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Encyclopedia > Sophia (gnosticism)

For the Gnostic Christians, the Sophia was a central element in their cosmological understanding of the Universe. A Feminine figure, analogous to the human soul but also simultaneously one of the Feminine aspects of God and the Bride of Christ, she is considered to have fallen from grace in some way, in so doing creating or helping to create the material world. For the Gnostics, the drama of the redemption of the Sophia through Christ or the Logos is the central drama of the universe. The Sophia resides in all of us as the Divine Spark. In Gnostic Christianity Christ is sent to bring her back to the Godhead. Gnosticism is a blanket term for various religions and sects most prominent in the first few centuries A.D. General characteristics The word gnosticism comes from the Greek word for knowledge, gnosis (γνῶσις), referring to the idea that there is special, hidden mysticism (esoteric knowledge... This article is about the religous people known as Christians. ... This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... This page is about the title or the Divine Person. For the Christian figure, see Jesus. ... The Greek word λόγος or logos is a word with various meanings. ... For the Jain teacher Mahāvīras philosophy, see vitalism (philosophy). ...


In Gnostic tradition, the term Sophia (Σoφíα, Greek for "wisdom") refers to the final and lowest emanation of God. In most if not all versions of the gnostic myth, Sophia brings about an instability in the Pleroma, in turn bringing about the creation of materiality. Thus a positive or negative view of materiality depends a great deal on the interpretations of Sophia's actions in the myths. She is occasionally referred to by the Hebrew equivalent of Achamoth (this is a feature of Ptolemy's version of the Valentinian gnostic myth). Gnosticism is a blanket term for various religions and sects most prominent in the first few centuries A.D. General characteristics The word gnosticism comes from the Greek word for knowledge, gnosis (γνῶσις), referring to the idea that there is special, hidden mysticism (esoteric knowledge... Emanationism is a component in the cosmology of certain religious or philosophical belief systems that claim that the supreme god did not create the physical universe, but instead emanated lower spiritual beings who consequently carried out the actual work. ... Pleroma (Greek πληρωμα) generally refers to the totality of Gods powers. ... Hebrew redirects here. ... Ptolemy the Gnostic (not the same person as the astronomer and geographer, nor the Egyptian ruler) was a disciple of the Gnostic Valentinius, known to us for writing a letter to a wealthy non-Gnostic lady named Flora. ... Valentinus can refer to: Pope Valentinus Saint Valentine Basil Valentinus, a 15th century monk from Erfurt who may have described Bismuth Valentinius, a Gnostic also known as Valentinus Roman emperors - Valentinian I (364 - 375) and Valentinian II (371 - 392) This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists...


Almost all gnostic systems of the Syrian or Egyptian type taught that the universe began with an original, unknowable God, referred to as the Parent or Bythos, or as the Monad by Monoimus. It can also be equated to the concept of Logos in stoicism, esoterism, or theosophical terms (The 'Unknown Root'). It is also known as the first Aeon by still other traditions. From this initial unitary beginning the One spontaneously emanated further Aeons, being pairs of progressively 'lesser' beings in sequence. The lowest of these pairs were Sophia and Christ. The Aeons together made up the Pleroma, or fullness, of God, and thus should not be seen asdistinct from the divine, but symbolic abstractions of the divine nature. This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... Bythos was the name given by some Gnostics to the monadic first being and originator of the spiritual world of the Pleroma. ... Within certain variations of Gnosticism, especially those inspired by Monoimus, the Monad was the highest God which created lesser gods, or elements (similar to aeons). ... Monoimus (lived somewhere between 150 - 210) was an arabic gnostic (arabic name: Munim), who was known to us only from one account in Theodoret (Haereticarum Fabularum Compendium i. ... The Greek word λόγος or logos is a word with various meanings. ... Stoicism is a school of philosophy commonly associated with such Greek philosophers as Zeno of Citium, Cleanthes, or Chrysippus and with such later Romans as Cicero, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus. ... Etymology Esoteric is an adjective originating during Hellenic Greece under the domain of the Roman Empire; it comes from the Greek esôterikos, from esôtero, the comparative form of esô: within. It is a word meaning anything that is inner and occult, a latinate word meaning hidden (from which... Possible emblem of some Theosophical Society Theosophy, literally knowledge of the divine, designates several bodies of ideas. ... The concept of that which was before all others. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Emanationism is a component in the cosmology or cosmogony of certain religious or philosophical systems that argue a sentient, self-aware Supreme Being did not create the physical universe, but instead an insentient The Absolute emanated lower and lower spiritual modalities and lastly matter as the resultant efflux of the... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This page is about the title or the Divine Person. For the Christian figure, see Jesus. ...

