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date: 29 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses how convictions about gender and sexuality (both at the divine and at the social level) have been instrumental to the ways early Christians addressed the divine Sophia myth. Strongly gendered and idealized already in the Hebrew Bible, the personified feminine Sophia undergoes a process of masculinization and further idealization in Jewish writings of the Second Temple Period. Somewhat paradoxically, this appears to culminate in her (almost) complete effacement from the New Testament or her replacement with the masculine Logos. Yet in Christian gnostic writings of the second century, Sophia returns with a vengeance: more feminine than ever, by now she is both more powerful than the God of the Hebrew Bible and no longer idealized as an unequivocally positive figure. It is argued that with a careful application of feminist critique, a more thorough understanding of the Sophia myth and its possible theological implications can be reached.

Keywords: Sophia, New Testament, Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity, gender, sexuality, feminist criticism

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