On retaining the integrity of the original texts regarding Sophia

"The fullest development of her is in the so-called "Wisdom Books" of the apocryphia in the Greek Pentateuch that were canonized into Christian Scripture and are still used by the Roman Catholic and English Orthodox churches. Sophia dominates the first nine chapters of Proverbs and is found in both the Old and New Testaments.

There was no attempt in the West to maintain the integrity of the original texts until Jerome produced the Latin Vulgate at the request of the papacy in the fourth century. Zuntz, by using the standard practice of textual comparison, in his detailed analysis of the oldest Pauline manuscript, notes, in his book, The Text of the Epistles, numerous places where the text has been altered. Jerome, himself, in letters to his colleagues, bewails the fact that he has so many variant texts to select from for the compilation of a standardized version. At one point before him he has the old Hieronymian text and its revision. He says, "The differences throughout are clear and striking." In his writings he does leave us a clue to the subject at hand. At one point he has before him the gospel of the Hebrews used by the Syrian Christians which, as some now say, predated the four canonical gospels. In it, Jerome says that the Holy Spirit is expressed in the feminine gender and is considered the mother in law of the soul. (Library 11, commentary in Isaiah, chapter 11: Library 2, commentary. in Micah 7.6:) So here is some additional external evidence from an unrelated source that the Holy Spirit was originally considered feminine. In Judaism, the medieval writers of the Kaballah concentrated on the masculine aspects of the sefiroth (the 13 aspects of God) and relegated Sophia to an inferior sphere than that she had heretofore occupied. Roman Catholicism explicitly associated Old Testament Sophia texts with Mary or the Mother Church. In the Eastern Church, Sophia survives and is often associated liturgically with the Holy Spirit and sometimes with Christ, himself. Further, the church fathers of the Patristic Age preferred the male "Logos" when describing Christ in order to avoid gender confusion. Philo, who at first equated Sophia with Logos, "substituted Logos for Sophia, until the masculine person of the Logos has taken over most of Sophia's divine roles including the firstborn image of God, the principle of order and the intermediary between God and humanity. Sophia's powers are restricted and she is limited to Heaven.

In both Greek and English, "Spirit" is a neuter noun. And we think of a neuter noun as an "it" rather than a he or she. Thus we think of the Holy Trinity of orthodox theology in a peculiar way. God the Father we visualize in warm, personal terms. God the Word (i.e., Logos) we more often speak of as God the Son and think of personal images ranging from Bethlehem to Nazareth to Jerusalem. Not so, however, with the Holy Spirit. Both the neuter noun and the biblical images of fire and anointing tend us away from personal to impersonal imagery, from Spirit as divine personality to Spirit as divine emanation. How unfortunate. In the Gospel of John, Jesus invites us to know about, expect, and experience the Holy Spirit. And he speaks of the third member of the divine family in terms that are personal. In fact, he challenged his original followers to think of the Holy Spirit in the same personal ways they had experienced him."


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