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Sophia in the Nag Hammadi

In the Nag Hammadi, Sophia is the lowest æon, or anthropic expression of the emanation of the light of God. She is the syzygy of Jesus Christ, and Gnostics believed that she was the Holy Spirit of the Trinity. Sophia is depicted as the creator of the material universe in "On the Origin of the World." Furthermore, the planet Earth and everything on it was indeed created by the Jewish God Yahweh, but he is depicted as fundamentally corrupt. Because Sophia created the material universe and its god (also known as Yaldabaoth, Samael, and Demiurge) either without her syzygy Jesus Christ or, in another tradition, because she tried to breach the barrier between herself and the unknowable Bythos. The town of Nag Hammadi in Egypt Nag Hammâdi (Arabic نجع حمادي; transliterated: Naj Hammādi) (26°03′N 32°15′E), is a town in the middle of Egypt, called Chenoboskion in classical antiquity, about 80 kilometres north-west of Luxor with some 30,000 citizens. ... Look up Syzygy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... In various religions, most notably Trinitarian Christianity, the Holy Spirit (in Hebrew רוח הקודש Ruah haqodesh; also called the Holy Ghost) is the third consubstantial Person of the Holy Trinity. ... For other uses, see Trinity (disambiguation). ... The term Demiurge (or Yaldabaoth, Yao, Bythos and several other variants, such as Ptahil used in Mandaeanism) refers in some belief systems to a deity responsible for the creation of the physical universe and the physical aspect of humanity. ... Samael is an important figure in Talmudic and couille post-Talmudic lore, a figure who is accuser, seducer, and destroyer. ... The Demiurge, in some belief systems, is a deity responsible for the creation of the physical universe and the physical aspect of humanity. ... Bythos was the name given by some Gnostics to the monadic first being and originator of the spiritual world of the Pleroma. ...


Furthermore, she is also depicted as the destroyer of both this material universe, and Yaldabaoth/Yahweh and all his Heavens. Later in "On the Origin of the World," it states:


"She [Sophia] will cast them down into the abyss. They [the archons] will be obliterated because of their wickedness. For they will come to be like volcanoes and consume one another until they perish at the hand of the prime parent. When he has destroyed them, he will turn against himself and destroy himself until he ceases to exist. For other uses, see Archon (disambiguation). ...


And their heavens will fall one upon the next and their forces will be consumed by fire. Their eternal realms, too, will be overturned. And his heaven will fall and break in two. His [...] will fall down upon the [...] support them; they will fall into the abyss, and the abyss will be overturned.


The light will [...] the darkness and obliterate it: it will be like something that never was."


The fall of Sophia

Sophia's fear and anguish of losing her life (just as she lost the light of the One) caused confusion and longing to return to it. Because of these longings, matter (Greek: hyle) and soul (Greek: psyke, ψυχή) accidentally came into existence through the four elements: fire, water, earth, and air. The creation of the lion-faced Demiurge is also a mistake made during this exile, according to some Gnostic sources as a result of Sophia trying to emanate on her own, without her male counterpart. The Demiurge proceeds to create the physical world in which we live, ignorant of Sophia, who nevertheless managed to infuse some spiritual spark or pneuma into the creation of the Demiurge. In physics, matter is commonly defined as the substance of which physical objects are composed, not counting the contribution of various energy or force-fields, which are not usually considered to be matter per se (though they may contribute to the mass of objects). ... The soul, according to many religious and philosophical traditions, is a self-aware ethereal substance particular to a unique living being. ... Chinese Wood (木) | Fire (火) Earth (土) | Metal (金) | Water (æ°´) Hinduism and Buddhism Vayu / Pavan — Air / Wind Agni / Tejas — Fire Akasha — Aether Prithvi / Bhumi — Earth Ap / Jala — Water Many ancient philosophies used a set of archetypal classical elements to explain patterns in nature. ... Just-lit match Fire is a self-sustaining oxidation process accompanied by heat and light in the form of a glow or flames. ... Water is a tasteless, odourless substance that is essential to all known forms of life and is known as the universal solvent. ... Earth (IPA: , often referred to as the Earth, Terra, the World or Planet Earth) is the third planet in the solar system in terms of distance from the Sun, and the fifth largest. ... AIR is a three-letter abbreviation with multiple meanings, as described below: The Annals of Improbable Research, a monthly magazine devoted to scientific humour All India Radio - Indias Government Radio service AIR, a popular electronica band from France. ... The Demiurge, in some belief systems, is a deity responsible for the creation of the physical universe and the physical aspect of humanity. ... Pneumatology refers to the study of spiritual beings and phenomena, especially the interactions between humans and God. ...


