Little knowledge is dangerous, not a little wisdom! Thursday, 32nd week in ordinary time – Wisdom 7:22- 8:1

Our text of today forms part of a larger section of Wisdom 6:22-11:1 and deals with the nature of Wisdom and the author’s quest for her. We know that in reality this book was written by a Jew who desired to caution the Jews of Alexandria in Egypt to follow the wisdom the of the Jewish faith and in Yahweh who is the creator of all things. The author, identifies himself with the wise king Solomon in the Old Testament so as to reach out to his brothers and sisters who were influenced by Hellenism while rapidly giving up their faith. He seeks to praise and celebrate the beauty of Wisdom and describes how he sought her out. In the verses of today and those that follow, the relationship between Solomon and wisdom set forth as a model for all the wise, so that the readers of the book will take the proper steps to become the true rulers of the earth (1:1)

Today’s passage opens with a very long sentence which applauds the venerable qualities of wisdom. If you look at verse 22 it has 21 characteristics of wisdom. For the Jews, seven was a perfect number and multiplied by 3, which is the number of divine persons, gives you the 21 characteristics of wisdom numbering to absolute perfection. The result is a picture showing wisdom as identical with God in all but the most subtle senses, somehow distinct, somehow the same. The remarkable description of wisdom in verses 22-23 is made up of terms borrowed in large part from Greek, especially stoic philosophy. Obviously, the author wishes to show that whatever words might be used to describe such Greek philosophical concepts as the logos or world soul, might also be used to characterize the biblical concept of wisdom.

The author then singles out two of these characteristics for further comment. Wisdom is mobile because of her purity and divine origin. She is omnipotent in producing holiness because she is fairer than the sun and wickedness cannot prevail over her. Much of the terminology used in verses 22-23 is borrowed from Greek philosophy and religion, where these qualities were attributed to Isis, the pagan goddess of wisdom and to a world soul or logos. In using this vocabulary, the author wishes to show that it is really the divine Wisdom that possesses these attributes and not some pagan goddess.

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