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N. A.

BERDYAEV (BERDIAEV)

STUDIES CONCERNING JACOB BOEHME


Etude II. The Teaching about Sophia and the Androgyne.
J. Boehme and the Russian Sophiological Current.
(1930 - #351)
I.
Boehme has a most remarkable teaching about Sophia, essentially the first in the history of
Christian thought. His was a completely original intuition. The sophiology of Boehme cannot be
explained by influences and borrowings.1 If Boehme in his intuition of the Ungrund tends to see
darkness, then in the intuition of Sophia he tends to see light. Boehme's understanding of Sophia
has its own theological and cosmological side, but overall it is primarily anthropological. Sophia
for him is bound up with the pure, the virginal, the chaste and integrally whole image of man.
Sophia is likewise purity and virginity, the integral wholeness and chasteness of man, the image
and likeness of God in man. Boehme's teaching about Sophia is inseparable from his teaching
about androgyny, i.e. the initial integral wholeness of man. Man possesses an androgynic,
bisexual, masculine-feminine nature. Innate to man was Sophia, i.e. a Virgin. The fall through sin
is also a loss of his Sophia-Virgin, which has flown off to the heavens. Upon the earth instead
has arisen the feminine, Eve. Man grieves with longing for his lost Sophia, his lost virginal state,
the wholeness and chasteness. Half a being is a being torn asunder, having lost the integral
wholeness. In his teaching about androgyny Boehme stands in the same line, which is to be
found in the "Symposium" of Plato, and the Kabbala. "Siehe! ich gebe dir ein gerecht
Gleichniss: du seist ein Juengling oder Jungfrau, wie denn Adam alles beides in einer Person
war" {"Behold, I give a correct comparison, for thou art divided into a youth or a maiden,
whereas Adam was all both in one person"}.2 The unique aspect of Boehme's teaching about
Sophia is in this, that it is first of all a teaching about the Virgin and virginity. The Divine
Wisdom within man is a virginity of soul, the Virgin, lost by man in the fall through sin and
shining in the heavens. "Die Seele sollte sein der schoene Juengling, der geschaffen war; und die
Kraft Gottes die schoene Jungfrau, und das Licht Gottes die schoene Perlen-Krone, damit wollte
die Jungfrau den Juengling schmuecken" {"The soul was supposed to be a beautiful youth, as
which it was created; and the power of God a beautiful Virgin, and the light of God a beautiful
Pearl-Crown, wherewith the Virgin wanted to adorn the youth"}.3 Adam, who initially was an
androgyne, in his fall through sin by his fault lost his Virgin and found the woman. "Adam hat
durch seine Lust verloren die Jungfrau, und hat in seiner Lust empfangen das Weib, welche ist
eine cagastrische Person; und die Jungfrau wartet seiner noch immerdar, ob er will wieder treten
in die neue Geburt so will sie ihn mit grossen Ehren wieder annehmen" {"Adam through his
lustful desire has lost the Virgin, and in his desire has come to perceive the womanly, which is a
transitory person; and the Virgin yet ever awaits, whether he will again appear in a new birth so
that it again can be assumed by him with great honour"}.4 Eve -- is the child of this world and is

created for this world: "die Heva ist zu diesem zerbrechlichen Leben geschaffen worden; denn
sie ist die Frau dieser Welt" {"Eve is formed for this fragile life; and thus she is the woman of
this world"}.5 Androgyny likewise is the image and likeness of God in man: "allein das Bild und
Gleichniss Gottes, der Mensch, welcher die zuechtige Jungfrau der Weisheit Gottes in sich hatte:
so drang der Geist dieser Welt also hart auf die Bildniss nach der Jungfrau; hiermit seine Wunder
zu offenbaren, und besass den Menschen, davon er erst seinen Namen Mensch kriegte, als eine
vermischte Person" {"Alone hath man in himself the image and likeness of God, which is the
chaste Virgin of the Wisdom of God: thus also strongly impressed upon the spirit of this world is
the image still of the Virgin, herewith revealing its miracle in possessing man, because he
foremost hath the Name of Man, as a composite Person"}.6 The initial and pure image of man is
the image of the virginal-youth. The Sophia aspect is a constitutive sign of man, as an integrally
whole being. The Virgin is also the Divine Wisdom. And here is a most lucid definition of Sophia
by Boehme: "Die Weisheit Gottes ist eine ewige Jungfrau, nicht ein Weib, sondern die Zucht und
Reinigkeit ohne Makel, und stehet als ein Bildniss Gottes, ist ein Ebenbild der Dreizahl" {"The
Wisdom of God is an eternal Virgin, not a female, but a chasteness and purity without a blemish,
and represents also an image of God, it is a like image in form of the Trinity"}.7 In another place
he says: "Und die Jungfrau der Weisheit Gottes, welche Gott der Vater durchs Wort ausspricht, ist
der Geist der reinen Elements, und wird darum eine Jungfrau genannt, dass sie also zuechtig ist
und nicht gebieret, sondern als der flammende Geist im Menschen-Leibe nichts gebieret" {"And
the Virgin of the Wisdom of God, which God the Father hath bespoken through the Word, is the
Spirit of the pure element, and is therefore termed a Virgin, being chaste and not giving birth, but
rather as a flaming spirit in man -- not birthgiving of body"}.8 And here is a corresponding
statement: "Dieses Ausgesprochene ist ein Bildniss der hl. Dreizahl, und eine Jungfrau, aber
ohne Wesen, sondern eine Gleichniss Gottes: in dieser Jungfrau eroeffnet der heilige Geist die
grossen Wunder Gottes des Vaters, welche sind in seinen verborgenen Siegeln" {"This outspeaking is an image of the Holy Trinity, and a Virgin, but without essence of being, save as a
likeness of God: in this Virgin the Holy Spirit makes manifest the great wonder of God the
Father, hidden in its seals"}.9 "Diese Weisheit Gottes, welche ist eine Jungfrau der Zierheit und
Ebenbild der Dreizahl, ist in ihrer Figur eine Bildniss gleich den Engeln und Menschen, und
nimmt ihren Urstand im Centro auf dem Kreuz, als eine Blume des Gewaechses aus dem Geiste
Gottes" {"The Wisdom of God which is a virginal adornment and in likeness of the Holy Trinity,
is in its figure an image like unto angels and men, and takes its unique stand centred upon the
Cross, as a flowering of the outgrowth from the Spirit of God"}.10 Boehme many a time repeats,
that "Die Weisheit Gottes ist eine ewige Jungfrau" {"the Wisdom of God is an eternal Virgin"}.
Sophia, the eternal Virgin, the virginalness is an heavenly element within man. Boehme
definitively teaches, that Sophia is non-created: "die Jungfrau ist ewig, ungeschaffen und
ungeboren: sie ist Gottes Weisheit und ein Ebenbild der Gottheit" {"The Virgin is eternal,
uncreated and unborn: it is the Wisdom of God and a likeness of the Godhead"}.11 For Boehme
therefore man also is more, than a mere creature, in him there is the eternal, the heavenly, the
Divine element, the element of Sophia. The soul was as a virgin, man was created with a virginal
and pure soul, i.e. to it corresponded the heavenly and Divine element. It is necessary to seek the
Sophia-virgin in man. "Denn er weiss die Jungfrau nun nirgends zu suchen als im Menschen, da
er sie zum ersten hat erblicket" {"Thus he knows now to search out the Virgin nowhere but in
man, for there he hath first perceived it"}.12 This tends to explain the predominantly
anthropological character of his teachings about Sophia. The appearance of man the androgyne,
the virginal man, and the appearance of the earthly halves of man, the masculine and the