After this the savior (Christ) returns and lets her see the light again, bringing her knowledge of the spirit (Greek: pneuma, πνεῦμα). Christ was then sent to earth in the form of the man Jesus to give men the gnosis needed to rescue themselves from the physical world and return to the spiritual world. Note that, in Gnosticism, the Gospel story of Jesus is itself allegorical: it is the Outer Mystery, used as an introduction to Gnosis, rather than being literally true in a historical context. The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath. ... Jesus (8–2 BC/BCE to 29–36 AD/CE),[1] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... The Eleusinian Mysteries were annual initiation ceremonies for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. ...


In Valentinian cosmology, the three sensations experienced by Sophia create three correspondent types of humans:

  • hylics (who bond to matter, the principle of evil)
  • psychics (who bond to the soul and are partly saved from evil)
  • pneumatics who can return to the pleroma if they achieve gnosis and can behold the world of light. The gnostics regarded themselves as members of this group.

The analogy of the fall and recovery of Sophia is echoed (to a varying degree) in many different myths and stories. Among these are: (also referred to as Somatics) Hylics or Somatics were the lowest order of the three types of human, in the Gnostic view. ... The Gnostic view of humanity divided people into one of three basic categories: Somatics (body), Psychics (mind) and Pneumatics (spirit). ... This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Look up eve in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The term Virgin Mary has several different meanings: Mary, the mother of Jesus, the historical and multi-denominational concept of Mary Blessed Virgin Mary, the Roman Catholic theological and doctrinal concept of Mary Marian apparitions shrines to the Virgin Mary Virgin Mary in Islam, the Islamic theological and doctrinal concept... The head of Orpheus, from an 1865 painting by Gustave Moreau. ... In Greek mythology, there were two characters named Eurydice (Eurydíkê). // Wife of Orpheus The more famous was a woman—or a nymph—who was the wife of Orpheus. ... Helen was the wife of Menelaus and reputed to be the most beautiful woman in the world, and her abduction by Paris brought about the Trojan War. ... Head of Odysseus from a Greek 2nd century BC marble group representing Odysseus blinding Polyphemus, found at the villa of Tiberius at Sperlonga Odysseus (pronounced odd-dis-soos). ... For other places named Ithaca, see Ithaca (disambiguation). ... Penelope represented as a statue in the Vatican, Rome For other uses, see Penelope (disambiguation). ... Andromeda may be: Andromeda (mythology), the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, wife of Perseus Andromeda Galaxy Andromeda (constellation), in which the Andromeda Galaxy is located Andromeda polifolia or Bog-rosemary, a plant of the heath family Andromeda (TV series) a science fiction television series Mount Andromeda in Canada and the... Perseus with the head of Medusa, by Antonio Canova, completed 1801 (Vatican Museums) Perseus, Perseos, or Perseas (Greek: Περσεύς, Περσέως, Περσέας), the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty there, was the first of the mythic heroes of Greek mythology whose exploits helped establish the hegemony of Zeus and the Twelve... Making of Pandora In Greek mythology, Pandora (all gifted) was the first woman, fashioned by Zeus as part of the punishment of mankind for Prometheus theft of the secret of fire. ... Gustave Dorés illustration for Cendrillon For other uses, see Cinderella (disambiguation). ... Sir Edward Burne-Jones painted The Sleeping Beauty. ... For alternate uses, see Saint George (disambiguation) Saint George on horseback rides alongside a wounded dragon being led by a princess, late 19th century engraving. ... Her Royal Highness, Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan (born in 19 BBY), born Leia Amidala Skywalker, is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe played by Aiden Barton in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, actress Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: Episodes IV-VI, and by Ann... The Death Star was an enormous military battle station in the fictional Star Wars universe. ... Opening logo to the Star Wars films Star Wars is a science fantasy saga and fictional galaxy created by writer / producer / director George Lucas during the 1970s. ...

Sophia and non-Gnostic Christianity and Judaism

Although the Divine Sophia is central to so many Gnostic movements she is by no means a figure unique to Gnosticism. Sophia as 'the Wisdom of God' appears in the Bible in the Book of Proverbs - in particular 8.22-31 in which the Sophia speaks as if an entity in her own right - as well as in the Psalms and New Testament. In Judaism the Sophia appears alongside the Shekinah, 'the Glory of God', a figure who plays a key role in the cosmology of the Kaballists as an expression of the feminine aspect of God. Like the Gnostic Sophia, the Shekinah has a double role as placed side by side with God while also exiled to the world of matter, the Malkuth. The word Bible refers to the canonical collections of sacred writings of Judaism and Christianity. ... The Book of Proverbs is one of the books of the Ketuvim of the Tanakh and of the Writings of the Old Testament. ... Psalms (Hebrew: Tehilim, תהילים) is a book of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh. ... John 21:1 Jesus Appears to His Disciples--Alessandro Mantovani: the Vatican, Rome. ... Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. ... Shekinah (שכינה - alternative transliterations Shechinah, Shekhina, Shechina) is the English spelling of the Hebrew language word that means the glory or radiance of God, or God resting in his house or Tabernacle amongst his people. ... This page may meet Wikipedias criteria for speedy deletion. ...


