Gnostic Doctrine

Friday, 28 May 2021

The Fall of Sophia (1Enoch 42)

 The Fall of Wisdom



In this study we will look at the fall of wisdom in the 1st book of Enoch

1Enoch 42.1 Wisdom found no place where she could dwell, and her dwelling was in Heaven. 
42.2 Wisdom went out, in order to dwell among the sons of men, but did not find a dwelling; wisdom returned to her place, and took her seat in the midst of the Angels.
42.3 And iniquity came out from her chambers;  those whom she did not seek she found, and dwelt among them, like rain in the desert, and like dew on the parched ground.

Why could wisdom not find a dwelling place in heaven? 
Where is the chambers located from which iniquity come from?

The Book of Enoch even contains what appears to be a proto-Gnostic Sophia myth. In 42.1–3 we read of the discomfiture of Wisdom (Hokma; Greek: Sophia):

1Enoch 42.1 Wisdom found no place where she could dwell, and her dwelling was in Heaven. [But Wisdom did not stay in her dwelling place]
42.2 Wisdom went out, in order to dwell among the sons of men, but did not find a dwelling;[rejected by sinful mankind] wisdom returned to her place, and took her seat in the midst of the Angels [in heaven].
[After returning to the Heavens from the place where wisdom was trying to dwell with the sons of men iniquity came out from her chambers]
42.3 And iniquity came out from her chambers; [some Valentinian Gnostics attributed the creation of the cosmos and its creatures to an abortion of Sophia called
Archamoth]  those whom she did not seek she found, and dwelt among them, like rain in the desert, and like dew on the parched ground.

Religion and Female Body in Ancient Judaism and Its Environments:

1 Enoch 42 not only states that wisdom was unable to find a place on earth. Her negative counterpart was successful 

 And iniquity came out from her chambers; those whom she did not seek she found, and dwelt among them, like rain in the desert, and like dew on the parched ground.

This is a clear adaptation of personified folly from Proverbs 9 (although the word is not used in this chapter). the opposition between wisdom and folly personified as women, so important to Proverbs, is oddly never adapted in early Jewish literature in a wisdom text but rather in an apocalypse.

The location of her chambers is not stated but the fact that iniquity is opposed to wisdom whose domicile is heaven suggests that she emerges from the netherworld. this would fit with the association between the house of folly and Sheol in Proverbs (9:18 cp 7:27 2:18 )

Also the account of iniquity nurturing the land with water can e understood as a sort of reverse image of wisdom in Ben Sira 24 since there she is situated beside abundant waters. the imagery of water vivifying the world in 1 Enoch 42 may convey iniquity as a sort of teacher not unlike personified folly (Prov 9:17) [Religion and Female Body in Ancient Judaism and Its Environments]

James 3:15  This wisdom is not one, from above, coming down, but is earthly, born of the soul, demoniacal!

In 2 Enoch 30:8, the author states ‘And on the sixth day I commanded my Wisdom to create man…’. Thus, Sophia, in this source as well, creates Adam. 

Extracts from the Works of Theodotus:

47 Now the Saviour became the first universal creator. “But Wisdom,” the second, “built a house for herself and hewed out seven pillars” and first of all she put forth a god, the image of the Father, and through him she made heaven and earth, that is “heavenly things, and the earthly” – the things on the right hand and on the left. This, as an image of the Father, then became a father and put forth first the psychic Christ, an image of the Son, then the archangels as images of the Aeons, then the angels of the archangels from the psychic and luminous substance to which the prophetic word refers, “And the Spirit of God was superimposed upon the waters,” declaring that in the combination of the two substances, made for him, the simple was superimposed but the heavy and material substance is borne under, the thick and coarse. But it is even suggested that this was incorporeal in the beginning when it is called “invisible.” Yet it was never invisible to any man that ever lived nor to God, for he made it. But he has somehow declared its absence of form, shape and design.(Excerpt. ex Theodot 47)

Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars (Proverbs 9:1):

These seven pillars being interpreted of the planetary heavens, or the seven chakras,...
 the habitation of the Sophia herself was placed above the Hebdomad in the Ogdoad (Excerpt. ex Theodot. 8, 47). Ogdoad meaning -number 8.

It is said further of the same divine wisdom

 (Proverbs 8:2):
She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.

This meant, according to the Gnostic interpretation, that the Sophia has her dwelling-place "on the heights" above the created universe, in the place of the midst, between the upper and lower world, between the Pleroma and the ektismena. She sits at "the gates of the mighty," i.e. at the approaches to the realms of the seven Archons, and at the "entrances" to the upper realm of light her praise is sung. The Sophia is therefore the highest ruler over the visible universe, and at the same time the mediatrix between the upper and the lower realms. She shapes this mundane universe after the heavenly prototypes, and forms the seven star-circles with their Archons under whose dominion are placed, according to the astrological conceptions of antiquity, the fates of all earthly things, and more especially of man. She is "the mother" or "the mother of the living." (Epiph. Haer. 26, 10). As coming from above, she is herself of pneumatic essence, the mētēr phōteinē (Epiph. 40, 2) or the anō dynamis (Epiph. 39, 2) from which all pneumatic souls draw their origin.

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