feminine, -- are various moments of an anthropogonic and cosmogonic process, various stages of
the world creation. Between these two moments lies catastrophe. Earthly man has heavenly
antecedents. "Die Bildniss ist in Gott eine ewige Jungfrau in der Weisheit Gottes gewesen, nicht
eine Frau, auch kein Mann, aber sie ist beides gewesen; wie auch Adam beides war vor seiner
Heven, welche bedeutet den irdischen Menschen, darzu thierisch: denn nichts bestehet in der
Ewigkeit, was nicht ewig gewesen ist" {"The image in God is an eternal Virgin abiding in the
Wisdom of God, not feminine, also not masculine, but in both abiding; suchlike was Adam in
both before his Eve, which signifies the earthly man, therein animal-like: thereof nothing subsists
in eternity, which is not of eternity"}.13 The androgynic, sophian image of Adam is likewise the
heavenly and previously existent man. And therefore only he as such inherits eternity. "Adam
war vor seiner Eva die zuechtige Jungfrau, kein Mann und kein Weib, er hatte beide Tincturen,
die im Feuer und die im Geiste der Sanftmuth, und haette koennen selber auf himmlische Art,
ohne Zerreissung gebaeren, waere er nur in der Proba bestanden. Und waere je ein Mensch aus
dem andern geboren worden, auf Art, wie Adam in seiner jungfraeulichen Art ein Mensch und
Bildniss Gottes ward: denn was aus dem Ewigen ist, das hat auch ewige Art zu gebaeren, sein
Wesen muss ganz aus dem Ewigen gehen, sonst bestehet nichts in Ewigkeit" {"Adam was until
his Eve a pure virgin, neither male nor female, he had both aspects, as in fire and in the spirit of
meekness, and had ability himself of an heavenly sort, unsplit to give birth, were he only to
withstand the test. And man otherwise ever would be born of the sort, that Adam was as man in
his virginal kind and in the image of God: for that what is of eternity would give birth of an
eternal sort, its being must entirely enter into eternity, else it nowise would subsist in
eternity"}.14 Man fell asleep in eternity and awoke within time. He initially did not appear within
time, he is a child of eternity. The sophian and androgynic aspect, the virginal man is likewise a
sign of eternity in man. The losing by man of the Virgin, i.e. the androgynic image, is a losing of
Paradise. "Adam war ein Mann und auch ein Weib, und doch der keines, sondern eine Jungfrau,
voller Keuschheit, Zucht und Reinigkeit, als das Bild Gottes; er hatte beide Tincturen vom Feuer
und Licht in sich, in welcher Conjunction die eigene Liebe, als das jungfraeuliche Centrum
stund, als der schoene paradeisische Rosen- und Lustgarten, darinnen er sich selber liebete"
{"Adam was man and also was woman, and was naught other than a virgin, full of chastity,
modesty and purity, a being in the image of God; he had moreover aspects of fire and light in
himself, in conjunction with which was an unique sort of love, set centred within the virginal, as
with the beauty of the paradisical rose garden and the garden of desire, wherein he would have
love for himself"}.15 The image of God is a "maennliche Jungfrau" {"manlike virgin"}, not a
woman and not a man.16 Wherefore the fallen soul doth cry out: "Gieb mir zu trinken deines
suessen Wassers der ewigen Jungfrauschaft!" {"Give me to drink of thine sweet waters of an
eternal virginalness!"}.17
The virginity of man does not mean the tearing away and isolation of the masculine nature
from the feminine and the feminine from the masculine, but rather on the contrary -- their
unification. The virginal man is not half a man, not man chopped apart in half. Both the
masculine and the feminine -- are halves, i.e. beings sundered in half. Asceticism and
renunciation by each of their half, be it the masculine or the feminine, is still not the wholeness
nor virginalness, is still not the returning to man of his lost Virgin. Suchlike are the inferences
from Boehme's teaching about Sophia and the androgyne. In this Boehme is unique. The
mystical intuition of Boehme about the androgyne can be substantiated by modern science,
which is compelled to admit the bisexuality of human nature. The mere half differentiation into

the masculine or the feminine nature does not possess an absolute character.18 Man is a being of
twofold sexuality, but with a variable degree of the presence of the masculine and the feminine
principle. A being, such as would be absolutely masculine or absolutely feminine, i.e. absolutely
half, would not be human. A woman, having nowise in herself any of the masculine element,
would not be human, but rather a cosmic element, in which would lack for personness.19 A man,
nowise having included within himself any of the feminine element, would be an abstract being,
bereft of any cosmic basis and any connection with cosmic life. The nature of the person is
androgynic, it is constituted as a combination of the masculine and the feminine principle. But
the masculine principle is predominantly anthropological and creative, whereas the feminine
principle is predominantly cosmic and birth-giving. And in this context can be developed the
intuitive insights of Boehme. The mystical meaning of love involves also a seeking of the
androgynic image, i.e. an integral wholeness, which is unattainable within the confines of the
psycho-physical arrangement in the makeup of man, it presupposes an egress beyond it.20 The
androgynic image of man does not possess an adequate physical image upon the earth, within our
natural conditions. Hermaphroditism is a distorted and sick caricature of it. The myth concerning
the androgyne belongs to the very profoundly old myths of mankind. This myth finds its
justification upon a quite deep and esoteric interpretation of the book of Genesis, though it be not
characteristic to any prevailing theological teachings. However, a teaching about the androgyne
can be found in the Kabbala. Those theological teachings which are afraid of any teaching about
the androgyne hence deny it, and in consequence of their exoteric character deny also the
Heavenly Man, Adam Kadmon, and teach only about the earthly, the natural and empirical man,
i.e. they admit of only an Old testament like anthropology, set retrospectively from the
perspective of sin. Boehme however discerned a celestial and seraphic anthropology, the
heavenly origin of man. The anthropology of Boehme is bound up with Christology. His
Christology and Mariology are bound up with the teaching about Sophia and the androgyne.
Boehme definitely teaches about the androgynic aspect of Christ: "er weder Mann noch Weib
war, sondern eine maennliche Jungfrau" {"He was neither man nor woman but rather a manlike
Virgin"}.21 Boehme taught, that God became incarnate as Person only in Christ, in the Second
Hypostasis of the Trinity, and therefore already Christ had to be an androgyne, a virginal-youth,
i.e. the image of the perfect Person.22 Christ Himself was not only neither masculine nor
feminine in our earthly sense, but He likewise freed us from the griphold of the masculine and
the feminine. "Und als Christus am Kreuz unser jungfraeulich Bild wieder erloesete vom Manne
und Weibe, und mit seinem himmlischen Blute in goettlicher Liebe tingirte; als er diess
vollbracht hatte, so sprach er: Es ist vollbracht!" {"And as Christ on the Cross hath redeemed
anew our virginal image from being man and woman, and with His heavenly Blood in Godly
Love hath it blotted; He this did consummate, as He said: It is consummated!"}.23 Christ has
transfigured the evil-wrought nature of Adam.24 In following the Apostle Paul, Boehme all the
time teaches about Adam and Christ, about the Old and the New Adam. "Christus wurde ein
Gottmensch, und Adam und Abraham in Christo ein Menschgott" {"Christ became the God-Man
and Adam and Abraham in Christ a man-god"}.25 This means also, that God was incarnated,
became man, so that man might become divinised, become deified. In Boehme can be found
elements of that teaching about God-manhood, which in Russian thought chiefly was developed
by Vl. Solov'ev. Christ in His human self died in the wrath of God and was resurrected in eternity
in the will of God.26 The human nature, however, had to remain, had to abide. "Verstehet, dass
die Natur des Menschen soll bleiben, und ist nicht ganz von Gott verstossen, dass also ein ganz

