A mature and seasoned teacher had literally been driven to distraction by her fourth grade class. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. • 1 Corinthians 8:6, where the italicizing in the tract shows the Jehovah’s Witnesses interpreta-tion that God the Father created Christ, who then created the world: “There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things,…and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things.”. Want to learn more? The specific hermeneutical principle that I have applied in this article is the need to read figurative speech in a nonliteral sense. With this context as your guide, you would probably not find the passage difficult, but what would you say if someone rattled off proof texts to support the belief that the speaker of the poem is really Christ and that the passage, moreover, shows that Jesus is a created being? Is this a reference to God? 5:6–8). The truth of wisdom pertains to all human beings without exception.) Proverbs is a fitting textbook for parents to teach wisdom. She makes a special appeal to the inexperienced and foolish (verse 5). 8), and who builds a house and invites people to an alluring banquet (9:1–6). They argue that because the speaker in Proverbs 8 is described in the same terms as are used for Christ elsewhere, that speaker, therefore, must be Christ. There are many characteristics of a godly friend. The encomium, one of the most beautiful and exalted types of literature used in the Bible, is a composition in praise of either an abstract quality or a general character type. Proverbs 8:18, "Riches and honor are with me." We all know that blood does not literally cry from the ground (Gen. 4:10) and that light and truth are not literally travel guides to Jerusalem (Ps. It is not complicated: whenever a poet attributes human qualities to some- thing inanimate, often an abstraction, he or she has used personification. The Setting and Addressees of Wisdom's Appeal in Proverbs Chapter 8. 8. It is called, Smooth Words: Women, Proverbs and Performance in Biblical Wisdom; a book review will probably summarize all of the options. Wisdom’s Call. This is part of a broader principle of interpreting a text in keeping with what we know about its genre (what type of literature it is). Prov 31, 'Woman of Worth') (C. Meier, C. Yoder); others see her as an amalgam of all female roles of the Second Temple period when neither prophet nor king any longer provide direct link between the people and the divine (C. Camp), and yet others see her as a 'scribal goddess' who is patron to the intelligentsia of the Second Temple period (Lang). "By me kings reign" (Proverbs 8:15). A Look at Virtue Signaling. Here are the first five verses of the poem: The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Scott). Solomon often makes reference to teaching his son in the passages in Proverbs. Proverbs 28:26 "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered." II. Get started with Bible study here. All Literature Requires Interpretation. In verses 5-11, we find that the words of wisdom are excellent, right, truthful, righteous, understandable and valuable. How can we know God and what God wills?" Should You Believe in the Trinity? O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense. In the first five verses of Proverbs Chapter 8, Wisdom is calling out; but notice that Wisdom calls to all - she calls to all of mankind (verse 4). Appreciate these answers? understand all things. The Social Dilemma and What it Means for Christians, The Historical Uniqueness of Jesus Christ Among the Founders of the World’s Major Religions, Do I Drink Virtuously? I’m an enthusiast for “the Bible as literature.” There are, of course, liabilities to this popularized label since in some circles it runs the risk of implying that the Bible is only literature and therefore devoid of the special authority that Christians ascribe to it as a religious book. • Colossians 1:15, which calls Christ “the first-born of all creation.”. Wisdom is easily seen and heard 1. But briefly, here are the relevant options: Simply put, Lady Wisdom is someone who existed BEFORE creation, to whom God gave birth (in a female way, not a 'begotten' way), who both plays in creation, delighting in humanity, but also served as a 'master craftswoman' assisting the Hebrew God with the actual 'floorplan' of creation (R.B.Y. Chapter 9 - Wisdom’s Invitation to a Banquet and Folly’s Invitation to a Banquet XIII. I am confused about the person of Wisdom in Proverbs 8. He continues to personify wisdom as an elegant lady of virtue in Chapter 8. A proper understanding of Proverbs 8 does not absolutely depend on viewing the poem as an encomium, but the dynamics of the passage will fall even more into place if we do so. Wisdom in Proverbs 8 is a way of speaking of God that shows how deeply and eagerly God wishes to be known and tended to. Some scholars of the Nag Hammadi Gnostic Gospels see her as the Speaker in the disturbing little treatise, "Thunder, the Perfect Mind" (G. McCrae; A. Bach). Proverbs 1:7 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction." The Proverbs 8 Woman–Wisdom’s Call What we need to combat the lies of the culture around us is the wisdom from God’s Word to walk a different path. • Several verses from Proverbs 8, one of which speaks of how “Yahweh created me, first-fruits of his fashioning, before the oldest of his works” (njb). My personal favorite is Zechariah’s vision of a woman named Wickedness sitting inside a cereal container (Zech. Certainly, for her ancient authors, She is a 'Tree of Life' to those who hold on to her, which might lead to discussions of the outlawed tree goddess of Israel, Asherah (legal at first, but debased by Deuteronomists' attempts to link her to Ba'al; S. Olyan, M. Smith). Proverbs 8 is a speech of self-praise given by personified Wisdom, and it is addressed to all of humanity. Wisdom Shouts – Proverbs 1:20-33. 