Symposium Introduction


Antoine Arjakovsky
Igor Zaitsev
Paul Blowers
Regula Zwahlen
Brandon Gallaher



Following a survey of the biblical and classical background, Wisdom in Christian Tradition offers a detailed exploration of the theme of wisdom in patristic, Byzantine, and medieval theology, up to and including Gregory Palamas and Thomas Aquinas in Greek East and Latin West, respectively. Three principal levels of Christian wisdom discourse are distinguished: wisdom as human attainment, wisdom as divine gift, and wisdom as an attribute or quality of God. This journey through Wisdom in Christian Tradition is undertaken in conversation with modern Russian Sophiology, one of the most popular and widely discussed theological movements of our time. Sophiology is characterized by the idea of a primal pre-principle of divineâhuman unity (âSophiaâ) manifest in both uncreated and created forms and constituting the very foundation of all that is. Sophiology is a complex phenomenon with multiple sources and inspirations, very much including the Church Fathers. Indeed, fidelity to patristic tradition was to become an ever-increasing feature of its self-understanding and self-articulation, above all in the work of its greatest exponent, Fr Sergius Bulgakov (1871â1944). This âunmodern turnâ (as it is here christened) to patristic sources has, however, long been fiercely contested. This book is the first to evaluate thoroughly the nature and substance of Sophiologyâs claim to patristic continuity. The final chapter offers a radical re-thinking of Sophiology in line with patristic tradition. This constructive proposal maintains Sophiologyâs most distinctive insights and most pertinent applications while divesting it of some its more problematic elements.

Reviews and Endorsements 

“An outstanding book, which will become a standard reference in all future treatments not only of Russian sophiology but also in broader discussions of wisdom in the Christian tradition […] The study of wisdom on this historical scale has never been undertaken before. Plested’s constructive conclusions will be of great interest to systematic theologians. I expect this brilliant work to be widely read and frequently cited for many years.” — Paul Gavrilyuk, Aquinas Chair in Theology and Philosophy, University of St. Thomas

“A beautiful and important scholarly monument that manages to be a systematic study of the multiple Patristic theologies of wisdom, a careful evaluation of Russian sophiology’s claims to be founded on Patristic teaching, and, perhaps most importantly, in its brief constructive final pages a contemporary synthesis of Patristic sophiology that corrects the doctrinal ambiguity of Russian sophiology […] a theological and historical gift.” — Brandon Gallaher, Senior Lecturer of Systematic and Comparative Theology, University of Exeter

“Marcus Plested’s Wisdom in Christian Tradition is not only a historical tour de force in its meticulous tracing of ‘wisdom’ traditions, both East and West, from the Bible onward; but it is itself a highly creative piece of constructive Orthodox theology, opening a way forward between and beyond the modern Russian Sophiologists and their detractors by re-engaging the patristic and medieval sources that underlay their debate. In the process the very concept of ‘tradition’ is richly reconceived.” — Sarah Coakley, Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity emerita, University of Cambridge

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