Wisdom Christology of Paul

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    MAY 4, 2010

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    The questions I would like to discuss tonight is whether and to what extent Paul was

    influenced by the personification of wisdom in the Wisdom tradition in developing his

    Christology, and what are the hermeneutical implications of that influence. This is a significant

    question because such a relationship speaks to how we read the New Testament and how we

    think about Christ. It is a question of what I have come to call metanarrative hermeneutics.

    By metanarrative hermeneutics, I mean the process whereby we read and interpret Scripture in

    light of the entirety of revelation, including not only the canon as we have it today but also the

    internal and external influences that contributed to the shape and content of Scripture. This

    would include an understanding of the socio-historical settings of the original writings, the use of

    and comment upon the texts during the establishment of the canon (meaning rabbinical writings,

    extra-biblical texts, and translations), and both the New Testament use of the Old Testament and

    the Old Testament use of the Old Testament. All of these influences played a role in shaping the

    authors meaning and are therefore important background studies for reading and interpreting the

    canonical writings. In order to explore this question, I will first consider Pauls understanding

    and use of the Wisdom literature, noting the conceptual similarities between Pauls thought and

    the later Wisdom tradition, before providing a brief recap of the development of the

    personification of wisdom in the literature, paying particular attention to Proverbs 8 and 9, Sirach

    24, and Wisdom of Solomon 7-9, and concluding with an exploration of four major positions on

    the relationship between Pauls Christology and the Wisdom tradition (if any) and the

    hermeneutical implications of these positions. My conclusion is that Paul is intentionally using

    the personification of wisdom in his Christology, that he is using it in a way that harmonizes the

    multiple understandings of the personification of wisdom in the wisdom tradition, and that the

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    metaphor of the personification of wisdom serves as a type for the pre-existence of Christ

    without making Christ part of Creation.

    This is a complex and difficult topic, one too broad to be sufficiently covered in one

    mini-lecture, and there is a significant amount of literature on this topic. I have summarized

    many of the important works in the annotated bibliography, but I would like to highlight four key

    works. Two critically important background works on this topic, in my opinion, are Alice

    Sinnotts book, The Personification of Wisdom, and C. Marvin Pates The Reverse of the Curse:

    Paul, Wisdom, and the Law. Sinnott provides a very detailed and nuanced study of the pre-New

    Testament developments of the personification of wisdom and the implications for Jewish

    thought, theology, and culture. Pate explores Pauls delicate balancing act between

    righteousness as expressed in the Wisdom literature and as described in the Torah. I believe the

    two most important works on the theological conclusions of this question are both by James D.

    G. Dunn. First, his Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry into the Origins of the

    Doctrine of the Incarnation, 2nd

    edition, is a watershed work on this topic, particularly pages

    163-212. Dunn further refines his arguments on pages 262-277 in The Theology of Paul the

    Apostle, which expands the question even further to lay the groundwork for Trinitarian language

    and thought. While we will discuss and critique many more works than these in this lecture,

    these are the four most important works for understanding the framework and complexity of this


    I. Paul and the Wisdom TraditionBefore beginning a discussion of the questions before us, it seems necessary to address

    whether Paul was even familiar with the Wisdom writings, particularly Sirach and Wisdom of

    Solomon. While an affirmative answer to this question may seem obvious at first, at second

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    glance there are some serious and legitimate concerns that undergird this question. First, one of

    the key components of metanarrative hermeneutics is understanding who knew what and when.

    That is, when were key texts written, who had access to them, and which rabbinical schools were

    influenced by these texts?1 For example, Wisdom of Solomon may not have been written until

    well into the first century AD, which raises a legitimate question of whether Paul would be

    familiar with this document. However, a consideration of which school(s) of thought gave rise

    to this text could shed light on whether Paul was exposed to the nascent theology expressed in

    this document. Even scholars who have studied Paul extensively come to very different

    conclusions on the sources Paul used when crafting his theology. For example, Stephen

    Westerholm believes that Pauls understanding of righteousness is heavily influenced by the

    Psalms and Deutero-Isaiah.2 On the other hand, James Dunn argues that Paul is closely

    following the doctrine of righteousness as expressed in the intertestamental texts that have been

    unearthed in the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially from the Qumran community.3