fremder neuer Mensch sollte aus dem Alten entstehen; sondern aus Adams Natur und
Eigenschaft, und aus Gottes in Christi Natur und Eigenschaft, dass der Mensch sei ein AdamChristus; und Christus ein Christus-Adam; ein Menschgott, und ein Gottmensch" {"Understand,
that the nature of man has to remain, and is not entirely obliterated by God, and that also an
entirely different new man should result from the old; for from Adam would be the nature and
the unique aspect, and from God in Christ would be the nature and the unique aspect, so that man
would be an Adam-Christ; and Christ a Christ-Adam; a Man-God, and a God-Man"}.27 Here,
certainly, the words Man-God and God-Man possess different a meaning, than in Dostoevsky.
Boehme boldly takes to its conclusion the Christian teaching concerning Adam and Christ. "Nun
ist aber doch Adam in seiner Natur, und Christus in der goettlichen Natur Eine Person worden,
nur ein einiger Baum" {"Yet still above Adam in his nature, Christ in His Divine nature would be
One Person, only as it were but one single tree"}.28 This is also what I would term a Christology
of man.29 In Christ, man is conveyed up to Heaven, to the Holy Trinity. Man-Adam through the
dying of the evil will is transformed into Christ.30 But this does not mean, that according to
Boehme, Christ was merely a divinised man. Christ -- is the Second Hypostasis of the Holy
Trinity, but in the Second Hypostasis is existent an heavenly humanness. In traditional theology
there was never taken to its final point the teaching, that Christ was the Second Adam. The
exoteric character of theology was determined by the stifling of man by sin. Boehme attempted
to see farther and more profoundly, but he expresses what he sees antinomically, with
contradictions, and sometimes even confusedly. He initially sensed, that man lives in three
worlds, in the dark, in the light and in the external world.31 Hence arises the difficulty of the
contemplation and cognition of man, the light is distorted by the dark and the external world. But
Christ, according to Boehme, took his humanness not only from Heaven, but also from earth,
otherwise He would have remained foreign to us and would not have been able to set us free.32
Boehme was not a monophysite. He says about Christ: "Also verstehest du, dass dieser Engel
groesser ist als ein Engel in Himmel; denn er hatte (1) einen himmlischen Menschenleib, und hat
(2) eine menschliche Seele, und (3) hat er die ewige Himmelsbraut, die Jungfrau der Weisheit,
und hat (4) die heilige Trinitaet, und koennen wir recht sagen: Eine Person in der heiligen
Dreifaltigkeit im Himmel, und ein wahrer Mensch im Himmel, und in dieser Welt ein ewiger
Koenig, ein Herr Himmels und der Erden" {Understand also, that this Angel is greater than an
Angel in Heaven for He hath (1) an Heavenly human body, and hath (2) an human soul, and (3)
He hath the Heavenly-Bride, the Virgin of Wisdom, and hath (4) the Holy Trinity; and correctly
do we say Virgin: a Person of the Holy Trinity in Heaven, and a true Man in Heaven, and in this
world an eternal King, the Lord of both Heaven and earth"}.33 The incarnation of Christ leads to
this, that His humanity is present everywhere. "Nun so er denn Mensch ist worden, so ist ja seine
Menschheit ueberall gewesen, wo seine Gottheit war; denn du kannst nicht sagen, dass ein Ort
im Himmel und in dieser Welt sei, da nicht Gott sei; wo nun der Vater ist, da ist auch sein Herz in
ihm, da ist auch der heilige Geist in ihm. Nun ist sein Herz Mensch worden, und ist in der
Menschheit Christi" {"So now thus as He is become Man, so indeed in His humanness extended
throughout all, where His Divinity was; for thou canst not say, that there be a place in Heaven or
in this world, where God is not: where now the Father is, there is His Heart in Him, there also is
the Holy Spirit in Him. Now is His Heart become Man, and is in the humanness of Christ"}.34
This thought about the presence of Christ everywhere and as Man pervading all life is very close
in Russian religious thought to that of Bukharev. The teaching of Boehme concerning the dying
off of the Old Adam and about rebirth in Christ is fully in accordance with the traditional
Christian teaching. He teaches about being reborn again, and about this, that Christ lives already

within man, as taught also the Christian mystics. This represents a developing of the thought of
the Apostle Paul. He often says, that "wohnet denn Christus in Adam, und Adam in Christo"
{"for Christ abides in Adam, and Adam in Christ"}. The proximity and closeness between God
and man, between Heaven and earth, represents for Boehme the very essence of Christianity.
"Gott muss Mensch werden, Mensch muss Gott werden, der Himmel muss mit der Erde Ein
Ding werden, die Erde muss zum Himmel werden" {"God had to become Man, Man had to
become God, Heaven had to become one thing with the earth, the earth to Heaven must
become"}.35 From this is apparent how off target would be any accusation against Boehme of an
inclination towards a Manichaean dualism. Characteristic for Boehme is that he always sought
salvation from evil in the heart of Jesus Christ and found in Him the power of the liberation and
transfiguration of the world. But the most original thing in the Christology of Boehme -- is in its
connection with the teaching about virginity, i.e. the sophianic, and the Mariology deriving from
it. The intuition of Sophia and the androgynic image of man remains a fundamental intuition of
light in Boehme, just as the intuition of the Ungrund is a fundamental intuition of darkness.
II.
Boehme sensed profoundly, that the very essence of Christianity is bound up with this, that
Christ was born of the Virgin and of the Holy Spirit, and in this he is profoundly distinct from the
later Protestantism, which lost faith in the virginity of the Mother of God, and distinct also from
Luther himself, for whom the cult of the Mother of God was foreign. When Boehme first
hearkened to the word "Idea", he exclaimed: "I behold an heavenly pure Virgin". This also was
an intuition of Sophia. God became Man in virginity: "und in dieser lebendigen Jungfrauschaft,
als in Adams himmlischer Matrice, ward Gott Mensch" {" And in this vitally living virginity, as
in Adam the Heavenly Mother, God became Man"}.36 In order that God should enter into our
world, within the race of Adam and Eve there had to appear a pure Virgin. "Sollte uns armen
Hevae Kindern nun gerathen werden, so musste eine andere Jungfrau kommen, und uns einen
Sohn gebaeren, der da waere Gott mit uns, und Gott in uns" {"It was now needful for us children
of poor Eve, that there had to come an other Virgin, and give birth a Son for us, that therein
should be God with us, and God in us"}.37 The Sophiology of Boehme becomes concrete within
the Mariology. After man's downfall through sin the Virgin Sophia flies off from him to Heaven,
while upon the earth becomes the spousal Eve. The Virgin of Adam is transferred into the wife of
Adam and in woman remains only the element of virginity.38 The Virgin-Sophia returns to earth
in Mary, the Mother of God. Mary receives Her immaculate virginity not from Her racial
inheritance, not from Her birth from the proto-mother Eve, but from the Heavenly Virgin.
Descending upon Her and becoming flesh of Her is Sophia. "Also auch sagen wir von Maria: sie
hat ergriffen die heilige, himmlische, ewige Jungfrau Gottes, und angezogen das reine und
heilige Element mit dem Paradeis, und ist doch wahrhaftig eine Jungfrau in dieser Welt, von
Joachim und Anna gewesen. Nun aber wird sie nicht eine heilige, reine Jungfrau genannt nach
ihrer irdischen Geburt: das Fleisch, das sie von Joachim und Anna hatte, war nicht rein ohne
Makel; sondern nach der himmlischen Jungfrau ist ihre Heiligkeit und Reinigkeit" {"Moreover
we say about Mary: She hath taken on the holy, heavenly, eternal Virgin of God, and is wrought
the pure and holy element with that of Paradise, and is yet truly still a Virgin in this world,
begotten of Joachim and Anna. But now She is not called an heavenly and pure Virgin in accord
with Her earthly birth: the flesh, that She hath from Joachim and Anna, was not pure without
blemish; but rather in accord with the heavenly Virgin is Her holiness and purity"}.39 And

