Interpretation of Sophia the Wisdom of God in Russian Philosophical Sophiology

Ключевые слова: София Премудрость Божия, икона, кафедральный собор, русская религиозная философия, софиология, Владимир Соловьёв, Павел Флоренский, Сергей Булгаков.

Аннотация

Статья открывает серию исследований, посвящённых теме Софии – Премудрости Божией в истории русского христианского изобразительного искусства и сакральной архитектуры. Кафедральный собор Великого Новгорода, построенный в 11 веке, является одним из древнейших религиозных сооружений, посвящённых Святой Софии. Вопрос о наименовании новгородского собора через несколько веков после его постройки послужил причиной теологической дискуссии, а в 19–20 веках вызвал к жизни целое религиозно-философское направление, характерное именно для России, – традицию софиологии. Икона Софии-Премудрости, которая занимает совершенно уникальное место в истории русской иконографии, до сих пор не получила общепринятой интерпретации. Различные философские теории, направленные на объяснение содержания этой иконы, а также на реконструкцию смысла самого имени Софии-Премудрости, исследованы в этой статье. Для Владимира Соловьёва София есть олицетворение единства космоса, персонаж его мистической поэзии и мифологическая «Душа мира» в рамках его философии всеединства. У священника Павла Флоренского София описана как божественная природа всех живых существ, «идеальная личность мира», в сознании народа зачастую сливающаяся с Богородицей. Сергий Булгаков связывает Софию то с божественной сущностью Троицы, то с высшим принципом мирового порядка, то с отдельным ангелом. Все названные философы пытаются произвольно интерпретировать сюжет иконы Святой Софии и наименование русских храмов в честь Святой Софии для аргументации своих религиозно-философских концепций, далёких от христианской ортодоксии.

Биография автора

S. E. Zolotarev, Санкт-Петербургская Духовная Академия

DOI: https://doi.org/10.34680/vistheo-2022-4-2-170-181

Sergey E. Zolotarev
Saint Petersburg Theological Academy, Russia
stratilates@gmail.com 
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5257-6306

Abstract
The article opens a number of studies devoted to the theme of Sophia the Wisdom of God in the history of Russian Christian fine art and sacred architecture. The Cathedral of Veliky Novgorod, built in the 11th century, is one of the oldest religious buildings dedicated to St. Sophia. The question about the name of the Novgorod cathedral a few centuries after its construction caused a theological discussion, and in the 19th and 20th centuries brought to life religious and philosophical Russian trend – the tradition of Sophiology. The icon of Sophia the Wisdom, which occupies a completely unique place in the history of Russian iconography, has not yet received a generally accepted interpretation. Various philosophical theories aimed at explaining the content of this icon, as well as at reconstructing the meaning of the very name of Sophia the Wisdom, are explored in this article. For Vladimir Solovyov, Sophia is the personification of the unity of cosmos, a character in his mystical poetry and a mythological “Soul of the World” within the framework of his philosophy of unity. The priest Pavel Florensky describes Sophia as the divine nature of all living beings, the “ideal personality of the world”, often merging with the Mother of God in minds of people. Sergei Bulgakov connects Sophia with the divine essence of the Trinity, and with the highest principle of the world order, and with the angel. All these philosophers try to arbitrarily interpret the plot of the icon of St. Sophia and the name of Russian churches in honor of St. Sophia to substantiate their religious and philosophical concepts, which are far from Christian orthodoxy.

Keywords: Russian religious philosophy, Sophiology, St. Sophia the Wisdom of God, icon, cathedral, Vladimir Solovyov, Pavel Florensky, Sergei Bulgakov

References

Belobrova 1974 – Belobrova O. A. Pilgrim’s Book by Anthony of Novgorod (to the study of the text). Proceedings of the Old Russian Literature Department. Vol. 29. Leningrad, 1974. Pp. 178–185. In Russian.

Bulgakov 1925 – Bulgakov S. Hypostasis and Hypostaticity. Collection of Articles Dedicated to P. Struve. Prague, 1925. Pp. 353–372. In Russian.

Bulgakov 1927 – Bulgakov S. The Burning Bush: On the Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God. Paris, 1927. In Russian.

Bulgakov 2000 – Minutes of the Seminars of Father Sergius Bulgakov on Sophia, the Wisdom of God. St. Sophia Brotherhood. Materials and Documents of 1923–1939. Moscow, Paris, 2000. Pp. 113–143. In Russian.

Eneeva 2001 – Eneeva N. T. The Dispute of Sophiology among the Russian Emigration in 1920–1930. Moscow, 2001. In Russian.

Florensky 1912 – Florensky P. Service of Sophia the Wisdom of God. Theological Bulletin. 1912. Vol. 1 (2). Pp. 1–23. In Russian.

Florensky 2004 – Florensky P. The Pillar and Ground of the Truth: an Essay in Orthodox Theodicy in Twelve Letters. Transl. into English by B. Jakim. Princeton (NJ), 2004.