    It seems, then, that a textual study of Pauls writings and the Wisdom literature is

    necessary. As we have previously discussed in this class, Paul quotes and alludes to Proverbs

    frequently throughout his corpus, especially in First and Second Corinthians. However, there do

    not appear to be any direct quotations from either Sirach or Wisdom of Solomon. That does not

    necessarily mean that Paul was not drawing from those texts or, at least, the schools of thought

    behind those texts. To illumine this point, I have included a comparison of some key texts in

    1Please note that when I use the term schools in relation to rabbinical teaching and the Wisdom tradition,

    I do not necessarily mean academies in the modern or even classical sense but rather schools of thought of like-

    minded individuals who may or may not have had any formal connection with one another.

    2Stephen Westerholm, Understanding Paul: The Early Christian Worldview of the Letter to the Romans,

    2nded. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 31-36.

    3James Dunn,Romans 1-8(WBC 38A; Waco, TX: Word, 1988), 4.2.1, lxii. This is a recurring theme in

    Dunns comment and explanation on Romans 1-8.

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    Appendix A. I will not take the time to discuss this comparison in detail here, but I will

    highlight the inclusion of Hellenstic rhetoric, the interpretation of Exodus events, and the

    references to the afterlife, final judgment, and the spiritual realm. Suffice it to say, while there is

    little textual evidence, such as vocabulary, there does seem to be a conceptual or theological

    connection. Paolo Iovino sums this up well when he says:

    [the] proof of this process [the sapiential influence on Pauls theological vocabulary] is

    without a doubt the coming together of the termsophiawith mysterionand

    apokalypsis. That is why a rigorous enquiry concerning the wisdom Christology

    requires an adequate integration with a proportionately serious enquiry concerning thetheologyof wisdom.



    The Development of the Personification of Wisdom

    If, as we have concluded above, there is a theological connection between the Wisdom

    literature, including Sirach and Wisdom of Solomon, and Pauls thought, then it seems necessary

    to briefly recap the theological development of the personification of wisdom in the Wisdom

    literature. I have already recommended to you the works by Alice Sinnott and Marvin Pate, and

    we have already discussed this topic in this course following the research of Roland Murphy.5

    Thus, I will not beleaguer the point here. Instead, we shall briefly recap the important features of

    four major developments in the personification of wisdom. First, we will discuss the relationship

    between Woman Wisdom and Gods creative activities in Proverbs 8 and Wisdoms role as the

    revealer of God in Proverbs 9. Next, we will explore the identification of wisdom with the Torah

    in Sirach 24. Lastly, we will examine the idea that wisdom is to be found in all cultures as

    espoused in Wisdom of Solomon 7-9.

    4Paolo Iovino, The only Wise God in the Letter to the Romans: Connections with the Book of

    Wisdom, inDeuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook 2005: The Book of Wisdom(ed. Angelo Passaro

    and Giuseppe Bellia: Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2005), 302-303.

    5Roland Murphy, Lady Wisdom,pages 133-149 in The Tree of Life: An Exploration of Biblical Wisdom

    Literature, 3rded. (Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans, 2002).

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    In Proverbs 8 and 9, we find Woman Wisdoms autobiography. In it, she claims a special

    priority in Creation, stating in 8:22, The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the

    first of his acts of long ago.6 Wisdom is the firstborn of all Creation and the one who stands

    alongside God during his creative work. Wisdom is, in a way, the source or order of Creation.

    Woman Wisdom is also the source of knowledge of God, according to Proverbs 9:10, where we

    are told, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One

    is insight. Tremper Longman, in his commentary of Proverbs 9, goes one step further and

    concludes that Woman Wisdom is actually YHWH himself, noting that Woman Wisdoms house

    is on the highest place in Jerusalem, the site of Gods holy Temple.


