Monday, October 18, 2010

Jah Loves Her, Wisdom, His Son, the Word

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In the New Testament books of the Bible Jesus of Nazareth is accepted as more than a great teacher. He is presented as the “prophet” foretold by Moses in the ancient book of Deuteronomy (18:15, 18; compare Acts 3:22-26; Matthew 21:8-11, 46; Mark 12:32; Luke 3:12; 24:19; John 4:19; 6:14; 7:40; 9:17; 13:13). Further, according to the books and teachings of the New Testament, before he came to the earth Jesus was a preexistent “spirit,” a non-human being who lived “with God” in what we call “heaven” as his “firstborn” spirit “S/son” (John 1:1; 4:24; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:2, 6). Though the Bible speaks of Jah God as having other “sons,” only the spirit being known as "the Word" (and then later as "Jesus") is spoken of in unique ways which apply to no other ‘son of God.’—Genesis 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; 2:1; Psalm 29:1; 89:6; John 1:1-18.

For example, though the Bible does teach that God’s angels can take on human form, even eating with other humans at times (Genesis 18:1-8; 19:1, 15; 32:1), in the New Testament Jesus is said to have been “born through a woman” as man in this world, in which form he eventually died, though he is said to have been given a spirit’s life again by the God of the Bible (1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Peter 3:18), rather than life again as “a man” (Galatians 1:1, 10-12). However, just as the Bible teaches that angels (God’s spirit children) in the past took on human form, even to the point of eating with others (Genesis 19:1-3), so also Jesus of Nazareth is said to have done the same things since he was raised to life as a spirit being.—Luke 22:19; 24:42-43.1

Commenting on the existence of these types of spirit beings who originate from heaven and who live with God, but who according to the texts in this paragraph can also at times take on or (in Jesus’ case) “become flesh” (John 1:14), R.B.Y Scott writes:

Certainly the notion of the existence of divine beings, “the host of heaven,” under the authority of Yahweh [Jah]—“angels” or messengers, functionaries of his royal court, members of the divine council—was not felt to be incompatible with his [Jah’s] unique deity (cf. 1 Kings xxii 19-22; Isa vi 1-8; Job I 6; Zech vi 5).2

Because these spirit “S/sons” express and represent only the “one God, the Father’s” (1 Corinthians 8:6) will and desire, which they make their own will by their choice, they are not a threat to this “one God” in any sense, that is, unless they choose to rebel against him or to express their own will and desire, contrary to his own and for no ultimately demonstrable good reason, as some have done (2 Corinthians 4:4). Where it concerns his “firstborn” Son, the “Word” and “Wisdom” of God who became the man Jesus of Nazareth, there is no one who showed or who expressed a greater desire for the complete and absolute fulfillment of the “one God’s” will (John 5:30; 6:38; 7:16-18; 8:28; 8:54; 12:48-50). That is why he ultimately receives his God’s authority.—Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:19-23; Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 3:2, 12; compare Daniel 7:14.

If we are to believe the events and teachings described in relation to the Jesus of Nazareth in the earliest and most credible texts, his being the “Messiah” for humankind is more than a good thing! (See Isaiah Chapter 53; compare with Isaiah 11:1-9.) However, when it comes to identifying further the person of Jesus of Nazareth, it is clear from these same biblical texts and others that for Jah’s heavenly children to be “gods” in this sense does not involve a “second god” who stands apart from Jah, or who rivals his will. They are expressly said to be representatives of God who come in Jah’s name, not in their own name (compare Micah 5:-14 with John 5:43 and John 8:54).3 The spirit being known as “Satan” chose not to do this (Genesis 3:1-15), and Jesus chose to do it and he did it, even when under great test.—Philippians 2:5-11 (see below for more on this text).

While according to the Bible Satan chose not to represent Jah God’s will to Eve (Genesis 3:4-5), in the Bible “sons of God” who choose not to follow and express (and so thereby benefit by, in effect, being) the “one God” are also permitted by him to do so, for a time (Genesis 6:1-8; Jude 1:6). Then they can become their own gods or gods of others, that is, until Jah God says they can be gods no more (Psalm 82:1-7). In this light, and to help set the stage for the further identification of Jesus of Nazareth as Jah God’s “Word” and “Wisdom,” consider the following presentation of Jesus’ prehuman, human, and post-human life, which is also the earliest recorded “summary” of this extent of the progression of his “life” (1 John 1:2) given to us in the books of the Bible, from the early Christian letter known as “Philippians.”

Here is my personal translation of Philippians 2, verses 5-11, from the Greek text of P46, an early second to possibly third century CE New Testament Greek text produced by a professional scribe from an even earlier, “excellent exemplar,”4 according to what I consider the best available reasons5:

Your attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ’s, who even though he was existing in the form of God/a god [or, ‘a divine form’] he did not consider this equality with [or, ‘this likeness to’] God as something to exploit. Instead he gave himself up, he took on the appearance of a slave, and he came to be the same as men. When he found out that he was in the same form as men, he lowered himself even further by becoming obedient until death, indeed, death by torture. For this reason also God highly exalted him and generously bestowed upon him the name above every name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee in heaven, on the earth, and underneath the earth might bend and every language openly acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ to [or, ‘in’] the glory of God the Father.

Consistent with the above translation of Philippians 2:5-11, other early Christian texts present a view and an understanding of Jesus of Nazareth in his prehuman, human, and post-human (resurrected) life. For example, Paul also taught that Christians have but “one God, the Father” who made all things “through” or “by means of” his unique, heavenly “Son” (1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:2). In this same prehuman state, John the apostle refers to Jesus as “the Word,” and to his name as “the Word of God” “through whom” God made “all things.”—John 1:1-3; Revelation 19:13.

Incredibly similar to what we read about in Philippians 2:5-11 is John 1:1-18. In John’s Prologue or opening to John’s Gospel, we are told about the very same ‘descent from heaven’6 to earth by the “Word” (the prehuman Jesus), the one “though whom” God made “all things” (John 1:1-3), who came to the earth to live among us as a “man,” in the “flesh” (John 1:14). There are many other credible indicators and evidence from the period of the New Testament and earlier which further identify Jesus of Nazareth as the prehuman figure of “Wisdom” in Proverbs 8, and elsewhere in the Bible and in other related “Wisdom” texts. In this light, consider the following chart which provides some further good reasons for identifying Jesus of Nazareth as the truly existing figures of “Wisdom” and “the Word of God”:

Significant Indicators7 of Identity between “Wisdom” and “the Word”/Jesus of Nazareth

WISDOM/WORD/JESUS
PARALLELS
BIBLICAL/RELATED TEXTS
1) They are described as “created before all things,” as the “firstborn of all creation,” and/or as the “beginning” of God’s “ways”/“creation.”8
Wisdom:
Proverbs 8:22-25;
Sirach 1:4, 8.

Word/Jesus:
Colossians 1:15-18;
2) They are described as “in the beginning”9 and as “from the beginning”10 of creation, as well as “with God”11 when he created throughout this same period.
Wisdom:
Proverbs 8:22-23, 27-30;
Wisdom 9:1, 9;
Sirach 24:9.

