Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wisdom in the Old Testament:Person or Personification?

There are a few points here you've already seen in some of my other blogs if you've read them.I was trying to simplify it all yet again. Hope this helps.

Wisdom is personified a number of places, and when it sounds like Yahushua sometimes that would be because it's alluding to him and that's what he would become. We must heed God's thoughts as best we can.Christ was real to God before he was real to the world, in an extremely thoughtful and poignant way. Would it really be so shocking for God to create everything(even in Genesis) in or for the sake of the Lamb that would redeem the world considering he's a God who:

1. Sees the end from the very beginning (Isaiah 46:10)
2. Sees things that aren't as though they are. (Rom. 4:17)

God knew he would give life to the world in Christ. So should it really be surprising that all things are said to be in and through Christ, without Christ having to be the actual creator of Adam, birds, bees, and trees?After all, texts like Colossians 1:16 say all things were through Christ (who is elsewhere identified as a flesh man), as opposed to God or an angel.

God's wisdom symbolized something more than just what a basic attribute entails. In some cases, much like his "word", it symbolized and represented God's plans to give life to the world in Yahushua.His greatest plan of wisdom ever conceived or birthed. God's Wisdom was revealed in a flesh man, as opposed to being the name of a spirit entity.

How exactly, scripturally speaking, was Yahushua the Wisdom of God?

1 Corinthians 2:7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God *decreed* before the ages for our glory.

So he's the decreed wisdom (manifest to the world when it was time), not a spirit named Wisdom if we allow scripture to define it's own terms.

When we examine the following scriptures simply and thoughtfully, there should leave little to no doubt that when Wisdom is signified as creator, it is a personification of such, and not a literal second person next to God as such. So please carefully examine the following (my thoughts & brief questions for those who believe Wisdom was a spirit who was also the pre-existent Christ-with-another-name are in parentheses) :

Proverbs 3:19: The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
by understanding he established the heavens;(Wisdom is a spirit creature but understanding isn't?)

Psalm 104:24: O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.(Two wisdoms?One of God's & another spirit named just that both are in sight here?)

Psalm 136:5: to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;(And I suppose Yahushua was a spirit named Understanding too?)

Jeremiah 10:12: It is he who made the earth by his power,
who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.(How is Wisdom a person and understanding and the like are not if consistency & logic means anything?)

Jeremiah 51:15 “It is he who made the earth by his power,
who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.(Established the world by Wisdom the spirit creature?)

Hebrews 4:4:"And on the seventh day God rested from all his work."(Why didn't Wisdom the spirit rest,anywhere,ever?)

1 Corinthians 1:24 says:

"To those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

Again,how WAS he the "wisdom of God"?As spirit entity?OR:

1 Corinthians 1:30:It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has ***become*** for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Notice the terminology like "has become for us" that should succintly inform us of how and when it was Christ manifested as "Wisdom." This Wisdom, again, was defined explicitly also as a "decree." This decree would apparently manifest in the flesh as the man Yahushua when the "fullness of time came" (Gal. 4:4) for the father's wisdom to be made flesh to the world, and not before. It is my view that God brought this decree forth (poetically speaking) before he even made man, foreknowing the fall and the dire need of redemption that would result. In that regard, I believe texts like Prov. 8:22-31 have possible poetic allusions to Yahushua as opposed to literal statements about him .He was God's prototype for man and idea for life giving sustenance for us in the mind and heart of the God who "knew the end from the beginning", again, even then. It is irresponsible imo to arbitrarily pick and choose where you will literalize "wisdom"(or not) in the OT. Consistency is called for. Three quotes & thoughts from scholar James Dunn's "Christology in the Making.":

"When Paul and others attribute Wisdom's role in creation to Christ was this intended literally(Jesus himself was there at creation) or do we have some form of poetic hyperbole, which their readers would recognize to be such?--here once again the context of meaning for the first Christians is all important."-p.167

"In order to understand what meaning such words and statements had for those who used them, WE MUST INTERPRET THEM IN THE CONTEXT IN WHICH THEY WERE USED."--p.170(emphasis mine)

"Talk of his (Jesus') preexistence ought probably in most,perhaps in all,cases to be understood,on the analogy of the preexistence of the Torah, to indicate the eternal divine purpose being achieved through him ,rather than preexistence of any personal kind."(lost page #,sorry)

It would seem to me, based upon scriptures and reason and the milk of the word,that Arians and the like have it backward. They see where wisdom is personified and literalize it. Instead of being able to recognize THAT it's being personified as God's wisdom, simply. Yes, it's intensely personified. Yes, personification makes what's being personified sound like it's a real person. That is why it is so termed & the actual purpose of it. The wisdom and word passages being applied to Christ was Hebrew thinking. They also did this with passages they freely applied to Christ that were also applied to God, David, Solomon, Melchizedek, Moses,Jonah (etc.). It's how they thought and wrote. The snake on the pole to which the Israelites had to gaze to keep living wasn't literally Christ even though he fulfilled that when he conquered sin on the cross..The manna on which the Israelites fed for sustenance wasn't literally Christ though his flesh was the true bread from heaven as he *became* the true manna. Similarly, God's personified wisdom in the OT wasn't literally Christ but he became and fulfilled that as well. Yes,"in him(Christ) lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Col. 2:3)

Christ,poetically and profoundly enough, was the fulfillment of all things. It was Hebrew thought to express this deep truth & Christ's cosmological significance by applying the functions of God's prophets & servants,God's wisdom, even a few times of God himself to Christ in the NT. Because, given all power, he fulfills these functions beautifully. Yes, even some of the functions of God because God gave those to him, but let us not forget texts like 1 Corinthians 15:28 that shed light upon the matter. Similarly, let us use the texts about how God created that I went over earlier to establish our "milk of the word" by which we can properly assess all the other information given, making sure not to misuse it.