    Jesus Ben Sirach refines the identification of Woman Wisdom by making her particularly

    Jewish. In Sirach 24:8, Wisdom explains, The Creator of all things gave me a command, and

    my Creator chose the place for my tent. He said, Make your dwelling in Jacob, and in Israel

    receive your inheritance. Not only is Woman Wisdom only found in Israel, Sirach goes on to

    identify her as the covenant between God and his people: All this is the book of the covenant of

    the Most High God, the law that Moses commanded us as an inheritance for the congregations of

    Jacob.8[Sir 24:23] Wisdom is found in the Torah, the oracles God has entrusted to his people

    and that which sets Israel apart from the nations.

    The author of Wisdom of Solomon, though, does not believe that Woman Wisdom is so

    narrowly confined. Speaking in the voice of the son of David, the author teaches:

    There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear,

    unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane,

    6Scripture quotations are from the NRSV, Catholic edition.

    7Tremper Longman, III,Proverbs(BCOTWP; Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 222. Cf. Tremper

    Longman, III, Woman Wisdom and Woman Folly, DOT: WPW, 915.

    8Cf. Baruch 3:22-23.

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    make his point, but James Dunn and Ben Witherington believe that Paul is using wisdom

    imagery appropriately, although they come to different conclusions as to the points Paul is


    A. Paul Does Not Have a Wisdom Christology

    Among the scholars who do not find a Wisdom Christology in Pauls writing, there is a

    range of arguments for their positions. Van Roon does not see sufficient evidence of a textual

    dependence between Paul and the sages and he believes that the New Testament Christology is a

    distinct break from Old Testament thought. While Fee agrees that there is no textual evidence of

    dependence, he does see several allusions to the Wisdom literature but these allusions are

    subservient to Pauls kyriosChristology. Johnson applies a feminist critique to Pauls

    Christology, arguing that Paul is attempting to reject the implicit feminism of the personification

    metaphor in order to restore the traditional patriarchialism of the Ancient Near East.

    1. No Demonstrable RelationshipVan Roon makes an early and important contribution to the debate, giving an analysis of

    Pauline literature in light of the Wisdom tradition and the traditional understanding of the

    Wisdom of God. He concludes that there is no reason why one should speak of a wisdom

    christology in Paul's writing. His christology is not based on an identification of Christ with the

    wisdom of God which is described in the wisdom literature.9 That is not to say that Van Roon

    does not see any parallels in thought or concepts. Rather, Van Roon argues that a correlation in

    thought does not necessarily equate to a continuation of thought. In fact, Van Roon believes that

    Pauls Christology is a radical break with Old Testament thought, which is the wedge that drove

    9A. Van Roon, The Relation between Christ and the Wisdom of God according to Paul,Novum

    Testamentum16 (1974): 238.

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    Christians and Jews apart. To be sure, Christ has revealed and become the Wisdom of God (1

    Cor 1:24), but, according to Van Roon, that does not make him the same as the Wisdom of God.

    Fee also sees a correlation of imagery and thought between Paul and the Wisdom

    tradition, and he provides a succinct analysis of the allusions in Pauls writings with the Wisdom


    Like Van Roon, Fee concludes that allusions and concepts are not enough to

    establish a textual dependence, and without that demonstrable dependence one cannot confirm a

    direct influence. Instead, Fee looks to Philippians 2:5-11 as the key to Pauls Christology.

    Based on this hymn, Fee believes that Paul has a kyriosChristology. Christ is the promised son

    of David who will sit on the throne for all eternity, ruling and judging Creation. This position,

    according to Fee, subsumes and transcends the wisdom imagery.

    If one adopts the positions of Van Roon and Fee, then one necessarily sees a

    discontinuity in Old Testament and New Testament thought. Such a bifurcation, although

    (unfortunately) common in biblical studies, is completely foreign to a metanarrative

    hermeneutic. The Scriptures should be read holistically, tracing the continuity of thought from

    Genesis 1 to Revelation 21. A doctrine as fundamentally significant as Christology should be

    seen as a common thread, something that unites the two testaments, not as a wedge that divides

    Gods oracles to the Jews with the apostolic teachings of the New Testament.

    2. A Feminist CritiqueElizabeth Johnson argues that Pauls Christology is an open rejection of the feminist

    perspectives inherent to the personification of wisdom in the Wisdom tradition.11

    According to

    10Gordon D. Fee, Wisdom Christology in Paul: A Dissenting View, in The Way of Wisdom: Essays in

    Honor of Bruce K. Waltke(ed. J. I. Packer and Sven K. Soderlund; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 252-260.

