Studies in Sophiology #2: Bulgakov and 'Hypostatic Maternity'


The future of a living Christianity rests with a Sophianic interpretation of the world and of its destiny


Fr. Bulgakov


Filius incarnatus est: Jesus Christus; Spiritus Sanctus quasi-incarnatus est: Immaculata.


St. Maximilian Kolbe



Böhmean Theosophy [check out Part#1 here] has been highly influential in Christian thought from its inception, not only in Theosophy (Baader, Oetinger, Gichtel) but also in Orthodox theology (which always had a natural affinity for the Hagia Sophia), esp. of the Russian variety. Besides Solovyov, Florensky and Berdyadev, the most prolific figures among these modern Sophiologists is certainly Father Sergey Bulgakov.


Sophiology plays a central role in the massive work of Fr. Bulgakov and undergirds pretty much all his writings, so we cannot hope to give a holistic representation of all its aspect here but will instead content ourselves with only giving a very brief outline. The main impetus behind Bulgakov’s sophiological vision could be described as a rescralization of the cosmos, a rediscovery of its ‘theophanic’ character. He thus conceives of Sophiology as a via media between a Manichean dualism of God and the world (which traced back to Scotism and in a sense even Aristotle, who despite his misguided ‘criticism’ of Platonic idealism was in fact far more dualistic than his mentor) and a false deification of the world, a balance between immanence and transcendence.


Similar to Böhme’s ‘two faces’ of Sophia (what we have termed ‘essential’ and ‘substantial’ Wisdom), Bulgakov too envisages Wisdom under a double aspect, namely what he calls ‘divine’ and ‘created Sophia’ (which are ultimately but one reality).[1]


Following Solovyov he essentially identifies Sophia with the Divine Ousia itself, even going so far as to say that the conception of Ousia as handed down through the perennial Church teaching “is but that of Sophia, less fully developed” (Sophia, I). As such she is the very Life of God, that ‘Love’, which God essentially is (Deus est Caritas), the Love in which the triune God eternally loves Himself, “the sum and unity of all his attributes” (ibid. III), belonging equally to each Person of the Trinity. She is the ‘space’ or ‘medium’ of the mutual self-revelation of the three Persons, yet itself neither ‘personal’ (in the sense of the Hypostases in divinis) nor completely ‘apersonal’ but eternally ‘hypostatized’ in each of them, i.e. ‘manifested’ according to the different ‘character’ of each Person in a threefold modality. [2] The unity of Sophia thus mirrors the tri-unity of God.


The Father is the very fount of the Godhead, “that speechless silence which is presupposed by the Word” (ibid. II). He is, in a sense, unrevealed Ousia as Hypostasis, which is then ‘revealed’ via the dyad of Son and Spirit. He is the Principle of all self-disclosure, remaining in Himself eternally undisclosed.


The 2nd Person, the ‘Word by whom all things were made’, the Image of the Father in which he reveals His infinite riches to Himself, is ‘hypostatic Wisdom’ itself, Intellectus in se. Sophia then, as Ousia hypostasized through the Logos, represents the ‘words of the Word’, the ‘image of the Image’, the manifestation of this plenitude ad extra in the ‘world of ideas’ (kosmos noetos). As such she is the ‘objective principle’ of the Logos, his own self-revelation, the ‘outspoken Word’ (or, to pick up on Baader’s terminology: the logos ekthetos of the logos enthetos).


The Spirit lastly is the ‘hypostatic Love’ of Father and Son, their mutual ‘transparency’. In his ‘sophianic determination’ ad extra He is the ‘breath of life’, who bestows reality on the ‘world of ideas’ and transforms it “into a living and real essence, into a self-sufficient creation of God, the ens realissimum, into a world [3] existing with the life of God” (ibid.).


If the revelation of God’s ‘Wisdom’ (or Truth) is effected through the Son, the Spirit effects that of his ‘Glory’ (or Beauty), these being conceived as energeias (in the Palamite sense) of the ineffable Ousia. The Word provides the ‘content’ and the Spirit gives ‘life’ (or ‘being’). We may conclude that ‘divine Sophia’ belongs to the Father as her ultimate subject, who then discloses (or ‘manifests’) Himself through the two revealing Hypostases of Son and Spirit; she is the revelation of the Father in the Son by the Holy Spirit.


