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GRAND RAPIDS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

THE WISDOM CHRISTOLOGY OF PAUL: A STUDY IN METANARRATIVE HERMENEUTICS

A PRESENTATION SUBMITTED TO DR. JOHN LAWLOR OF THE BIBLICAL STUDIES DIVISION IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE COURSE BBL630: WISDOM LITERATURE

OLD TESTAMENT BIBLICAL THEOLOGY

BY JONATHAN M SHELLEY

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN MAY 4, 2010

1 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

2 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 question. I. Paul and the Wisdom Tradition

Before 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

3 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

Please 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 likeminded individuals who may or may not have had any formal connection with one another. Stephen Westerholm, Understanding Paul: The Early Christian Worldview of the Letter to the Romans , 2 ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 31-36.
nd 2

James 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.

4 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 term sophia with mysterion and apokalypsis. That is why a rigorous enquiry concerning the wisdom Christology requires an adequate integration with a proportionately serious enquiry concerning the theology of wisdom.4 II. 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.

Paolo Iovino, The only Wise God in the Letter to the Romans: Connections with the Book of Wisdom, in Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook 2005: The Book of Wisdom (ed. Angelo Passaro and Giuseppe Bellia: Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2005), 302-303. Roland Murphy, Lady Wisdom, pages 133-149 in The Tree of Life: An Exploration of Biblical Wisdom Literature, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans, 2002).
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5 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.7 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,
6

Scripture quotations are from the NRSV, Catholic edition.

Tremper Longman, III, Proverbs (BCOTWP; Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 222. Cf. Tremper Longman, III, Woman Wisdom and Woman Folly, DOT: WPW, 915.
8

Cf. Baruch 3:22-23.

6 steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle. [Wis 7:23-24] Wherever intelligence, purity, and subtly are found, the spirit of wisdom is there. As if to drive the point home, the author states simply in 8:1, She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and she orders all things well. This is more than a mere statement on the marks of wisdom in all Creation; it is a declaration of the ubiquitous nature of wisdom, that all truth is Gods truth. Thus, it seems that the dual role of Woman Wisdom (Creation and Revelation) in Proverbs has laid the foundation for two important yet distinct schools of thought on wisdom. Sirach highlights the special status of the oracles of God handed down to Israel from Moses as the only source and dwelling of wisdom. Wisdom of Solomon, however, follows the editor(s) of the book of Proverbs in seeing wisdom in all the nations, arguing for what might be called a general or natural revelation. III. Pauls Christology and Wisdom Personified

As we have seen, there is good reason to believe that Paul was familiar with and influenced by the Wisdom tradition, and, within that tradition, wisdom has been identified with Creation, Torah, and general revelation. It seems, then, that we have reached the point where we can ask the question, Does Paul have a Wisdom Christology? The simple answer, of course, is either no or yes, but within either answer is a range of conclusions. In the no camp, scholars like A. Van Roon and Gordon Fee do not necessarily see a relationship, but for different reasons, whereas feminist theologians like Elizabeth Johnson see Pauls Christology as an open rejection of Woman Wisdom. On the other hand, there is disagreement even among scholars who do see a relationship between Woman Wisdom and Pauls Christology. Tremper Longman and Crispin Fletcher-Louis have argued that Paul is, in effect, hijacking the Wisdom tradition to

7 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 making. 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 kyrios Christology. 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 Relationship Van 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

A. Van Roon, The Relation between Christ and the Wisdom of God according to Paul , Novum Testamentum 16 (1974): 238.

8 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 literature.10 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 kyrios Christology. 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 Critique Elizabeth 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

Gordon 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. Elizabeth A. Johnson, Wisdom was made Flesh and Pitched Her Tent among Us, in Reconstructing 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 World 7 (1987): 273-280.
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9 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
Karen 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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10 literally, making cultural applications that stretch the point of the original teaching and misses the true gospel message of gender equality in Christ. B. Paul Does Have a Wisdom Christology Just as some scholars have rejected the notion of Wisdom Christology in Paul for various reasons, those scholars who affirm a Wisdom Christology do so for multiple reasons. Tremper Longman and Crispin Fletcher-Louis believe that Paul is intentionally drawing from the Wisdom tradition, but he is doing so in a way that neglects the original intention of the sages and negates the development of the Wisdom literature. On the other hand, James Dunn and Ben Witherington argue that the Wisdom tradition finds it fulfillment in Christ, although they wrestle with different theological issues that result from this position. 1. The Misuse of the Wisdom Tradition Longman argues that while Paul is appropriately using the imagery of the Wisdom literature, he oversteps the tradition in identifying Christ as the Wisdom of God.13 Christ reveals Gods Wisdom, and, of necessity, that which is revealed must be distinct from the one who reveals. Therefore, it is logically impossible for Christ to be both the revelation and the revealer. Just as the feminists are wrong to take the personification metaphor literally, it is equally wrong for Paul to apply the metaphor literally to Christ. Fletcher-Louis goes one step further by tracing the development of the personification of wisdom through the post-exilic and intertestamental periods, highlighting the cultic overtones of the teaching.14 By the time of the New Testament, Fletcher-Louis states, the high priest was seen
13

Longman, Proverbs, 212-213.