further on: "die Seele Mariae hat die himmlische Jungfrau ergriffen, und die himmlische
Jungfrau hat der Seele Mariae das himmlische neue, reine Kleid des heligen Elements, aus der
zuechtigen Jungfrauen Gottes als aus Gottes Barmherzigkeit, angezogen, als einen neuen
wiedergebornen Menschen" {"The soul of Mary hath taken on and become the heavenly Virgin,
and thereby the heavenly Virgin hath of the soul of Mary a new and pure garment of the holy
element, from the chaste Virgin of God as from the mercy of God, and is wrought as an againborn Man"}.40 The Virgin for Boehme abides in Heaven: "Die Jungfrau aber, als die goettliche
Kraft, stehet im Himmel" {"The Virgin however, as a Godly power, is in Heaven"}.41 Within the
Mariology of Boehme are to be sensed very strong Catholic elements. With Boehme there is a
genuine cult of the Mother of God, quite foreign to the Protestant world. In certain of his
formulations, Boehme comes very close to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. He admits
of the workings of a special act of God's grace upon the Virgin Mary, as it were excluding Her
from the sinful race of Eve. Certainly, Boehme's formulation does not correspond to the demands
of the rational piety of the Catholic theology, but in essence he is very close to the Catholic cult
of the Virgin Mary. Boehme admits of two elements in Mary -- the heavenly, from Sophia, from
the eternal Virginity, and the earthly -- from Adam and Eve. The heavenly and virginal element
in Her was victorious.42 The difference in Boehme's point of view from that of the Catholic
dogma is in this, that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception looks upon the Virgin Mary
instrumentally, as a tool of God's Providence for salvation, whereas Boehme sees here the
struggle of contrary elements. The descent of the Heavenly Virgin unto Mary is a working of the
Holy Spirit, "Himmlische Jungfrau ist ein Glast [Glanz] und Spiegel des hl. Geistes" ["The
Heavenly Virgin is a reflection and mirroring of the Holy Spirit"}.43 The image of Mary for
Boehme is likewise an androgynic image, as is every virginal, integrally whole image. With
Boehme it was not the cult of the Eternal Feminine, but rather the cult of Eternal Virginity. The
cult of the Virgin is likewise the cult of Sophia, the Wisdom of God, since the Wisdom of God is
likewise an eternal and heavenly Virgin. The feminine nature of Eve cannot be a subject of
veneration and it is not ascribable to wisdom, is not sophianic, but in it is an element of the
sophianic, i.e. of virginity.
The sophiology of Boehme does not bear a natal character, it is not bound up with sexual
birth. It is only that the birth from the Virgin and the Holy Spirit is holy and saving for the world.
But the birth of Christ from the Virgin transforms and sanctifies feminine nature, liberates it from
the harsh aspects of femininity. "Darum ward Christus von einer Jungfrau geboren, dass er die
weibliche Tinctur wieder heiligte, und in die maennliche Tinctur wandelte, auf dass der Mann
und das Weib wieder ein Bild Gottes wuerden, und nicht mehr Mann und Weib waeren sondern
maennliche Jungfrauen, wie Christus war" {"Therefore was Christ born of a Virgin, so that He
again should sanctify the womanly aspect and make change in the manly aspect, from the man
and the woman again be rendered an image of God, and be no more man and woman, save as
man-like virgins, as was Christ"}.44 The transfiguration and deification of human nature, of both
man and of woman, is always a transformation into a virginal and androgynic nature. "Und als
Christus am Kreuz unser jungfraeulich Bild wieder erloesete vom Manne und Weibe, und mit
seinem himmlischen Blute in goettlicher Liebe tingirte; als er diess vollbracht hatte, so sprach er:
Es ist vollbracht!" {"And as Christ on the Cross hath redeemed again our virginal image from
being man and woman, and hath extirpated it with His heavenly Blood in Godly Love; as did He
this, so spake He: It is consummated!"}45 Boehme was one of the few with an understanding of
the metaphysical depths of sex. What is said about sex in theological tracts generally bears a

pathetic and superficial character, and runs but along moralistic-pedagogical lines. The whole
metaphysics of Boehme, all his teachings about the fall through sin and salvation is bound up at
depth with sex, with the loss of the Virgin-Sophia and the finding of it again. The human soul
mustneeds be co-united with its Virgin: "die Jungfrau soll sein unsere Braut und werthe Krone,
die wird uns geben ihre Perle und schoene Krone und kleiden mit ihrem Schmuck: darauf wollen
wir's wagen um der Lilie willen, ob wir gleich werden grossen Sturm erwecken, und ob der
Antichrist von uns hinrisse die Frau, so muss uns doch die Jungfrau bleiben; denn wir sind mit
ihr vermaehlet. Ein jedes nehme nur das seine, so bleibet mir das meine" {"The Virgin should
our bride and worthy crown be, which on us bestow its pearl and beauteous crown and cloth and
jewel whereof for the lily will rouse our desire, if well we weather the great storm, and if from us
the Anti-Christ carry off the wife, so mustneeds still the Virgin remain to us; then shall we with
her be wed. Each one takes only his own, and thus remains to me mine"}.46 The rebirth of the
soul is bound up in the encounter with the Virgin: "so wird dir entgegnen die zuechtige Jungfrau
hoch und tief in deinem Gemuethe; die wird dich fuehren zu deinem Braeutigam, der den
Schluessel hat zu den Thoren der Tiefe. Vor dem musst du stehen, der wird dir geben von dem
himmlischen Manna zu essen: das wird dich erquicken, und wird stark werden und ringen mit
den Thoren der Tiefe. Du wirst durchbrechen als die Morgenroethe: und ob du gleich allhier in
der Nacht gefangen liegest, so werden dir doch die Strahlen der Morgenroethe des Tages im
Paradeise erscheinen, in welchem Orte deine zuechtige Jungfrau stehet, und deiner mit der
freudenreichen Engelschaar wartet; die wird dich in deinem neuen wiedergebornen Gemuethe
und Geiste gar freundlich annehmen" {"Thus will respond the chaste Virgin high and low in
thine tenderness; which should lead thee to thine Bridegroom, and which hathe the key to the
gates of the deep. Before this must thou stand, and be given of the heavenly manna to eat: to
quicken thee, that thou be strong to wrestle with the gates of the deep. Thou wilt break forth like
the dawn: and if as such throughout all the night thou be caught up in prison, so for thee will the
gleams of the dawn of day shine forth in paradise, in which place doth thine chaste Virgin abide,
to await thee amidst the rejoicing of the pure angelic hosts; so as to uplift thee in thine anew
reborn tenderness in spirit fully rejoicing"}.47 Boehme is remarkable in this, that although the
metaphysical profundity of sex stands at the centre of his contemplation, his teaching about
Sophia is distinct by its heavenly purity and detachment, fully free from any vileness. Sex
becomes fully sublimated. And amidst this in him there is not that clipped-wing aridity, which
results in sexlessness of thought. Boehme strives not towards the negative sexlessness,
characteristic to arid ascetic teachings, but to a positive virginal integral-wholeness, i.e. to a
transfiguration of sex, to a transfiguration of man, as a sexually sundered being. Virginity is not
sexlessness, but deific sex. Integral wholeness and fullness is connected not with a negation of
sex, but the rather by a transfiguration of sex, with the alleviation of the yearning of sex as
regards integrality. In this is the mystical meaning of love, which Boehme himself did not
adequately reveal.
III.
The thoughts of J. Boehme concerning man are akin to those of the Kabbala. Boehme
admits the existence of Adam Kadmon -- the heavenly man. But the thought of Boehme, in
contrast, is deeply pervaded by Christianity. In the Kabbala was a teaching about SophiaWisdom. In 2 Sephiroth -- Hokhmah is Wisdom. But Wisdom in the Kabbala -- is the theoretical
reason -- and is the masculine element. The feminine element however is revealed as Binah -- the

