Who Is Mary Magdalene/ the Sophia as described in the Gnostic texts?
Who is She?
Sophia (fem. Gk. for “wisdom”) is a complex biblical figure described variously as a divine attribute, a distinct hypostasis of God, a goddess-like co-partner with God, and sometimes even as synonymous with God. She arises in the later texts of the Jewish tradition, first simply as wisdom with a capital “W,” and then, in the Book of Proverbs, personified in a female form. The writings of early Christianity frequently draw on Sophia as a metaphor for Christ. The texts that include references to Sophia have only been canonized in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, but many contemporary feminists have turned to her as a general model for feminist spirituality.
Her personality is riddled with contradictions. She is at once creator and created; teacher and that which is to be taught; divine presence and elusive knowledge; tempting harlot and faithful wife; sister, lover, and mother; both human and divine. Her very existence thus deconstructs all traditional binary relationships, as if she were the creation of Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigaray or some other modern feminist theorist. Frequently Sophia defies the feminine norm established by society. As Virginia Mollenkott writes in The Divine Feminine, Sophia “is a woman but no lady.” (Mollenkott 98). We see her crying aloud at street corners, raising her voice in the public squares, offering her saving counsel to anybody who will listen to her. Wisdom’s behavior runs directly counter to the socialization of a proper lady, who is taught to be rarely seen and even more rarely heard in the sphere of public activity. (Mollenkott 98)
“… woman should realize that she herself contains all forces, and the moment she shakes off the age-old hypnosis of her seemingly lawful subjugation and mental inferiority and occupies herself with a manifold education, she will create in collaboration with man a new and better world. Cosmos affirms the greatness of woman’s creative principle. Woman is a personification of nature, and it is nature that teaches man, not man nature. Therefore, may all women realize the grandeur of their origin, and may they strive for knowledge.”
Letters of Helena Roerich, 1935-1939, vol. II.