11. 1 Does not wisdom call out? They know the world is empty, and true fulfillment can only come through the living God. Proverbs 8:22-31 is famous for its description of the wisdom of God as a person or entity—a deity-level figure who assists God in some way with the creation of the world. By full NT times in Paul's writings, Jesus Christ is now the 'Sophia' of God, in a way that both nods to the Hebrew tradition, but also normalizes the tricky issue of a pre-existent female figure. She morphs into some aspects of the Holy Spirit for Christians, the Shekinah for Jews, and doesn't seem to get much play in Islam, due to their concepts of monotheism. Let's start with this: monotheism was never monochromatic; the Biblical view is that God is One, but it is a complex unity that reveals a spectrum of Divinity. Good Steward “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” ~Proverbs 13:11. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Ps. Help us continue by donating here. How can you know when a poet has used personification? We will look at Proverbs 8 in particular, since it seems to be a jumping-off point for some creative “proof-texting” by cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses to arrive … It enables a person to have good old fashioned common sense and be able to give wise counsel. Copyright Massachusetts Bible Society © 2020 Registered 501(c)(3). — Leland Ryken. "Not only in the common lives of common men, but also in the exercise of the very highest sovereignties, men must have this Wisdom in order to succeed." Proverbs 8 – In Praise of Wisdom. Since the speaker in the Proverbs 8 passage speaks of being “brought forth” (vv. (esv). Pr 29:7 The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor, The wicked does not understand. Some include that they fear the Lord, choose to live pure and holy lives, love to talk about the things of God, share Christ, faithful in church attendance, show growth in the things of God, and listen to godly authorities These should be evident in your friend if they claim to be a Christian. The author states that wisdom [from God], makes prudence his dwelling place (v. 12). At the highest point along the way,where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gate leading into the c ... Proverbs 8. The characteristics of the wise outlined in Proverbs can be summarized in seven categories. Interpreters have done a lot of mischief by taking figurative language literally. 1. Wisdom, someone might protest, cannot speak. Someone else? Is the Incarnation Logically Incoherent ? Looking “Along” A Review of Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics by R. Marie Griffith. Wisdom is portrayed as a woman of dazzling attractiveness and virtue, who teaches in the marketplace of the town (1:20), who is romantically embraced (4:8–9), who can be addressed as “my sister” (7:4), who utters a long speech commending herself to the public (chap. A Christian Perspective, Bespoke Religiosity and the Rise of the Nones: a review of Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World by Tara Isabella Burton, Perspective Matters: Looking “At” vs. The call of wisdom. This element of subjectivity, moreover, does not mean that all interpretive decisions are entirely subjective. 10. My family and I were returning to Washington State for the summer. 8 Characteristics of Wisdom. How to Recognize Personification. 12-21). It is her desire that everyone seek her and hear her words (vs 17, 32). First Corinthians 13 is an encomium in praise of love, Hebrews 11 in praise of faith, and Proverbs 31:10–31 in praise of the virtuous wife. Some scholars have located her 'geneaology' in the upper class women household managers of the Persian Home Rule period in Yehud (cf. For ecotheologians like Normal Habel, she is the voice of Earth, the main theologian of the interdependent web of creation who teaches us Deep Ecology, and the real hidden subject of Job 28. Christians believe that God's Holy Spirit helps them to know God, as does Jesus. “A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none [for his ears are closed to wisdom], b ut knowledge is easy for one who understands [because he is willing to learn].” (Proverbs 14:6, AMP) “ The mind of the prudent [always] acquires knowledge, a nd the ear of the wise [always] seeks knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15, AMP) Seekers of wisdom & wise counsel What Lewis meant is that the Bible is composed of different kinds (genres) of literature — narrative, poetry, prophecy, epistle (authoritative teaching in the form of a letter), and so on — and each part of the Bible must be read according to the kind of literature it is. After all, whether the speaker in Proverbs 8 is a personified wisdom and whether the passage is an encomium are decisions that the interpreter makes. 