Word/Jesus:
Micah 5:1(2)-3(4);
John 1:1, 2; 17:5; 1 John 1:1; 2:14.
3) They are expressly associated with “light,”12 everlasting “life,” “truth,” and “salvation.”13
Wisdom:
Proverbs 8:6-8, 35-36;
Sirach 24:32;
Wisdom 7:10, 26, 29; 8:13, 17;
9:18.

Word/Jesus:
John 1:4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 14, 16, 17;
14:6; 17:3;
1 John 5:11-12.
4) They enter the world and they are uniquely involved/“tent”14 with humankind.
Wisdom:
Proverbs 8:31;
Sirach 1:15; 24:8, 10-12;
Wisdom 9:10, 17-18;
Baruch 3:12;
1 Enoch 42:1-2.

Word/Jesus:
John 1:9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18;
1 John 1:2, 6-7.
5) They are specially characterized by God’s “glory” and as his “image.”15
Wisdom:
Wisdom 7:25-26.

Word/Jesus:
John 1:14; 17:5;
Colossians 1:15;
Hebrews 1:3.
6) They have a similar, special relationship with God.
Wisdom:
Proverbs 8:22-31;
Wisdom 8:3, 4; 9:4, 9-10.

Word/Jesus:
Luke 3:22;
John 1:1-2, 14, 18; 3:35;
5:20-22; 8:27-29;
10:29-30, 36; 17:5;
1 Corinthians 8:6;
Colossians 1:15;
Revelation 22:1, 3.
7) They have had a unique fondness for humankind since our creation.
Wisdom:
Proverbs 8:31;
Wisdom 7:22; 8:4-6; 9:1-4;
1 Enoch 42:2.

Word/Jesus:
John 3:16; 8:56-58; 10:17;
1 Timothy 2:5, 6.
9) Since their creation they are described as “everlasting”; like Jah, now they will “never give out.”16
Wisdom:
Sirach 24:9(b);
Wisdom 6:12.

Word/Jesus:
John 5:26;
Hebrews 1:12; 13:8.
10) They are both described as ‘managing’ or ‘holding all things together.’17
Wisdom:
Wisdom 8:1.

Word/Jesus:
Sirach 43:26;
Colossians 1:17;
Hebrews 1:3.

11) They are described as next to, attendant upon, or even seated on God’s “throne.”18

Wisdom:
Proverbs 8:27;
Wisdom 9:4, 10;
Sirach 24:4;
1 Enoch 84:3.

Word/Jesus:
Wisdom 18:15;
Hebrews 1:8; 8:1; 12:2;
Revelation 3:21 (compare 22:1, 3).

12) They invite others to come and eat their special food and drink (including “bread” and “wine”).

Wisdom:
Proverbs 8:5; 9:1-5;
Sirach 24:19-21 (compare 6:19).

Word/Jesus:
Matthew 26:26-28;
John 6:34-35, 48-57; 7:37;
Revelation 3:20.

13) They are able to ‘deliver a person from sin.’19

Wisdom:
Wisdom 10:13;
Sirach 24:22.

Word/Jesus:
Isaiah 53:10, 12;
Daniel 9:24, 26;
John 1:29;
Romans 8:2;
1 Corinthians 15:56-57;
1 John 2:1.


14) They are referred to by the unique terms ’amon20 and/or ’amen.21

Wisdom:
Proverbs 8:30.

Word/Jesus:
Isaiah 65:16;
Revelation 3:14.

15) They are identified as the “only-begotten” (monogenes).22

Wisdom:
Wisdom 7:25.

Word/Jesus:
John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18;
1 John 4:9.

16) The kings of the earth are called to “love” and to “honor” them.

Wisdom:
Wisdom 6:1, 12-22.

Word/Jesus:
Psalm 2:1-12;
John 5:23;
Philippians 2:10.

17) They are identified as the same person in several New Testament and related texts (see also the texts next to 18]).23

Wisdom:
Wisdom 9:13-17 (Isaiah 40:13).

Word/Jesus:
1 Corinthians 1:24;
1 Corinthians 2:16 (Isaiah 40:13).

18) Jesus of Nazareth is expressly said to have identified himself as the figure of “Wisdom.”24

Wisdom/Word/Jesus:
Sirach 51:23-27;
Matthew 11:19, 28-30
(Luke 7:34-35);
Matthew 23:34-36
(Luke 11:49-51);



There are other ways in which to express the above along with other possible indicators of an identity between the real, personal beings of Wisdom, the Word, and Jesus of Nazareth.25 Indeed, over 150 years ago Professor E.P. Barrows did so as follows:

In the present instance [that is, in Proverbs 8:22-31] we must believe that the full personality here ascribed to Wisdom, as well as her several relations to God and man, is something more than poetic drapery; ... Is Wisdom set forth as a person, dwelling from eternity with God? The divine Word, also, “was in the beginning with God,” as a true personality [John 1:1, 2]. He dwelt in glory, with God, before the foundation of the world [John 17:24]. Is Wisdom before all things. So also is Christ [Colossians 1:17]. Is Wisdom the eldest child of God, brought forth before the existence of all created things? So also Christ is “the only begotten of the Father [John 1:14],” and “the first-born of the whole creation” [Colossians 1:15]. Was Wisdom present at the formation of the earth and heavens, as God’s counselor and co-worker? The New Testament develops the idea, here contained in the germ, in all its fullness, teaching us that by the Word “all things were made, and without him was not any thing made that was made [according to one way of punctuating John 1:3];” that “by him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by [or, ‘through’] him and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist” [Colossians 1:16, 17]. Is Wisdom the delight of God, dwelling always with him, and exulting always before him? Christ is his well-beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased [Matthew 3:17], and who dwells in his bosom [John 1:18]. Did God associate with himself Wisdom as his darling child in the work of creation, so that she was present at the whole, saw the whole, understood the whole, and had a part in the whole? There is a remarkable correspondence between this and the following words of our Lord: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things he himself doeth” [John 5:19, 20]. And finally, is Wisdom’s delight with the sons of men, and has she been constantly laboring to recall them to the paths of holiness and happiness? The heart of Christ has been set on the salvation of men from the beginning.26

Yet, in spite of the apparent significance of such parallels and shared descriptions, and likely because of Jewish rejection of Jesus as the Christ (and so, of course, also as the Old Testament and other ancient Jewish literature’s preexistent figure “Wisdom”27), and then eventually later once the doctrine of the Trinity arrived, the true and full nature of the figure of Wisdom in the Old Testament was disassociated from her further identity as “the Word,” similar to how Trinitarians eventually did and still do today misrepresent the full import and meaning of Jesus as “the firstborn of all creation.”28

Though these changes in Jewish and in later Christian understanding and application of Wisdom texts to the Word/Jesus are evident, it is still likely that the foundation for a divergence from a clear application of texts showing a shared identity between Wisdom, the Word, and Jesus of Nazareth began in the early to middle first century CE, in the writings of Philo of Alexandria (who lived and who died from about 20 BC to 50 AD). Whereas Proverbs 8 and other Wisdom literature attributed personal association and involvement with Jah in creation primarily to “Wisdom” (though at times also to Jah’s “W/word” [see note 27]), in the writings of Philo it is primarily the logos (“W/word”) whom Philo speaks of in these ways, though Gregory Sterling points out that Philo also “uses some of the same expressions for Wisdom (sofi,a [sophia]).”29 Sterling then writes:

