Category Archives: Proverbs

Lady Wisdom

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My beautiful and brilliant niece with hair the color of summer strawberries was five years old the first time I heard her recount the story of Lydia, “the lady with the purple cloths.” Blue eyes dancing, freckles sprinkled across her nose, she knew, she was aware that women were part of the story of God and she knew the story was her own. “Wise beyond her years , this one” we always said of her.

I was thinking of my niece Lylah, dreaming of home while in a summer intensive on Wisdom Literature at the University of Notre Dame; it was then and there that I first began to see her take form. I caught a glimpse of her silhouette as I read through the apocryphal books, those early writings that informed the evangelists as they wrote the gospels, undergirded Paul as he shepherded the fledgling congregations, and inspired the early church for centuries until they were removed in 1790 at the formation of the Protestant Canon. Books of poetry and prose, ancient literature, windows into the world of theocentric faith prior to the revelation of Jesus, in many instances the missing pieces of the so called “four hundred years of silence” that literally thundered with Persians and Greeks and Romans.

Wisdom protected the first-formed father of the world, when he alone had been created;
she delivered him from his transgression,
and gave him strength to rule all things.
But when an unrighteous man departed from her in his anger,
he perished because in rage he killed his brother.
When the earth was flooded because of him, wisdom again saved it,
steering the righteous man by a paltry piece of wood…

There it was, staring back at me, the stories of the beginning, tales of the patriarchs but this time Wisdom saved, healed, rescued. Here Wisdom personified as in Proverbs, “she.”

She gave to holy people the reward of their labors;
she guided them along a marvelous way,
and became a shelter to them by day,
and a starry flame through the night.
She brought them over the Red Sea,
and led them through deep waters;
but she drowned their enemies,
and cast them up from the depths of the sea (Wisdom of Solomon10).

The word for wisdom in both Hebrew hokmah and Greek sophia are feminine such that the ancients then wrote of the Wisdom of God as a female. This is the Wisdom that emanates from the mouth of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel, the Wisdom that is Paul’s banner and proclamation in Corinthians, it is this Wisdom in John’s prologue that is God come to us in Jesus.

As you trace the lines, follow the grace filled pathways to discover Lady Wisdom you will find God is not always nor completely “He” rather there is a long biblical tradition that stretches from Old Testament to New, wherein the Wisdom of God is female, you will begin to see our story written right into the text.

Our little wisdom teacher turns 15 in a few days and for all the gift she has been to us, I thank God for the gift of the Wisdom Lady standing tall and serene guiding us, reminding us we are God’s own.

– See more at: http://www.kimberlymajeski.com/#sthash.IprduvTZ.dpuf

Restoring Wisdom: A Christian Take On Ron Paul’s Newsletters @RP_Newsletter

For as longest time, it has been my Christian duty to be an iconoclast. It’s just how I have fun, and for a while, my iconoclasm knew no bounds when I was a Left Libertarian. But even possessing such a nuanced position, I became disaffected, turned off by Paultardation and Paulinian Messianism, as if there was One Chosen White Man from Texas to “restore liberty.” Really, who grants these superpowers in the first place?

So, a few months ago, I kissed libertarianism goodbye. I still believe in the free market, that Keynsian economics is stupid, Obamacare was plain idiocy, and non-interventionist foreign policy is right. In fact, I would say one of the things that first attracted me to Ron Paul was his foreign policy. The USA is rather arbitrary when it comes to choosing which nations’ affairs to intervene with, and like it or not, racial bias plays a role exactly where our troops land. Somalia? Kosovo? Anyone?

That being said, the Libertarian cases against things such as FEMA and public education started to turn me off, and I realized that I did not affirm those positions. The best way to ensure freedom from tyranny is to have an educated electorate, an education accessible to everyone. Many of the America’s Founders believed.

Recently, followers on Twitter and Facebook friends have expressed disappointment in my posting and re-tweeting Ron Paul’s Newletters, a Twitter feed that quotes Ron Paul’s newsletters from the 80s and 90s, that have been scanned. Check the link for details. Imagine for a second. I am up for a job at a church, and I may not be the ideal candidate, and I have said a lot of crazy things on Political Jesus, Twitter, and Facebook, and especially Twitter. What if I said, hey, yah, that really was not me. That was all Joel. He blogged for me, and I let him under my name. Should I be held responsible? I think your answer should be yes. Just as certain celebrity politicians who pay people to write books for them are responsible for what is written, so should Ron Paul be held responsible for what he allowed and permitted Lew Rockwell to write in his name.