Crispin H. T. Fletcher-Louis, Wisdom Christology and the partings of the ways between Judaism and Christianity, in Christian-Jewish Relations through the Centuries (ed. Stanley E. Porter and Brook W. R. Pearson; JSNTSS; Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 52-68. Cf. Barbara Green, The Life and Death of the Just One: A Community Schism in Wisdom of Solomon, in Distant Voices Drawing Near: Essays in Honor of Antoinette Clark Wire (ed. Holly E. Hearon; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2004), 203-214.

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11 as the metaphorical personification 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 Tradition James 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 literature.15 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

James 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 , 2nd ed. (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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12 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 Creation When 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 Mystery Dunn notes the significance of Pauls contrasting of apocalypsis and mysterion in 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 true sophia

13 found in Christ over against the false gnosis of 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 Romans Witherington 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

14 Proverbs 8 and 9. He is the source of Gods truth 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 Begottenness If 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 of all 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 The 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
16

Longman, Woman Wisdom and Woman Folly, 916 ; cf. idem, Proverbs, 213. Dunn, Christology in the Making, 210; cf. idem, Romans, 11-12. Fletcher-Louis, Wisdom Christology, 67-68.

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15 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 Considerations Hermeneutically 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

19

Witherington, Jesus the Sage, 202.

16 the Old Testament is every bit as inspired and necessary for the Church today as the New Testament is. IV. Conclusion

While there is little direct textual evidence to demonstrate Pauls familiarity with the later Wisdom literature, there does seem to be strong conceptual and theological similarities between Pauls thought and the schools that developed during the Second Temple period and produced the various applications of the personification of wisdom. There are compelling reasons, both hermeneutically and theologically, to read Pauls Christology as a harmonization of the personification of wisdom as recorded in Proverbs, Sirach, and Wisdom of Solomon. Furthermore, it seems appropriate to speak of the personification of wisdom in the Wisdom literature as a type of the pre-existence of Christ, which highlights Christs role as both revealer and revelation without failing into the Arian heresy. More research is needed to fully unpack Pauls use of the personification of wisdom and Pauls broader use of wisdom imagery in his writings, but it is my hope that as a result of tonights discussion you will see the necessity of grounding our reading of Paul in the Old Testament and be inspired to carry this new understanding forward into ministry and application.

17 APPENDIX A A COMPARISON OF PAULINE AND WISDOM LITERATURE 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 18 Rom 1 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the 19 truth. For what can be known about God is plain 20 to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he 21 has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were 22 darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became 23 fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies 25 among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural 27 intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to 29 things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, 30 craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, Godhaters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, 31 rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, 32 heartless, ruthless. They know God's decree, that Wisdom Literature 1 Wis 13 For all people who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know the one who exists, nor did they recognize the artisan while paying heed 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 them how much more powerful is the one who formed them. 5 For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator. 6 Yet these people are little to be blamed, for perhaps they go astray while 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 things? 10 But miserable, with their hopes set on dead things, are those who give the name "gods" to the works of

18
those who practice such things deserve to die--yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them. human hands, gold and silver fashioned with skill, and likenesses of animals, or a useless stone, the work of an ancient hand. Wis 14 For the idea of making idols was the beginning of fornication, and the invention of them was the corruption of life; 24 they no longer keep either their lives or their marriages pure, but they either treacherously kill one another, or grieve one another by adultery, 25 and all is a raging riot of blood and murder, theft and deceit, corruption, faithlessness, tumult, perjury, 26 confusion over what is good, forgetfulness of favors, defiling of souls, sexual perversion, disorder in marriages, adultery, and debauchery. 27 For the worship of idols not to be named is the beginning and cause and end of every evil. Wis 15:7 A potter kneads the soft earth and laboriously molds each vessel for our service, fashioning out of the same clay both the vessels that serve clean uses and those for contrary uses, making all alike; but which shall be the use of each of them the worker in clay decides. Wis 19:7 The 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 Sir 37:28 For not everything is good for everyone, and no one enjoys everything. Wis 7:7 Therefore I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called on God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. Wis 5:16 Therefore they will receive a glorious crown and a beautiful diadem from the hand of the Lord
12

Rom 9:21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use?

1 Cor 10:1 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea

1 Cor 10:23 "All things are lawful," but not all things are beneficial. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Eph 1:17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him 2 Tim 4:8 From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

19 ANNOTATED SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY I. Surveys and Backgrounds

Murphy, Roland E. Lady Wisdom. Pages 133-149 in The Tree of Life: An Exploration of Biblical Wisdom Literature, 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans, 2002. Concise overview of the interpretive issues of Lady Wisdom in the Wisdom 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 The Powers of Personification in the Book of Wisdom and 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 Second Temple 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 Studies Monographs. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005. Comprehensive examination of the origin, development, complexity, and interpretive force 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 and by incorporating international sources into historical and prophetic interpretation. See also Camp, Claudia V. Becoming Canon: Women, Texts, and Scribes in Proverbs and 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 in Deuterocanonical 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 Wisdom of Solomon, using Pauls doxological language throughout Romans as a case study to demonstrate the intertextual relationship.

