Stephanie,
I fear I may have opened a contentious issue. I love the way you use the names of God. Sophia is the feminine name for the wisdom of God. There is evidence that early Christians equated Sophia with the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, especially the Wisdom Literature, she is Wisdom and is closely linked to the wisdom of Solomon.
I am not an expert in this. Of course, some see that the patriarchal church has suppressed this knowledge of Sophia in order to maintain a totally masculine Trinity. Others, of course, would see the resurgence of interest in and knowledge about Sophia as a blasphemous attempt by feminism to pervert the gospel.
Whatever knowledge I have personally about Sophia, has been gained in passing, rather than through deep study. I liked the notion, when I first heard of it, and was comforted by the fact that The Holy Spirit might be the feminine aspect of God. Certainly, the work of the Holy Spirit, both as inspiration (wisdom) and as comforter, are what is highest and best in women.
In truth, I think of God as neither male nor female. I believe that our assignation of gender to God arises from anthropomorphism. While we were created in the image of God, it seems to me that many of our attempts to understand God must of necessity arise from what we perceive and know of ourselves. Revelation of God has come in human form. The words of God were written down by the hands of humankind. That does not mean they are without divine inspiration, indeed, it is that inspiration which is attributed in early Christianity to Sophia.
So, if it comforts us to address God as Abba, Daddy, in response to the example of Yeshua, Jesus, then too, may it comfort us as women to accept that The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Truth, Sophia, wears a feminine face.
Love and blessings, to a wise woman of faith, Stephanie,


steph said...

This is something I didn't know Connie and most fascinating. I have already emailed you some comments. This week I have several times been reading about "Lady Wisdom", which is Eugene Peterson's translation - "Lady Wisdom is at home in an understanding heart - fools never even get to say hello." Proverbs 14:33
The adventure of getting to know Sophia continues.

daisymarie said...

Well stated. As I read this I sense the invitation of the Spirit to dig deeper, to understand more, and to truly find comfort.

Thank you. This might rattle a few preconcieved notions so I appreciate the courage to share this so openly.

blessings and grace.

anj said...

help please - I want to chew on this post, as it exudes a deep fragrance of beauty, but what does anthropomorphicism mean, in this context of course?

Connie said...

Dear Anj,
I may have made up this spelling of the word. Anthropomorphism is the correct spelling and I've changed it. It is the ascription of human characteristics to a non-human, as with an animal (see Beatrix Potter) or more especially in theology, with God.
In this context I see our need to have God be either male or female as a projection of our own being state. This is complicated by our use of language...and our reluctance and even inability to refer to God as IT...especially since we accept God as personal and having personal attributes, albeit some uniquely divine ones. Does this help?

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