This is not terribly surprising since he can equate the Logos with Wisdom. While we may not be able to claim this as standard in Middle Platonic thought in the first century BCE, or first century CE, it is [sic] at least dates to this period.30

While in the Old Testament and in other related literature Jah’s “W/word” is at times equated with or made out to be similar to the figure and/or functions of Wisdom (see the second half of note 27 and the discussion of 3 Enoch 48C:10 and its quotation of Isaiah 55:11), Philo’s presentation is at times unclear when it comes to his equation and understanding of “W/wisdom” (sophia) with the “Word” (logos). For Philo “the logos is a combination of divine intermediation and the Stoic world spirit ... equivalent with the intelligible world; but because it can be hypostasized [that is, made to be an actual living being], the logos can be viewed as a separate agent and called a god.”31

For John the apostle, who believed he had the best available reasons for identifying the logos, there is no confusion at all in his identification of the logos as the one who “became flesh” in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, “a god” by being God’s “Son” who was “with God” “in the beginning” (John 1:1-18; 10:30-36). Yet, according to John’s own writings it was only after Jesus was raised up from the dead as “a life-giving spirit” that the name “the Word of God” was given to him (Revelation 19:13). Thereafter John chose to use this same name in his Gospel for Jesus of Nazareth, whereas in the other Gospels Jesus is identified as “Wisdom” rather than as the Word (see the references throughout my chart, but especially next to 17] and 18]).

A Christian living or writing during the middle to latter part of the first century CE (like the apostle John) would no doubt have been compelled (as John appears to have been) to address the question of “the Word’s” identity, particularly since this “name” was believed to have been given by revelation to John (Revelation 19:13), even though logos was also in current use by others with a different but at times similar meaning. In this light, Andrew Chester writes:

It is notoriously difficult, however, to know precisely how to evaluate Philo’s language and ideas here, as throughout his works. Thus, for example, it is not always clear that his use of [logos] is meant to represent the ‘Logos,’ as a technical term. Equally problematic is the fact that since Philo’s ‘system’ is so conflate and his works are so voluminous, it is not possible to establish a single, consistent philosophy; this is scarcely surprising since, as we have already noted, Philo fuses together various concepts drawn from different philosophical and biblical traditions, but it poses obvious problems for the interpretation both of individual passages and of his thought as a whole. It can, however, be said that clearly for Philo the Logos is not identical with God, and in some sense at least is obviously subordinate to him.32

This is likely why John chose to make known Jesus’ prehuman identity as “the Word” rather than as “Wisdom”/sophia, that is, to counter Philo’s and Greco-Roman33 understandings associated with the logos. This would be particularly so if John’s motivation for his use of logos stemmed first from the actual revelation of the term as the “name he has which only he knows,” which Jesus of Nazareth in spirit form is said to have given to John (Revelation 19:12-13). If John’s story is true, then he knows who he is talking about both through ancient texts and through his own experience (Revelation 1:12-18; 1 John 1:1-2). She is the one whom Jah loves, Wisdom, God’s “Firstborn” and “only-begotten” Word, the “Son,” who thankfully is exactly like his Father.—John 1:14; 8:54; 14:9-13; Hebrews 1:3.

up1For a complete discussion of Jesus’ resurrection life and body, see Chapter 6, “The Temple of His Body,” in my Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended: An Answer to Scholars and Critics (Murrieta, CA: Elihu Books, 2009).

up2R.B.Y Scott, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1985), page 70. For more on the biblical teaching of “one God, the Father” (1 Corinthians 8:6), and how at the same time his heavenly “S/sons” can and are “gods” as they exist and express Jah’s will, see Chapter 2 of my Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended.

up3Compare the accounts involving angels who are viewed or accepted as if they are Jah God in some sense in Genesis 18:1-5 and Judges 13:9, 19-22; compare Exodus 3:2-5 and Acts 7:30, 38; compare also John 20:17, 28; and compare Exodus 23:20, 21 with Matthew 17:5 and with John 5:43; see also the reference to Jah as the “God of gods” in Deuteronomy 10:17, in Psalm 136:2, and in Daniel 11:36,referring to Jah’s own “sons”/angels as “gods” (compare Psalm 8:5 with Hebrews 2:7, 9).

up4Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett, The Text of the New Testament Greek Manuscripts: New and Complete Transcriptions with Photographs (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale, 2001), page 207.

up5My prior discussions and translations of most of this text from Philippians can be found in my Three Dissertations on the Teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Murrieta, CA: Elihu Books, 2002), note 5, on pages 213-216, and page 225, note 33; see also my response to the question, “What is your understanding of Philippians 2:5-9, and why does the NWT read so differently from versions like the NASB?” in “Upon the Lampstand (December 15, 2007 [rev. February 10, 2008]), pages 1-8; and most recently my Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended, pages 214-220.

up6This is the clearly stated teaching of several texts from John’s Gospel, which begins by identifying Jesus as the preexistent “Word” who was “with God” in heaven prior to “becoming flesh” (John 1:1-14). The texts which then continue to express from Jesus’ own person the same teaching provided by John in his Prologue include: John 3:13, in which there is a contrast between a truly existing person’s possible ‘ascent to heaven’ (avnabe,bhken eivj to.n ouvrano.n) with what can only then be considered a true, relevant parallel to the same thing in reverse, namely, to the same truly existing person’s ‘descent from heaven’ [o` evk tou/ ouvranou/ kataba,j]. Additionally, in John 6:38 Jesus states clearly that he “came down from heaven” with a plan, not as God’s “plan,” namely, not to do his own will (showing, however, that he had a “will” in heaven which he set aside, but could have chosen), but to instead, at all times, “do the will of the one who sent me” (katabe,bhka avpo. tou/ ouvranou/ ouvc i[na poiw/ to. qe,lhma to. evmo.n avlla. to. qe,lhma tou/ pe,myanto,j me). Still more explicit, incontrovertibly clear evidence from Jesus’ own recorded teachings showing he believed in his own prehuman existence (that is, as a real living person in heaven) can be seen from John 16:27-28, words which even Jesus’ own students afterward said were so ‘plain’ and ‘without parable’ (John 16:29-30) that they were thereafter moved to immediately accept that Jesus “came forth from God”:

Indeed, the Father loves you very much because you have shown love for me and you have believed that I [evgw.] came away from being with God. I came from being with the Father and I have come into the world. I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.—John 16:27-28 (personal translation and underlining).