    11Elizabeth A. Johnson, Wisdom was made Flesh and Pitched Her Tent among Us, inReconstructing the

    Christ Symbol: Essays in Feminist Christology(ed. Maryanne Stevens; New York: Paulist Press, 1993), 95-117.

    Cf. Pheme Perkins, Jesus: Gods Wisdom, Word and World7 (1987): 273-280.

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    Johnson, the sages personified wisdom as a female as a means to counteract the oppressive

    patriarchialism of Ancient Near Eastern society. Paul, however, restores the patriarchial

    tendencies by applying the wisdom imagery to Jesus, defining wisdom and righteousness in male

    terms. Paul attempts to convince his congregations that the feminine personification of wisdom

    is Greek philosophical speculation that has snuck into Jewish thought and should be stamped out

    as a false teaching.

    Both Karen Jobes and Tremper Longman have offered replies to this line of thought.12

    Jobes contends that rather than rejecting the feminine perspectives of the sages, a Wisdom

    Christology celebrates the liberation of women in Christ, a position that Paul adamantly and

    repeatedly supports. Jobes believes that Pauls Christology demonstrates that righteousness,

    wisdom, and salvation are gender neutral. Longman points out that Johnsons feminist

    interpretation makes too much of the metaphor. According to Longman, the sages did not intend

    for the female personification to be taken literally so any modern attempts to do so misses the

    point of the teaching.

    Thus, some scholars have rejected the idea of Wisdom Christology in Paul for various

    reasons, but these reasons do not seem to hold up under scrutiny. Van Roon believes there is

    insufficient evidence to establish a connection, seeing instead a radical break between New

    Testament and Old Testament thought. Fee argues that while there are conceptual similarities

    between Pauls theology and the Wisdom tradition, Pauls Christology is primarily a kyrios

    Christology. However, both positions seem to force an artificial wedge between the Old

    Testament witness and the New Testament apostolic teachings which does real damage to the

    metanarrative of Scripture. Johnson seems to take the metaphor of the female personification too

    12Karen H. Jobes, Sophia Christology: The Way of Wisdom? in The Way of Wisdom: Essays in Honor

    of Bruce K. Waltke(ed. J. I. Packer and Sven K. Soderlund; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 226-250; Tremper

    Longman, Woman Wisdom and Woman Folly, 916.

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    as the metaphoricalpersonification of Gods wisdom. In this sense, he believes it was

    appropriate to apply wisdom imagery to Christ, highlighting his role as the eternal high priest.

    However, Paul went too far in identifying Christ as the Wisdom of God and not just the

    embodiment or personification of that Wisdom. Not only is Christ as revealer distinct from the

    revelation, he also functions as king and prophet, two roles not associated with the

    personification of wisdom. According to Fletcher-Louis, it is this additional step of

    identification that caused the rift between Christians and Jews.

    While Longman and Fletcher-Louis make excellent points about the limitations and

    original intent of the personification metaphor, their narrow readings fail to take into account the

    dual nature of Christ. As the human Jesus, he revealed the majesty and mystery of God. As the

    divine Second Person on the Trinity, he was also the embodiment of that majesty and mystery.

    Christ is truly unique in his nature so that he can be both the revealer and the revelation.

    Therefore, it is appropriate to speak of Christ as both the Wisdom of God and the revealer of

    Gods Wisdom. Anything less does not do justice to the dual nature of Christ as the God-man.

    2. The Harmonization of the Wisdom TraditionJames Dunn and Ben Witherington have argued convincingly that Pauls Christology is a

    harmonization of the various trends in the personification of wisdom within the Wisdom


    Dunn provides a poignant analysis of select Pauline passages in light of Proverbs 8

    and 9, and Witherington goes even further and draws parallels between Romans and Sirach and

    Wisdom of Solomon. Specifically, Dunn compares Colossians 1:15-20 and 1 Corinthians 1:18,

    8:6 with Proverbs 8 and Ephesians 1 and 3, 2 Corinthians 3 and 4, and 1 Corinthians 2 with

    15James Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle(Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans, 1998), 262-277; idem,

    Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation, 2nded.

