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In general, Wisdom can be (and is, and was) identified as Jesus. However, there is this verse...

Proverbs 8:22 (NLT)
22 "The Lord formed me from the beginning,
         before he created anything else."

Hold on a moment...I thought God the Son wasn't created, having coexisted with God the Father since before time? How is the identity of Wisdom established as being that of the Son and how is Proverbs 8:22 handled? If it makes a difference, I grew up Wesleyan, so I'd prefer Protestant doctrines although Catholic or Orthodox doctrines are acceptable.

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Interesting note: in WEB the verb is 'possessed' instead of 'formed'. "Yahweh possessed me in the beginning of his work, Before his deeds of old." � WEB –  dsh Aug 8 '12 at 16:30
Out of curiosity, why do you say that Wisdom is Jesus? (I'm just curious if I am missing something obvious.) As I studied Proverbs I leaned more toward Wisdom being the Spirit. (Though Jesus' life, of course, would be the perfect demonstration of a life by the Spirit.) –  Jas 3.1 Jun 2 '13 at 23:35

5 Answers 5

I can tell you who wisdom is in Sirach...

Wisdom shall praise her own self, and shall be honoured in God, and shall glory in the midst of her people, and shall open her mouth in the churches of the most High, and shall glorify herself in the sight of his power, and in the midst of her own people she shall be exalted, and shall be admired in the holy assembly. And in the multitude of the elect she shall have praise, and among the blessed she shall be blessed, saying: I came out of the mouth of the most High, the firstborn before all creatures: (Sirach 24:1-5)

It's a lady! Not sure if your doctrines forbid ascribing female characteristic to God, but feminine wisdom and feminine motherliness is palpable throughout the Bible. So I think in the eternal sense (aka the anagogical sense):

The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, "leading"). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem. CCC 117

we can interpret these eternal truths in an eternal fashion.

Wisdom gives birth to great ideas and is justifiably considered a woman! Wisdom, like our mother, is our First Teacher. All these things could also be said of the Holy Spirit.

For addtional Wisdom, check out Sirach's offspring Jesus (no relation) who wrote the Book of Wisdom and for additional confusion, consider the title given to Mary "Seat of Wisdom" and the Wisdom 7:27 which says

The soul of the righteous is the seat of Wisdom.

So... Mary, seat of wisdom, Holy Tabernacle of the Lord, model of the Church etc... Models our souls as the place where Wisdom resides.

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1. You TOTALLY should add a reference to the book of Wisdom (cause I'm too lazy and if I were to write up my own answer it would largely be a duplicate effort). 2. You also may want to mention that "wisdom" was a feminine noun. –  Ignatius Theophorus Aug 7 '12 at 14:57
@IgnatiusTheophorus thanks for the prompting on the book of Wisdom. I can't speak to the femininity of the word wisdom as I don't even know which language you're talking about, Greek? But I think that feminine words are not generally translated using feminine pronouns unless done for an explicit reason. –  Peter Turner Aug 7 '12 at 15:24

There are a few different types of books in the Old Testament. I'm no OT scholar, but I think the standard categories are:

  • Pentateuch
  • Historical
  • Wisdom/Poetic
  • Prophetic (Major & Minor)

Proverbs is normally classed as wisdom literature. It contains lots of literary devices, such as the one you pointed out, and -- even while many Christians traditionally understand every verse of the Bible to reference Christ in some way -- in some cases, the reference is more figurative rather than prophetic or revelatory.

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Note: Most on-line commentaries seem ascribe this verse to mean the Son of God and the Arian heresy tried to use it as a means for arguing that the Son was created and therefore not eternal. See these commentaries here.

Anyway, when thinking of the Eternal Son as the wisdom of God we run into the idea that the Son was eternally begotten of the Father. That is, the Son from eternity is the express image and word of the father, proceeding from him. Absolutely considered we can’t say that He was ‘formed’ so it seems when the Bible refers to the Son in this way, it is also looking at this with the eternal counsels of God’s will, in the future plan of incarnating the Son and saving the world, before he ever created it. In this sense the Son is both the ‘power and wisdom of God’, before the creation of the world.

but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24)

So when we regard that God was planning from eternity to create and redeem the creation by the Son, the Son is said to be God’s wisdom. It is from eternity, in the thought of this undertaking by the Son, that the verse you mention seems to comprehend. We can see that this wisdom, or counsels of God’s will through His Son, were from eternity:

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

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"Wisdom" in the context of these verses isn't anybody. It's wisdom, as you or I would understand the word, literally, but in this particular context, Solomon is Anthropomorphizing the character trait of wisdom.

I've never once seen a commentary, or heard a message that gives any indication that "Wisdom" in these passages means anything else.

That Solomon would Anthropomorphize wisdom isn't surprising. The Proverbs have a very poetic style, almost equaling that of the Psalms. And Solomon valued wisdom. When God offered to give Solomon anything he wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom. (1 Kings Chapter 3) It's quite common in literature to use anthropomorphism when describing non-living objects, or even concepts.

In this particular proverb, Solomon is simply expressing the importance of, and value of wisdom using poetic language.

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And on a side note, if "Wisdom" was "anybody", it would just be the WORD (since well, you can only hear and see Wisdom in words, you can't "feel" Wisdom") , which would therefore be Christ before He was incarnate. –  treehau5 Aug 10 '12 at 19:35

It is you who is making the association of Wisdom with Jesus. To be sure you are not the only person to do it, for various reasons, but the association is not a part of Scripture and not a part of Christianity.

So the answer to "Who is Wisdom?" is that Wisdom is a personification of the virtue. There is no reason to think that she was intended, in the original text, to be an actual person.

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"Not part of Christianity"? Says who? Many of the early Church fathers asserted that the Wisdom of Psalms 8 was the pre-incarnate Jesus. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Jun 3 '13 at 1:47

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