Christians miss insight into divine breadth without its female expression and distort perspective when male divine dimensions dominate. Yet the Ultimate, known by diverse forms and names, is neither sexual nor limited as our descriptors may suggest. Wisdom or the Spirit figure—Hokmah in Hebrew, Sophia in Greek and Sapientia in Latin—has for centuries personified God. Non-biblical religions also include forms of female, creative, divine energy known by terms like Shekinah, Shakti, and Chi. This blog introduces the concept and encourages the reader to further study.
Twenty years ago I attended the ecumenical Re-Imagining conference in Minneapolis—a profound gathering of nearly two thousand women. To share worship rituals with milk and honey, join in global song, and support justice themes prompted an aura of togetherness. To invoke Sophia via a Hawaiian chant before each speaker began enabled a Presence distinct. Flack followed from sources threatened by traditional views. But the outcome persisted. Elizabeth A. Johnson returned with me from the event via her She Who Is. Not only did that book open up Proverbs texts and move me into the Wisdom of Apocrypha content, long denied most Protestants, I learned of the extent to which Sophia’s activity was transferred to Jesus the Son, to the demise of Christ-Sophia.
Known by diverse forms and names in scattered cultures, Divine Presence may mirror goddess Isis from Egypt, Ishtar in Babylonia, Inanna in Sumer, Kuan-Yin in China, or Sophia in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
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