    (Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans, 1996), 163-212; Ben Witherington, III,Jesus the Sage: The Pilgrimage of

    Wisdom(Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994), 295-334.

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    Proverbs 9. Witherington highlights the similarities between Romans 1 and 2 and Wisdom of

    Solomon and Romans 9-11 with Sirach. Despite these similarities, Dunn and Witherington do

    disagree on whether the personification of wisdom is a type of the pre-existent Christ and how

    begottenness is to be understood in light of the Wisdom tradition.

    a. The Firstborn of All CreationWhen one reads the hymn of Colossians 1:15-20, one is immediately struck by the

    similar imagery that is expressed in Proverbs 8. Paul refers to Christ as the firstborn of all

    Creation, the one through whom all things are created, and the one in whom all things hold

    together. In Proverbs 8, Wisdom is the first of [Gods] acts of long ago, who was there when

    God established the heavens made firm the sky above assigned the sea its limit marked

    out the foundation of the earth. Paul returns to this thought in 1 Corinthians 8:6, when he

    declares, there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one

    Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. The parallels are

    also seen in 1 Corinthians 1:18, where Paul contrasts the supposed wisdom of the world with the

    true wisdom of God, echoing the thought behind Proverbs 8:35-36: For whoever finds me finds

    life and obtains favor from the LORD; but those who miss me injure themselves; all who hate

    me love death. Paul seems to be very clearly applying the autobiography of Wisdom in

    Proverbs 8 to Jesus Christ.

    b. Revelation and MysteryDunn notes the significance of Pauls contrasting of apocalypsisand mysterionin

    Ephesians 1 and 3 in light of Proverbs 9 and the comparison of Woman Wisdom and Woman

    Folly. Christ, like Woman Wisdom, is the one who reveals, overcoming the darkness of Woman

    Folly. This theme is restated in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4, where Paul now trumpets the truesophia

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    found in Christ over against the falsegnosisof the world. Here, Christ is the one who removes

    the veil from the mind so Gods truth can be heard and understood. This connection is also felt

    in 1 Corinthians 2, where Christ reveals the hidden wisdom of God, the wisdom that is not

    available to the rulers of the age but Christ bestows on his followers through the Spirit.

    c. Christology in RomansWitherington moves beyond Dunns analysis to explore the Christological implications of

    Romans 1 and 2 and 9-11. It should be noted that Dunn does explore the textual and conceptual

    similarities between Romans and the later Wisdom writings in his Romans commentaries, but he

    does not address whether these have any Christological significance. Witherington, though,

    believes that Paul is intentionally tapping into the Wisdom tradition to accomplish two goals

    with his Christology. First, Paul is channeling Wisdom of Solomon 13 in Romans 1 and 2 as a

    means of drawing Jews and Gentiles together in the gospel message. Just as the author of the

    Wisdom of Solomon believed that all truth is Gods truth, so Paul is arguing that all those who

    have faith are Gods children while those who reject Gods Law are not Gods children. Christ is

    the common source of wisdom for both Jew and Gentile and he is the common source of

    acceptance for all people.

    Second, Witherington argues that Paul is attempting to blend the grace of Christ with the

    righteousness of the Law in Romans 9-11 in the same way that Ben Sirach concatenated wisdom

    and Torah. Paul, in his sermon to the nation of Israel, reminds the Romans that wisdom is found

    in the Torah, and both the Torah and wisdom find fulfillment in Christ. Therefore, in order to

    keep the Law and to attain wisdom, one must come to Christ.

    Thus, Christ is the one who harmonizes the different views of wisdom in the Wisdom

    literature. He is the firstborn of all Creation and the revealer of the Wisdom of God from

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    Proverbs 8 and 9. He is the source of Godstruth among Jew and Gentile alike according to

    Wisdom of Solomon. Finally, he is also the fulfillment of both Law and wisdom as imagined by

    Ben Sirach.

    d. Pre-existence and BegottennessIf one draws a close connection between Christ and the personification of wisdom, one

    must deal with the difficult theological question of the pre-existence of Christ and the

    relationship between the begottenness of Christ and the creation of Woman Wisdom. The

    danger is stressing the relationship to such a point that one concludes with the Arians and

    Jehovahs Witnesses that Christ is literally the firstborn ofall Creation, the first creature created

    by God. Such a claim denies the full divinity of Christ. On the other hand, if one dismisses the

    question of the pre-existence of Christ than one runs the risk of losing the relationship altogether

    and potentially driving a wedge between the Old and New Testaments as was seen above.