In summing up we can say that the entire Holy Trinity in its tri-unity ‘is Sophia’, just as all three hypostases are in their separateness … The Father, Deus absconditus, possesses her as his revelation in the dyad of hypostases which reveal him. The Son possesses her as his own revelation, which is fulfilled, and accomplished through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity possesses her as her triune subject, as it exists in three different hypostases; and in its tri-unity has her as its one Ousia, which in its revelation is the divine Sophia (ibid.).


Love being essentially kenotic it desires its ‘effusion’, to go forth from itself, the share itself with an ‘other’. Thus the circumincession of inner Divine Life  ‘pours over’[4] as ‘created Sophia’ (the ‘love of Love’ or ‘personal love’) into the nothingness of creation, wich constitutes an revelation of Ousia ad extra via the ‘sophianic’ manifestations of Son and Spirit.[5]


‘Created Sophia’ is the very foundation (sub-stans) of creation, the created world being as it were “a reflection and a mirror [6] of the world of God … a sort of duplication of the divine Sophia” (ibid. III). Participating both in the divine and creaturely world and standing between them as a ‘mirror’ or a ‘veil’, she is the mediating principle par excellence, the metaxu (or Mediatrix) [7], the ‘Guardian Angel of Creation’ residing in the ‘gap’ between ‘being’ (or ‘manifestation’) and ‘super-being’ (the unmanifest), between the Non-being of God and the nothingness of creation.


Sophia unites God with the world as the one common principle, the divine ground of creaturely existence. Remaining one, Sophia exists in two modes, eternal and temporal, divine and creaturely (ibid.).


As kosmos noetos Sophia is not only the foundation, “the noumen, to ontos on, the Ding an sich of creation … as it were the natura naturans, forming the basis of the natura naturata, of the creaturely world” (Unfading Light II.2.1), but also its entelechy (for everything has to ‘become what it is’, i.e. actualize its ‘sophianic’, or ‘archetypical’ reality). Like in Böhme this entelecheia is realized fully in the Incarnation of the God-Man [8] (and then continued in the Church as his Corpus Mysticum), the hypostatic union of His ‘two natures’ also signifying the marriage of ‘created’ and ‘divine Sophia’. Theosis, increasing in conformity with the divine archetype, thus become also a veritable ‘sophianication’, the prototype of this transfigured or ‘sophianicized’ creation being the Blessed Virgin (whose Assumption can be seen as a kind of prefiguring of universal apokatastasis, or 'restauration'). [9] Sophia is thus also conceived of as ‘Divine-humanity’[10] (or ‘God-manhood’, Theanthropy, an idea which likewise goes back to Solovyov), for Sophia (being the ‘image of the Image’, i.e. of the Logos who is the ‘eternal Adam’ Himself, ‘Hypostatic Humanity’ of which all human hypostases are mere reflections) is also “the heavenly type of humanity or, in [a] sense, heavenly humanity itself” (Sophia, V).


Sophia is the ‘world of ideas’ (the Platonic Nous), as well as the anima mundi[11], the celestial Aphrodite (pasa psyche Aphrodite - Plotinus), which binds all things together into pan-unity with the ‘flaming band of love’ (desmo erotos agetou), natura naturans, the eternal Eve (Hawwah), ‘mother of all living’; like the Philonic logos, she is the mediating principle between God and the world (janua coeli, regina angeli), the Idea of celestial humanity and its ultimate entelechy. She is not only the all-embracing unity of the noetic and phenomenal world, but also that of the three Persons themselves, the very Ousia of the Godhead, the ‘black virgin’[12] (nigra sum sed formosa), honored by the Sufis under the name of Laylâ (the ‘lady of night’, literally: ‘the dark one’). In summa: she is the eternal Shulamite (das Ewig-Weibliche), bride, mother and daughter, Ecclesia, Maria, ye, each holy soul, which, in becoming ‘virginal’, gives birth to the Word. [13] 


No wonder then, that Bulgakov’s Sophiology was accused of heresy by many of his contemporaries; for not only does it risk falling into a monism of Ousia, by postulating Sophia as a kind of ‘common ground’ for both God and creation, but it is also in danger of making Sophia, in a sense, ‘greater’ than God Himself. The ‘hypostatization’ of Sophia as ‘personal being’, a ‘4th Hypostasis’ even, might also seem questionable to some (a problem which the Baaderian notion of an aperson ‘periphery’ or ‘mirror’ doesn’t run in).


