Athenagoric Letter and Reply to Sister Philothea

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ISBN NFT: 9788411269261
Illustrated paperback ISBN: 9788499537108
Hardcover ISBN: 9788411266611

The Athenagoric Letter was written in November 1690 by Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz. It is an exercise of reflection, elaborated from the reading of a sermon by Father Antonio Vieira, S. J.
The letter was sent to the bishop of Puebla, Manuel Fernández de Santa Cruz. He published it in 1690 without knowing the reasons that led him to it.
In the prologue to this work, signed as “Sor Filotea de la Cruz” (Bishop Manuel Fernández de Santa Cruz), apart from the usual praise, he also reproached Sor Juana:

“That of not devoting his talents to theology, instead of limiting himself to more or less profane literary works.”

As a defense against the reactions and attacks caused by the publication of the Athenagoric Letter, Sister Juana hastened to write her Reply to Sister Filotea de la Cruz (1691).
From the Reply to Sister Philotea, it is interesting to highlight three aspects that make it a unique work:

  • It is autobiographical (it describes the intellectual trajectory of the author, with her progress, problems and obstacles that she has had to overcome for being a woman and the defense of women’s education and their right to comment and interpret any religious text)
  • is controversial (defends against attacks)
  • and is a scholar (references and quotations abound, as it could not be less, from classical and Christian authorities).

According to Octavio Paz in his essay Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz or Las trampas de la fe (1982):

“The pre-eminence achieved by Sister Juana offended many prelates; All of them were his superiors and almost all boasted of being theologians, literati and poets. The nun embodied a double and unbearable exception: that of her sex and that of her intellectual superiority.”

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