The above could not be any clearer in its representation of Jesus as a person (= “I” [evgw.]) who “came away from being with God/the Father” (verse 27, para. qeou/ evxh/lqon; verse 28, evxh/lqon para. tou/ patro.j). Perhaps the only text which does make the same point clearer is John 17:18, where Jesus speaks from the earth to his Father in heaven, “In the same way [kaqw.j] that you sent me [evme.] into the world, I also sent them [auvtou.j] into the world.” This makes it clear that there is a person-to-person correspondence in the manner of ‘sending’ between the Father and the Word/Jesus, and Jesus/the Word and “them” (= Jesus’ real living students). Compare the use of “me” in John 17:18 with John 18:8, where Jesus similarly uses “me” [me] both for his identity on earth at the time of his speaking and then also as he refers to being sent as a person [“me”] by Jah the Father (see John 5:43 [compare Micah 5:1-4]; 8:54). These texts teach clearly that Jah “sent” a real person into the world and through him revealed his further will and teachings, just as Jesus sent real persons into the world who similarly made known his commandments and teachings, which he received from the Father (Matthew 28:20; compare with John 8:26-30; 12:49). Additionally, in John 8:42 Jesus taught, “from God I [evgw (= a real person)] came forth [evk tou/ qeou/ evxh/lqon] and here I am [kai. h[kw (= a real person)].” Even more explicit and expressive of this already clearly taught teaching is what is recorded in the last part of John 8:42, namely, [Jesus says,] “I did not come from myself” (ouvde. ga.r avpV evmautou/ evlh,luqa), “but that one sent me forth” (avllV evkei/no,j me avpe,steilen). It is not possible to understand Jesus’ reference to “from myself” (avpV evmautou) as anything other than an actual possibility, namely, Jesus could have ‘come from himself,’ as a truly existing person at the time in question; but, he did not. “The Word” came to the earth because the God with whom he existed “in the beginning” sent him, and told him what to teach and how to act (John 1:1, 18; 5:19; 14:10-11; 12:49-50). Even Balchin (who is not able to or willing to make a complete, consistent connection between the real person of “Wisdom” and the being of “the Word”/Jesus) recognizes: “Ideal pre-existence is really a misnomer. It is not really pre-existence at all, but predestination couched in terms of pre-existence” (John F. Balchin, “Paul, Wisdom and Christ,” in Christ the Lord: Studies in Christology presented to Donald Guthrie, Harold H. Rowdon, ed. [Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1982], page 209). See my Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended, Chapter 3, pages 211-230, for a further discussion of real versus “ideal” (= not real) preexistence.

up7Some of the references in this chart are provided in Chapter 4, pages 314-315, and in Chapter 5, page 410, of my Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended. See also Chapter 3 of my Third Edition for more on the subject of Jesus’ prehuman existence.

up8For a further discussion of the meaning of Proverbs 8:22-31, Colossians 1:15-18, and Revelation 3:14, see my Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended, Chapter 5, pages 385-424. Briefly here on Proverbs 8:22-25, these texts expressly describe Wisdom’s creation by Jah God, also referring to Wisdom as “the beginning [Hebrew: tyvar; Greek: avrch.n] of Jah’s way, the earliest of his achievements of long ago” (verse 22), as the one who was “installed from the start” (verse 23), and as the one who was “brought forth as with labor pains” (verses 24, 25). All of these descriptions strongly suggest a translation for qanah in verse 22 such as “created,” “begotten,” or “produced,” not “buy,” “get,” or “possessed.” Consider this in light of what Gale Yee wrote about what is said of Wisdom in several of these texts from Proverbs 8 (underlining added):

In Ps 139:13 the psalmist states that he was woven in the womb of his mother. In Job 10:11 Job remarks to God that he was knit together with bones and sinews. The process of gestation in both cases is described metaphorically in terms of a craft. Furthermore, significant for our structural study is the fact that in Ps 139:13 hnq [qanah] parallels iks [sakhak, “weave together”], which is the same situation here in Prov 8:22-23. While the usual meaning of the root hnq [qanah] is »to buy or acquire,« the verb is used in Gen 4:1 and Dtn 32:6 as well as in Ps 139:13 where the parenting aspect is unmistakable. The third parallel verb in Prov 8:24, ytllwj [kholalti], »I was brought forth (in labor),« also supports the birth imagery found in hnq [qanah] and iks [sakhak]. [Gale A. Yee, “An Analysis of Prov 8:22-31 According to Style and Structure,” ZAW 94 (1982), page 63, note 17.]

up9Proverbs 8:23 has the exact same Greek expression as we find in John 1:1 (and in the Greek translation of Genesis 1:1), namely, “in the beginning” (evn avrch/|). For more on the meaning of “in the beginning” used here and in John 1:1 and in Genesis 1:1, see my Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended, Chapter 5, page 370-377. See note 8 for some of the particulars of Proverbs 8:22.

up10In Sirach 24:9 the first part of the verse has the figure of Wisdom speaking of herself as follows, “Before the ages, from the beginning, he [the ‘Most High’ God of 24:3] created me” (pro. tou/ aivw/noj avpV avrch/j e;ktise,n me). Note here that e;ktise,n is an aorist form which fits perfectly with the prepositional phrase used since Wisdom’s creation (unlike her existence after her creation) does not continue. Note also that in 24:9 “before the ages” is made to be the equivalent of “from the beginning.” Compare this with Paul’s description of God’s ‘firstborn Son’ as “before all things” (ai. auvto,j evstin pro. pa,ntwn), and with Paul’s subsequent identification of Jesus as the “beginning” in association with Jesus being the “first” in “all things” (evn pa/sin auvto.j prwteu,wn), and especially with the description in the opening words of 1 John 1:1, “Who is from the beginning” (}O h=n avpV avrch/j). This is based on how the opening word in 1 John 1:1 (}O) is presented in modern printed editions of the Greek New Testament. However, what is here shown as the relative pronoun o[ could just as easily be considered the Greek article o and used substantively with a similar or even with the same meaning, “The one who.” Either way, 1 John 1:1 is a reference to the preexistence of the one under discussion, who is also in this same opening verse of 1 John described unmistakably as, “Whom/The one whom [o[/o`] we have heard”; “Whom/The one whom [o[/o`] we have seen with our eyes”; “Whom/The one whom [o[/o`] we have evaluated and felt with our own hands,” all of which are clearly in reference to Jesus, first as the preexistent “Word” who is/was “from/in the beginning” (compare John 1:1; 1 John 2:14), and then to him after he “became flesh” (John 1:14) so that, in fact, John could say the rest of what he said in the opening verse his First Letter. What he does say about the Word/Jesus here  also fits perfectly with the prophetic description of the then-future but also preexistent Messiah given in the Hebrew and Greek texts of Micah 5:1(2)-3(4), namely, that his/her “goings forths”/“activities,” “origin(s),” or “sayings” are “from the beginning/ancient time” (Hebrew: miqedem; Greek: ap’ arches), and as “from days of old/ancient times/out of days of a past age” (Hebrew: mimay ‘olam; Greek: ex hemeron aionos [November 27, 2010, AUTHOR NOTE: All of which and more is discussed in my recent article, Micah 5:1(2): Reliable Prophecy and Real Personal Preexistence,” in Watching the Ministry [November 24, 2010]).

up11In Proverbs 8:30 Wisdom says, “I was with him” (h;mhn parV auvtw/| [“him” here refers to Jah God (compare 8:22)]). In Wisdom 9:9 we read, “Wisdom is with you” (meta. sou/ h` sofi,a [“you” here also refers to God [compare 9:1]). In John 1:1 we read, “the Word was with God” (o` lo,goj h=n pro.j to.n qeo,n).

up12Wisdom 7:26 uses the exact same word for “brightness” (avpau,gasma) in reference to Wisdom’s reflection of God’s “light” that Hebrews 1:3 uses for the prehuman Son of God’s “brightness” of God’s “glory.”