practical reason.48 Boehme's teaching about the Virgin-Sophia is foreign to the Kabbala and is
not derived from it. It appears instead as the fruit of his profound Christian meditations and
ponderings. In the gnostics of old there was likewise Sophia. The feminine principle, rather
subdued in Judaism, was taken by them from Greece, from the pagan world.49 But it would be
difficult to find anything in common between the Hellene Simon Magus and the Sophia-Virgin
of Boehme. Moreover, in the Helene it is hidden as a profound symbolism and presentiment. And
it mustneeds likewise be mentioned, that the mystical gnosis of Boehme bears a supraconfessional character. Even as a Lutheran Protestant, Boehme had within him strong Catholic
elements, and likewise elements akin to the Orthodox East. As a theosophist in the noblest and
profound sense of this word -- he by a path of mystery imbibed within him the whole of worldly
wisdom. But all the same, he always directly strove after the Biblical revelation. The "Mysterium
magnum", the greatest of his works, represents a Biblical esotericism. Characteristic to Boehme
was his lofty outlook on man, and in this I see his greatest significance. He derived this lofty idea
of man through a process of understanding such as it deeply immersed in Biblical Christian
revelation. From Christianity he reached anthropological conclusions, which are impossible to be
found in the teachers of the Church. He surmounts the limitedness of the Old Testament
anthropology and cosmology. In him is to be sensed the breathing of a new spirit, a new world
epoch. He belongs to the epoch of the Reformation and the Renaissance, yet amidst this he
transcends their boundaries. His perspective simultaneously is oriented both to the depths of
spirit, and to cosmic life, to nature. The first strong impact of Boehme was in England. He had an
influence upon George Fox, the founder of Quakerism. And he was early translated into the
English language. Both Newton and Milton read him. But the first consequential representative
of Boehmism, one who further developed Boehme's ideas, was the English mystic and
theosophist of the XVII Century, Pordage. And Pordage teaches also about the eye of the
Ungrund. Pordage wrote a book, likewise bearing the title "Sophia". In it, in the tradition of
Boehme, was expressed the teachings of a Christian theosophy concerning Sophia. And for him
also Sophia-Wisdom is an eternal Virgin. The teaching of Pordage concerning Sophia does not
possess the freshness and originality of Boehme's contemplations, but it is interesting and worthy
of attention, as a developing of Boehme's ideas. Pordage says, that Sophia heals the wounds,
quenches the thirst situated in darkness.50 Within the deep abyss awakens a wise spirit. Wisdom
operates likewise also within man. The Virgin-Wisdom (Sophia) appears in man as the source of
strength.51 Pordage in particular stresses, that within man it is Sophia-Wisdom that makes
everything happen. "Wisdom is my inward rouser, my guide, my strength, my initiator, it
pervades and orders my life".52 For Pordage, Sophia is an all-pervasive Divine energy and its
activity is very similar to the activity of the Holy Spirit. He says, that the wine of Sophia is the
bracing draught of life.53 His teaching about Sophia can be termed vitalistic. "And the spirit of
virginal Wisdom is mother of the soul, just like as the spirit of eternity is father of the eternal
spirit."54 Pordage very clearly distinguishes between spirit and soul and he sees the eternal
person of man in the co-uniting of spirit and soul. The pure will for him is a virginal will. And
the virginal will loves Wisdom.55 God's heart is alive within the human heart and paradise
mustneeds be sought within the human heart. God lives in man and man lives in God. Here is an
especially important definition for Sophia. Sophia says concerning itself: "I am the virginal
Wisdom of my Father, Who without me could do nothing, just as I could do nothing without the
Father, Son and Holy Spirit".56 "One with the Holy Trinity, that which I do, the Father Son and
Holy Spirit do, I do nothing of Myself, but within Me doth act the Holy Trinity".57 Clearly, for
Pordage Sophia is not created, not a creature. He is particularly insistent upon this, that Sophia is

rooted within the Holy Trinity. All the feminine figures of the Bible appear as figures and images
of Sophia, right on up to the Virgin Mary".58 Pordage comes to identify Sophia with the Holy
Trinity and in this he goes farther than Boehme. -- "I Wisdom by my essence am the pure
Divinity and one with the Holy Trinity; and that, which I do, the Holy Trinity doeth in me".59
The service rendered of Wisdom and renewal is accomplished through fire. Sophia also acts, like
fire. The new Heaven and the new earth are not outside man, but within him.60 But in Pordage it
is very difficult to find a separately distinct definition of Sophia. Sophia is likewise the spirit of
Christ. "The spirit of Wisdom and the spirit of Christ are one and the selfsame spirit... The Spirit
of Wisdom is the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of Wisdom".61 Man through
Sophia becomes a new creature and Sophia creates a new earth. Sophia leads man into a new
world. The new earth through Sophia is created for the eternal man. Only for spiritual man will it
be knowable. For Pordage, Sophia is the power transfiguring the creature. The teaching about
Sophia assumes an all-encompassing character, it has a broad sweep in comparison with Boehme
and loses its more subtly pious character, of being first of all a teaching about the virginalness of
man. The sophiology of Pordage has an affinity with the sophiology of Fr. S. Bulgakov. "The
MostHoly Trinity neither acts nor creates anything without its eternal Wisdom, just as Wisdom
can do nothing without the eternal MostHoly Trinity... The MostHoly Trinity acts in Wisdom and
through Wisdom and Wisdom acts in the MostHoly Trinity, through it and with it".62 I certainly
do not think, that Pordage had any sort of a direct influence upon the sophiology of Fr. S.
Bulgakov. Fr. S. Bulgakov derived his teaching about Sophia from other sources, but as regards
the all-encompassing character in the understanding of Sophia, there is between them an affinity.
Pordage associates closely the teaching about Sophia with the teaching about the Holy Trinity.
Boehme's first influence was in England, first of all upon Pordage. Then in France upon SaintMartin, a very remarkable and influential Christian theosophist.63 However, in Germany as
Boehmists mustneeds be reckoned Oetinger64 and Fr. Baader, especially Fr. Baader, the greatest
and most remarkable of the Boehmists and the most churchly in his world-outlook. But even still
quite earlier Boehme had inspired the great Catholic mystic and poet, Angelus Silesius. Boehme
likewise had influence upon wide circles of occultists, theosophists, and mystical-masons, but
often therein poorly understood and vulgarised.65
IV.
In Russia the influence of Boehme can be found upon our homegrown theosophist
Skovoroda, although the influence of Weigel upon him evidently was stronger than that of
Boehme. Boehme was very highly esteemed, although very poorly known and poorly
understood, by the representatives of the mystical and masonic currents of the late XVIII and
early XIX Centuries -- Novikov, Schwarz, Lopuchin, Labzin et al. More direct upon us was the
influence of such second-rate Christian theosophists, as Jung-Stilling and Eckartshausen.66
During the XIX Century the Russian romantic and Schellingite Odoevsky imbibed within him
elements of Boehme's Christian theosophy, yet in this moreso of Pordage and Saint-Martin, than
of Boehme himself.67 With Vl. Solov'ev begins the sophiological current in Russian religious
philosophy and theology. Does this current rest upon the spirit of J. Boehme? Imperceptibly and
unconsciously Boehme's spirit has acted here, since Boehme is the source of the teaching about
Sophia. But on the conscious level Fr. P. Florensky and Fr. S. Bulgakov are repulsed by Boehme,
and Vl. Solov'ev is quite hesitant to allude to him. But essentially between the teachings of J.
Boehme about Sophia and the Russian teaching about Sophia, as it was formulated among us,

