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date: 18 May 2024


The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium
Anthony CutlerAnthony Cutler, Alexander KazhdanAlexander Kazhdan

(Σοφία) was a complex term in patristic vocabulary.As human wisdom it had ambivalent meaning—sometimes connoting a virtue, sometimes sophisticated eloquence devoid of ethical or spiritual content, sometimes vain and “carnal” pseudo-wisdom. In Gnostic thought Sophia was one of the Aeons, a bearer of the female principle: she was the counterpart to the Father, with whom she produced, by contemplation, divine beings; in the form of Agape-Sophia she was the counterpart to Christ and, in the form of Pistis-Sophia, the counterpart to the Saviour. On the other hand, divine Sophia was construed as an attribute of the Godhead, sometimes even identified with the second or third person of the Trinity. Thus Christ is identified as the Wisdom of God on a 14th-C. icon now in the Byzantine Museum in Athens (... ...

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