It seems thus prudent to avoid an identification of Sophia with Ousia, and try to ‘banish’ her outside the ‘inner sanctum’ of the Trinitarian perichoresis all together. Does this mean banishing all notion of the ‘Divine Feminine’ out of God however? Not necessarily. Not only has Sophia often been seen in conjunction with the Logos (Fons Sapientiae Verbum Dei – Eccl. 1.5) as his ‘bride’ or ‘syzygy’ (a notion already present in Philo), or as logos ekthetos, but there is also a tradition that links the Maternity in divinis , the Theotokos (Panagia), with the Person of the Holy Spirit (Panagion).


We’d like to point here to the notion of the ‘hypostatic maternity of the Spirit', a phrase coined originally by Fr. Bulgakov himself and subsequently developed by both Paul Evdokimov and Jean Borella.


Now the notion of the ‘motherhood’ of the Holy Spirit (‘the Spirit of Wisdom’ after all – Is. 11:2) is certainly nothing new but goes back to ancient times. Not only is the ruach Elohim (whom Christians naturally identify with the 3rd Person of the Trinity), that is ‘hovering’ (or, according to other manuscripts: ‘fermenting’ or ‘brooding’)[14] over the waters in principio[15] (Gen. 1:2) conceived of as ‘female’ in jewish thought (the Shekinah, whose symbol is likewise the ‘dove’ [16], the ‘mother-bird, or peristera of the New Testament), but traces of this tradition are likewise found in early Christianity, especially in Syria (the word for ‘Spirit’ being likewise female in the syriac language).[17] Even Holy Scripture seems to give us a hint of this ‘esoteric’ femininity, where Christ talks about the Spirit under his aspect of ‘living water’ (Joh. 7:37-39), which resides in the bosom of the Saviour and is then ‘poured out’ at his exaltation on the Cross (Joh. 19:34) – an event that even the earliest Fathers have interpreted as the ‘birth’ of the Church (the ‘bride’) from the side of Christ, her Bridegroom (this image further mirroring the creation of Eve from the side of Adam and thus designating in a sense the restoration of primordial androgyny).


For Evodkimov the Word (which expresses, orders, structures) represents the ‘masculine’ and the Spirit (who incarnates, inspires, consoles) the ‘feminine’ aspect of the Godhead , ye, it is in a sense archetypical ‘womanhood’ itself, and as such also represents the ‘maternal matrix’, the infinite fecundity of Essence in which the Father gives birth to his Son (ex Patre Spirituque so to say). Mary, the Mother of God (as wells as the Church, Mater Ecclesia), is furthermore conceived of a personification [18]  of this ‘divine womanhood’ on the creaturely level, a kind of avatara (not as 'incarnation' but ‘manifestation of a divine name’) of the Spirit in his ‘maternal’ aspect.


While the reading of both Evodikmov and Bulgakov relies heavily on an eastern understanding of the Trinity (with a ‘dyadic’ conception of Son and Spirit and the ‘monarchy of the Father’ necessitated by a rejection of the filioque), the catholic Borella presents us with a slightly different reading of ‘hypostatic maternity’ (cf. L'Esprit Saint, la Trinité et l'Immaculée Conception).


‘Hypostatic maternity’ is, for Borella, not be taken literally; the Spirit does not ‘beget’ (nor is he ‘begotten’), he is rather the ‘interior matrix’ or ‘unitary space’ (espace unitaire) in which the Father begets. As such he represents the Divine Essence in so far as it is ‘diffusive’ (for each Person is ofc. not ‘different’ from the Essence as such but represents, similar to the Bulgakovian conception, a ‘hypostatized’ aspect of it), he is ‘procession as such’, not Conceiver nor Conceived (or ‘Concept’) but the Conception (which is indeed ‘immaculate’ for it does not ‘determine’ or ‘divide’ in any way the perfect unity of Ousia). This does not, however, make him the ‘2nd Person’ of the Trinity, for his ‘hypostatization’ is actualized only ‘after’ the Son is engendered, the Spirit being the ‘hypostatic union’[19] of Father and Son and proceeding from them (as his common principle) as their bond of reciprocal love. [20]


