by Jordan Daniel Wood, Ph.D.
In part because others have done so at some length and in part because Roberto de la Noval’s introduction to his translation of these essays does it so well, I will not here offer a summary of Bulgakov’s theological vision. Nor will I speak to the quality of Rob’s translation, except to say that I was often riveted by it and therefore join David Hart’s praise in the foreword that Rob “has given us an invaluable contribution to this still emerging Bulgakovian moment” (x), and that this text “sounds the depths of Bulgakov’s theology in a way that no other text available in English does” (xii). The Sophiology of Death has easily become the best introduction for Anglophone readers to Bulgakov, who ranks among the most insightful Christian thinkers of the last few centuries. I will henceforth recommend it as such.
In place of summary or encomium I offer ruminations on two signature Bulgakovian themes on prominent display across these pages and indeed emblazoned in book’s title. In other words, I’m going to pop off a little. The two themes are Sophia and death. Be warned! I do not claim to be an expert on Bulgakov’s thought; I’ve not put in the requisite work for that. What follows merely limns some ideas that have so far attracted my mind’s eye in reading Bulgakov.
Sophia, the Wisdom of God, signifies in sophiology God’s self-revelation in and for himself and in and for the world. She is the divine splendor, the Shekinah, the entire content of the divine essence resplendently manifest and brilliantly burning with love in and among the Three Persons. Sophia is God’s ebullience, akin to Dionysius’s divine ecstasy or eros gushing forth from divine depths without end or middle or beginning. And her glory discloses the first flits, as it were, of the inexhaustible creativity of the Trinity, for “wisdom is more mobile than any motion” (Wisd 7.24) and thus suffuses all creation as the beginning (Prov 3.19; 8.22) of God’s deeds, and she will be proved right by them (Matt 11.19). It’s evident, then, that Sophia for Bulgakov lies at the very heart of the entire God-world relation.
Fine enough as a general entrée. But how specifically to conceive this relation? There seem to be at least two possible systematic approaches here. Both operate in Bulgakov, and perhaps not always in harmony, though, I’ll try to argue, they ought not to be thought as finally contradictory. In fact the first approach constitutes the necessarily one-sided starting point whose actual perfection lies in the second.
The first approach interprets Bulgakov’s sophiology as articulating “the metaphysical condition for the possibility of the incarnation of God as a human being,” as Rob helpfully expressed it in a recent interview, which would also describe the metaphysical condition for the world as a theophany or manifestation of God. Sophia emerges as something like creation’s primal principle or “foundation” or “ground” in God (e.g., 181), its divine root that buds forth in the moon’s gentle sheen, in the stratified red-hues of autumnal dusk, in a newborn’s pure smile, in the billions of galaxies decorating deep space, in a simple act of generosity or attentiveness (“Wisdom, let us attend!”)—in any and everything beautiful and good and true. This metaphysical interpretation chimes well with a phenomenological one: whenever and wherever you fall silent in gobsmacked wonder at the sheer depth of meaning laid open to your soul by some ineffable perception, then and there you glimpse the divine ground of the created delight, Divine Sophia in creaturely Sophia.
What strikes you is the divine life, divine content, divine glory, “in finite form,” and this means that created Sophia, the splendor of creation, bears as its content (not its mode) the divine essence itself (xxii, Translator’s Introduction). Divine Sophia is not a fourth hypostasis supplemental to the Three. But she can be hypostasized in the Three (Divine) and in the world (created), so that she “unites God with the world as the one common principle” (Sophia 74). Of course, Sophia is eternally and completely hypostasized in the Three without the slightest diminution. She is, after all, the very self-revelation of God as Trinity. Just so Divine Sophia is the eternal condition for the possibility of creation generally and of the human spirit especially. Against the false thesis that human beings possess only “conditional immortality”—and here one might have substituted the notion of “humanity’s natural end” from two-tiered Thomism—Bulgakov maintains that “man possesses in himself an uncreated-created principle, he pertains to the eternity of the divine world. . . . Belonging to the created-animal world, he is at the same time god by grace” (57).
That the human being is “theandric” in its very principle is a necessary implication of the Incarnation, of the God-human. Christ confirms in himself that humanity “co-images” God and God “co-images” humanity. Or as Maximus put it (though Bulgakov does not apparently quote it): “They say that God and man are paradigms of each other, so that as much as man, enabled by love, has divinized himself for God, to that same extent God is humanized for man by His love for mankind” (Amb 10.9). The very event of the Incarnation bids us seek its metaphysical (or transcendental!) conditions: “Only on the foundation of this co-imaging of God and man can the incarnation be understood ontologically” (57). If in Christ God and man become one, this must be because they were “already” one in principle. And that principle is Sophia.
