Thursday, March 01, 2012

What is Wisdom?

Some ramblings about the definition of Wisdom I wrote for my First Testament course:

Wisdom is what the Holy Spirit works on us through faith or is perhaps even the Word herself: “So the spirit of wisdom is nothing other than faith, our understanding of that same Word; this, however, the Holy Spirit imparts.  Such faith or spirit can do all things…” (LW Vol. 35, 344).  Often in Bible (and perhaps most strongly in Proverbs), Wisdom is personified as a woman, “a lover, bride, friend, wife, teacher,” while juxtaposed against another feminine personification, of folly.  The speaker’s intended audience is important to consider here, in the case of Proverbs being foolish, young males.  Perhaps Wisdom is personified in the feminine as a gift, wholly other yet supportive, simply because that is what foolish young men needed.  Wisdom is given to us through faith and transforms us in a way that relates to our context.

While Wisdom is frequently doing what is needed to provide for a restrained, well-ordered society in Proverbs, elsewhere in the Bible, it comes in a message of empowerment, such as in the Beatitudes: You are poor yet yours in the kingdom of God!  As Luther argues while writing on wisdom literature, many of the ones who appear wise in our world are in fact truly fools: “There you may know that when Solomon speaks of fools, he is speaking not of plain or insignificant people, but precisely of the very best people in the world.” (LW Vol. 35, 261).

Since a characteristic of Wisdom is that she comes to us through our own context, she makes no distinction between secular and religious avenues.  Wisdom may of course come to Christians through the words of the Bible, but many of those same words have at times only reinforced unwise systems of oppression.  For those who are not members of the Christian tribe, perhaps Wisdom comes through a scene in reality television program, through a conversation over coffee, or even through difficult lessons learned in bad economy.  Wisdom speaks of herself as present in first acts of God’s creation.  Wisdom thusly continues to be a creative force of God, one through which the Creator guides his co-creators in humanity.

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