    Broadly speaking, there are four positions on this issue. First, Longman flatly denies that

    the personification of wisdom is in any way related to the pre-existence of Christ.16


    autobiography of Woman Wisdom is merely a metaphor and should not be used literally to

    buttress speculative theology. Second, Dunn does not outright reject the idea, but he does lean in

    that direction.17

    While he sees the parallels between the metaphor of personification and the

    doctrine of Christ, he believes the explicit connection is a post-Pauline insertion. Third,

    Fletcher-Louis believes that the personification of wisdom is a legitimate type of the pre-existent

    Christ but it is not identical.18

    The roles and functions of Woman Wisdom in Proverbs 8 and 9

    are properly those of Christ, but the metaphor is limited and should not be pressed into an

    16Longman, Woman Wisdom and Woman Folly, 916; cf. idem,Proverbs, 213.

    17Dunn, Christology in the Making, 210; cf. idem,Romans, 11-12.

    18Fletcher-Louis, Wisdom Christology, 67-68.

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    anthropological statement. Finally, Witherington believes that the personification of wisdom is

    the pre-existent Christ and should be read as such.19

    He avoids the slip into Arianism by

    highlighting the metaphorical language of Proverbs 8, arguing that the text should be read as an

    analogy of Christs role in Creation and his relationship to the Father and not as an ontological

    statement of the origins of the Second Person of the Trinity. It seems that Longman and Dunn

    are too soft on the question and that Witherington is taking too dogmatic a stand on the issue.

    Fletcher-Louis seems to strike an appropriate balance between reading the metaphor of

    personification in context and in line with the original intent and the apostolic interpretation of

    the metaphor in light of the full revelation given by Christ through the Holy Spirit.

    e. Hermeneutical ConsiderationsHermeneutically speaking, the position offered by Dunn and Witherington has several

    strengths. Most noticeably, this position harmonizes the various developments of the

    personification of wisdom in the tradition. This allows the entirety of the canon, the

    metanarrative, to speak with an equal voice rather than attempting to flatten the discussion or

    ignoring the intertestamental literature. Secondly, it firmly grounds our New Testament reading

    in the literature and thought that was available to the New Testament authors. This provides a

    safeguard against attempts to contemporize the meaning of the text or forcing a modern reading

    on Ancient Near Eastern literature. Third, it demonstrates the continuity between the Christian

    understanding of the Messiah and the cultic language and images of the Second Temple period.

    While many conservative Dispensationalists may not be comfortable with such a position, it does

    seem to be a necessary foundation for covenant theology and metanarrative hermeneutics.

    Finally, it demands a holistic understanding of the canon and Gods revelation, reminding us that

    19Witherington,Jesus the Sage, 202.

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    In the following chart, selections from the Pauline corpus are placed side-by-side with

    selections from Wisdom of Solomon and Sirach to demonstrate the conceptual and theological

    similarities. It is noted that there is no textual or vocabulary dependence demonstrated, but the

    allusions of thought seem clear enough.

    Paul Wisdom Literature

    Rom 1 For the wrath of God is revealed fromheaven against all ungodliness and wickedness ofthose who by their wickedness suppress thetruth.

    19For what can be known about God is plain

    to them, because God has shown it to them.


    Eversince the creation of the world his eternal powerand divine nature, invisible though they are, havebeen understood and seen through the things hehas made. So they are without excuse;

    21for though

    they knew God, they did not honor him as God orgive thanks to him, but they became futile in theirthinking, and their senseless minds weredarkened.

    22Claiming to be wise, they became


    and they exchanged the glory of theimmortal God for images resembling a mortalhuman being or birds or four-footed animals orreptiles.