20 Wilken, Robert L., ed. Aspects of Wisdom in Judaism and Early Christianity. University of Notre Dame Center for the Study of Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity, no. 1. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1975. A collection of pioneering essays in the study of Wisdom Christology, including feminist, Jewish, and philosophical critiques of the issues. This collection is foundational reading for any student of the Wisdom Christology discussion.

Pate, C. Marvin. The Reverse of the Curse: Paul, Wisdom, and the Law. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2 Reihe, no. 114. Tbingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000. Pate presents a detailed defense of the metanarrative hermeneutic of the relationship of Wisdom and Torah from a covenantal nomism stance.

Longman, III, Tremper and Peter Enns, ed. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings. Downers Grover, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008. Relevant articles include R. G. Branch, Women, 916-925; P. Enns, Wisdom of Solomon, 885-891; D. Garrett, Proverbs III, History of Interpretation, 566-578; J. Goldingay, Hermeneutics, 267-280; K. Kitchen, Maat, 447-451; P. E. Koptak, Personification, 516-519; T. Longman, Proverbs I, Book of, 539-552; idem, Woman Wisdom and Woman Folly, 912-916; E. C. Lucas, Wisdom Theology, 901-912; M. Phau, Sirach, Book of, 720-728; K. Schifferdecker, Creation Theology, 63-71; L-S Tiemeyer, Feminist Interpretation, 205-218; C. Wahlen, Wisdom, Greek, 842-847.

Hawthorne, Gerald F., Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, ed. Dictionary of Paul and his Letters. Downers Grover, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. Relevant articles include C. E. Arnold, Ephesians, Letter to the, 238-249; J. D. G. Dunn, Romans, Letter to the, 838-850; S. J. Hafemann, Corinthians, Letters to the, 164-179; L. W. Hurtado, Lord, 560-569; idem, Pre-existence, 743-746; S. F. Noll, Qumran and Paul, 777-783; P. T. OBrien, Colossians, Letter to the, 147-153; idem, Firstborn, 301-303; idem, Mystery, 621-623; G. R. Osborne, Hermeneutics/Interpreting Paul, 388-397; E. J. Schnabel, Wisdom, 967-973; M. Silva, Old Testament in Paul, 630-642; B. Witherington, III, Christology, 100-115.

Green, Joel B. and Scot McKnight, ed. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992. Relevant articles include F. W. Burnett, Wisdom, 873-877; D. H. Johnson, Logos, 481-484. See related articles in Bromiley, Geoffrey W., ed. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, rev. ed. 4 vols. Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans, 1978-1988.

21 See related articles in Elwell, Walter A., ed. Baker Theological Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996. See related articles in Elwell, Walter A., ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001. II. Hermeneutical Conclusions

Van Roon, A. The Relation between Christ and the Wisdom of God according to Paul. Novum Testamentum 16 (1974): 207-239. In a critique of Windisch and Feuillet, Van Roon argues that, while there are parallels in language between Christology and Wisdom literature, there is no demonstrable Wisdom Christology in the New Testament.

Fee, Gordon D. Wisdom Christology in Paul: A Dissenting View. Pages 251 -279 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. Fee rejects the notion of Wisdom Christology as being based on tenuous conceptual connections that are not textually supported by careful exegesis. He is particularly concerned with the use of Wisdom Christology to defend and define the preexistence of Christ. He concludes that it is more appropriate to speak of Pauls kyrios Christology.

Johnson, Elizabeth A. Wisdom was made Flesh and Pitched Her Tent among Us. Pages 95117 in Reconstructing the Christ Symbol: Essays in Feminist Christology. Edited by Maryanne Stevens. New York: Paulist Press, 1993. Johnson argues for a feminist interpretation of Christology in light of the feminine personification of Wisdom, concluding that a focus on the maleness of Christ reinforces patriarchialism and subjugation. Instead, the New Testament writers were subtly subverting social patriarchialism by relating the Son of God with the Sophia of God. See also Perkins, Pheme. Jesus: Gods Wisdom. Word and World 7 (1987): 273-280. See also Jobes, Karen H. Sophia Christology: The Way of Wisdom? Pages 226-250 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. (Jobes rejects the feminine interpretation of Wisdom Christology.)

Longman, III, Tremper. Proverbs. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006. In his interpretation of chapter 8, Longman defends the New Testament presentation of Wisdom Christology, concluding that Christ is the embodiment, not personification, of

22 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 Study of the New Testament Supplement Series. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000. Fletcher-Louis traces the development of the identification of the Jewish high priest with the 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 in Wisdom of Solomon. Pages 203-214 in Distant 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 Paul is 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 into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans, 1996. 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 intertestamental period. 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.