up13Wisdom 9:18 says that the ‘men of the earth’ were “saved by Wisdom” (th/| sofi,a| evsw,qhsan).

up14In Sirach 24:8 Wisdom is said to have her “tent” (th.n skhnh,n mou) among ancient “Israel” according to God’s “command.” In John 1:1-14 the Word who was “with God” in the beginning of the events of Genesis 1:1 “becomes flesh” (o` lo,goj sa.rx evge,neto [John 1:14]), showing a continuation of this one (“the Word”) as the person born through Mary and then known to us as Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 1:16). John 1:1-18 is very close to Philippians 2:5-11 in substance and in its manner of presenting Jesus’ prehuman and human life. This is to be expected, of course, that is, if we are to believe that Paul and John both shared the same understanding of the one to whom they devoted themselves, based on their respective experiences and their review of the best available, historical evidence.

up15 Wisdom 7:25-26 describes the figure of Wisdom as “a pure flow of the glory of the Almighty” (avpo,rroia th/j tou/ pantokra,toroj do,xhj eivlikrinh,j) and as “an image of his [God’s] goodness” (eivkw,n th/j avgaqo,thtoj auvtou/). John 1:14 speaks of the “glory” of the Word who became “flesh” as the “glory like that of an only-begotten child from his Father” (do,xan w`j monogenou/j para. patro,j). John 17:5 has Jesus speaking of the prehuman “glory” he “had with you [God] before the existence of the world” (th/| do,xh| h-| ei=con pro. tou/ to.n ko,smon ei=nai para. soi,), while in Hebrews 1:3 the Son through whom God made “all things” is described as the “brightness of [God’s] glory” (avpau,gasma th/j do,xhj ... auvtou/). Colossians 1:15 uses “image” (eivkw.n) in reference to Wisdom’s/the Word’s/Jesus’ representation of “the invisible God.”

up16Sirach 24:9(b) uses a form of evklu,w and Hebrews 1:12 uses a form of evklei,pw,, both of which involve the same or a very similar idea and meaning in their respective contexts to what is attributed to Jah in Psalm 102:26-27 (the LXX, like Hebrews, uses a form of evklei,pw in verse 27[28]). Wisdom 6:12 refers to Wisdom as “unfading” (avma,ranto,j).

up17In Colossians 1:17 Paul writes that “in him [the ‘firstborn’ of verse 15] all things hold together” (ta. pa,nta evn auvtw/| sune,sthken). The text from Hebrews 1:3 speaks of the Son of God as if he “brings/holds together all things by speaking forth his power” (fe,rwn te ta. pa,nta tw/| r`h,mati th/j duna,mewj auvtou/). Similarly, Wisdom 8:1 describes the figure of “Wisdom” as “managing/controlling all things well” (dioikei/ ta. pa,nta crhstw/j). Yet, in Sirach 43:26 it is God’s W/word “by whom all things stay together” (evn lo,gw| auvtou/ su,gkeitai ta. pa,nta).

up18In Proverbs 8:30 Wisdom speaks about how she was “glad/cheerful each day before his [= Jah God’s] face all the time,” including (according to verse 27) “when he defined his throne upon the winds” (o[te avfw,rizen to.n e`autou/ qro,non evpV avne,mwn). Wisdom 9:4 reads, “Give me Wisdom, the attendant of your throne” (do,j moi th.n tw/n sw/n qro,nwn pa,redron sofi,an). Wisdom 9:10 indicates she can be sent to help others “from the throne of your [= God’s] glory” (avpo. qro,nou do,xhj sou). Wisdom 18:15 speaks of Jah’s “Almighty Word” coming “from heaven out of the royal throne” (o` pantodu,namo,j sou lo,goj avpV ouvranw/n evk qro,nwn basilei,wn). In Sirach 24:3-4 Wisdom is again paralleled with God’s “W/word” by her coming forth “from the mouth of the Most High” (avpo. sto,matoj u`yi,stou), after which she speaks of herself as ‘dwelling high up’ and of having her “throne in a pillar of cloud” (evgw. evn u`yhloi/j kateskh,nwsa kai. o` qro,noj mou evn stu,lw| nefe,lhj). In Hebrews 8:1 Jesus is “seated at the right hand of the throne of greatness” (evka,qisen evn dexia/| tou/ qro,nou th/j megalwsu,nhj), and in 12:2 Jesus “has taken a seat at the right hand of the throne of God” (evn dexia/| te tou/ qro,nou tou/ qeou/ keka,qiken). In 1 Enoch 84:3 the translation by R.H. Charles (The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, Vol. II [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964 [1913], page 249) reads, “Wisdom departs not from the place of Thy throne.”

up19Wisdom 10:13 describes the “righteous one” (di,kaion) as “delivered from sin” (evx a`marti,aj evrru,sato auvto,n) by “Wisdom” (to which the pronoun au[th at the start of verse 13 refers; compare also Wisdom 10:9-12).

up20The vocalization of the Hebrew term translated “master worker” in the NWT is not certain. As noted by R.B.Y. Scott (“Wisdom in Creation: the *amon of Proverbs viii 30,” VT 10.2 [1960], pages 214-215), the word may be the same noun we find in the Song of Solomon 7:2 (where it does mean, “master worker,” “artisan”), it may be a noun with the meaning, “faithfulness,” or it may be an adjective with the singular meaning, “faithful one.” Compare this with the description of Jesus as “the faithful witness” in Revelation 3:14, which Scott points out “is taken from [the Messianic text of Psalm 89:37/8] and linked with ‘the Amen ... the beginning of God’s creation’ by a natural association of ideas” (Scott, “Wisdom in Creation,” page 220). Scott does not accept the understanding of *amon as “master worker” or “artisan,” believing this would conflict “with the express statements that Yahweh himself performed the creative acts” (Scott, “Wisdom in Creation,” pages 216-217, 220). Yet, far from conflicting with God’s creative acts, Wisdom’s potential role creation “with” God parallels well the same belief in the NT concerning the prehuman Jesus as the Word (see the texts in the chart corresponding to this item), even though the NT monotheistic belief is the same as in the OT, “one God, the Father, out of whom all things came” (1 Corinthians 8:6; compare John 8:54). The prepositional metaphysics expressed here make it plain that there is a marked difference in terms of how each one acted or was acted upon during creation. Indeed, Colossians 1:16 uses a passive verb form for “create” (evkti,sqh) in reference to what someone else (God) did “through” the “firstborn of all creation.” This is also what is conveyed through the use of the third person singular form of the verb for “make” (evpoi,hsen) in reference, not to the “Son,” but to what “God” (o` qeo.j [verse 1]) did “in”/“through” his “Son” (evn ui`w/| ... diV ou-). The verb forms and contrasting, comparative prepositions relative to the role of the Father and the Son in creation make it clear that the Father is the one uniquely responsible for creating by means of his “Word” (John 1:1-3), in ways for which the Word is not responsible. As I point out in my Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended, Chapter 2, page 156:

In Isaiah 44:24 Jah is referred to in an active sense: He “made all things”; he “alone spread out the heavens.” No one “helped” him ‘make’ these things and no one assisted Jah in ‘spreading out the heavens.’ [In the New Testament it] is God the Father ‘alone’ who creates through his Son. [See also my Third Edition, Chapter 5, pages 377-385.]