‘Before’ the generation of the Son by the Father, there is only the Divine Essence and its immanent fecundity, which is simply one with it, and which is as if ‘hidden’ in it, at least from our point of view. But in the (eternal) moment when the Father begets the Son, he reveals, at the same time, the unity in which and thanks to which this generation can take place [as its ‘condition of possibility’ or ‘trinitarian capacity’] and which thus proceeds from them as … hypostatic unity (of the Father and the Son); for this is how it is distinguished from the two it unifies … Thus the immanent fecundity of the Divine Essence, the notion of which expresses nothing else than the mystery of a unity capable of its Trinitarian unfoldment, ‘becomes’ the Hypostasis of the Holy Spirit, in so far it is distinguished from the relation of begetting, of the unitary ground in which it unfolds itself. Without the relation of the generation of the Son, perfect Image of the Father, there is no Hypostasis of the Holy Spirit, which is like mirror in which this image appears … This immanent Conception of the Divine Essence this fecundity or ‘processive power’ would remain forever indistinguishable from the Essence itself if it were not hypostatized in the Holy Spirit by the begetting of the Son (ibid.).


The Spirit appears thus under double aspect, as ‘processive dynamis’ (relative to the procession of the Word) and as the immanent unity (or ‘non-duality’) of the terms of procession (Father and Son) relative to their distinction; exitus reditus, exhaling and inhaling, ‘living water’ and ‘Pentecostal fire’ (this 'double aspect' also being indicated by the double spiral of the initial S in 'Spiritus'), both aspects finding expression in the single name of Love (which, as we have seen before, pertains especially to the Spirit), Love being both ‘diffusive’ and ‘uniting’, these two ‘operations’ stemming from the same energeia.


The Spirit is He who ‘reveals’ Father and Son to each other in divinis (Spiritus est, qui revelat mysteria, says already Baader) – “Just as speech is carried by the breath, and without it remains only a pure structure of articulation, but not audible speech, so the Pneuma ‘carries’ the Word uttered by the Father, and makes Him hear it” (ibid.). 


Now if Maternity in divinis as the ‘processive power’ (or shakti if you want) of Essence (as well as the Shekinah, as ‘indwelling’ presence of God in creation) [21] finds its primal expression or ‘hypostatization’ in the Spirit  where does this leave our celestial Sophia?


One interpretation could be to follow the Kabbala in positing her as a kind of ‘first emanation’ (an ‘exhalation of the Allmighty, a pure emanation of His glory’ – Wis. 7:25). [22] We might even make us of the notion of tzimtzum (‘contraction’) as expounded in Lurianic Kabbala to make sense of as to how the transition from Superessential Deity to the ‘birth of Sophia’ is effected. The Essence of God being primarily kenotic love (Mysterium Trinitatis), He cannot but want to ‘share’ this love to an ‘other’ and thus, to make room for this ‘other’ (the nothingness that is created being), and thus ‘sacrifices’ some of His Infinity in a primordial kenosis. As the ‘Arizal’ explains:


Prior to Creation, there was only the infinite Aur Ein Sof filling all existence. When it arose in G-d's Will to create worlds and emanate the emanated ... He contracted (tzimtzum) Himself in the point at the center, in the very center of His light. He restricted that light, distancing it to the sides surrounding the central point, so that there remained a void, a hollow empty space, away from the central point (Etz Chaim).


This ‘sacrifice’ (which ofc. does not diminish His Infinity in anyway, for ‘with Him there is neither increase nor descrease’, as the Ecclesiast says) constitutes the ‘primordial Golgotha’, the eternal ‘Sacrifice of the Lamb’ in divinis (Ecce Agnus Dei, qui occisus est ab origine mundi – Rev. 13:8), Agnus Dei – Deus Agni.


The creation of the world by God, the self-bifurcation of the Absolute, is the sacrifice of the Absolute for the sake of the relative, which becomes for it ‘other’ (thateron), a creative sacrifice of love. Golgotha was not only eternally pre-established at the creation of the world as an event in time, but it also constitutes the metaphysical essence of creation. The divine ‘it is accomplished’ proclaimed from the cross, embraces all being, refers to all creation. The voluntary sacrifice of selfless love, the Golgotha of the Absolute, is the foundation of creation, for ‘God so loved the world that he gave his Only-begotten Son’ (Bulgakov, Unfading Light II.1).


The world is founded by the Cross, and this quite literary, for it also designates the ‘seven directions’ of universal expansion by which manifestation unfolds (‘the breadth, and length, and depth, and height’ of the love of Christ – Eph. 3:18), the ‘seven pillars’ of the ‘House of Wisdom’ (Prov. 9:1).


