Norea and Sophia: Female Helpers and Saviors
Monday, December 5, 2022
Presenter: Dr. Shirley Paulson
Norea was virtually unknown until the Nag Hammadi collection turned up a few fascinating references to her in. 1945. One is a small book or poem titled “The Thought of Norea,” which probably raises as many questions as it answers about this little known, but rather important figure from antiquity. Sophia/Wisdom is far better known during this period as a kind of helping savior figure than Norea. In fact, Sophia appears in both canonical and extracanonical works, whereas Norea is only mentioned in a few other books not included in the Bible. Sophia and Norea are never mentioned together in the texts we have access to today, but they seem strangely related. Most interestingly, they both seem to be closely connected to the divine and serve as helpers or saviors. This divine appointment is usually intended for male figures. Are we ready to welcome a female savior with the authority, wisdom, and strength we expect from a savior? Or do we still think a savior should properly be male? We will consider what it means to imagine two female saviors – Sophia and Norea – in the context of the ancient world that we know had already welcomed multiple male saviors.
Text used for this discussion:
The Thought of Norea
Available in Meyer, Marvin, ed. The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts. New York: Harper Collins, 2007.
Or here, on the Early Christian Writings website.