Additionally, it may be that the word ’mn in Proverbs 8:30 means, “one cared for, reared (as a child).” Still, Wisdom 9:1 refers to God who “made all things by means of [his] word [logos].” But then Wisdom 9:2 uses sophia (“wisdom”) as a parallel to logos. In either case, that is, whether *amon from the Hebrew of Proverbs 8:30 means “young child” or “mater worker,” both ideas are applied similarly to Wisdom/Word/Jesus, all of whom are spoken of in the same or in similarly unique ways as God’s ‘special child’ and/or as his agent or ‘workman’ in creation. This latter view would also complement well the human Jesus’ eventual role as “the carpenter’s son” in Matthew 13:55, through which training Jesus eventually became known as “the carpenter” according to Mark 6:3. However, again, if instead of “master worker” *mn means something like, “little child,” then rather than parallel the NT’s presentation of the Father and the Son in the creation of “all things,” the parallel between Wisdom in Proverbs 8:30 and Jesus in the NT is about being God’s specially loved “child,” his unique Son, the only-begotten (see V.A. Hurowitz, “Nursling, Advisor, Architect? /wma and the Role of Wisdom in Proverbs 8,22-31,” Bib 80 [1999], pages 391-400). E.P. Barrows, “Wisdom as a Person in the Book of Proverbs,” Bibliotheca Sacra/Biblical Repository 15 (1858), page 376, writes that the “delight” Wisdom has “as a child” according to Proverbs 8:30 in her joyful activity before her Father, Jah God, “cannot help but [cause one to think] of the New Testament expressions [in John 1:18 and in Matthew 3:17].” Still, Scott is probably correct in noting that “the two Christological titles or epithets [‘the Amen’] and [‘the beginning of the creation by God’] appear to have been derived, directly or indirectly, from Prov. viii 30 and 22 respectively” (Scott, “Wisdom in Creation,” page 215). Scott even adds, “it is hard to avoid the conclusion that in the text before him, whether it was a scroll of Proverbs or a florilegium of Messianic texts, the author of Revelation read ’-m-n as āmēn [‘A/amen’].”

up21 In the Hebrew-Aramaic books of the Old Testament, ’amen is used 27 times in a sense similar to how many use “amen” today. (For a listing of these texts and for a further discussion of the use of ’amen, see my article, “Using ‘Amen,’” in Watching the Ministry [May 8, 2010].) But there are two uses of ’amen in the OT which are different from the other 27 instances, namely, where ’amen is used twice in Isaiah 65:16 and where it can be transliterated as a proper name (“Amen”) as a part of the expression, “God of Amen,” that is, where ’amen is either a description of the kind of “God” Jah is or it is to be transliterated with the resulting translation and meaning, “God of [the figure known as] Amen.” In the latter case, Jah is then called the “God of” a figure identified as “Amen,” which is precisely what we find in the New Testament where Jesus is not only expressly called ho amen (“the Amen”) in Revelation 3:14, but where in the very same context five times Jesus speaks of ‘his God,’ which God is (as in Isaiah 65:16) the “God of Amen” (Revelation 3:2, 12). So there is an incredibly unique and strong connection between Jesus’ identity as “the Amen” in Revelation 3:14 and the apparent use of the same term for Wisdom in Proverbs 8:30, as well as for the future Messiah (Jesus of Nazareth) in Isaiah 65:16.

up22Wisdom 7:22-23 provides an extensive description of “Wisdom,” noting that in her is the spirit of an “only-begotten” (e;stin ga.r evn auvth/| pneu/ma ... monogenh,j). This is also how “the Word” and Jesus of Nazareth are described in the New Testament (see John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9; compare 1 John 5:18). See also my Third Edition, Chapter 4, pages 333-345, for a discussion of the meaning of monogenes and of the Word/Jesus as “the only-begotten god” of John 1:18.

up23In the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians (2:16) this reference is made to the book of Isaiah (40:13), ‘For who has come to know the mind of Jah,’ which Paul answers by noting that while no one has Jah’s mind “we do have the mind of Christ.” Wisdom 9:13 contains a similar use of Isaiah 40:13 followed by, “And your counsel who has known, except that you give Wisdom and send your holy spirit from above?” (Wisdom 9:17). The parallel with 1 Corinthians 2:16 here is clear: According to Wisdom 9:17 no one knows Jah’s mind or will (fully), but we can come to know it through “Wisdom” and through God’s “holy spirit.” This is precisely what Paul teaches can be done through “Christ,” whom he also calls (with my underlining) “the power of God and the wisdom of God [qeou/ sofi,an]” (1 Corinthians 1:24). See Wisdom 7:25 for the further description and identity of “Wisdom” as “the breath of the power of God” (avtmi.j ga,r evstin th/j tou/ qeou/ duna,mewj).

up24In Matthew 23:34-36 (NRSV), Jesus is recorded as saying the following to his disciples (with my underlining added):

Therefore I [Jesus] send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation.

In Luke 11:49-51 this same account is presented as follows, also according to the NRSV (again with my underlining added):

Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation.

This is as explicit of an identification of Jesus as “the wisdom of God” in the New Testament (but see 1 Corinthians 1:24) which one can hope to find, namely, one made by Jesus himself! So much so was and is this the case, that the “Diatessaron of Tatian” (believed to be an early harmonization of the early accounts of the Gospels and originally written in Syriac in the mid-second century CE) makes the identification which is already clear from Matthew 23:34-36 and Luke 11:49-51 more explicit in Diatessaron Chapter 41, verse 1. Here Jesus is recorded as speaking in the first person, “I, the wisdom of God, send …” (see J. Hamlyn Hill, The Earliest Life of Christ Ever Compiled from the Four Gospels Being the Diatessaron of Tatian [Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1894], pages 205, 310 [underlining added]). Compare also the translation in ANF 9 online and in print (Eerdmans/Hendrickson series), page 106, sec. 41.1. Still other explicit evidence for this teaching can be found in other early accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. For example, in Matthew 11:19 Jesus says the following according to the NRSV (with my underlining added):

[T]he Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

Here Jesus again identifies himself as “W/wisdom,” the one whose “works”/“children” (Luke 7:35) show that she/he is righteous in spite of those who claim otherwise. The NWT translates the Greek pronoun in reference to “wisdom” as “its,” but since “wisdom” is a feminine noun autes should likely be translated “her” in view of the subject, that is, a personal one (Jesus). References to “Wisdom” in Proverbs or here in the NT to those who may otherwise be considered “male,” but as if a “her,” do not require an actual change in gender for the subject in order for the subject to be rightly described and/or associated with a term involving a different grammatical gender, particularly when abstract terms are applied or used for this purpose (compare the use of the feminine noun “love” [avga,ph] in 1 John 4:8 for the masculine noun subject “God”). The point of Matthew 11:19 is, “Wisdom here is clearly identified with Jesus the man who performed these deeds” (John Kampen, “Aspects of Wisdom in the Gospel of Matthew in Light of the New Qumran Evidence,” in Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah, ed. F. Garcia Martinez and A.S. Van Der Woude, vol. 35, Sapiential, Liturgical and Poetical Texts from Qumran [Leiden: Brill, 2000], pages 235-236). Kampen goes on to explain (with my underlining added):

The parallel text in Luke 7:35 refers to [“all of her children”] at this point: “yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” In this case the author wants to establish that it is the deeds which justify the identification of Jesus with wisdom and which provide the basis for the claim made by the author of this gospel later in this chapter. The emphasis on deeds makes the connection to the messianic era and establishes Jesus as the authoritative representative of God’s reign. While the connection of Jesus with wisdom is clearly established, the author also provides a very particular definition for the connection, not simply an identification of Jesus with the wisdom tradition. The utilization of Lady Wisdom follows immediately hereafter at the end of Chapter 11, a section which has frequently played a role in Christian diatribes against Jews: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” As evidence of the use of wisdom imagery in this passage the parallels with Sira [Sirach] 51:23-27 frequently have been noted. [Kampen, “Aspects of Wisdom in the Gospel of Matthew in Light of the New Qumran Evidence,” page 236].

