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3 0 . WISDOM IN GOD'S CREATION In the previous Study we have seen that, in a broad sense, wisdom theology is creation theology. The social order is secure, free from the threats of chaos, when it is in harmony with God's ordering of creation. It is not surprising, then, to find in the book of Proverbs, among exhortations to seek wisdom, a testimony to God's primordial creation: The LORD [Yahweh] by wisdom founded the earth, by understanding he established (fee heavens, by his knowledge tbe deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down (bt dew. —Prov. 3:19-20 Wisdom Tabernacles in Israel In the Wisdom of Ben Sira (Sirach), a wisdom work outside the Hebrew Bible but included in the Greek Bible (Septuagint), sages connect cosmic wisdom with Israel's sacred story. In the beginning Wisdom, like everything else, was created by God's commanding word and therefore has universal sway over all humankind. I cameforth from tbe mouth of tbe Most High, and covered the earth like a mist. I dwelt in the highest heavens, and my throne was in a pillar of cloud. Alone I compassed tbe vault of heaven and traversed the depths of the abyss. Over waves of the sea, over all tbc earth, and over every people and nation I have held sway. —Sir. 24:3-6 God searched among all people for a "resting place" where Wisdom might taber­ nacle ("make her tent"; cf. John 1:14) and found it in Israel, which has the Torah, and particularly in the temple of Zion. In the holy tent I ministered before him, and so I was established in Zion. Thus in (be beloved city he gave me a resting place, and in Jerusalem was my domain. I took root in an honored people, in the portion of the Lord, his heritage. —Sir. 24:10-12 By contrast, the book of Proverbs makes no reference to Israel's sacred story: the ancestors of Israel, the exodus from Egypt, God's covenants with the people, and so forth. The perspective is universal, ecumenical, and cosmic, like that of the creation psalm, 104, which also lacks any reference to Israel's covenantal history 268 Wisdom in God's Creation 2 6 9 and, indeed, displays affinities with the Egyptian "Hymn to the Aton." In the man­ ner of ancient sages, the Israelite psalmist catalogues the various creatures of God's creation and at the climax exclaims: O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all, the earth isjull of your creatures. —Ps. 104:24 In this psalm creation is not just a mythical event of the past when God brought order out of chaos (104:5-9),- rather, it is a continuing creation in which God main­ tains the regularities on which all life, animal and human, depends (104:27-30). The Personification oj Wisdom Since the creation displays divine wisdom, sages began to reflect on the place of wisdom in God's creation. In their view, wisdom is not just a human capacity or human achievement,- rather, "the play of wisdom" represents God's presence in the world.1 The question is: what is the relation between God and Wisdom? Is Wisdom an agent of God? an aspect or quality of God? identical with God? This huge "metaphysical" question reappeared in different terms in Christian theologi­ cal debates about whether the Son of God is "of like being" or "of the same being" in relation to God. We may begin to tackle this question by recognizing that in Israel's wisdom tradition Wisdom is sometimes personified, that is, portrayed as having "personal­ ity." In other words, Wisdom is not an abstraction but is a person, indeed a femi­ nine person ("she"). Wisdom as a Prophetess In some passages Wisdom is portrayed as a woman who performs the role of a prophetess, or spokesperson for God. She stands in the marketplace or at the city gate, appealing to people to heed her instruction and amend their ways (Prov. 1:20-33; 8:1-21). Not only does the prophetess plead for repentance, or change of lifestyle, but also she announces judgment—the inevitable consequence of their "turning away." Because they hated knowledge and did not choose thefear of the LORD [Yahweh], would have none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat thefruit of their way and be sated with their own devices. I. Samuel...


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