The ‘center’ in which He ‘contracted’ Himself, according to Rabbi Luria, is nothing other than the Divine Heart, the Supernal Center par excellence. And it is now, in this hour that there was ‘darkness over the world’ (Lk. 24:23), the ‘darkness’ over the earth that was ‘formless and void’ (Gen. 1:2), that from the pierced ‘Heart’ of God flow the ‘living waters’ (vidi aquam egredientem…), and this is the ‘fount of Wisdom’ (Eccl. 1.5) , the ‘river that flowed out of Eden to water the Garden’ (Gen. 2:10), Fons Vitae.


I, Wisdom, have poured out rivers. I, like a brook out of a river of a mighty water; I, like a channel of a river, and like an aqueduct, came out of paradise. I said: I will water my garden of plants, and I will water abundantly the fruits of my meadow; And behold my brook became a great river, and my river came near to a sea (Eccl. 24:40-43).


This ‘water’, the primordial substance, is nothing else than the ‘primordial Mary’, standing at the foot of the Cross (ecce Mater tua), the pure receptivity of prima materia, the humble [23] ‘handmaiden of the Lord’, which, ‘unspotted mirror of God’s majesty’ (Wis. 7:26), offers Him his perfect reflection; the ‘water’ (marijam – majim – maria - mare – Meer) above which the ‘Spirit of God’ hovers in contemplation (the 'Breath' which 'carries the Word', i.e. the creative Fiat). The Blessed Virgin appears thus as an avatara of prima materia.[24]


She is Nature made woman, the human manifestation of Principal Nature, of Prakriti, which is none other than the content of creative Divine Thought, the ‘ideas’, in the Platonic sense, or archetypes of different beings projected into Materia prima … she is Nature in its original purity, the Divine Feminine upon which the Glory of the Spirit shines, Primordial Nature, Holy Wisdom (Hani, La vierge noir, III).


This is ‘emanated’[25] or ‘created Wisdom’, for receiving the logoi of the Logos (the ‘Uncreated Wisdom’, according to patristic consensus)[26] she becomes Wisdom herself; the mundus archetypus and universal matrix of manifestation, Virgo Paritura, who stands in the morning dawn of creation ("when he set his compass on the face of the deep, I was there" - Prov. 8:27) reflecting the uncreated Light


After this tzimtzum ... He drew down from the Aur Ein Sof a single straight line of light from His light surrounding from above to below, and it chained down descending into that void [here: the ‘waters’, the nothingness of prima materia] ... In the space of that void He emanated, created, formed and made all the worlds (Etz Chaim).


We might further say that the absolutely simple ray of the Logos is ‘mirrored’ on the sophianic waters as the human form, this being Sophia as ‘Celestial Man’, the ‘primordial idea’.


Sophia is thus primarily an image of the Logos, his ‘Bride’, Created and Uncreated Wisdom, logos enthetos and logos ekthetos, but (the Logos being the ‘Image of the Father’, the ‘Hypostatic Image’ of the Godhead par excellence), likewise of the hole Trinity, the ‘mirror’ in which the three Person behold themselves, the ‘water’ which received the light of the trihypostatic Sun and ‘plays before Him at all times’, the ‘earth’[27] on which the ‘seeds’ (logoi) are sown and from which the whole ‘tree’ of universal manifestation springs forth.


I came out of the mouth of the most High, the firstborn before all creatures: here should rise light that never faileth, and as a cloud[28] I covered all the earth … I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus, and as a cypress tree on mount Sion. I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades, and as a rose plant in Jericho: As a fair olive tree in the plains, and as a plane tree by the water in the streets, was I exalted ... I have stretched out my branches as the turpentine tree, and my branches are of honour and grace. As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odour: and my flowers are the fruit of honour and riches. I am the Mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits! (Eccl. 24).


May the Spirit of Wisdom be with you at all times. Amen.





[1] The notion of this ‘double aspect’ of Wisdom is certainly not absent in ecclesiological Tradition. Already St. Thomas differentiates between the Sapienta ingenita (as genitrix) and the Sapienta genita within the Father, as do many of the Anti-Arian Fathers like St. Athanasius.