This is exactly RESTORING WISDOM should be about. “A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.” (Ecclessiastes 7:1) “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1) The mistake that Ron Paul made as a Christian was that he chose power (appealing to the basest desires and emotions of his political base) over having a good name, a reputation, when Scripture informs us that it should be the reverse. The apostle Paul wrote to his son in the faith Timothy that a Christian leader should have a good reputation with outsiders (1 Timothy 3:7), operating in Wisdom. Fact is, Ron Paul claimed to not have written these newsletters as late as 2001, putting his story into question.

For More, see Game Over: Scans of over 50 Ron Paul Newsletters.

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Proverbs a subversive text

I have been busy the last few weeks, building a shed, getting a new car (Ssangyong Actyon Tradie Duel Cab Ute) fighting of a bad cold / flu, preparing and preaching a sermon and finishing a 2500 thematic essay on Proverbs. I have 800 words to go and its due tomorrow night at 11:55pm.

One of the main themes that I am increasingly finding in Proverbs is the meaning of what “The fear of the Lord” really means. And that is wisdom is actually applied knowledge and not just knowledge. The book of proverbs spurs us onto and into a life of subversive living within a culture that ignores and doesn’t fear God. It reminds me of what Paul said about living a life that is so good that though people might mock your religion; they will be silenced through your good life…which in reality amounts to subversive living at its best.

Within the book of Proverbs we find the metaphor of  wisdom being an evangelist  in chapter’s 1:20-33 and 8:1-21. Here we read of her public sidewalk evangelistic activity, positioning her-self wherever people gather. Placing her-self at the highest places, the busiest part of the noisy streets, the city gates and even the market place she calls out understanding raising her voice. She calls out loudly, “What I have to say pertains to all mankind!” and the thrust of her message is found in Pro 8:13

The fear of the LORD is to hate evil. Pride, arrogance, an evil lifestyle, and perverted speech I despise. But the person who listens to me will live safely and will be secure from the fear of evil.

The opposite of pride, arrogance, evil lifestyle and perverted speech is humility, gentleness, godliness and speaking truthfulness in love and we are spurred on to live in an outward manner in keeping with wise knowledge.[1]


[1] The resemblance of Peter’s injunctions in 2 Peter 1:5-10 to this passage is notable.

 


[1] The resemblance of Peter’s injunctions in 2 Peter 1:5-10 to this passage is notable.

 

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The Personification of Wisdom in Proverbs 1:20-33

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A while ago, I was reading Proverbs 1 and noticed that Wisdom assumes a personification like she does later in the infamous chapter 8. I hadn’t realized that before or rather I was focused only on chapter 8, so when Jason posted on short post on Wisdom, Jesus and ‘She’, I thought that I should at least start the ball rolling again. Of course, this was in the middle of last year and updated again in September and I am just now getting around to it.

What strikes me about this passage, besides the Creative Agent/Attribute of God being feminine (compare with John 1.1-3) is the prophetic role which Wisdom occupies. In Reclaiming the Old Testament for Christian Preaching, Tremper Longman III writes of the constant call in the first section of the book between two women, Wisdom and Folly, while noting that it is the development of the person of Wisdom in Proverbs which transforms wisdom into a ‘theological idea.’ (p107) This idea, of course, if enjoined by other sources, such as the essential books of Wisdom and Sirach, into the Logos of John. Longman also suggests that it is the choice between Wisdom and Folly which is the author(s)’s allegory of choosing between God and false idols, a definite prophetic hue. I would go on to note that while Wisdom is personified, the other woman remains only as a literary, or allegorical, protagonist although in many ways, she is the forerunner of John’s Whore of Babylon.

While some may note that John used the Wisdom Literature to interpret Christ thereby (to which I utter a loud academic and theological, duh to), what is also interesting is that in both sections of Proverbs in which Wisdom is easily seen as personified, it gives the over all impression that Wisdom is the agent which draws humanity to God through a prophetic call to understanding. Of course, some cannot separate interpretation of and creation from but that is generally understood to be the domain of those who know the woman Folly intimately.

20 Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square.

21 She calls to the crowds along the main street, to those gathered in front of the city gate:

22 “How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge?

23 Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.

24 “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.

25 You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered.

26 So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you–

27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you.

28 “When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.

29 For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear the LORD.

30 They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them.

31 Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes.

