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.

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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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