Saturday, June 27, 2009

wisdom and word: some reading recommendations

For someone who wants to read a little Greek and learn something new at the same time, I would suggest taking a passage from a lesser known text than that of the New Testament. I had been studying Greek almost every day for 6 years before I took a class in exegesis of the NT. (I don't personally feel that reading the Biblical languages is the most important thing in life - it's just a thing that I can do, so it works out to be a good hobby for me.)

But here is my recommendation. Look at chapter 7 and 8 in the Wisdom of Solomon. Here are resources which you can find easily.

Greek
King James Bible
NETS
Wikipedia
JewishEncyclopedia
John's Wisdom by Ben Witherington

(You can see that I am not much of an elitist. There is nothing here that is difficult to find.)

I especially found this useful at Jewish Encyclopedia,
    Wisdom is described as a cosmic principle dwelling on the throne of glory next to God, and as knowing and designing all things (ix. 1, 4, 10), being identical with the creative Word (ix. 1) and the Holy Spirit (ix. 17).
A great deal of early Christian literature reflects this assumption, that wisdom, the word and the spirit are somehow the same entity. It is important at some point to accept this generalization as being true for a certain kind of literature, without worrying about whether you believe it to be true as a cosmic principle.

The question is this. If we suppose this to be a truism for early Christian writers, what can we learn from these writings about the beliefs of early Christians with regard to the holy spirit?

Now to return to gender for a few reflections, one cannot avoid the fact that wisdom was personified as a woman, a spouse and heavenly bride. She is the one you want with you through the night, the "comforter" when you are sick or in grief, and an "intimate companion." Let's compare this with the image of Christ as the heavenly bridegroom and advocate. He is also our comforter.

At this point, I can only ask what role sexual imagery plays in this literature. I don't have any particular answers. For me, this literature is not about gender at all. It uses the imagery of gender to talk about the desire we all have for the universe to be meaningful.

1 comment:

tc robinson said...

Thanks, Sue. And nice piece on "wisdom."

I tend to read for sermon preparation and as a pleasure.