Holy Wisdom in Scripture and Tradition


In the Old Testament, Wisdom is personified as a figure who was present with the Lord at the world’s foundation (Proverbs 8:22-31; Ecclesiasticus 24).  Following on from this, Wisdom has always been associated with the presence of God in creation, and the goodness of the material world.

From the time of the New Testament, Christians understood Holy Wisdom as Jesus Christ, the incarnate Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.  The biblical texts about Wisdom were also attributed to the Virgin Mary, eternally predestined to be the Mother of God.

In recent centuries, there has been renewed interest in Wisdom, partly because Wisdom is usually portrayed as feminine, and partly because of her association with the holiness of nature.

This course will consider the portrayal of Wisdom in the Old Testament, taking account of Margaret Barker’s theory that she is the ‘Lady of the Temple’, who is associated with the ordering of the cosmos.  We shall also examine ancient and medieval evidence—especially from Alcuin of York (c.735-804) and other English sources—for the cult of Wisdom identified with Christ.  This examination will include the symbolism of sacred architecture.

The course will then survey the development of the identification of Wisdom with the Virgin Mary, who has been seen both as the Seat of Wisdom and as a figure who, as Godbearer, was conceived in the mind of God before the world’s foundation.  A distinctly feminine portrayal of Wisdom is found also in the visions of Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), and was continued in the sophiology of Jakob Boehme (1575-1624), Sergei Bulgakov (1871-1944), and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), whose work will conclude the study day.




Programme details

9.45am            Registration

10.00am          Wisdom in the Work of Creation

11.15am            Coffee/tea

11.45am            Wisdom as Christ

1.00pm            Lunch

2.00pm            Wisdom as the Virgin Mary

3.15pm            Tea/coffee

3.45pm           Modern Sophiology

5.00pm           Course disperses


Description Costs
Tuition only £70.00
Baguette Lunch £5.00
Hot Lunch £15.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Sarah Jane Boss


is the Director of the Centre for Marian Studies at the University of Roehampton. She has published widely on the theology and cult of the Virgin Mary, and also has a strong interest in the theology of creation and the Western esoteric tradition.

The Revd Canon Dr Robin Gibbons

Director of Studies

The Revd. Canon Robin Gibbons is Director of Studies for Theology and Religious Studies at OUDCE. He is a member of the Theology and Religion Faculty, Regents Park College and an Honoraray Canon of Christ Church Oxford. 


Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email res-ctr@conted.ox.ac.uk for details of availability and discounted prices.