We could multiply passages from Bulgakov’s oeuvre that move very much in the direction of this “metaphysical” approach to Sophia. In the opening sections of The Lamb of God, for instance, Bulgakov praises Apollinarius for being among the first to discern that the necessary task of Christology is to articulate a primordial God-human (and thus God-world) relation in God himself—sometimes expressed as Christ’s “flesh from heaven.” Later Bulgakov argues that the crucial insight behind the (Neo-Chalcedonian) doctrine of enhypostastization—that Christ’s humanity was “enhypostasized” in the Second Person of the Trinity—is that this act “corresponds to a primordial interrelation” between Divine and created Sophia (LG 187). “The real basis of the union of the two natures in Christ,” Bulgakov writes elsewhere, “seems to lie in their mutual relationship as two variant forms of divine and created Wisdom,” so that “the very dogma of Christology rests on sophiological foundations” (Sophia 88). All told, this approach to Sophia as the primordial ground or potency or principle of the God-world relation conceives her as the divine link between the divine and created worlds, a paradox often articulated in the classical doctrine of the “divine ideas.” We’ll circle back to those divine ideas in a moment.
A second approach to Sophia—one I find far more interesting, I confess—would emphasize Sophia not so much or primarily as a divine principle or ground but as the entirely peculiar character of the Three’s tri-hypostatic, personal, determinately revealed life or single act. Mind you, such an approach does not simply negate the metaphysical one; it rather fills it with content that presses well beyond the inherently abstract logic of before-and-after, ground-and-event, condition-and-actuality, which the first approach necessarily assumes.
Bulgakov appears everywhere concerned to resist the distortions that inevitably arise in abstracting Sophia into an essential principle or primordial ground, even that of divinity. I’m not sure it has been sufficiently appreciated that his extensive and mature presentation of Divine and creaturely Sophia in The Bride of the Lamb serves two crucial polemics: his denial of the doctrine of divine ideas in its classical form, according to which God is the world’s “cause,” and also his denial that the divine “nature” as an abstraction is adequate to God’s own self-revelation in Christ and as Trinity. Appreciating these two denials clarifies Sophia’s character. Let’s take them in order.
The classical doctrine of the divine ideas is an obvious place to go when considering the God-world relation since in all its versions it aims to articulate the most intimate link between the world and God without collapsing the two entirely. God eternally knows the ideal-real, the perfection, of everything that God creates (or could create). His knowing these ideas both ground and open the world in its depths to its own divine foundation. We need not descend into the details of the many versions of the doctrine (the Stoic move to elide the Timaeus’s intelligible archetype of the world into the Logos’s interior act of knowing, the Middle Platonic hypostatization of that archetype as the causal mediator between the highest God and lower realms still suffused by the power that is itself an emanation, and so on). The point here is that Bulgakov sees in all the doctrine’s variations the first steps towards a proper sophiology (BL 8–14). Divine ideas, in other words, intimate but do not truly contemplate the fullness of Sophia as at once God’s self-revelation and self-determination in both uncreated and created modes.
The divine ideas classically conceived, though a necessary start, must be both resolved and reframed by sophiology. There are many ways we could see why this is so, and thus why Sophia is not merely creation’s immanent ground or principle in God. I’ll just consider the shortcomings of Aquinas’s basic version, as Bulgakov himself does. I’ve combined my own criticism with Bulgakov’s in hopes of clarifying how Sophia perfects the deficiencies in Aquinas’s (typical) view of the matter.
God is utterly simple and yet his world is profligately manifold. The ideas through which, according to which, and which orient the world’s multiplicity (as their own end) must be as multiple as the world’s own multiplicity. But God himself is not manifold. Rather he knows the manifold as his own creative knowledge (he is not—contra some versions—ignorant of created multiplicity). Yet if an act of knowing is perfected in what is known, and if what is known in the divine intellect is the plurality of creation, then does this not imply that God’s knowledge is manifold and so not simple? And if God’s knowing is the pure act of God’s own essential being (since, surely, God essentially knows the truth of things, for he himself is the truth), then doesn’t the very plurality of divine ideas compromise the simplicity of God’s essence? Thus the very idea of “divine ideas” restates and attempts to redress the ancient question: How from the One, the Many?