1. 7:22--8:1. For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org. Poets have always used personification, and biblical writers did as well. We learn to find wisdom by listening to the words of others, of those who are speaking words of righteousness (Proverbs 8:6-8). Proverbs 1:7 is its theme: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” If an interpreter begins with the premise that Proverbs 8 is talking about Christ, then certain references can be (incorrectly) interpreted as implying that Christ is a created being. Click here for Professor Fontaine's book, Smooth Words.  " Proverbs 8:17-21 teach men how to make life a success, in the worldly sense." R. Clifford relates Prov 8 to Mesopotamian traditions of the antediluvian sages who taught humanity how to be civilized. A classic patriarchal conundrum! The Integrity of Wisdom Lady Wisdom claims that everything she says is true. Proverbs 8:14, "Counsel is mine and sound the wisdom" Proverbs 8:12, "Wisdom dwells with prudence and finds out knowledge." So, I agree that Wisdom is a way of speaking of God in Gods' relationship with humankind, very much as Logos is a way of speaking of God in god's relationship with humankind in other Jewish writings and in John 1. Proverbs 3:19 tells us propositionally that “the Lord by wisdom founded the earth.” Proverbs 8 turns that statement into a fictional narrative in which a personified wisdom was present at the creation of the world. The book of Jobdeals with the problem of evil and the justice of God. In its usual pose, it asserts something that we know to be literally untrue and often openly fantastic. C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1958), 3. However, the Christological import of Proverbs 8 is not exhausted in the references to Christ as creator. Songs 1:5; 3:7, 9, 11; 8:11, 12 (Song of Songs may be better classified as love poetry rather than wisdom literature) IV. In Sirach 24:23ff, the author identifies this "wisdom" with "the book of the covenant of the Most High God, the law that Moses commanded us". 22 “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. CONTEXT: Proverbs 8-9 is an appeal to search diligently for godly Wisdom. As I said earlier, I will make the case for literary genre as an effective way to spare us from misreading the Bible. With practice we can learn to recognize what kind of literature we are reading and let that influence our interpretation. 24–25 esv), moreover, this same Christ must be a created being and not an eternal member of the Trinity. 9 They are all plain to him who understands, And right to those who find knowledge. We noted that wisdom is the speaker in Proverbs 8. This takes us back to Proverbs 8. 6. No less a literary giant than C. S. Lewis expressed that same reservation when he accused those who read the Bible “as literature” of reading the Bible “without attending to the main thing it is about.”1 Two sentences later, however, Lewis asserted unequivocally, “There is a saner sense in which the Bible, since it is after all literature, cannot properly be read except as literature; and the different parts of it as the different sorts of literature they are.”. when there were no springs abounding with water. As we drove into the driveway of my parents’ home, they received a call from the superintendent of schools. 85:10 kjv). In the very next chapter, wisdom calls out to those who are willing to listen. Thank you for your help. This is exactly what Jehovah’s Witnesses claim regarding the passage. • Revelation 3:14, which speaks of Christ as “the beginning of God’s creation.”. Well, yes she can if she is a personification of an abstract concept. In a Watch Tower tract entitled Should You Believe in the Trinity?2 the following verses from the Bible are strung together: • Colossians 1:15, which calls Christ “the first-born of all creation.”, • Revelation 3:14, which speaks of Christ as “the beginning of God’s creation.”. before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. Thoughtful “A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” ~Proverbs 14:15. We also need to apply this principle when we come to passages that speak of Christ as the “firstborn” or “beginning” of God’s creation. (Brooklyn: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1989), 14. Proverbs 8:1-9:12 – Wisdom & Her Call . Why Do I Call Myself Good? The adulteress was lurking in the streets, hiding in the dark, seeking wayward young men to deceive with her whispering and conniving lips. The speaker is wisdom personified. Proverbs 8:12 – What does wisdom dwell with? This article first appeared in the Practical Hermeneutics column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 27, number 2 (2004). From Carole Fontaine, Taylor Professor of Biblical Theology and History, Andover Newton Theological School. And in the coda of verses 32-36 wisdom assures that those who heed wisdom are happy and have life. Proverbs 8 presents divine wisdom through the literary device of personification. God endowed Solomon with great wisdom so he could rule justly 2. Proverbs 8 has all of these familiar motifs. 