32 For simpletons turn away from me– to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.

33 But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”

(Pro 1:20-1 NLT)

20 Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square;

21 At the head of the noisy streets she cries out; At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:

22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge?

23 “Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.

24 “Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;

25 And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof;

26 I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes,

27 When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you.

28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,

29 Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD.

30 “They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof.

31 “So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way And be satiated with their own devices.

32 “For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them.

33 “But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

(Pro 1:20-33 NASB)

I can see several prophetic hues in this section which, at least to me, places the Person of Wisdom as God’s prophet.

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An Ishmaelite (And a Woman?) Contributing to the Hebrew Bible?

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A person who I hope becomes a longstanding friend was telling me about the current trend in biblical studies of seeing Scripture (especially the Old Testament) as arguing with itself. He also said that while it is a trend, he believes that it is correct. So, in that vein, which is one that I’ve been dwelling on lately, I noticed that Proverbs is a little bit of an oddity. You see, if we take a stance, we might see it as a book written, at least in part, by Gentiles.

While we may wish to see Proverbs as something composed solely by King Solomon, but it doesn’t lend itself to that interpretation. Instead, chapters 30 and 31 expressly state that they are written by two others.

NAU  Proverbs 30:1 The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle. The man declares to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal:

NLT  Proverbs 30:1 The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh contain this message. I am weary, O God; I am weary and worn out, O God.

The word translated as oracle/message is massa in Hebrew. Massa is also a place/tribal name for people in norther Arabia (see Genesis 25.14). We will encounter this word in Proverbs 31 as well, assigned to King Lemuel. Massa would have been a descendant of Ishmael,of all people.

In Proverbs 31.1, the author is not actually King Lemuel, but his mother –

NAU  Proverbs 31:1 The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him:

NLT  Proverbs 31:1 The sayings of King Lemuel contain this message, which his mother taught him.

Same thing – Massa may very well be the location of King Lemeul (and his mother). Of course, at least one commentary suggested that a possible translation of Proverbs 30.1 may lead to the Queen of Massa, but…

So, here it is – does the last two chapters of Proverbs (different from the rest in style and tenor) belong to two Gentile authors, with one of them ultimately being a woman? If so, is this an argument against Ezra’s reforms?

Anyway, it was just a thought, but I would appreciate your thoughts.

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Thoughts on Proof-texting for Hate

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An anonymous commentator posted this verse in response to today’s post on a deceased blogger,

The whole city celebrates when the godly succeed; they shout for joy when the wicked die.

Like most proof-texting, a single, solitary verse will do for their argument.

The aim of this short post is not to show him how wrong he is according to the entire witness of Scripture, including the Gospel, but to call attention to the fact that the use of this verse in context is wrong.

Simply, I note the next verse,

Upright citizens are good for a city and make it prosper, but the talk of the wicked tears it apart.

Taken together, the passage is dealing with the city, a city, during a time, perhaps, of war or oppression. So, if this is the case, why wouldn’t the Righteous want to see oppression cease? Further, K&D state,

The בּ of בּטוּב denotes the ground but not the object, as elsewhere, but the cause of the rejoicing, like the ב 10b, and in the similar proverb, Pro 29:2, cf. Pro 28:12. If it goes well with the righteous, the city has cause for joy, because it is for the advantage of the community; and if the wicked (godless) come to an end, then there is jubilation (substantival clause for תּרן), for although they are honoured in their lifetime, yet men breathe freer when the city is delivered from the tyranny and oppression which they exercised, and from the evil example which they gave. Such proverbs, in which the city (civitas) represents the state, the πόλις the πολιτεία, may, as Ewald thinks, be of earlier date than the days of an Asa or Jehoshaphat; for “from the days of Moses and Joshua to the days of David and Solomon, Israel was a great nation, divided indeed into many branches and sections, but bound together by covenant, whose life did not at all revolve around one great city alone.” We value such critical judgments according to great historical points of view, but confess not to understand why קריה must just be the chief city and may not be any city, and how on the whole a language which had not as yet framed the conception of the state (post-bibl. מדינה), when it would described the community individually and as a whole, could speak otherwise than of city and people.

This might match with the first chapter or two of the Wisdom of Solomon, but nevertheless, the context is still king.

So, unless Ken Pulliam was oppressing people and his death brought freedom to the city, then the context states that the anonymous commentator was proof-texting.