[2] To clarify the question of the ‘personhood’ of Sophia we could say that as unmanifest Ousia she is unhypostatic, or ‘unpersonal love’ (although even this cannot, in the last consequence, be entirely ‘aperson’ for this would introduce deficiency into the Infinite), but as ‘hypostatized’ or manifested through the 2nd and 3rd Person (as ‘love of Love’) she is ‘personal love’ and as such “not only an abstract idea or mirror of God” but conceived of as “a living essence, having person, hypostasis”, so that Bulgakov even speaks of a ‘4th Hypostasis’, while clarifying that: „Of course she is different from the Hypostases of the Holy Trinity, and is a special hypostasis, of a different order, a fourth hypostasis, She does not participate in the inner-divine life, she is not God, and that is why she does not convert the trihypostaseits into a tetrahypostaseity, the trinity into a quaternity” (cf. Unfading Light II.2.1).

[3] Similarly to Böhme and Bulgakov also characterizes this ‘world of God’ (His ‘Kingdom’, Malkut) as God’s ‘body’, “an absolute, heavenly, spiritual body belonging to the divine Spirit in all the fullness of its self-revelation” (Sophia, III). Sophia ist der ewige Kraftleib des Logos ekthetos, says Baader. This ‘corporality’ is also approached to the Plotinian notion of hyle noete, or spiritual primordial substance from which Bulgakov develops notion of ‘sophianic corporality’ (Close to the Himmlische Leiblichkeit of Oetinger) in regards to the ‘heavenly bodies’ (sômata epourania – 1. Cor. 15:40) of the anthropos pneumkatikos (or anthropos ek ouranou – 1. Cor. 15:47) spoken of by the Apostle, as well as a whole ‘erotic’ theory of manifestation (as ‘interpenetration of form and matter, idea and body’, which constitutes ‘spiritual and holy corporality’), i.e. a theory of Beauty (cf. Unfading Light, II.2.3).

[4] Cf. Meister Eckhart’s notion of ‘boiling’ (bullitio) and ‘boiling over’ (ebullitio).

[5] The rays of love are poured out of Divine Fullness; in its superabundance the Divinity comes out of itself and illuminates the darkness of non-Divine nothing, nonbeing. The Divinity, which does not know envy or covetousness and in its infinity and absoluteness knows no increment, wants to summon towards its love even this nonbeing, the non-Divine life. In keeping with its Divine condescension, in the selflessness of love the Divinity wants the non-itself, the non-Divinity, and goes out of itself in creation. But in setting alongside itself the extra-Divine world, the Divinity thereby places between itself and the world a certain border and this border, which according to the concept itself is found between God and the world, the Creator and the creature, is itself neither the one nor the other but something completely particular, simultaneously uniting and separating the one and the other (a certain metaxu in the sense of Plato)” (Unfading Light II.2.1); this metaxu being ofc. Sophia in her role as mediatrix.

[6] The similarities with the Böhmean conceptions are obvious. We might also cite the saying of St. Bonaventure according to which “the entire world is like a single mirror full of lights presenting the divine wisdom” (Coll. In Hexaemeron II.27).

[7] Notion of Mary as the ‘moon’ as mediator between the ‘earth’ (aptly called ‘sublunary’ world) and the ‘Divine Sun’ (or rather her Divine Son, Solis justitiae). At this point it should’ve become clear, that the ‘Sophianic mystery’ is always also a ‘Marian mystery’. Shekinah under its aspect of Matrona: “All the messages sent here below by the supreme King pass through the intermediary of the Matrona, and all the messages sent to the supreme King from the world below first arrive at the Matrona who transmits them to him … Thus she is the perfect mediatrix between heaven and earth” (Zohar III.50b)

[8] “Christ our Lord in his ministry fully and entirely actualized all the potentialities of divine Wisdom even in his human nature” (Sophia, IV). The fact that Incarnation is effected by the descent of both Word and Spirit is for Bulgakov a further indication of the ‘double part’ played by Sophia in it, and likewise its continuation through the Church (where ‘body’ of Christ ‘vivified’ by the Pentecostal descent of Spirit). This Epiklesis already points to ‘eschatological Pentecost’, the Parousia of God as ‘all in all’, as the final entelechy of the world and the consummation of the final marriage between ‘created Sophia’ (as represented by the Church, the Holy Spirit sent down into the world, the ‘bride’) and ‘divine Sophia’ (the Word, as Heavenly Bridegroom).