God creating in his wisdom becomes God creating in Christ because Christ became the wisdom of God. Simply stated, again, "Jesus *has become* our wisdom sent from God."(1 Cor. 1:30)What Christ represented, became and fulfilled was there from the beginning, namely God's wisdom. The father's wisdom came to life and manifest in Christ's flesh at the proper time, as opposed to some literal spirit named Wisdom crawling into a womb to become a man. Such a notion is NOT communicated in any of the detailed birth narratives, which I'm assuming are explicit in their face valueness..Were this the case, surely it would have been crystal clearly articulated because it would be downright astounding. Certainly not a detail to neglect mentioning. Instead what we have is personification of God's wisdom, even sometimes of his wisdom "decree", and then that being manifested in the last days, which is when the Hebrews say it was that God actually spoke in and through his "Son."(Heb. 1:2), conveniently enough.To quote Karen Armstrong, who is a British author and commentator & the author of twelve books on comparative religion:

"Like the divine Wisdom,the "Word" symbolized God's original plan for creation. When Paul and John speak about Jesus as though he had some kind of pre-existent life, they were not suggesting he was a second divine "person" in the later trinitarian sense. They were indicating that Jesus transcended temporal and individual modes of existence. Because the "power" and "wisdom" he REPRESENTED(emphasis mine) were activities that derived from God, he had in some way expressed what was there from the beginning. These ideas were comprehensible in a strictly Jewish context, though later Christians with a Greek background would interpret them differently."--from "A History of God:From Abraham to the present: the 4000 year quest for God", p.106

Yahushua came to be identified with the very wisdom of God. In his fulfillment of all things.In his eschatological and kingdom significance. etc. There was a divine mind and purpose, identified with wisdom, by which God made, ordered, directed, (etc.) the very universe. Christ was not that literal function or attribute,yet he came to embody it beautifully and perfectly. Not as spirit/creator/angel,but as the Messiah that came to be identified (as opposed to always having been identified literally) with that wisdom by which God created. There's simply no denying the poetry of the Hebrews when it came to the wisdom of God. I don't think they abandoned that poetry in the NT. I think they still incorporated it when Yahushua became that wisdom. James Dunn notes in "Christology in the Making":

"His (Paul's in Corinthians) aim,as we have seen, is to assert that the same divine power is active both in creation and in salvation; he achieves this by describing Christ the Lord in Wisdom language; his meaning then would be that the power of God in creation came so fully to expression in Christ's death and resurrection that it can be said of Christ what was said of Wisdom..that is to say,since presumably for Paul too Wisdom was not a being distinct from God, but was the "wisdom of God"(1 Cor. 1:24), God acting wisely..(skipping ahead a little) In other words, Christ is being identified here not with a pre-existent being but with the creative power and action of God. And the thought is not of Christ as pre-existent but of the creative act and power of God now embodied in a final and complete way in Christ." p.182

Simplified: God created in his wisdom and understanding, by words from his own mouth, quite literally. Christ became God's wisdom and word to the world in the flesh, as the Christ. What prefigured and foreshadowed Christ in the OT could be applied to Christ in the NT, according to a pattern the bible authors establish, and not just in the case of "Wisdom." We must let God establish our milk first, so that these deeper things can be assessed within their proper larger biblical context and pattern of thought. There should be no confusion when we pore the milk first. No pun intended. The milk in all it's unambiguous simplicity, that is. If the bible has no contradictions, did the father create absolutely alone? (Is. 44:24,Mal. 2:10,Matt. 19:4) According to the texts I went over earlier, in what way did he do so? According to the texts I went over earlier, how was Christ the Wisdom of God when we allow it to define it's own terms?

Please understand that by my expressing all this, I am not negating the frequent NEW creation context of the NT creation passages. I just think it goes a little deeper because God's mind & thoughts do,and the writers were inspired. Because God's word of life, his wisdom decree, was foreknown and with him from the beginning. Manifest and made flesh in Yahushua when the right time arrived. He became identified with that same wisdom & word by which God created. Which the Hebrews intensely personified because it represented God's outreach to mankind without compromising his transcendence. Also, as that which would come to be manifest finally in Christ perfectly..God always spoke by his wisdom (and his wisdom has frequently manifest through others), and in the last days that wisdom became a Son by which he spoke and guaranteed salvation and a kingdom. God's wisdom manifest indeed!

It was a pattern for bible writers to apply OT truths to Yahushua in the NT. Functions that he filled, ones that he was made and given. Also, foreshadowings and prefigurings that he became. Do you think that halted with Wisdom? I personally don't.

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