there is a difference. If there be compared the sophianism of Boehme and the sophianism of Vl.
Solov'ev, then the clear preference ought to be given to J. Boehme. The teaching of Boehme, as it
relates to him, is distinguished by a greater purity and abnegation. If he is not always distinct for
a logical clarity, he is always however distinct with an ethical clarity, and in him there is no sort
of anything murky. All the sophiology of Boehme arose out of his vision of heavenly purity and
virginalness, it was bound up with the intuition of the Divine light. The Divine Sophia is not for
a single instant blurred by the earthly Aphrodite. The earthly Sophia for him thus is the Virgin
Mary. Boehme's teaching concerning Sophia is profoundly and completely Christian, in it there
are no pagan elements. As regards Vl. Solov'ev, amidst all his enormous merits in the setting of
the problem, it is regretably impossible to say, that his teaching concerning Sophia was entirely
chaste and renunciatory. He allowed of a great murkiness in his sophianic settings. His poetry
witness to this. At the meeting in Egypt he has journeyed not to that Sophia -- the Heavenly
Virgin, the Wisdom of God. With Vl. Solov'ev there was a cult of eternal femininity, i.e. a cosmic
cult. In Sophia what allured him were the features of feminine charm. In feminine beauty there is
indisputably a glint of the Divine world. In St John of the Ladder (Climacus) there is a
remarkable statement: "One may have caught sight of an extraordinary feminine beauty, and
have glorified exceedingly the Creator in it, and from this single such sight have become ablaze
with love for God and shedding tears abundant. An amazing spectacle indeed! What might be a
pitfall of perdition to some, for him instead would supernaturally serve to the receiving of eternal
glory. If such a man in like instances have always such indeed an awareness and action, then he
is resurrected, incorrupt even before the universal Resurrection".68 Thus wrote a very austere
ascetic. But the woeful problem is in this, that with Vl. Solov'ev the image of Sophia becomes
twofold, and deceptive images of Sophia appear for him. He tormentively sought out his Virgin
in the nocturnal and subconscious element, and often got it confused with the cosmic allure. Vl.
Solov'ev was tormented with the new religious thirst, so that "in light undimmed by a new
goddess the heavens should merge with the watery deeps".
"All, wherein worldly Aphrodite be beauteous,
The joy of homes, and forests, and seas, -All has in common the beauty transcendent,
More pure, more powerful, and alive more, more fully".
There was a right thirsting for the religious transformation of all creatures, of all the cosmos
within beauty. At a moment of insight he saw everywhere "one but image of feminine beauty"
and then it was the beauty of the cosmos. The cosmos thus is a feminine nature and the cosmos
transfigured is beauty. The Sophia of Vl. Solov'ev is totally and exclusively cosmic, it was not
through a contemplation of the Divine Wisdom and it does not possess, as with Boehme and
Pordage, a direct relation to the Holy Trinity. The "image of feminine beauty" within the cosmos,
within the created world, can shoe forth not only from an upward abyss, but also from the lower
abyss, and can be a deceptive and false allure, it can seem as a Sophia sundered off from the
Logos and not receptive of the Logos, i.e. a non-wise femininity. The tragic encounter of Vl.
Solov'ev with Anna Schmidt, a gifted mystic of genius, witnesses to a great inauspiciousness in
Solov'ev's sophianic formulations and searchings.69 He was repulsed and fled the unattractive
and not pretty image of A. Schmidt, the most remarkable woman, whom he was to happen to
meet in life, since he was searching for a sophianic charm and beauty, he was seeking the
features of an earthly Aphrodite. And moreover, in the capacity of being a romantic, Vl. Solov'ev

was afraid of its realisation and was incapable for it. Vl. Solov'ev's cult of Sophia was something
totally romantic, and in it was not a religious realism. The very conceiving of Anna Schmidt
herself as Sophia, as the Church and Bride of Vl. Solov'ev was defined by the duplicity and
murkiness of Solov'ev's sophianic outlook and searchings. Vl. Solov'ev attains to a quite great
abnegation and loftiness only in his remarkable article, "The Meaning of Love".
Vl. Solov'ev had quite great an influence upon the Russian poetry of the beginning XX
Century, as regards its sophianic theme. We see this with A. Blok, with A. Bely, and partially
with Vyacheslav Ivanov. The greatest of our poets at the beginning of the century, A. Blok,
picked up on all the murkiness of Solov'ev's sophianic mindset. Vl. Solov'ev himself believed in
Christ and remained faithful to Christianity. But the Russian sophianic-poets for the most part
believed in Sophia, while not believing in Christ. This Sophia altogether was already lacking for
wisdom and was foreign to the Logos. The Beauteous Lady of A. Blok is this unknowable
Sophia. It eternally tempts and it eternally deceives, its image is twofold. Herein we find
ourselves at a very great distance from Boehme. I do not regard it proper to subject the Russian
poetry of the beginning XX Century to any sort of theological judgement. It would make no
sense to do this. We experienced at the beginning of the century a remarkable poetic renaissance.
But into our poetry entered murky and distorted sophianic moods. Poets have the right to sing of
the Beautiful Woman and can make the claim, that "Das Ewig-Weibliche zieht uns hinan" {"The
Eternal Feminine impels us wherever"}. But this is an altogether different plane and a different
area, than the religio-philosophic, theosophic and theological teaching of Sophia the Wisdom of
God. The Russian theological sophianism is certainly very distinct from the poetic sophianism.
Fr. S. Bulgakov in his recent books makes the greatest efforts to attain a purified theological
teaching about Sophia, in accord with tradition. He is far removed from the sophianism of Vl.
Solov'ev, and foreign to him is the sophianism of J. Boehme.70 Fr. S. Bulgakov desires to be a
theologian, and not a theosophist. In this is the difficulty of his position. But his sophiology can
have reproaches made against it only quite otherwise, than those made in vulgar and ignorant
accusations of a sophianic "heresy". The Russian sophianic current can weaken the awareness of
the freedom of the human spirit and its creative vocation in the world. Man gets wrapped up in
the divinely-cosmic sophianic energy and therein his lot can become but a passive swooning. The
cosmic element, just like the feminine, begins to predominate over the elements anthropological,
the masculine. And this impedes the strengthening of the consciousness of the person, of the
person's activity and responsibility. As for Boehme's teaching about Sophia, primarily
anthropological in character, and positing at its centre the virginal integral wholeness of man, it
is impossible to say, that it would lead to such results. We have already seen, that Boehme was
totally lacking in any Monophysite and Pantheistic tendency. He did not betray man over into the
grip of cosmic forces, as theosophists tend to do. The world-concept of Boehme -- is
personalistic. Boehme himself did not draw any anthropological deductions from his teachings.
But in him are given the foundations for a Christian anthropology.
With Boehme there was a certain annoyance to his contemplations, its getting all mixed up
with astrological and alchemist teachings and terminology. But in him also was a pure vision of
truth. He caught sight clearly of darkness, evil, struggle, the contradictions of being, and he saw
also Divine Wisdom, virginal purity, light. He was a man intoxicated with God and the Divine
Wisdom. All his being was oriented to the heart of Jesus Christ and his theosophy was imbued
with Christology. Western Christian thought has tended to neutralise and secularise the cosmos.