[9] “In her is realized the purpose of creation, the complete penetration of the creature by Wisdom, the full acoord of the created type with its prototype, its entire accomplishment” (Sophia, VI).

[10] Like Baader Bulgakov connects his notion of Sophia explicitly with the kabbalistic idea of Adam Kadmon.

[11] A conception that also finds correspondences with Baader, who likewise calls Sophia the mundus archetypus, correlating her with Nous, as well as ‘divine worldsoul’ and spiritus mundi divini (as opposed to the spiritus mundi sidereus, of the fallen ‘elemental’ world).

[12] The symbolism of the ‘black virgin’ is certainly manifold and it can not only designate Ousia (or rather it’s ‘feminine’ aspect as Universal Possibility), but also materia prima (the ‘black virgin’ Cybele, which is also the ‘black cube’ Kaaba) of which we shall talk more below.

[13] “With her face turned towards God, she is his Image, Idea, Name. Turned towards nothing, she is the eternal foundation of the world, Heavenly Aphrodite as Plato and Plotinus called her … She is the empyrean world of intelligble, eternal ideas … Plato’s doctrine, the world of ideas is nothing other than Sophia, i.e., while it is the living relation of Divinity it is still not Divinity itself. It does not have its own power, but receives it from God and is the glory of the Word of God … As the entelechy of the world, in her cosmic aspect Sophia is the world soul, i.e. the principle that links and organizes the world’s plurality … Sophia, as the all-unity (hen kai pan), the virginity of the creature, holds everything in herself in a higher confluence of unity” (Unfading Light, II.2.1).

[14] Thus we read for example in St. Ephrem the Syrian: “The Holy Spirit warmed the waters and made them fertile and capable of birth, like a bird when it sits with its outstretched wings on its eggs and by its warmth gives them warmth and produces fertility in them”.

[15] We might also draw a connection between the ‘seven pillars’ that Wisdom built her house on in principio and the ‘seven gifts of the Spirit’, as well as the ‘seven sacraments’ of the Church and the ‘seven sorrows’ of the Mater Dolorosa.

[16] We’d like to note en passant that the Blessed Virgin has likewise been praised as ‘dove’ in liturgical texts, in reference to Cant. 2:10; 6:8. Ye, the very oldest Marian prayer known to us praises her as the ‘Dove who has snatched mankind from death’.

[17] Thus for example the syriac Didascalia apostolorum (3rd century) refers to the deacon as an image of Christ and to the deaconess as an image of the Holy Spirit, while St Macarius likewise speaks in his homilies of ‘the true, heavenly Father, the good, kind Mother, the grace of the Spirit; and the sweet and longed-for Brother, the Lord’.

[18] “She is, in personal form, the human likeness of the Holy Ghost. Through her, with her human form become entirely transparent to the Holy Ghost, we have a manifestation and, as it were, personal revelation of him” (Bulgakov, Sophia, VI). This ‘transparency’ (‘the Woman clothed with the Sun’) is also why she is ‘Mediatrix of all Graces’ for it is said that all graces (‘gifts of the Spirit’) pass through her hands (‘the channel or aqueduct whereby the heavenly waters reach us’ according to St. Bernard). A Similar conception is to be found in Borella who sees her as a reflection of the ‘processive power’ or immanent fecundity, the ‘trinitarian capacity’ of the thearchical Essence (Borella also that observed in Lourdes Mary didn’t identify herself  as ‘immaculately conceived’ but as the ‘Immaculate Conception’ itself, a fact which cannot be overlooked in this context). Already Meister Eckhart said that “Our Lady, before becoming Mother of God in His humanity, was Mother of God in His divinity, and the birth she gave Him in His divinity is represented by the birth as man He took in her” (Sermon 8, Evans). Ye does not even St. Maximilian Kolbe himself draw this connection when he writes: Filius incarnates est: Jesus Christus; Spiritus Sanctus quasi-incarnatus est: Immaculata.

[19] Borella clarifies that He is not ‘the One of the Trinity’ (that being the Godhead itself) but the immanent unity or rather ‘non-duality’ (unity pertaining to the Father as unitary Principle).

[20] The ‘spirative power’ (or virtus) not belonging to either solely the Father (like his ‘generative power’ does) nor the Son (like his ‘begottenness’) but to both (cf. St. Thomas’ S.Th. I.41); it belongs thus to Divine Essence itself, the Spirit being the hypostasis which reveals this ‘spirative power’, and this way ‘processive power’ as such (which cannot be ‘revealed’ before the generation of the Son).

