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EHE Process/Spiritual Path ,Spirituality
Record Type: Review   ID: 304

Sophia: Aspects of the Divine Feminine Past and Present

Schaup, Susanne

The impetus behind this book is that cultural legitimacy rests on the concept of God underlying it. In the West, patriarchy has ruled. God is masculine, as she says, "despite all protests to the contrary." In order to change the destructive drift of the world, we need a "new way of feeling and thinking, a new sense of being-in-the-world, as well as a new perception of God" (p. xi). What we need today is wisdom. I read this with a sense of recognition. Dr. Schaup (University of Salzburg) says above all we must "listen to the call for wisdom. Wisdom goes beyond knowledge. It asks questions about the meaning and the purpose of knowledge, about the responsibility of our accumulated knowledge to a higher authority … wisdom … is ethically responsible knowledge," but more than that it "weighs all things with a view to the greater Whole and does not exist apart from Love. Wisdom is concerned with the well-being of all creatures, of every aspect of creation" (p. xii). Yes! When I was a child, I read books in which people, men and women, appeared who were known as wise. In my youth, I had a good idea of what wisdom meant, and I was awed by it and honored it. I certainly honor all life forms today, but I have lost that handle on wisdom. The prevailing Zeitgeist is fractionation. You can only really know one tiny corner of what there is to know. Although I have resisted many of the tenets of the patriarchal worldview, apparently I got lost in this one. Thinking from the perspective of all is not something I do; though I do feel for the plight of all things. The wisdom figure we need is Sophia, divine wisdom, of which Shaup says "the rediscovery of Sophia as Divine Wisdom [as] a creative response to the need of our time" (p. xxv). In this book she presents the results of her search and research. What she sought, and what we all should seek, and that we need whether or not we seek it, is a "complete holistic image of God, not in his maleness, not as a ruler, but as all-embracing motherliness and creativeness, so that all human beings, women and men of all races, may recognize their likeness in the image of God. If God is not within us, if God is not on Earth or in any particle of creation, he is not anywhere. We search for God in Wisdom, and what we find is exciting. It fills us with a sense of wonder and joy" (p. xxv).

Dr. Schaup searches historical texts on Lady Wisdom, Lilith, Hildegard of Bingen, Jacob Boehme, Russian sophiologists, the radical view of Sophia in an obscure German scholar, Oxfried Eberz, who one could say was ahead not only of his but our time. She also seeks Sophia outside the West in the Andean peoples, Hinduism, and Taoism. In the last chapter she describes the search of modern women, first mourning their past, their failure to stand up for themselves; then, listening in silence and honoring what each has to say, a new spirit that is rising, a new concept of power, of the "other." She also describes the Second Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, which she attended, where called by name or not, the spirit of Sophia was everywhere, and "something like an international sophianic platform took shape. … She is the source where all streams and rivers come together" (p. 209). Unlike the first World Parliament of Religions where theology was the issue, here "the common theme was a common effort to bring back to Earth the Wisdom that was lost. Any particular concept of God or religious dogma was not of interest, but people were interested in the holy spirit of wisdom which blows wherever it is invoked" (p. 209). In an Afterword she pays homage to Thomas Schipflinger and what he taught her: that "the paths of Sophia will never end, but spread and grow richer all the time, opening up new possibilities of a creative life … the time will come when she is restored and will make all things new" (p. 217).

A special feature of this book are the meditations she presents at the end of the chapters that engage the heart with sophianic concepts, not only the head.

Publisher Information:York Beach, ME: Nicolas-Hays, 1997. Pp. xxv + 235. Ind: 225-234; 6 photos; 1 port; 83 refs
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