9. Proverbs 8 refers to a feminine character, named "Wisdom," who was present and collaborated with God in creation. Aid to Bible Understanding (Brooklyn: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1989), 918. Proverbs 8 as an Encomium. Solomon became famous for his wisdom C. Solomon’s names are attached to several wisdom books 1. Just recall some famous examples: “Sin is crouching at the door” (Gen. 4:7 esv). G. Campbell Morgan on Proverbs 8: “There is nothing greater or grander in all the Biblical literature, as setting forth the beauty and grace of that wisdom which has the fear of Jehovah as its chief part.” A. 13. So, clearly this author took the references to "lady wisdom" as poetic references to Torah. Solomon continues to use “ personification ” as he showed his son how to discerningly follow the way of God’s Wisdom and to avoid the path of the Foolish. “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:15 esv). Who Is Wisdom in Proverbs 8? (and THAT'S not even touching the Apocrypha!) Thus, wisdom's characteristics are reflected in the lives of people. When there were no depths I was brought forth. FOr the author of Proverbs, "Lady" Wisdom seems to have been a strong personification of God's attribute of wisdom. Wisdom in Proverbs 8 is a way of speaking of God that shows how deeply and eagerly God wishes to be known and tended to. Job. God is finally none and all of these; each metaphor opens a different door into the divine palace, the houses of the holy. Conversely those who miss wisdom injure themselves and love death. 7. Pr 28:11 The rich man is wise in his own eyes, But the poor who has understanding sees through him. 1:24,30), in the Proverbs account of creation. Good deeds – Wise people live an upright and moral life. Does not understanding raise her voice? The purpose of the entire eighth chapter is to praise and exalt wisdom. You will only hear them speaking truth and righteousness. Does not understanding raise her voice? “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” ~Proverbs 13:10. What does Wisdom Look Like? She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. The main subject of Proverbs chapters 1–9 is wisdom, which is an abstract quality or character trait rather than a person, but wisdom is treated as a woman from the first chapter right through chapter 9. Proverbs 8:6 "Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips [shall be] right … 3. Wisdom calls out so that everyone may hear her call, from the highest hill to the busy pathways of active people (vs 1-3). The lead-in to the speech answers the question: “Does not wisdom call?” (v. 1); and in verse 12, we read, “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence.” The repeated first-person references (my lips, my mouth, etc. Proverbs 9:10 – “The _____ of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the _____is understanding.” 12. Romans 1:22 "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" D. Gentle – Wise people treat others with care and respect. Is Proverbs 8 Literal Fact or Literary Fiction? 8:22–31). Answer: In Proverbs 1:20–33 and Proverbs 8:1—9:12, wisdom is personified as a woman who has much to offer—including “enduring wealth and prosperity” and “life”—to anyone who would heed her words ( Proverbs 8:18, 35 ). It is this principle I propose to explain: literary genre should influence our interpretations, and an awareness of literary genre can spare us from misreadings of the Bible (though that is not its only usefulness). (1-3) Wisdom cries out. … Is Christ the First Created Being? The fallacy is in thinking that the speaker in Proverbs 8 is Christ in the first place. These are seven characteristics of wisdom. 43:3). is an ancient question indeed. Again, I think nowadays most scholars see this too as vivid personification. Taking all this together, for many she is the 'literary survival' of an original Hebrew goddess who was disappeared by orthodoxy (J. Hadley, D. Penchansky). And from the opening of my lips will come right things; 7 For my mouth will speak truth; Wickedness is an abomination to my lips. In any case, we aren't dealing with some sort of "intermediary being". This character is best understood as a metaphor for certain aspects of God that are not conveyed in some of the more prevalent Old Testament images of God as Father or King. ), therefore, are to wisdom. The person of Wisdom in Proverbs 8 is the personification, portrayal in personal form, of God's way of interacting with human beings. " They needed someone to finish out the year, and hopefully, to bring the class under control. Prov. Lady wisdom of chapter eight is a stark contrast from the adulteress of chapter seven. 5) Wisdom Was With God In Creation And Rejoices In The Ongoing Of His Creation (Proverbs 8:22-31).Lest we have any doubt about what wisdom Solomon is speaking about he now makes it very clear (as he has indeed in he had in Proverbs 3:19-20, compare Proverbs 2:5-11).It is the wisdom and understanding that God used when He created and fashioned the heavens and the earth (Proverbs … 1:1; 10:1; 25:1 2. Who is speaking here? She tells mankind about her importance, power, value, old age, and warns that her enemies will be destroyed. Likewise in "Sirach" (aka, "Ecclesiasticus") 24, the same motif appears of "lady" wisdom appealing to people to come and learn God's ways from her. Nearly 30 years ago, I had just completed my first year of seminary. These titles do not refer literally to generation but figuratively to exaltation — not to a literal origin but to an exalted position. We would make so