Aquinas (at least in ST I.16.2 and thereabouts) denies that the actual plurality or multiplicity of creation causes the plurality in the divine mind. Rather the plurality of ideal-real relations in God—the many ideas—whereby “ideas are multiplied, are caused not by the things themselves but by the divine intellect comparing its own essence with these things” (huiusmodi respectus, quibus multiplicantur ideae, non causantur a rebus sed ab intellectu divine comparante essentiam suam ad res). So the divine essence remains absolutely simple as it knows its own effects, because it is its own knowing of the Many, not the Many itself, that multiplies its own ideas. Aquinas does not think God encounters, as it were, a Many already made plural, which then generates many ideas in God—as if the source of this Many were exterior to God’s own pure act of being (and knowing and loving).
For Bulgakov and for me, however, this account resolves nothing, and really just reorganizes the elements of original problem into a different configuration without thereby elucidating the problematic elements. A thorn removed from my hand and reinserted into my foot still hurts like hell!
For starters, if the plurality of ideas is caused not by the things themselves but by God comparing his own essence to the plurality of things, then we might ask whether this act of comparison is itself or has an idea. In other words, if it’s the comparing that creates ideal plurality, and if this comparing is distinct from the actual plurality of things, then we’re left with the question of whether the idea or ratio of this act is the idea of the plurality of divine ideas. If the idea of comparing is not the very idea of plurality, then the plurality of divine ideas is itself caused by a causeless or unprincipled act in God—which is to say that there exists no intelligible reason for the plurality of intelligible reasons that God knows. Here it is an act of blind will (which is not truly will!) that compares the divine essence to actual things and thus produces the plurality of ideas. Just so we would be forced to confess that the very foundation of being’s intelligibility is itself thoroughly irrational.
Nor will it help here to emphasize the distinction between ratio and forma, as some Thomists think. This distinction holds that a form is the very content of the divine intellect (though not the intelligible species by which God knows anything), while a reason is merely the explanatory principle or intelligibility of the thing known. And so a ratio is the divine essence as the added “likeness” to the thing rather than the divine essence itself. Hence there are many rationes in God but a single essence. It’s obvious that this distinction is partly meant to tidy up the otherwise anthropomorphic notion that the plurality of ideas in God results from his act of comparing his essence to the plurality of things: there is but one act of comparison that appears to us as many “comparisons,” many principles or reasons for the many actual things in creation. And yet the actual manifold of things does not thereby multiply or divide or otherwise affect the simplicity of God’s essence.
But again, far from answering the question of the cause of plurality, such a distinction begs the question. It does so in at least two ways. First, it makes the actual plurality of things constitutive of the conception of a ratio, since a ratio refers always to that which it is reason or principle of. If then the plurality of divine ideas in God is a plurality conceived solely according to the rationes of actual things, then any distinction which has ratio as one of its terms merely supposes rather than explains the plurality of rationes in relation to the plurality of things. Affirming many rationes becomes a postulate rather than the intelligible cause of plurality. And then too, second, this distinction plainly must assume the actual plurality of things (precisely because it is constitutive of one of the distinguished terms, ratio). That assumption begs the question not only because a plurality of things is constitutive of the very idea of many rationes, but also because it is exactly this actual plurality that first raised the question of its one cause. This account assumes what it’s supposed to elucidate. It is therefore a restatement of the original problem.
So then, if God’s act of comparing his essence to the plurality of things causes the plurality of divine ideas, then this act proves at once without cause or principle and ultimately unable to elucidate the plurality because it must assume the plurality in the very idea of God’s act of comparison. To be fair, Thomas might well have accepted all this as the inexorable limit of reason, so that we must simply and simultaneously affirm that actual plurality has no other cause than God and that the fact of this plurality does not retroactively determine the divine essence, even if it retrospectively seems to us to do just that. After all, as Bulgakov notices (BL 21–22), is this account really so different from Thomas’s concession that the world’s eternity remains a legitimate possibility for speculative reason, so that faith alone confesses the world’s creation in time? Is this not a tacit concession that the very idea of creation—and indeed of a positive God-world relation—is properly unintelligible? Two tiers and so forth.