This occurred alike in both Thomas Aquinas and in Luther. God's cosmos, bearing upon itself the
imprint of God the Creator and transfused with Divine energies, tended to wither and die in the
consciousness of the Christian West. It was replaced by a neutralised nature, the object of
scientific nature-knowledge and technology. In the Christian theosophy and cosmology of
Boehme, spirit is revealed within nature, God is revealed within the cosmos, the whole of world
life is comprehended, as a symbol of the Divinity. For Boehme what stood at the centre was
justification, as it did for Luther, as it did for the Catholic theology, but rather the transfiguration
of the creature. And the theme of Sophia is a theme about the possibility of such a
transfiguration. Boehme was not a pantheist, but he denied that a transcendent chasm exists
between God and the creation, between God and the world. He did not think the world process to
be something completely external to God and having no sort of relation to the inner life of the
Divine Trinity. The gist of the whole teaching about Sophia consists in this, that it brings in a
triadic and immediate principle between the Creator and the creature, a co-unifying principle. In
context of the categories alone of God-Creator and world-creature it is impossible to overcome
the hopeless dualism and the transcendent chasm. But Christianity puts to rest the transcendenceimmanence aspect and simultaneously it does not permit of any identicalness between God and
the world nor of any chasm between them. God's creation bears upon itself the imprint and seal
of God the Creator, the imprint of God's Wisdom, which conveys the sophianic aspect. For
otherwise, in the life of the world, in the cosmos and man there would not be any beauty, nor
meaning, nor harmony. The sophianic aspect is also the beauty of the creature. The sophianic
aspect in man is his purity, his wholeness, chasteness, virginalness. This purity, wholeness,
chasteness, virginalness is also in all the creation, as the possibility of its transfiguration. The
Virgin-Sophia has flown off to Heaven, but its image is reflected also upon the earth and the
earth to itself. The transfiguration of the earth is possible only through the sophianic aspect. the
total denial of any sophiology leads to a deadened dualistic theism, and ultimately to deism. God
will have in the final end departed the world. The tremendous significance of J. Boehme and of
Christian theosophy in the West is in this, that they rose up against the process of godlessness
and neutralisation of the creaturely world, the cosmos. And moreover, Boehme is not given to a
non-tragic cosmic optimism. Within the world acts not only the Divine Wisdom, but also dark
and irrational freedom.
I have said already in my prior Etude, that the influence of Boehme upon German
philosophy was enormous. But apart from Fr. Baader, it must be pointed out, that least of all has
German philosophy developed the teaching about Sophia. Even in Fichte can be found the
hidden influence of Boehme. But the forcefully-masculine spirit of Fichte is directly contrary to
the sophianic spirit, and he is the most anti-sophianic of philosophers, with him the cosmos is
transformed into the material resisting the activity of the I. Likewise anti-sophianic is the
philosophy of Hegel and even moreso that of Schopenhauer. Within German Idealist philosophy
the greatest success was had instead by Boehme's intuition concerning the dark irrational will
and concerning the struggle of opposing principles within being. The teaching about Sophia
became the lot not so much of philosophy, as rather theosophy. Philosophy in its literal meaning
is the love for Sophia, but it tends readily to forget this its nature. Husserl wants even to forbid
philosophy to love wisdom. Still, the teaching about Sophia is about God's Wisdom (theosophy),
and not the love of wisdom (philosophy). Yet even here the academic theologians of the schools
have failed to develope the teaching about Sophia. It is almost impossible to find it with the
teachers of the Church. With St. Athanasias the Great and others, Sophia becomes identified with

the Logos and subsumed under the Second Hypostasis. This is explained by the fact, that within
the traditional theological consciousness, both the Eastern Patristic and the Western Scholastic,
there were yet not only not clearly resolved, as rather not even clearly posited the problems of a
religious cosmology and a religious anthropology. The whole cosmology and anthropology of
traditional theology was subordinated to the soteriological problem and bound up exclusively
with the teaching about sin and salvation. The mystery of God's creation, the creative mystery of
the creature involves not only the being saved from sin, but also of bearing within it the imprint
of the Creator and being pervaded with Divine energies, this has remained hidden over time.
Upon this mystery have touched only a few Christian mystics and genuine theosophists, gnostics,
ahead of their time. The greatest of them was J. Boehme. But the thought of modern times has
tended to naturalise Boehme's intuition about the mystery of the world-creation, the mystery of
the creature, and it has become bereft, of what Boehme revealed.
The Russian religious thought of the late XIX and early XX Centuries has posited very
acutely the problems of religious cosmology and religious anthropology, the problems of the
relationship of Christianity to the creaturely world. In this is its enormous and as yet
unacknowledged significance. The problematics underlying this, as yet lacking in any generally
obtaining resolution, have assumed various forms. At one point it became, whether a new
revelation of the Holy Spirit be possible, amidst a new world epoch within Christianity, at
another point it intensified over the problem of man and his creative vocation, and of the
existence of an ab-eternal humanness within the bosom of the Holy Trinity, and then it was over
the problem of Sophia and the sophianic aspect of the creature. This problem became vital on the
concrete level in the new understanding of the relationship of Christianity to culture and to
society. There opened up herein several currents. They waged between them a struggle, but all
were tormented by one and the same theme. Among the thinkers of the century past who
anticipated the problematics of the XX Century and who influenced it -- were Bukharev,
Dostoevsky, Vl. Solov'ev, V. Rozanov, N. Fedorov. This is also that current of Russian religiophilosophic and religio-social thought, which at one time we tended to call the "New Religious
Consciousness", an expression since become trite, vulgarised and disparaged, but essentially
preserving its own significance and its own truth. The problematics of the new religious
consciousness cannot be extinguished and abolished by any sort of reaction of the times
involving a theological and churchly-social conservatism, for with it is connected the future of
Christianity. Fr. P. Florensky, who sometimes speaks with hostility and scorn about "the new
religious consciousness", is himself one of its representatives. everything, that he says about the
possibility of a new out-pouring of the Holy Spirit and about the sophianic aspect of the creature
in his book, "The Pillar and the Ground of Truth", signifies the setting of all these selfsame
themes, of the "new religious consciousness", which is subject to cleansing and deepening, but
not annulling. J. Boehme, to whom Russian theologians of a sophianic bent tend to react
negatively, was nonetheless one of those geniuses, who have anticipated the settings of the
problem in dealing with the mystery of God's creation. The academic school theology of all the
faith-confessions is totally impotent in contending against these problematics and quelling the
agitation evoked by them. We ought spiritually to imbibe the great clear-sighted seers of the past,
whilst freeing their contemplation of certain tangles and murkiness, and bring them into accord
with the basic truth of the Church of Christ. The sources for the insights and ponderings of
Boehme remain for us enigmatic, as is everything primal in origin. In Boehme was a philosophic
dialectics, but the sources of his cognition were not dialectical, but rather purely intuitive and of