much more sense of biblical poetry if we would simply acknowledge that poetry is a form of fiction and quite often of fantasy. She has antecedants in Egypt (Isis, Hathor, Ma'at; B. Lang), some connections to Sumerian goddesses (where the figurations there cause her to be divided into Savior/Slayer or Madonna/Whore in the passages about her and Woman Stranger (C. Fontaine), and according to Gerhard von Rad, was the personified outreach of creation to humanity in order to teach them the ways of God and earth. Surely personification illustrates this in its pure form. Lady wisdom is out in the open; she stands proudly in … The Blessings of Wisdom - Does not wisdom call? We had no idea what kind of employment I might find. The writer of Proverbs also presents the Wisdom of God as claiming to be the Way and the Life as well. I was offered the job and … Similarly, in Proverbs 1–9, wisdom is not literally a woman who speaks eloquently about herself and prepares a banquet. Some believe (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) that study of God's word in Scripture also allows them to know and be known by God. It’s the support of friends like you that enables CRI to keep these articles FREE. 2. Proverbs 9:9 – What is the result of giving instruction to a wise man? Rediscovery of Woman Wisdom by the 'Re-imagining' feminist Christian movement in the 1980s gave rise to the 'Christ as King' backlash, and She just hasn't been the same since, no matter what Her scholars say.. Wisdom’s Lecture 2: Wisdom Describes Her Benefits to the Gullible (8:1-36). We find here the characteristics of wisdom that can become ours (vv. 8. Their formulation located Christ, the Wisdom of God (I Cor. On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud: “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. In conducting this praise, the writer invents a fictional creation story in which wisdom, as an attribute of God, was actually present at creation. 8, it is easy to see why some Church Fathers suppressed her per-existent origins; others did not, and those who most rely on the Hebrew language have done a much more fair job of relating her story (St. Jerome, Theodotian). Wisdom: can't make theology with Her; can't make theology without Her! I can imagine some readers questioning whether what I have said in this article introduces an element of subjectivity into the interpretation of the Bible. Given the difficulty of her origins and duties in Prov. Photo Wisdom proclaims her extreme value: “Accept my discipline rather than silver, Knowledge rather than choice gold. She is like the Queen on the chessboard of Renaissance Europe: she moves in every direction and is the most powerful player that protects and connects to the king--but neglected in every 'official' description of the power-players of Bishop, Knight, and Domain (castle). So, I agree that Wisdom is a way of speaking of God in Gods' relationship with humankind, very much as Logos is a way of speaking of God in god's relationship with humankind in other Jewish writings and in John 1. Proverbs 8:14B, "I am understanding, power is mine." A wise man: Puts himself in the company of those wiser Obtains guidance (Proverbs 1:5) Humble – Wise people don’t constantly brag, boast, or display a prideful attitude. How to Misread Proverbs 8. It is as simple as that. You should be confused about the identity and role of Wisdom in Proverbs 8, because it is confusing. Proverbs presents Wisdom as a woman prepared to offer instruction and guidance for those who will seek her diligently. Wisdom, personified as a woman in chapter 8, beckons all to come and learn from her. 2 At the highest point along the way, Wisdom’s Call Does not wisdom call out?Does not understanding raise her voice? The writer of an encomium conducts the praise by using a standard set of literary motifs (elements): (1) introduction to the subject, (2) the distinguished and ancient ancestry of the subject, (3) a list of the praiseworthy acts and qualities of the subject, (4) the indispensable and/or superior nature of the subject, and (5) a conclusion urging the reader to emulate the subject. The imagery seems to have been adapted further in "Wisdom of Solomon" (OT "apocrypha"), 7:22--11:14, esp. Proverbs 1:8- 1:19 XIV. The first characteristic that reveals wisdom is in the words that wisdom speaks. Lest we think that the Jehovah’s Witnesses thought this up on their own, they correctly adduce “Christian writers of the early centuries of the Common Era” as having also believed that the speaker in Proverbs 8 is really Christ.3 Indeed, the view that the speaker of Proverbs 8 is Christ continues to make the rounds in some evangelical circles. Proverbs 9:13-18 – Folly and Her Call. Proverbs 1:20-33 A Lecture From lady Wisdom A. First, all texts require interpretive decisions, and the more literary and more ancient the text, the more interpretive decisions are potentially required. Blessings of wisdom in Proverbs 8 presents divine wisdom through the literary characteristics of wisdom in proverbs 8 of personification '' who was and... Without exception. 's wisdom likened to his heavenly consort almost ( adapting! Touching the Apocrypha! ' in the Proverbs 8 10:8 – what will the “ wise in his heart. Wisdom books 1 `` intermediary being '' ' in the worldly sense ''! 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