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Ukrainian (Kyiv) Icon, Theotokos as Sophia, the Holy Wisdom, 1812.

Sophiology (from Greek Σοφία "sophia", wisdom) is a philosophical concept regarding wisdom, as well as a theological concept regarding the wisdom of God. Sophiology has roots in Hellenistic tradition and Platonism. Sophia had a major role in almost every sect of Gnostic Christianity.

Some see Sophia as a deity in her own right, others see her as representing the Bride of Christ (Revelation 19), others as a feminine aspect of God representing wisdom (Proverbs 8 and 9), and others as a theological concept regarding the wisdom of God.


Eastern Orthodoxy[edit]

In the Eastern Orthodox church, sophiology is considered equivalent to "sophianism", which has been condemned as heretical by the Patriarch of Moscow[1] and other Orthodox hierarchs, who decided to "...recognize the teaching of Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov on Sophia the Wisdom of God as heretical".[2]

Personified representations of Holy Wisdom (Ἁγία Σοφία) or "Wisdom of God" among the Eastern Orthodox refer to the person of Jesus Christ, as illustrated in the Acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, our true God, the self-existent Wisdom of God the Father, Who manifested Himself in the flesh, and by His great and divine dispensation (lit., economy) freed us from the snares of idolatry, clothing Himself in our nature, restored it through the cooperation of the Spirit, Who shares His mind..."[3] More recently, it has been stated that "From the most ancient times and onwards many Orthodox countries have been consecrating churches to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Wisdom of God".[4] Orthodox icons and cathedrals with names often translated as "Saint Sophia" do exist, but they do not refer to a specific individual, human or divine, named "Sophia". Rather, they are a mistranslation of Ἁγία Σοφία, or "Holy Wisdom", which is a convention used in the Orthodox Church to refer to Christ.[citation needed]


See also[edit]

A mystical depiction of Sophia from Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer, Altona, 1785.


  1. ^ "The teaching of Professor and Archpriest S.N. Bulgakov -- which, by its peculiar and arbitrary (Sophian) interpretation, often distorts the dogmas of the Orthodox faith, which in some of its points directly repeats false teachings already condemned by conciliar decisions of the Church..." Moscow Patriarchate (1935) Decision No. 93
  2. ^ Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (1935) Decision of the Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad of the 17/30 October 1935 concerning the new teaching of Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov on Sophia, the Wisdom of God
  3. ^ Acts of the Second Council of Nicea,
  4. ^ Sobolev, Archbishop Seraphim (1935) The New Teaching concerning Sophia the Wisdom of God. p. 121

External links[edit]

In other traditions[edit]