The “particular definition for the connection” that is obviously made between Jesus and Wisdom in these texts is up to each of us to determine according to the best available reasons. Further in this light, Sirach 51:23-27 introduces the figure of Wisdom similar to how Jesus speaks in Matthew 11:28-30. Consider them both together, first with Sirach 51:23-27 from Brenton’s translation, followed by the NRSV of Matthew 11:28-30 (with my underlining added):

Sirach 51:23-27 (Brenton)

Wisdom: Draw near unto me, ye unlearned, and dwell in the house of learning. Wherefore are ye slow, and what say ye of these things, seeing your souls are very thirsty? I opened my mouth, and said, Buy her for yourselves without money. Put your neck under the yoke, and let your soul receive instruction: she is hard at hand to find. Behold with your eyes, how that I have had but little labour, and have gotten unto me much rest.

        Matthew 11:28-30 (NRSV)

Jesus of Nazareth: Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The connection between Matthew 11:29-30 and “the [existing] wisdom tradition” in Sirach 51:23-27 is clear.

up25For other considerations of the parallels in thought and according to text or word application to Wisdom, the Word, and Jesus of Nazareth, see R.E. Brown, The Gospel according to John (i-xiii), The Anchor Bible 29 (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1966), Appendix II, pages 521-524, who in spite of his Trinitarian indications nonetheless notes “good parallels for almost every detail of the Prologue’s description of the Word” and “the OT presentation of Wisdom.” See also the parallels from Wisdom hymns cited by E.J. Epp (“Wisdom, Torah, Word: The Johannine Prologue and the Purpose of the Fourth Gospel,” in Current Issues in Biblical and Patristic Interpretation, ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975], pages 130-141). See also Jeffrey S. Lamp “Wisdom in Col 1:15-20: Contribution and Significance,” JETS 41.1 (1998), pages 45-53.

up26Barrows, “Wisdom as a Person in the Book of Proverbs,” pages 378-379. Even Balchin (“Paul, Wisdom and Christ,” pages 208-209) is faced with and to some extent does note parallels between “W/wisdom” and Jesus of Nazareth, though some of his examples involve the more abstract “wisdom” than they might indicate the truly existing being/person of “Wisdom.” Balchin writes (with his references provided next to the area in the text where his note numbers exist):

Having said all this, we are still left with a conceptual residue which the Jews could take no further, but which proved to be very fertile ground for Christians. Wisdom originates with God [Wisdom 7:25f.], shares his throne [Wisdom 9:4; cf. 1 Enoch 84:3], and was with him from the beginning [Job 28:25-27; Wisdom 9:9; Ecclesiasticus 1:4). Wisdom is the agent of creation [Proverbs (8):22-31; cf. 3:19f.; Wisdom 8:4-6], and providence [Wisdom 1:7; 8:1, 4], as well as revelation [Wisdom 7:26f.; 11:1]. Wisdom both comes [Baruch 3:37] and is sent into the world [Wisdom 9:10-17; Ecclesiasticus 24:8], and even returns to heaven again [for example, Balchin cites 1 Enoch 42:1-2]. Wisdom has a soteriological function in the world [for example, Balchin cites Wisdom 10:1ff.]. Wisdom seeks out men and women and makes personal claims and promises [Proverbs 1:20-33; 8:1-21; 9:4ff.]. Wisdom is associated with the Spirit [Exodus 31:3; Wisdom 1:6; 7:7, 22; 9:17; Ecclesiasticus 39:6; cf. Isaiah 11:2]. Wisdom is even the agent of judgment [Wisdom 1:8]. All this would fuse together in a new pattern when a real person eventually did emerge whose status and origin could only be described in terms like these, and who may even have laid claim to them himself.


Still, Balchin does fail to fully note and consider the evident difference expressed in the style and in the imagery of Proverbs 8:22-31 and the “instructions and other wisdom poems” (R.N. Whybray, The Composition of the Book of Proverbs [JSOTSup 168; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1994], page 44). Whybray isolates two sections of Proverbs (1:20-33 and 8:1-36) which present Wisdom in a much different overall light than we find anywhere for the attribute of “wisdom,” then he writes:

The portrayal of Wisdom in 1.20-33 and ch. 8 is not the same as in the instructions. She is no longer spoken of in the third person, but is herself a speaker: apart from the short introductions which set the scene (1.20-21; 8:1-3), the whole of these two long poems consists of her words, which she delivers in public. Instead of being a shadowy if important figure, she now appears as a fully fledged character. [Whybray, The Composition of the Book of Proverbs, page 35. See also, Whybray, The Book of Proverbs: A Survey of Modern Study (Leiden: Brill, 1995), pages 71-74.]

As noted previously, there is a clear difference between the abstract attribute “wisdom” and the personal being known as “Wisdom.”  Indeed, the impersonal attribute of “wisdom” is spoken of in Proverbs 8:14, which lends further support to the identification of “Wisdom” as a real, personal being elsewhere in Proverbs 8 because it shows that “Wisdom” has “wisdom”! Sirach 1:1 does something very similar by opening with a reference to the attribute “wisdom” (“all wisdom”) as ‘with Jah forever.’ However, then the text switches to the personal being of Wisdom in 1:4, “Wisdom has been created before all [other] things” (underlining added). Further evidence for this view comes from an often overlooked verse from the LXX and other early Greek versions (but not the Hebrew of MT) of “Proverbs 8:21(a)” (Rahlfs [Stuttgart, 2006, page 196]), which if part of the original account makes it even more clear just why Proverbs 8:22-31 has and should stand out from and yet remain among other “wisdom” (impersonal) and even among other “Wisdom” (personal) biblical and related literature texts. In Proverbs 8:21(a) of the LXX, before “Wisdom” gets into more historical and less metaphorical descriptions of the events of creation (including her own [verses 22-5]) in verses 22-31, the Greek of the LXX explains precisely why the section which follows does and should stand out (with 21[a] underlined and provided in Greek according to Rahlfs):

Translation of the Greek (LXX) Text of Proverbs 8:21-21(a)

In order that I might apportion my property to those loving me, and their treasure [or, ‘storage’] rooms I will fill with good possessions. If I inform you about what happens each day, I will keep close in mind what things have come forth out of the age of old to number: 

Greek Text (underlined above) of Proverbs 8:21(a)

eva.n avnaggei,lw u`mi/n ta. kaqV h`me,ran gino,mena mnhmoneu,sw ta. evx aivw/noj avriqmh/sai.

