Holy Wisdom in Christian Tradition


The figure of Holy Wisdom appears in the Old Testament as a (sometimes female) personification of an aspect of Deity, and in the New Testament as identical with Jesus Christ. This study day will examine devotion to Wisdom, and theology about her, as it has developed within the Christian tradition.

Wisdom is always associated with God’s presence within the created world. In the Book of Proverbs, she is present with God at the beginning of creation, and in Christian theology, Wisdom was identified with Christ as the Word of God incarnate, that is, as God in union with the cosmos.  Amongst other evidence for this are texts and buildings from Anglo-Saxon England, and the works of authors such as St Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179).

In the Western Church, Wisdom also came to be identified with the Virgin Mary, and this theme was strongly marked in Catholic theology and liturgy until the late twentieth century. Recent speculative scholarship suggests that the identification of Mary with Wisdom may have been intended by the writers of the New Testament, although that tradition later became obscured.

In the Orthodox churches, the figure of Holy Wisdom has always been prominent, and the twentieth-century Russian theologian, Sergei Bulgakov, wrote a study of Wisdom as both uncreated (heavenly) and created (earthly).

In Protestant mysticism, the writings of Jakob Boehme (1525-1624) speak powerfully of Wisdom as a sacred female figure; and, more recently, eco-feminist theologians have found in Wisdom a figure who expresses both female divinity and the sanctity of the natural world.

This study day will take a few themes from these traditions, and enquire into their significance for Christians’ understanding of the relationship between God, humanity, and nature.

Programme details

Please note: the date for this event has changed since previously advertised and will now take place on 20 November 2021.

9.30am: Registration

10.00am: Holy Wisdom in the Scriptures

11.15am: Coffee/tea

11.45am: Wisdom and the Incarnation in Sacred Architecture

1.00pm: Lunch

2.00pm: Wisdom as Female – The Virgin Mary

3.15pm: Coffee/tea

3.45pm: Wisdom and Nature in Modern Theology

5.00pm: Course disperses


Description Costs
Tuition - in-person attendance £80.00
Tuition - virtual attendance £80.00
Baguette Lunch £5.50
Hot Lunch £15.50


If you are in receipt of a UK 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


Sarah Jane Boss is a theologian who has specialized in the theology and cult of the Virgin Mary.  She is currently the librarian of the Centre for Marian Studies at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.  She is also interested in the theology of creation, and has published papers and taught courses in this area.


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.


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.

IT requirements

You can opt to attend this hybrid teaching event either online (via a livestream) or in person at Rewley House, Oxford. You will be given the option of how you wish to attend during the enrolment process. You can only pick one option. If your preferred attendance format is fully booked, you can email us to be put on the waiting list.

For those joining us online

The University of Oxford uses Microsoft Teams for our learning environment. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Teams interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

If you have not used the Microsoft Teams app before, once you click the joining link you will be invited to download it (this is free). Once you have downloaded the app, please test before the start of your course. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, you will also be offered the option of connecting using a web browser. If you connect via a web browser, Chrome is recommended.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.