    24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their

    hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodiesamong themselves,

    25because they exchanged the

    truth about God for a lie and worshiped and servedthe creature rather than the Creator, who is blessedforever! Amen.

    26For this reason God gave them up to degrading

    passions. Their women exchanged naturalintercourse for unnatural,

    27and in the same way

    also the men, giving up natural intercourse withwomen, were consumed with passion for oneanother. Men committed shameless acts with menand received in their own persons the due penaltyfor their error.

    28And since they did not see fit to acknowledgeGod, God gave them up to a debased mind and tothings that should not be done.

    29They were filled

    with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness,malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit,craftiness, they are gossips,

    30slanderers, God-

    haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil,rebellious toward parents,

    31foolish, faithless,

    heartless, ruthless.32

    They know God's decree, that

    Wis 13 For all people who were ignorant of Godwere foolish by nature;

    and they were unable from the good things thatare seen to know the one who exists,

    nor did they recognize the artisan while payingheed to his works;2 but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift

    air,or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water,or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that

    rule the world.3 If through delight in the beauty of these things

    people assumed them to be gods,let them know how much better than these is

    their Lord,for the author of beauty created them.

    4 And if people were amazed at their power and

    working,let them perceive from themhow much more powerful is the one who formed

    them.5 For from the greatness and beauty of created

    thingscomes a corresponding perception of their

    Creator.6 Yet these people are little to be blamed,

    for perhaps they go astraywhile seeking God and desiring to find him.

    7 For while they live among his works, they keep

    searching,and they trust in what they see, because the

    things that are seen are beautiful.8 Yet again, not even they are to be excused;

    9 for if they had the power to know so much

    that they could investigate the world,how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these


    But miserable, with their hopes set on deadthings, are those

    who give the name "gods" to the works of

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    those who practice such things deserve to die--yetthey not only do them but even applaud others whopractice them.

    human hands,gold and silver fashioned with skill,and likenesses of animals,or a useless stone, the work of an ancient hand.

    Wis 1412

    For the idea of making idols was thebeginning of fornication,

    and the invention of them was the corruption oflife;24

    they no longer keep either their lives or theirmarriages pure,

    but they either treacherously kill one another, orgrieve one another by adultery,25

    and all is a raging riot of blood and murder, theftand deceit, corruption, faithlessness, tumult,perjury,26

    confusion over what is good, forgetfulness offavors,

    defiling of souls, sexual perversion,disorder in marriages, adultery, and


    For the worship of idols not to be namedis the beginning and cause and end of every

    evil.Rom 9:21Has the potter no right over the clay, tomake out of the same lump one object for specialuse and another for ordinary use?

    Wis 15:7A potter kneads the soft earthand laboriously molds each vessel for our

    service,fashioning out of the same clayboth the vessels that serve clean usesand those for contrary uses, making all alike;but which shall be the use of each of themthe worker in clay decides.

    1 Cor 10:1I do not want you to be unaware,

    brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were allunder the cloud, and all passed through the sea

    Wis 19:7The cloud was seen overshadowing the

    camp,and dry land emerging where water had stood

    before,an unhindered way out of the Red Sea,and a grassy plain out of the raging waves

    1 Cor 10:23"All things are lawful," but not all thingsare beneficial. "All things are lawful," but not allthings build up.

    Sir 37:28For not everything is good for everyone,and no one enjoys everything.

    Eph 1:17I pray that the God of our Lord JesusChrist, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit ofwisdom and revelation as you come to know him

    Wis 7:7Therefore I prayed, and understandingwas given me;

    I called on God, and the spirit of wisdom cameto me.

    2 Tim 4:8From now on there is reserved for me

    the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, therighteous judge, will give me on that day, and notonly to me but also to all who have longed for hisappearing.

    Wis 5:16Therefore they will receive a glorious

    crownand a beautiful diadem from the hand of the


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    I. Surveys and BackgroundsMurphy, Roland E. Lady Wisdom. Pages 133-149 in The Tree of Life: An Exploration of

    Biblical Wisdom Literature, 3


    ed. Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans, 2002.