Consistent with the later Jewish, post-Jesus, re-identification of “Wisdom” more as “Metatron” than as “Wisdom” (see note 27),  the Hebrew text of Proverbs 8:21 does not contain “21(a),” and it is easy to explain the apparent removal of this introductory part to Proverbs 8:22, since in doing so ancient, non-Christian Jews were able to better remove this section of Wisdom descriptions from use in identifying the Christian Messiah further by means of the Old Testament, that is, if the Greek LXX reading is original and was then later changed in Jewish Hebrew texts because of Jesus’ and other Christian uses of the figure of Wisdom from the Old Testament as applying to him. If original, then it explains well the reason for the apparently “abrupt” switch to a clearly defined and historical being who was even ‘with Jah’ and “created” first by him (Proverbs 8:22-25). Proverbs 8:21(a) sets up the move into history more naturally, or at least more explicitly than the Hebrew text’s reading, though the Hebrew of Proverbs 8:22-31 is also expressively clear in presenting a real, historically living being. But in the Greek of Proverbs 8:21(a) this real, historically living being is able to “number” everything “out of the age of old,” starting first with herself in verse 22 and then concluding this particular narrative in verse 31 by expressing her ‘rejoicing among the children of men.’ Johann Cook (The Septuagint of Proverbs—Jewish and/or Hellenistic Proverbs? Concerning the Hellenistic Colouring of LXX Proverbs [SVT 69; Brill: Leiden, 1997], page 206) writes the following concerning “Proverbs 8:21(a)”:

What does strike me, however, is that this apparent insertion is found exactly preceding the classic pericope on creation. In addition the second stich forms a logical and smooth bridge to what follows, namely what happened of old, at the beginning. The first stich, on the contrary, seems to me to be referring to the preceding 21 verses. Therefore, as far as contents are concerned, this insertion makes perfect sense as it acts as a logical bridge between verses 11-21 and the last part of the chapter. It is of course possible that the translator actually had it as part of his Hebrew underlying text. Unfortunately we have no other evidence of such a text. However, keeping in mind the freedom with which this translator operated, there is also a structural argument to be offered for accepting this passage as part of the Old Greek without an underlying Hebrew text.

up27Likely because of the early Christian identification of Jesus as “Wisdom,” Jews from at least the early second century CE onward began to involve an entirely new figure called “Metatron” in place of the figure of “Wisdom” from the Old Testament. This is evident from the application of Wisdom/Jesus-like texts to Metatron, as in 3 Enoch 7:8 and 15:1, where Metatron is ‘stationed by God to serve the throne of his glory day by day’ (compare this with my chart item 11]). Compare this also with the Jewish tradition in the Hekalop Zoterapi, in which “the ‘thrones’ of Dan. 79 are explained as referring to the Divine Throne and the throne of Metatron” (Hugo Odeberg, 3 Enoch or The Hebrew Book of Enoch [New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1973], page 106). Further,in 3 Enoch 14:1-5 Metatron is given Jah’s (see 3 Enoch 42:2-7 for the use of “Yah,” which I Anglicize here as “Jah’s”) “crown” (compare 3 Enoch 22:5) with the resulting effect that all of the angels and heavenly princes who are over the world ‘fall down and pay homage’ to Metatron (compare this with what is described in Hebrews 1:6-9). Also, like Wisdom and the Word, after the death of Jesus of Nazareth it is Metatron whom the Jews begin to claim was “the first” and as “the beginning of God’s creation” (Odeberg, 3 Enoch, pages 120-121). Compare this with item 1) in the above chart. Indeed, by the time of 3 Enoch even the “Prince of Wisdom and the Prince of Understanding” are figures who minister to Metatron by teaching him “wisdom” that is ‘from above and from below, and of this world and of the one to come’ (3 Enoch 10:5). In further evident contrast to the early Christian identity of Jesus as the “Word” of God who does only and effectively what his God tells him to do or what he learns from him (see John 1:1; 7: Revelation 19:13), 3 Enoch 48C:10 quotes Isaiah 55:11 which reads (with my underlining), “So the word that goes forth from my [Jah’s] mouth does not return to me empty; he carries out my will” (the translation is from P. Alexander’s “3 [Hebrew Apocalypse of] Enoch,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1, James H. Charlesworth, ed. [New York: Doubleday, 1983], page 312). The Masoretic Hebrew text of Isaiah 55:11 is commonly rendered, “it.” But “it” refers to Jah’s “word,” and both “word” (rbd) and the verbs which include the third person singular “it” according to English versions are masculine in Hebrew, so the only reason not to use “he” for Jah’s “word” would be to convey a view of “word” here which is not personal. Yet, 3 Enoch 48C:10 personalizes “word” by arguing that in Isaiah 55:11, “It does not say here, ‘I carry out,’ but, ‘he carries out,’” which is then applied to Metatron who “stands and carries out every word and every utterance” from Jah! Compare Sirach 24:3 where Wisdom says, “I came out of the mouth of the Most High.” Additionally, Wisdom 9:1 refers to God who “made all things by means of [his] word [logos].” But then Wisdom 9:2 uses sophia (“wisdom”) as a parallel to logos. This again shows the close correspondence between “W/wisdom” and God’s “W/word.”

up28See Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended, Third Edition, Chapter 5, pages 406-407, including note 85, for a brief review of Athanasius’ interpretation and use of Proverbs 8:22; see pages 385-406 of my Third Edition for a discussion of the Trinitarian view of Colossians 1:15-17.

up29Gregory E. Sterling, “Prepositional Metaphysics in Jewish Wisdom Speculation and Early Christian Liturgical Texts,” in Wisdom and Logos Studies in Jewish Thought in Honor of David Winston, David T. Runia and Gregory E. Sterling, eds., The Studia Philonica Annual 9 (BJS 312; Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1997), page 229.

up30 Sterling, “Prepositional Metaphysics,” page 229.

up31A. Segal, Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports About Christianity and Gnosticism (Leiden: Brill, 1977), page 23.

up32 Andrew Chester, “Jewish Messianic Expectations and Mediatorial Figures and Pauline Christology,” page 50, in Paulus und das antike Judentum, Martin Hengel and Ulrich Heckel, eds. (Tübingen: Mohr, 1991). See also my Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended, pages 311-313.

up33 Philo’s use of Logos-terminology in his discussion of biblical texts would have opened up the possibility for discussion of the same subject (logos) with a variety of different views concerning logos which existed outside of or which were partially connected with the Bible. For a brief discussion of these views, see my Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended, pages 310-311, and the referenced items. That Philo did not adopt a purely Greco-Roman view of logos is clear from his view of the logos as a being distinct from God, as “an archangel,” and as an intermediary between God and creation, even as God’s “Firstborn,” just as Jesus of Nazareth comes to be viewed by Christians.—See On the Confusion of Tongues 146; Who is the Heir 205-206; Questions and Answers on Exodus 2.94; On the Unchangeableness of God 138; On the Cherubim 36; compare Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:6.