In the Russian Orthodox Church the Sophia is championed as a key part of the Godhead by religious thinkers such as Vladimir Solovyov, Pavel Alexandrovich Florensky, Nikolai Berdyaev and Sergei Bulgakov whose book Sophia: The Wisdom of God is in many ways the apotheosis of Sophiology. His work was heavily attacked by the Russian Orthodox Authorities and denounced as heretical. For Bulgakov. the Sophia is co-existent with the Trinity, operating as the Feminine Aspect of God in concert with the three Masculine principles of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. The Russian Orthodox Church (Russian: ), also known as the Orthodox Catholic Church of Russia, is that body of Christians who are united under the Patriarch of Moscow, who in turn is in communion with the other patriarchs and primates of the Eastern Orthodox Church. ... Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov (Владимир Сергеевич Соловьёв) (1853 - 1900) was a Russian philosopher, poet, pamphleteer, literary critic, who played a significant role in the development of Russian philosophy and poetry at the end of the 19th century. ... Pavel (Paul) Alexandrovich Florensky (Russian: , January 21 N.S. 1882 - December 1937 by the other sources) was a Russian Orthodox theologian, philosopher, mathematician and electrical engineer, sometimes compared by his followers to Leonardo da Vinci. ... Nikolai Berdyaev Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev (Николай Александрович Бердяев) (March 18 [O.S. March 6] 1874 – March 24, 1948) was a Russian-Ukrainian religious and political philosopher. ... Mikhail Nesterovs Philosophers, Pavel Florensky (left) and Sergei Bulgakov 1917 Fr. ... Apotheosis means glorification, usually to a divine level, coming from the Greek word apotheoun, to deify. ... Sophiology is a branch of Christian theology primarily concerned with the Wisdom of God. ... For other uses, see Trinity (disambiguation). ...


In Roman Catholicism Dame Hildegard of Bingen also celebrated the Sophia as a cosmic figure both in her writing and art. Within the Protestant tradition in England, 17th Century Mystic, Theosophist and founder of the Philadelphia Society Jane Leade wrote copious descriptions of her visions and dialogues with the 'Virgin-Sophia' who, she said, revealed to her the spiritual workings of the Universe. The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ... A medieval illumination showing Hildegard von Bingen and the monk Volmar Blessed Hildegard of Bingen (alternatively, German von Bingen or Latin, Bingensis) (1098 – September 17, 1179) was a German magistra,[1] monastic leader, mystic, author, and composer of music. ... Jane Leade (1624-1704) was a Christian Mystic born in Norfolk, England, whose spiritual visions, recorded in a series of publications, were central in the founding and philosophy of the Philadelphia Society in London at the time. ...


Some commentators view the Virgin Mary as an expression of the Sophia, although in one sense much reduced. The Sophia is seen as being expressed in all Creation, the Natural World, and, for some of the Mystics mentioned above, integral to the spiritual well-being of mankind and the Church. The Virgin is seen as outside Creation but compassionately interceding on behalf of humanity to alleviate its suffering. The term Virgin Mary has several different meanings: Mary, the mother of Jesus, the historical and multi-denominational concept of Mary Blessed Virgin Mary, the Roman Catholic theological and doctrinal concept of Mary Marian apparitions shrines to the Virgin Mary Virgin Mary in Islam, the Islamic theological and doctrinal concept...


Bibliography

  • Caitlin Matthews, Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom (London: Mandala, 1991) ISBN 0044405901
  • Brenda Meehan, ‘Wisdom/Sophia, Russian identity, and Western feminist theology’, Cross Currents, 46(2), 1996, pp149-168
  • John Noyce, Sophia (Divine Wisdom). Part 1: From Proverbs to Suso (Melbourne: Noyce Publishing, 2006)[1]
  • John Noyce, Sophia (Divine Wisdom). Part 2: From Boehme to Goethe (Melbourne: Noyce Publishing, 2006)[2]
  • John Noyce, Sophia and the Russian mystical tradition (Melbourne: Noyce Publishing, 2006)[3]
  • Thomas Schipflinger, Sophia-Maria (in German: 1988; English translation: York Beach, ME: Samuel Wiser, 1998) ISBN 1578630223
  • Arthur Versluis, Theosophia: hidden dimensions of Christianity (Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1994) ISBN 0940262649
  • Arthur Versluis, Wisdom’s children: a Christian esoteric tradition (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1999) ISBN 0791443302
  • Arthur Versluis (ed.) Wisdom’s book: the Sophia anthology (St.Paul, Min: Paragon House, 2000) ISBN 1557787832

See also


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