But what if God’s act of comparing his own essence to things really is the very cause of the plurality of divine ideas? It would mean, I think, that this single divine act would be at once the creation of actual things and the generation of the very distinction between the two terms of comparison (the divine essence and the Many). It would be an act that unites the most particular realities with their own universal principles or rationes into a single act of being. It would be a single act that both generates and identifies the two terms, divinity and creatureliness, so that what’s reflected in the divine Word is exactly what exists (or is destined to be) in world—an act that identifies the content of both modes, divine and creaturely, which thereby establishes an absolute reciprocity between God and world every bit as necessary and unbreakable as the divine essence. It would be, in other words, an absolute and thus absolutely peculiar act of infinite Wisdom.
Wisdom, after all, is not finally an abstract essence or mode. Wisdom is an act. Or if it is an essence or mode, it is a personal essence or mode—an act achieved and vivified and executed by a person. Wisdom, actual wisdom, we ought to know from ancient philosophical and theological ethics, names precisely that act which “applies” the universal truth to a concrete, particular situation, such that the former alone (the universal) is thus not the perfection of that concrete act. This is partly why one must imitate wise persons rather than simply define wisdom abstractly: there is no “wisdom” apart from a wise person, and there are no wise actions apart from the determinacy of the particular context within which wisdom is perfected. The antinomy operative in the One-Many problem, then, is one that cannot be resolved abstractly. It resolves in an act of absolute wisdom, God’s living wisdom, which no more finds its perfection, its end, in a mere universal (idea) than truly wise actions performed in this world (BL 30). Wisdom, like prudence and especially love, is actualized and perfected—is at all!—in an utterly peculiar end, since its end bears simultaneously a universal (ideal) and particular (real) character without thereby being the mere sum of the two parts. Wisdom is more determinate than either its universal or particular determinations. The whole truth of true wisdom is therefore unmistakably personal, for only an actual person—a living, rational spirit—is subject (knower) and predicate (idea) and the act uniting the subject with the idea itself and what is the idea of (thing). This absolute unity of opposites, from universal principle to particular relations to the act which unites (and thus mutually determines) them into one is why truly wise deeds and truly wise lives strike us as bearing unspeakable beauty (and conversely that that every performance of art is an act of wisdom). You could not have abstracted the beauty of this or that display of wisdom. You had to witness it to see that and why it was truly wise, truly good, truly the right way. You had to see its glory to know its truth: “Wisdom is the matter of glory, glory the form of Wisdom” (Sophia 50).
Because Sophia is not just a principle but a single act that identifies the content of the ideal and the real, creation cannot be imagined as some secondary or accidental act in addition to God’s pure act of being. God is not without his world, the world could not not have been, Divine-humanity resides eternally in the very depths of God. Of course, these familiar themes in Bulgakov’s theology often attract criticism. Does he not subject God to the world? Does he not make God dependent on creation to be God?
The objections might hold if God were mere divinity, an essence negatively determined by our abstraction of what “divinity” can and especially cannot be. And perhaps if our conception of Sophia remained within the limits of the first approach, it would be difficult to answer these concerns. But Bulgakov’s approach is not so constrained. As I mentioned, his development of Sophia leads inexorably to thinking through the common but somewhat neglected traditional trope that the divine essence is really “above essence” or superessential or, in other words, not confined to our negative abstractions about it. Yet very often and just where it counts most we do delimit God by such abstractions and call this “divinity”: “Thus, only the concept of nature as the combination of divine ‘properties’ or as some force of things, givenness in general, remains. However, ‘nature,’ to be sure, is divinity itself, God’s own life in its self-revelation. In no wise is it a property of this life to be a fact or a givenness of things. On the contrary, this life is divinity’s eternal act. God’s nature is thoroughly transparent for God. In God’s light there is no darkness, and God’s Spirit probes everything, even the depths of God. God’s nature is, in this sense, the creative self-positing of divinity, God’s personal—trihypostatic—act. This act is the Divine Sophia, the self-positing and self-revelation of the Holy Trinity” (BL 42, emphasis original). Divine Sophia is God’s single act of being the Three. She is, as it were, the peculiar quality of the whole divine life as well as the quality of being the divine life’s whole, and the divine life is the very content of the divine (true) world or creation. If Sophia as “divinity” were conceived, say, as the mere “common” or immanent “universal” content shared by the three distinct hypostases of God, then yes, it would require that its proper perfection exclude all that is “not-God” (Sophia 36). After all, nature-as-kind or nature-as-universal/genus is nature conceived according to what it is and is not, rather like “human nature” is determined in part by its not being worm nature or angelic nature or any other kind of being. If this is what divine nature is really like, then its perfection would be characterized just as much by what it is not as by what it is: divinity is truly, perfectly itself precisely to the extent that it is not what is not-God, namely created or dependent or limited or frail or mortal or dying, and so forth.