clear vision. The attempts to develope sophiology in Boehme's direction ought not to cause yet
greater suspicion against this current of godly-wisdom, but on the contrary, to lessen and remove
this suspicion. If there be disregarded the suspicions, connected with the mindsets of the ignorant
and of obscurantism, with the hostility towards every creative thought in theology and religious
philosophy, then still there remains the suspicion of an insufficient cleansing of the teaching
about Sophia, in a muddling together of the heavenly with the earthly, of the Virgin Mary with
Aphrodite. Yet least of all does this obtain in regards to Boehme's teaching about Sophia. Sophia
for Boehme is likewise purity, virginity, chastity. Boehme's teachings present the challenging
tasks of a new Christian anthropology, of the surmounting of the slavery subjection of man under
the Old Testament consciousness, in a bold attempt at discerning the mysteries of the creation
within the light of Christ. Boehme is not a theologian, he is -- a theosophist in the finest sense of
the word, and his contemplations are not easily to be carried over into the traditional theological
language. Least of all was Boehme an "heretic" as regards the condition of his heart, as regards
his spiritual disposition, and the final resolution of this question does not belong to the academic
school theological teachings. Boehme was indeed not fully free of naturalism. And upon the
teachings of Boehme, certainly, lies the imprint of a certain limitedness of his epoch, the epoch
of the Reformation and the Renaissance, and that too of his faith-confession and his people, -- he
thought like a typical German. But he indeed more than others broke out of the thickets of this
limitedness. Many of us, as Orthodox Russians of the XX Century, think otherwise, than might a
German craftsman of genius from the late XVI and early XVII Centuries. but we can sense in
him a brother after the spirit, his thought resonates for us, and we can find common issue with it
beyond all the separate faith-confessions and nationalities, beyond all the separate times and
places, just as we ought to find common cause with everything spiritually genuine that is lofty
and high, even though it appear a foreign world for us.
Nikolai Berdyaev
1930
2002 by translator Fr. S. Janos -- with the great and gracious assist of Fr Michael Knechten
in correction of the German portions of the original Put' text, and his intensive review with the
translation from German.
(1930 - 351 -en)
IZ ETIUDOV O YAK. BEME. ETIUD II. UCHENIE O SOPHII I ANDROGINE. Journal Put',
apr. 1930, No. 21, p. 34-62.

Koyre could not find any sort of source, from which Boehme had taken his teachings about
Sophia.

Vol. III, "Die drei Principien goettlichen Wesens" {"The Three Principles of the Godly
essence"}, p. 112.
3

Vol. III, p. 115.

Vol. III, p. 117.

Vol. III, p. 187.

Vol. III, p. 188.

Vide Vol. IV, "Vom dreifachen Leben des Menschen" {"Of the Threefold Life of Man"}, p. 70.

Vol. III, p. 295.

Vol. IV, p. 69.

10

11

Vol. IV, p. 71. [not p. 21; Correction of Berdiaev's or printer's error. MK].
Vol. IV, p. 156.

12

Vol. III, p. 141 [not Vol. II; Correction of Berdiaev's or printer's error. MK].

13

Vol. IV, p. 96.

14

Vol. IV, p. 261.

15

Vide Vol. V, "Mysterium magnum", p. 94.

16

Vol. V, p. 140.

17

Vol. V, p. 409.

18

The school of Freud is conducive to such an understanding of the relative aspect of the half
differentiation. Freud claims, that sex floods through all the organism of man.
19

Quite with genius did Bachofen express his idea concerning the feminine and masculine
principle. In the correlation of the masculine and feminine principle he sees a symbolic
correlation between the sun and the earth, between spirit and flesh. Vide the fine exposition of
Bachofen in the book of Georg Schmidt, "Bachofens Geschichtsphilosophie" {"Bachofen's
Philosophy of History"}, 1929.
20

21

In this vein is the very remarkable article of Vl. Solov'ev, "The Meaning of Love".

Vol. V, "Mysterium magnum", p. 463 [not p. 464; Correction of Berdiaev's or printer's error.
MK].

22

Vol. V, p. 32.

23

Vol. V, p. 101.

24

Vol. V, p. 133.

25

Vol. V, p. 287.

26

Vol. V, p. 316.

27

Vol. V, p. 420.

28

Vol. V, p. 421.

29

Vide my book, "The Meaning of Creativity. Attempt at a Justification of Man" (in English
published under title, "The Meaning of the Creative Act").
30

Vol. V, p. 528.

31

Vide Vol. I, "Der Weg zu Christo" ("The Way to Christ"), p. 104.

32

Vol. III, p. 302.

33

Vol. III, p. 307.

34

Vol. III, p. 316.

35

Vol. IV, "De Signatura Rerum", p. 374.

36

Vol. V, p. 465.

37

Vol. III, p. 296.

38

Vol. V, p. 327.

39

Vol. III, "Die drei Principien goettlichen Wesens", p. 298.

40

Vol. III, p. 298-299.

41

Vol. III, p. 119.

42

Vide Vol. VI, p. 206.

43

Vol. VI, p. 697.

44

Vol. V, p. 482.

45

Vol. V, p. 101.

46

Vide Vol. III, p. 117-118.

47

Vide Vol. III, p. 184-185.

48

Vide "Die Elemente der Kabbalah", Erster Theil, Theoretische Kabbalah; Uebersetzungen,
Erlaeuterungen und Abhandlungen von Dr. Erich Bischoff, 1920.
49

Vide Hans Leisegang, "Die Gnosis", Leipzig, 1924.

50

I shall quote from Pordage using the 1699 edition of the German translation (written in 1675):
"Sophia, das ist Die hold-seelige ewige Jungfrau der Goettlichen Weisheit". The citations in
Russian translation are from me, N.B.
51

Vide "Sophia", p. 17.

52

Vide "Sophia", p. 21.

53

Ibid., p. 26.

54

Ibid., p. 38.

55

Ibid., p. 86.

56

Ibid., p. 123.

57

Ibid., p. 126.

58

Ibid., p. 146.

59

Ibid., p. 161.

60

p. 162.

61

p. 193.

62

p. 193.

63

Vide A. Franck, "La philosophie mystique en France a la fin du XVIII Siecle. Saint-Martin et
son maitre Martinez Pasqualis.
64

Vide August Auberlen, "Die Theosophie Fr. Chr. Oetigers nach ihren Grundzuegen", 1859.

65

Vide the still interesting book of Viatte, "Les sources occultes du Romantisme".

66

Vide the book of Bogoliubov, "Novikov".

67

Vide the detailed and scrupulous, though also lacking in dogmatic understanding, explanation
of the mystico-theosophic influences upon Odoevsky in the book of Sakulin, "Iz istorii russkago
idealisma".
68

Vide "Prepodobnago otsa nashego Ioanna Igumena Sinaiskoi gory Lestvitsa" ("Our Monastic
Father, Hegumen of Mount Sinai, John of the Ladder"), 1909, p. 122.
69

Vide the book, "Iz rukopisei A. N. Schmidt" ("From the Manuscripts of A. N. Schmidt"), one
of the most remarkable mystical books in the Russian language, but nigh close to madness.
70

Fr. S. Bulgakov in his book, "Svet Nevechernii" ("Light Unfading"), provides a quite
inaccurate explanation of the teachings of Boehme, especially the part concerning Boehme's
teaching about Sophia, and is very unjust to him. Boehme falls victim to the struggle against
modern currents, against the influences of German Immanentism and Spiritualism.