Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Where does wisdom come from?

I'm not a biblical scholar, but I play one on TV.

Proverbs 8 is a great example of how many people misinterpret the Bible. The chapter is usually subtitled something like "The blessings of wisdom" or the like. In it, wisdom is personified, or given human characteristics, a common literary tool in the poetic passages of the Bible (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs; plus many specific passages within lots of other books).

Now any normal person knows that you say stuff in poems that you would never say in real life. Remember the first time you were in love, and you thought about writing that special someone a poem? You promised the moon, eternal love, and carrying books home from school forever. You exaggerated for effect (hyperbole). You gave your love a voice, and turned the nebulous, mysterious, unexplainable love from an "it" into something much more tangible.

The proverb writer here does that with wisdom. But there are some people that just don't get it.

For instance, there are those who point to this chapter as promoting the female deity, whether it be God's feminine side or a separate person (wife? sister?). All the personification here is feminine in nature. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think God is male or female. He's in touch with his divine side, and since we were made in his image, that divine side has feminine and masculine qualities in abundance.

Or there are those that say this somehow refers to Jesus as the preincarnate (before he was born) personification of wisdom. The help in creating the world, the design of the earth--it makes those who don't see Jesus as God justify their placing him as the chief of all created beings, based on misinterpretations of John 1.1 and Colossians 1.16. In this view Jesus was created first, then helped God the Father create the rest of the world.

Finally there is the Sophia-worship group. In Greek, wisdom is "sophia." And while these proverbs were orginally written in Hebrew, for much of history they have been read in Greek in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible popular from before Jesus was born throughout much of the Roman Empire times). Sophia worshipers--similar to the first mistake--see "Sophia" as a real person, equal to God. Some feminists have latched onto this belief and formed a religious structure around Sophia-worship.

But to me the truth seems very obvious. The writer of the proverb wants us to see that we should be in love with wisdom. We should be passionate about pleasing her, knowing her. We should want to spend our time with her.

At the core, wisdom comes from fear of the LORD and a passionate pursuit of wisdom.

1 comment:

CHARLAX said...

Nice feelings escape everyone when they receive hate filled ones and looks can be so downright misleading to me they hang the head and look DOWN the snoot at me when they could look AT me and call me friend and the thing is to remember to get your heart in tune and try again to understand a thing is to begin to ascertain the wisdom of a true believer the OLD man is WATER the NEW man is OIL they seldom mix together but run one mile or even more from the distance to each other.
OLD man is never good at seeing true of others listen as eye relate this odious tale bearing words of hate the "OH my did ewe see just HOW she looked at me" the OLD MAN says " what is SHE looking at me with??? The New man smiles and tries again " Oh well did ewe see the WAY she looks at me"? Where is the place she is looking at me FROM???
She is looking at a man it does not matter what she is looking at me with she is wrong. Oil and water do not mix.