But God is not made God by any number or combination of dead abstractions. God alone makes God, God. God posits Godself, and this single act just is the Three. Sophia is not a subject or hypostasis. She is not a principle or a bare “given nature”—as if the Father’s essence is passed along to the Son in the Father’s act of generating the Son. She is rather the fullness of the personal act that constitutes the Three, which means that she is the Three’s glory exactly because their single act is self-constituting (self-determining, self-revealing). This pure act is pure light because it possesses no absolute foundation or ground. Divine essence in fact—its infinitely determinate life—bears the peculiar feature of being already determined, as it were, by the hypostases of which it is the common “nature.” Without the Three the one essence has no actual existence. And yet without the common essence there would be no Three, since an abstract hypostasis, as sheer (personal) property, is nothing at all. Once more, the pure act of divinity is neither mere universal nor mere particular, nor their sum total (as if set side by side), but precisely the single and singular whole of their absolute interpenetration. Divinity alive—“God” rather than “divinity,” as Bulgakov often puts it—is an act of infinite wisdom and love. Sophia as the divine essence, though one in herself, is Three for herself; and the Three, though distinct in themselves, are one for themselves (BL 39). A distinctive mark of Divine Sophia is that its “in itself” is already determined by its “for itself,” its possible abstractions by its actual life—its depths are pure light in which dwells no darkness at all. Everything in God is included and intended and known and desired and moved and moving and in itself and for itself. God is love.
Sophiology thus frees us from reifying and idolizing our own pious abstractions about divine “nature.” It liberates us from reducing God to mere divinity or “naked God,” as Maximus put it. And yet Bulgakov knows what Maximus certainly knew: the true conception of Sophia as the glory and self-determination and self-revelation of God as the Three is itself revealed only in Christ. The Incarnation reveals that Divine Sophia is creaturely Sophia; or better, it reveals that the perichoretic whole of the Three’s divine life is in Christ the Son of God, the very same whole of creation itself—that God and the world share selfsame perfection (i.e. deification as incarnation). There is no abstract sophiology, no true sophiology apart from the Son’s Incarnation (BL 15).
“Here is the mystery of the incarnation together with its antinomy: the identity of trinitarian and Filial Sophia. The very same Divine Sophia belongs to the Holy Trinity ‘in the heavens,’ and she is the same divinity of the Son as the God-man on ‘earth.’ Yet there is more to this antinomy: in ‘the heavens,’ Divine Sophia is the very glory of God by which the Holy Trinity is illuminated, as well as the Trinity’s Wisdom. She is the fullness of divine life, which inheres both in the divine triunity in the Holy Trinity and in each of the hypostases, and in particular the hypostasis of the Logos, the Son of God” (121–122).
In the Incarnation Divine Sophia is identical to created Sophia because the very Son whose personal mode both grounds and is grounded by the whole life of the Three is also the human being, Jesus Christ. “The humanity of Christ is created Sophia, permeated by Divine Sophia and in this union with it already pre-deified” (123). He who is ground and grounded as divine becomes ground and grounded as human (and so created). He himself is the God-world relation (102). Not even the logic of cause and effect, which many presume to be fundamental to the Creator-creature relation (but not Bulgakov), proves determinative of the whole creative act: God “is a Doer, not a cause” (BL 36). Wisdom, though two in mode, remains a single act without an absolute ground.
But the profundity of Sophia’s unbroken identity in both its modes proves deeper still, and herein lies the uniqueness (and for me at least, the most moving feature) of The Sophiology of Death. We might frame it in the following way: The flesh the Son assumes from Mary is “pre-deified,” Bulgakov just said, which is to say that it is characterized by the wages of sin even as it is sinless (119). The wages of sin is death. Mortal flesh, humanity in the condition of non posse non mori, is humanity tragically determined by Adam’s sin. So the very mode of the Son’s Incarnation is partly a consequence of humanity’s current state of actual being, of “Adam.” Yet humanity exists at all because the very Person who is, in and for himself, God-human, both in eternity (Divine Sophia) and in spacetime (creaturely Sophia), is therefore the condition of all divine-humanity as the ground (divine) and grounded (human). His divinity is the very life of the Three both in eternity and in time. His humanity is therefore the very life of the Three both in eternity and in time as well—for his Person is equally ground of and grounded by the whole life that God as the Three is. And all of this, we should recall, “just is the very union itself” (122).