    Concise overview of the interpretive issues of Lady Wisdom in theWisdom tradition,playing particular attention to the development and nuances of the metaphor in the

    various writings and cultural settings.

    See also Dodson, Joseph R. The Personification of Wisdom. Pages 101-114 in ThePowers of Personification inthe Book of Wisdomand the Letter to the Romans.

    Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fr die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der lteren

    Kirche, ed. James D. G. Dunn, et. al., no.161. Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter,2008.

    See also Enns, Peter. Wisdom of Solomon and Biblical Interpretation in the SecondTemple Period. Pages 212-225 in The Way of Wisdom: Essays in Honor of Bruce K.Waltke. Edited by J. I. Packer and Sven K. Soderlund. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

    Sinnott, Alice M. The Personification of Wisdom. Society for Old Testament StudiesMonographs. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005.

    Comprehensive examination of the origin, development, complexity, and interpretiveforce of Woman Wisdom in the Jewish tradition. Sinnott concludes that feminine

    personification of Wisdom reinterpreted and transformed the Israelite/Jewish tradition,

    both by softening the patriarchialism established by the monarchy and priestly office andby incorporating international sources into historical and prophetic interpretation.

    See also Camp, Claudia V. Becoming Canon: Women, Texts, and Scribes in Proverbsand Sirach. Pages 371-388 in Seeking out the Wisdom of the Ancients: Essays offered

    to Honor Michael V. Fox on the Occasion of his Sixty-fifth Birthday . Edited by Ronald

    L. Troxel, Kelvin G. Friebel, and Dennis R. Magary. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns,2005.

    Iovino, Paolo. The only Wise God in the Letter to the Romans: Connections with the Book

    of Wisdom. Pages 283-305 inDeuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook

    2005: The Book of Wisdom. Edited by Angelo Passaro and Giuseppe Bellia. Berlin;New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2005.

    Iovino provides a critical review of the scholarship on Pauls dependence on the Wisdomof Solomon, using Pauls doxological language throughout Romans as a case study to

    demonstrate the intertextual relationship.

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    Wisdom. Interpreting chapter 9, Longman argues that Woman Wisdom is a

    personification of Yahweh directly.

    Fletcher-Louis, Crispin H. T. Wisdom Christology and the partings of the ways between

    Judaism and Christianity. Pages 52-68 in Christian-Jewish Relations through the

    Centuries. Edited by Stanley E. Porter and Brook W. R. Pearson. Journal for the Studyof the New Testament Supplement Series. Sheffield, England: Sheffield AcademicPress, 2000.

    Fletcher-Louis traces the development of the identification of the Jewish high priest withthe personification of Wisdom as the precursor to New Testament Wisdom Christology.He also uses this foundation to defend the pre-existence of Christ, the role of Christ in

    Creation, and the triple function of Christ as priest, prophet, and king.

    See also Green, Barbara. The Life and Death of the Just One: A Community Schism inWisdom of Solomon. Pages 203-214 inDistant Voices Drawing Near: Essays in

    Honor of Antoinette Clark Wire. Edited by Holly E. Hearon. Collegeville, MN:Liturgical Press, 2004.

    Dunn, James D. G. The Theology of Paul the Apostle. Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans, 1998.

    Dunn provides the watershed work on Pauls Wisdom Christology, concluding that Paulis clearly yet tacitly identifying Christ with Wisdom. He hedges on the question of the

    preexistence of Christ, concluding that such language is of secondary importance,

    arguing instead that Pauls use of Wisdom Christology is designed to defend his

    monotheism in pre-Trinitarian language.

    See also Dunn, James D. G. Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry intothe Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation, 2

    nded. Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans,


    See also Dunn, James D. G. Romans 1-8. Word Biblical Commentary 38A. Waco, TX:Word, 1988.

    Witherington, III, Ben. Jesus the Sage: The Pilgrimage of Wisdom. Minneapolis: Fortress

    Press, 1994.

    A theological survey of the development of Wisdom Christology from pre-Istaelite

    writings through the close of the New Testament canon, including the intertestamentalperiod. Witherington uses exegetical and constructive theology to demonstrate that Jesus

    is the Wisdom of God, highlighting the theological distinctives of the various New

    Testament authors.