Sophiology (Russian: Софиология, by detractors also called Sophianism Софианство or Sophism Софизм) is a controversial school of thought in Russian Orthodoxy which holds that Divine Wisdom (or Sophia) is to be identified with God's essence, and that the Divine Wisdom is in some way expressed in the world as 'creaturely' wisdom. This notion has often been understood or misunderstood (depending upon one's point of view) as introducing a feminine "fourth hypostasis" into the Trinity.
Personified representations of Holy Wisdom (Ἁγία Σοφία) or the "Wisdom of God" refer in Orthodox theology to the person of Jesus Christ, as illustrated in the Acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicaea II, 787): "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..." 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."
Sophiology has its roots in the early modern period, but as an explicit theological doctrine was first formulated during the 1890s to 1910s by Vladimir Solovyov (1853–1900), Pavel Florensky (1882–1937) and Sergei Bulgakov (1871–1944).
In 1935, parts of Sergius Bulgakov's doctrine of Sophia were condemned by the Patriarch of Moscow and other Russian Orthodox hierarchs. Although Bulgakov was censured by the aforementioned hierarchs, a committee commissioned by Metropolitan Eulogius to critique Bulgakov's Sophiology found his system questionable, but not heretical, and issued no formal censure (save for a minority report written by two members of the committee, Georges Florovsky and Sergei Ivanovich Chetverikov). For Bulgakov, Theotokos St. Mary was the world soul and the “Pneumatophoric hypostasis”, a Bulgakov neologism.
Thomas Merton studied the Russian Sophiologists and praised Sophia in his poem titled "Hagia Sophia" (1963). The Roman Catholic Valentin Tomberg in his magnum opus Meditations on the Tarot incorporated many Sophiological insights into his Christian Hermeticism, pairing the Holy Trinity (Father-Son-Holy Spirit) with the Trino-Sophia (Mother-Daughter-Holy Soul), which together he called “The Luminous Holy Trinity”. The book's 2020 Angelico Press edition includes an introduction written by Robert Spaemann, a favorite theologian of Pope Benedict XVI, while its other editions feature an Afterword by Hans Urs von Balthasar. Pope John Paul II elevated von Balthasar to cardinal after having von Balthasar had endorsed this book and the pope himself photographed with Tomberg's book on his desk and said by Richard Payne, the original English publisher, to have kept a copy on his nightstand.
Johnson (1993) and Meehan (1996) noted parallels between the Russian "sophiological" controversy and the Gender of God debate in western feminist theology.
- Holy Wisdom (iconography)
- Holy Wisdom § Russian mysticism
- Sergei Bulgakov § Controversy
- Vladimir Solovyov (philosopher) § Sophiology
- Essence-energies distinction
- Sophia (wisdom)
- Sophia (Gnosticism)
- ^ Bulgakov, Sergius. "Sophia, the Wisdom of God". Bulgakoviana.
- ^ W. Goerdt in The Encyclodedia of Christianity (2008), p. 122.
- ^ "Internet History Sourcebooks Project". Sourcebooks.fordham.edu. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
- ^ Sobolev, Archbishop Seraphim (1935) The New Teaching concerning Sophia the Wisdom of God. p. 121.
- ^ Philosophy of Economy («Философия хозяйства» 1912) and Unfading Light («Свет Невечерний» 1917).Bogatzky, Nikolay (2017). "A "gung-ho" approach towards Sophic Economy" (PDF). Economic Alternatives. Sofia: UNWE Publishing Complex (1): 160–86. ISSN 2367-9409..
- ^ "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
- ^ 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
- ^ "Georges Florovsky and the Sophiological controversy", Rocor studies, 2017-04-26.
- ^ The Mother of God in the Theology of Sergius Bulgakov: The Soul Of The World, by Walter Nunzio Sisto; Routledge; 1st edition (December 12, 2019)
- ^ "Sophia". Liturgical Press. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
- ^ Kokke, Freddy. "Pope John Paul II meditating on the Tarot". Academia.edu. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
- ^ Elizabeth Johnson, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse (1993)[page needed] Meehan, Brenda, "Wisdom/Sophia, Russian identity, and Western feminist theology", Cross Currents, 46(2), 1996, pp. 149–68.
- Sergei Bulgakov, Sophia, the Wisdom of God: An Outline of Sophiology (Library of Russian Philosophy), Lindisfarne Books, 1993. (ISBN 0940262606, ISBN 978-0-940262-60-7)
- Oleg A. Donskikh, ‘Cultural roots of Russian Sophiology’, Sophia, 34(2), 1995, pp38–57
- Hunt, Priscilla, "The Novgorod Sophia Icon and 'The Problem of Old Russian Culture' Between Orthodoxy and Sophiology", Symposion: A Journal of Russian Thought, vol. 4–5, (2000), 1–41.
- Michael Martin,The Submerged Reality: Sophiology and the Turn to a Poetic Metaphysics. (Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2015) ISBN 978-1-6213-8113-6
- Brenda Meehan, ‘Wisdom/Sophia, Russian identity, and Western feminist theology’, Cross Currents, 46(2), 1996, pp149–168
- Thomas Schipflinger, Sophia-Maria (in German: 1988; English translation: York Beach, ME: Samuel Wiser, 1998) ISBN 1-57863-022-3
- Mikhail Sergeev, Sophiology in Russian Orthodoxy: Solov’ev, Bulgakov, Losskii, Berdiaev (Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2007) ISBN 0-7734-5609-0 and ISBN 978-0-7734-5609-9, 248 pages 
- Lilianna Kiejzik on the emergence of the study of Sophia (Sophiology) in Russian philosophy – in Polish
- Jonathan Seiling, Kant's Third Antinomy and Spinoza's Substance in the Sophiology of Florenskii and Bulgakov – Presented at Florensky conference in Moscow, September 2005
- Alexis Klimoff, On the Sophiological Controversy of the 1930s – ROCOR Studies, March 25, 2017
- Bibliography – From Mikhail Sergeev, Sophiology in Russian Orthodoxy: Solov’ev, Bulgakov, Losskii and Berdiaev. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2006
- Divine Wisdom articles compiled by Priscilla Hunt