Somehow God’s pure act of being God, his glory as Sophia, not only includes his act of creating the world in his own self-determination, but also makes possible and indeed overcomes fallen creaturely Sophia, this flesh riven by death. Christ enhypostasizes our flesh and so, because he is the divine ground, makes flesh possible at all—even fallen flesh. But also and precisely because he is eternally divine-human as their selfsame perfection, the very act whereby he makes fallen flesh possible and also makes it futile. For Adam’s flesh, even in its dying, is here irrevocably identified with and actualized as the resurrected, indestructible flesh of the Son of God.
Hence the possibility of death and dying, and of resurrecting and being deified, becomes an actual possibility for Adam only in the Son’s personal death and dying, resurrecting and deification. Search everywhere, if you will, in heaven and on earth and under the earth—you will find no such thing as an abstract death or an abstract resurrection! This fundamental reciprocity between Incarnation and creation, a reciprocity generated by and as the identity of the God-man, reveals that Sophia’s glory is a kenotic love that makes even my death Christ’s own personal death, so that I might claim as my resurrection and life his own personal resurrection and life.
“We can say that in this fullness of death, or more accurately, in the fullness of Christ’s dying, the death of every human and of all humanity is included. If Christ redeems and raises every person, then it is only because he co-dies in every person and with every person” (132). Christ’s Passion is God’s glory because the glory of God, Sophia, is the Trinity’s absolute achievement of what would seem impossible by any abstract measure—making God’s own perfection the very perfection of what is not God—and by any concrete measure—making fallen and dead humanity, the consequence of ignorance and sin, into the very means of perfection. In other words, the Incarnation ends in a disincarnate state—or rather a falsely incarnate state—because its aim is not simply to conquer “death” in the abstract, which is nothing at all, but rather dead persons. (Even death must be enhypostasized.)
Achieving this requires the Dereliction of the Son by the Father and Spirit, for the work of the Three, their single act of Wisdom, is precisely Incarnation, yet those persons who are to be saved are precisely discarnate and anti-incarnate. That the Incarnation reaches a state of anti-Incarnation and thereby accomplishes the Son’s universal and personal Incarnation in us all reveals the stunning glory of God’s Sophia: it is Christ crucified who has “become for us wisdom from God” (1 Cor 1.30). Christ crucified is the way the Three accomplish their single act by not acting, as it were. The Father ceases to send the Spirit on the Son to make him Incarnate in all through Mary, and yet this very cessation accomplishes the universal Incarnation in, the deification of, all dead persons. This is “Love not loving, as it were, for the sake of love, perfect efficacy abiding in inactivity” (129), which is to say that even the Dereliction and Passion of the Son of God is characterized entirely by the Sophia of the Three, whose whole determinate life just is the absolute Love that alone is the law of what’s possible and true.
“Wisdom will be proved right by her deeds” (Matt 11.19) and “her children” (Lk 7.35)—for her deeds are her children. If then her children should languish in perpetual torment, she is either unwise or unwell. Given all we’ve seen, it’s no surprise that Bulgakov, as many know, cannot abide anything less than the apocatastasis of all things. Even the mere possibility that a portion or majority of God’s creation would perpetually fail immediately implicates the very Wisdom of God, which is God’s own trinitarian life. Wisdom alone unites the universal and abstract with the particular and personal; Wisdom alone discloses the power of infinite love. Wisdom cannot be rationalized as despotism or indifference, as Bulgakov thinks occurs in Augustine’s eschatology (108). After all, what’s more banal and comprehensible than a divine despot? Nor can Wisdom be neatly delimited by ostensible and abstract limits of divinity: nothing less than the achievement of its peculiar perfection will prove its truth and disclose its beauty. Should we even admit the possibility of its failure—indeed its miserable, clumsy failure—we would admit “an ontological absurdity and a truly satanic blasphemy against God’s creation” (88).
But God will not suffer the absence of his beloved. Let the wise believe in Christ’s love, the Sophia of God. “Love believes all things” (1 Cor 13.7).