Leonard Brown, Holy Trinity—Hospitality of Abraham 2009, Egg tempera, 24 kt. gold leaf and gesso on beech wood panel, 48 × 37 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Andrew Baker Art Dealer, Brisbane.
Andrew Baker Art Dealer presents work by Leonard Brown.
Christian theology acquired the concept of Divine Wisdom from The Old Testament. It is known variously as: Chokhmah in Hebrew, Sophía in Greek, and Sapientia in Latin. In Eastern Orthodox theology, Divine Wisdom is also known as Logos (the Word)—which became incarnate as Jesus Christ. This belief is expressed in many Eastern Orthodox ikons. In The Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church, the exclamation “Sophía” (in English, “Wisdom”) is annunciated by the deacon or priest at certain moments—especially before the reading of scripture—to draw the congregation’s attention to sacred teaching.
The clearest association of Divine Wisdom with Christ comes in 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:13. Yet, even there, Paul’s impulse is to explain “God’s hidden wisdom”—not so much as the person of Christ himself, but rather as God’s “wise and hidden purpose from the very beginning to bring us to our destined glory” (1 Cor. 2:7). In other words, when Paul calls Christ “the wisdom of God”, God’s eternal plan of salvation overshadows everything. At times, the Church Fathers referred to Christ using the name Sophía (Wisdom). When rebutting claims about Christ’s ignorance, Gregory of Nazianzus insisted that, inasmuch as he was divine, Christ knew everything, “How can he be ignorant of anything that is, when he is Wisdom, the maker of the worlds, who brings all things to fulfilment and recreates all things, who is the end of all that has come into being?” (Orationes, 30.15).
In the Eastern world Sophía (Wisdom)—portrayed ikonographically as an angel of fire on an imperial throne, as in the ikon “The Divine Sophía 2015” on page 25—personifies the ‘motherly’ principle of all that exists. Such personification indicates that truth is always a living being, a being that ‘breathes’, in whom are brought together the attributes of the good, the true and the beautiful. Sophía designates Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Mother of God and the Church as go-betweens in the world of God and the world of humans.
According to the teaching of the Greek Fathers the Christian discovers in all beings traces of the Divine Wisdom that created the world. Rebuilt at the direction of Emperor Justinian and consecrated in 538, Hagia Sophía (Holy Wisdom) in Constantinople was the most important basilica in Eastern Christendom. Emperor Constantine set a pattern by dedicating the church to Christ as the personification of Divine Wisdom. It subsequently became the archetype, both architecturally and symbolically, for Byzantine churches worldwide. It is referenced in the ikon “Pokrov— Protection of the Mother of God 2001” on page 4. According to tradition, the envoys to Constantinople of the Russian prince Holy Vladimir became convinced of the truth of the Christian faith. In fact they reported to Vladimir, persuading him and the whole nation of the Rus to receive baptism, that: “On earth there is no such sight or such beauty; we do not know how to describe in words what we have seen. We know only that here men and women are in the presence of God”.
Join the gallery for a special opening night and drinks with the artist 6–8pm Friday 14 June 2019.