Have you ever watched a 3D movie without the glasses? Sure, you can see the movie, but once you put on the glasses it becomes a completely different experience. With the glasses there is a depth and clarity that didn’t exist before. Sometimes I feel like the dominant, mainline theological thought is like reading Scripture without the benefit of the 3D glasses. It’s flat and a little bit blurry, and doesn’t have anywhere close to the depth of meaning it could have.
Here is just one example: did you know that for the writers of the gospels, and for Paul as well, Jesus was the incarnation of Sophia (“Wisdom” in English, “Hokmah” in Hebrew)? Or at the very least a reflection or prophet of Wisdom. Over and over again within the gospels we find ideas, phrases, and words that echo the Old Testament and Wisdom Literature’s depiction of the feminine Divine presence known as Wisdom.
Long before Jesus is inviting people to eat bread and drink wine (John 7:37-38), and before he talked about being the bread of life (John 6:35), Wisdom had her say. In Proverbs 9:5 Wisdom says, “Come, eat my bread and drink the wine which I have prepared for you.” And in the Apocryphal book of Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) 24:21, she says, “Once you feed on me, you’ll yearn for more; once you drink of me, you’ll thirst for more.”
In Ecclesiasticus 51:26 and 6, Wisdom says, “Put your necks under her yoke, and let your souls receive instruction.” “Give your shoulder to her yoke… For in the end you will find rest in her.” We hear this echoed in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Wisdom is the one, according to Proverbs 8:22-31, who is with God at the beginning of creation and even before the beginning. In fact, she was there as the “skilled artisan standing next to the Almighty” when the seas and the sky and the foundation of the earth were laid out. John takes this imagery and switches Sophia (Wisdom) to Logos (Word) in order to reflect Jesus’ gender as he goes on to use this same description about Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word; the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God” (John 1:1-5).
In Ecclesiasticus 24:8, Wisdom says, “Then the creator of all things instructed me… “Pitch your tent in Jacob, make Israel your inheritance.” While John 1:14 reads, “The Word was made flesh, and pitched his tent among us.”
And Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:24, comes right out and says, “Christ is the power and the Sophia of God.”
Truly, there has been much study in this area and I could go on for quite a bit about it. Suffice it to say that this information isn’t hitting the churches because it would seem a bit too heretical. What does it matter anyway? some may say. For those of us who desire more of a balance image of the divine, with the hopes that this balance might some day be reflected in humanity, it makes a great deal of difference. Sophia offers another image for the Divine feminine, a Divine Mother of the Universe, and a feminine balance to the male Jesus. It’s something to think about. Putting on those 3D glasses can be pretty exciting.