Florovsky 1930 – Florovsky G. V. Languor of the Spirit. About P. Florensky’s book “The Pillar and Ground of the Truth”. Voie. Revue religieuse russe. 1930. 20. Pp. 102–107. In Russian.

Florovsky 1937 – Florovsky G. V. The Ways of Russian Theology. Paris, 1937. In Russian.

Florovsky 1998 – Florovsky G. V. On the Veneration of Sophia the Wisdom of God in Byzantium and Rus. Florovsky G. V. Dogma and History. Moscow, 1998. Pp. 394–414. In Russian.

Gavryushin 1998 – Gavryushin N. K. In the Footsteps of Sophia’s Knights. Moscow, 1998. In Russian.

Khoroshev 1998 – Khoroshev A. S. Novgorod St. Sophia and Pskov Holy Trinity according to Chronicles (from the history of local patronal cults). Mediaevalia Ucrainica: Mentality and History of Ideas. Vol. V. Kyiv, 1998. Pp. 5–25. In Russian.

Kovalenko 2010 – Kovalenko G. M. Veliky Novgorod. View from Europe. 15th – beginning of 20th century. St. Petersburg, 2010. In Russian.

Loparev 1899 – Pilgrim’s Book: The Tale of the Places of the Saints in Tsaregrad by Anthony, Archbishop of Novgorod in 1200. Ed. by Chr. M. Loparev. Orthodox Palestinian Collection. Vol. 51. St. Petersburg, 1899. In Russian.

Losev 2000 – Losev A. F. Vladimir Solovyov and His Time. Moscow, 2000. In Russian.

Maсiel Sánchez 2000 – Une description de Constantinople dans le Tarragonensis 55. Transl. into Russian by L. C. Maсiel Sánchez. Relics in Byzantium and Medieval Russia. Ed. by Alexei Lidov. Pp. 176–196.

Melnikov 1986 – Anthony (Melnikov), Metropolitan. From the History of Novgorod Iconography. Theological Writings. 1986. Vol. 27. Pp. 61–80. In Russian.

Meyendorff 1987 – Meyendorff J. Wisdom-Sophia: Contrasting Approaches to a Complex Theme. Dumbarton Oaks Papers. 1987. Vol. 41: Studies on Art and Archeology in Honor of Ernst Kitzinger on his 75th Birthday. Pp. 391–401.

Meyendorff 1988 – Meyendorff J. Theme of Wisdom in East European Medieval Culture and its Legacy. Literature and Art in the System of Culture. Moscow, 1988. Pp. 244–252. In Russian.

Mochulsky 1997 – Mochulsky K. A. Blok, A. Bely, V. Bryusov. Moscow, 1997. In Russian.

Preobrazhenskaya 2008 – Preobrazhenskaya K. V. Theology and Mysticism in the Work of Vladimir Lossky. St. Petersburg, 2008. In Russian.

Sarabianov 2009 – Sarabianov V. D. Murals of the Vladychnaya Chamber of the Novgorod Kremlin: John’s Cell. Preliminary Notes on the Results of Restoration Work in 2006–2007. Novgorod and the Novgorod Land. Art and Restoration. Iss. 3. Ed. by T. Yu. Tsarevskaya. Veliky Novgorod, 2009. Pp. 119–139. In Russian.

Semyonov 1836 – Library of Foreign Writers about Russia. Transl. into Russian. Vol. 1. Ed. by V. Semyonov. St. Petersburg, 1836.

Solovyov 1990 – August Comte’s Idea of Humanity. Solovyov V. S. Works. Vol. 2. Moscow, 1990. In Russian.

Williams 2009 – Williams R. D. The Theology of Vladimir Nikolaievich Lossky: An Exposition and Critique. Transl. into Russian. Kiev, 2009.

Zenkovsky 1987 – Zenkovsky B. Le P. Serge Boulgakov en accusation (souvenirs). Le Messager. Périodique édité par l’Action Chrétienne des Etudiants Russes. 1987. 149. Pp. 61–65. In Russian.

Zinovius 1905 – St. Zinovius Otensky. The Tale known that there is Sophia the Wisdom of God. Bulletin of Archeology and History, published by the Archaeological Institute. Iss. XVII. St. Petersburg, 1905. Pp. 24–30. In Russian.

About author

Sergey E. Zolotarev
Master of Theology, Master of Philosophy,
Senior Lecturer at the Department of Theology
Saint Petersburg Theological Academy
17, Obvodny Canal Embankment, St. Petersburg, 191167, Russian Federation
E-mail: stratilates@gmail.com

For citation:
Zolotarev S. E. Interpretation of Sophia the Wisdom of God in Russian philosophical Sophiology. Journal of Visual Theology. 2022. Vol. 4. 2. Pp. 170–181.
https://doi.org/10.34680/vistheo-2022-4-2-170-181

Опубликован
2022-12-26