[21] Christ as the Incarnate God, Emmanuel, tabernaculum Altissimi, is ofc also the Shekinah, who ‘dwellt among us’ (Joh. 1:14; eskenose, literally ‘has pitched his tent’, having the root skn corresponding exactly to Shekinah). But we might also approach to the Shekinah to the Spirit as the ‘living water’ which ‘dwells in him’ according the passage cited above.

[22] Despite attempts among Christian kabbalists since earliest time to transpose the tri-unity of the arich anpin on the Christian Trinity, these have to be rejected since the analogy breaks down at the latest at the equalization of Binah and the Holy Spirit. We might in passing also point to the Sefer Yetzira itself in which we hear of the ‘Spirit’ (or ‘Breath’) and ‘Word’ (which are not yet clearly distinguished) as prior to any emanation and that by which procession is effected

[23] “’Humble’, because it is fundamentally ‘that which is not’, destitute of all being, but ‘handmaiden’, that is, totally offered and submissive to the effluvia of the Spirit; and, precisely on account of this ‘poverty’ and ‘submission’, the Spirit accomplishes ‘great things’ in her, that is to say the whole of Creation, because this total poverty, this ‘emptiness’ apt to receive all forms and to be inexhaustibly impregnated with them while remaining ‘virgin’ and ‘immaculate’ – these ‘great things’, refer us to beauty as to the multiplicity of universal Creation” (Hani, La vierge noir, III).

[24] But, as we have said above, the ‘primordial substance’ represents at the same time but a ‘lower reflection’ of the ‘Universal Possibility’, or the shakti of the Principle (which we have now identified as the Spirit).

[25] For, being the principle of manifestation, it is not ‘manifested’ (strictly speaking) in itself.

[26] “Wisdom was created before all things: not that Wisdom, I mean, which is altogether equal and co- eternal unto the Father, by which all things were created, and in whom, being the beginning, thou createdst heaven and earth; but that wisdom verily which is created; that is to say, the intellectual nature; which by contemplating of the light, is become light: for this, though created, is also called wisdom. But look what difference there is betwixt that light which enlighteneth, and the light that is enlightened, so much is there betwixt that wisdom that creates, and this wisdom which is created: like as there is betwixt that righteousness which justifieth, and that righteousness which is made by justification. For we also are called thy righteousness ; for so saith a certain servant of thine : That we may be made the righteousness of God in him. Therefore since a certain created wisdom was created before all things, the rational and intellectual mind of that chaste city of thine (mens rationalis et intellectualis castae civitatis tuae), our mother which is above, and is free, and eternal in the heavens” (St. Augustine, Confessions XII.15).

[27] In many liturgical texts Mary is likewise praised as the (untilled) ‘earth’ which brought forth the ‘living Vine’, or the ‘paradise’ in which the new ‘Tree of Life’ blooms forth. Or as St. Jerome says: Vere hortus deliciarum, in quo consita sunt unversa florum genera, et odoramenta virtutum, sicque conclusus, ut nesciat violari.

[28] Likewise Ibn Arabi consideres ‘universal nature’ (Tavi’at al-kull) as the first ‘emanation’ of God prior to his creation. She is the ‘merciful breathing out’ (Nafas Ar-Rahman), that comes out of the mouth of the Most High any which he likewise describes as a ‘cloud’ (as does jewish Esoterism the Shekinah): “Creation is essentially the revelation of the Divine Being, first to himself, a luminescence occurring within Him; it is a theophany (tajallī ilāhī) … The Divine Breathing exhales what our shaikh designates as Nafas al-Raḥmān or Nafas Raḥmānī, the Sigh of existentiating Compassion; this Sigh gives rise to the entire “subtile” mass of a primordial existentiation termed Cloud (‛amā) … This Cloud, which the Divine Being exhaled and in which He originally was, receives all forms and at the same time gives beings their forms; it is active and passive, receptive and existentiating (muḥaqqiq); through it is effected the differentiation within the primordial reality of the being (ḥaqīqat al-wujūd) that is the Divine Being as such (Ḥaqq fī dhātihi). As such, it is the absolute unconditioned Imagination (khayāl muṭlaq)” (Corbin, Creative Imagination, p. 219f.)

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