What is really interesting, however, above the discussion of context is the verse after this passage:

It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet. (Pro 11:10-12 NLT)

Amazing… if only they had read but that statement… then maybe instead of belittling the departed, they would have simply kept quite, refusing to gloat when their enemy fell.

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Jason thinks Jesus was a girl

No, he doesn’t actually, but his post is heading in the right direction and one which we should begin to examine as we look at the need to see something according to our understanding of literalism. He writes,

Maybe the problem is a woodenly literal interpretation on the part of the ones who complain against this particular use of the passage at hand.

Of course, I would refer him to Wisdom and Sirach for what they say as Wisdom and of course, Baruch. It is interesting about this gender thing… and how they might have understood pre-existence, attributes, etc…

Anyway, read his post – it is gives you, or should, fodder for some thought.

Sirach 4.11-19 – The Pursuit of Wisdom

Sirach 4:11-19 -

We are reminded that the Wisdom books of the Deuterocanon presents a developed notion of Wisdom as a personification of an attribute of God; however, we find a genesis of this concept in Proverbs chapters 4 and 8, among smaller points in Job (such as 11.6). We find a much fuller theology of Sophia/Logos in John’s Gospel as well as in Paul’s writings which declare that Christ is the Wisdom of God (1st Corinthians 1.24), which to any learned Jew of Second Temple Judaism would have recognized as describing the oneness of God. The New Testament writers understood the Jewish personification of Wisdom as Christ. The similarity between Wisdom in Proverbs, Sirach, and Wisdom (of Solomon) and the Logos as presented in John’s prologue is not coincidental.

This passage in Sirach is properly labeled ‘The Pursuit of Wisdom.’ Sirach has lead the poor and the rich to this point, that we are to seek the Wisdom of God and in doing so we seek the Lord Himself. Note that the verbs involved in this passage point to the fact that gaining Wisdom is neither passive nor automatic. It is not absorbed nor taught, but something to take, if as by force (Matthew 11.12).

(11)  Wisdom exalts her children and lays hold to those who seek her.

We find this thought echoed in the Proverbs and by the words of the Lord.

Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her. (Proverbs 4:7-8 NKJV)

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.” (Matthew 11:19 NKJV)

Verse 10 of Sirach points to the Incarnation of Christ and to the ability of humanity to partake of the divine nature of God. Peter tells us “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness”. Sirach tells us who that divine power is (of what) – it is Wisdom.

(12)  Whoever loves her loves life, and those who seek her early will be filled with joy.

Again, we return to Proverbs,

For whoever finds me finds life, And obtains favor from the LORD; (Proverbs 8:35 NKJV)

And again, we remember the words of the Apostle Peter that the divine power gives us life and invite the investigation between 2nd Peter 1.3-4 and this passage of Sirach.

See also Wisdom 8.16-18

The phrase ‘seek her early’ is an Hebrew idiom meaning ‘make her your first priority’. We find it in reference to Wisdom in

I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me. (Proverbs 8:17 NKJV)

‘Diligently’ may be translated as ‘early.’ It is found approximately 5 times in the Hebrew bible.

(13)  Whoever holds her fast will inherit glory, and the Lord will bless the place she enters.

The Hebrew here reads,

They that take hold of her shall find glory from the Lord, and they shall abide in the glory of the Lord

(14)  Those who serve her will minister to the Holy One; the Lord loves those who love her.
(15)  He who obeys her will judge the nations, and whoever gives heed to her will dwell secure.

This is the same idea that we find in Wisdom (of Solomon) and in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians –

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be an affliction, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them. In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them for ever. (Wisdom 3:1-8 RSVA)

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?  (1 Corinthians 6:2 NKJV)

It is the idea that those who serve God (through His Sophia or Logos) will inherit the world, becoming sons of God, judging the sinners.

(16)  If he has faith in her he will obtain her; and his descendants will remain in possession of her.
(17) At first she will walk with him though he twist and turn, she will bring fear and dread upon him, and will torment him by her discipline until she trusts him, and she will test him with her ordinances.
(18)  Then she will come straight back to him and gladden him, and will reveal her secrets to him.
(19)  If he goes astray she will forsake him, and hand him over to his ruin.

Again, we turn to familiar grounds,

I traverse the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice, That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, That I may fill their treasuries. (Proverbs 8:20-21 NKJV)

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10 RSVA)

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 1:6-7 NKJV)

The idea of testing is nothing new to either Jews or Christians, to Job, Sirach, or Peter.