Wisdom’s Part in Creation Proverbs 8:22-36
22 The Lord created me at the beginning[a] of his work,[b]
the first of his acts of long ago.
23 Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
26 when he had not yet made earth and fields,[c]
or the world’s first bits of soil.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master worker;[d]
and I was daily his[e] delight,
rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.
This is a better creation story than the first two creation stories in our Bibles. Isn’t this beautiful? The male and female side of God at work together. Yes, sex is probably involved too. We are so weird about sex. So immature, and that is why it is wreaking havoc in society. We give it no reverence- we fear it ,and then it controls us in harmful ways; instead of the beauty that gives us a divine experience through sex. It is a transcendent experience. It is holy, and we should be more mature when we talk about it. And church sure as hell should care about the sexual abuse of women, men and children in our churches. That is abuse, and never ok. Not locker room talk either. Women are created in the image of God- not in the image of men. We aren’t here for men to do whatever they like with us-not even talk about us as anything less than a child of God.
We did a word search in Old Testament using this section of scripture. My professor was opening my eyes to how our children’s bibles are erasing women from the stories. The stories of the midwives who defied Pharaoh are not there. But Eve- the poorest picture they can paint of her is in there. Precious Moments Bible is one of the worst ones! Beware.
We took the word “created” and found the word could also be translated to “purchased”; “Set up” could be translated to “poured out”; “brought forth”-anguish and birth; and so on. Looking up words renews the story in new and vibrant ways. Our professor, Dr. Jack Levison, came up with this opening for a children’s bible that I think is just lovely: “In the beginning God gave birth to wisdom, and wisdom took delight in human kind”. Imagine our kids knowing this is true. And to hear the female side of God – including God giving birth.
I am absolutely loving my Bible classes in seminary. Old Testament and New Testament are taking me places I have never been before. It speaks to everything in our human experience- all of the joy, pain, abuse, climate change, sex trafficking, etc. It is all there. I am finding a God who is good in this story. A God who loved women and was never ok with our mistreatment. Culture is not an excuse for abuse. We do not have special knowledge that did not exist from the beginning of time. I love what my New Testament professor said: We use existing ideas to understand something new-that is language. Sophia (wisdom) was here at the beginning of time-before the world was created-And she delights in the human race.
Church history has been much more emotional for me than I expected. It is revealing to me how we got to where we are today. The Bible is definitely guilty of patriarchy, and horrible decisions, but Christian Heritage- we aren’t hearing from women at all. The Bible did not have us this erased- even though the men who decided what was canonized tried to erase us. Ignatius and Clement, 1 Century bishops, are guilty of pushing women out of the picture. The Bishop, presbyter, deacons were to be all male with the Bishop representing Christ by giving the Eucharist. Everyone was to be united around the bishop because the bishop was the one who performed the Eucharist-he isn’t Christ, but a representation of Christ. And the history just keeps going and getting worse.
The arrogance in the church fathers is so maddening. Twitter is not new everyone! I am not even sure how we got here from the Bible. The Bible is way better than this. I do not mean to be disrespectful, but if we can’t talk about this then we have created an idol of our church fathers. These men did do a lot of good things in teaching us about holy spirit and how to use reason – (although I whole-heartedly disagree that we are completely rational beings). But they have sinned in a way that is still playing out in our churches, and I am asking us to take responsibility for this.
These church fathers were deeming anyone outside of their school of thought as heretics, and would exile them. Yes, some of the theology they were dismissing was bad. Not a fan of gnosticism, but oh, it is still in our churches today. Modern evangelicalism has a lot of gnosticism in it. So kicking people out doesn’t do a damn thing.
I also learned there was a movement that tried to counter Ignatius and Clement in the second century called Monatism. They had prophetesses, and believed in new prophetic revelations by God because they called for a reliance on the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit (modern day Pentecostalism). They were labeled heretics by our church fathers, and disappeared. Women- we weren’t erased by everyone in the second century-just the church at large. Ugh!
This just breaks my heart, because I know this is not of Jesus or of the Spirit (wisdom-female). I cried all through class today because I know how this plays out, and sometimes I weep for it. Not enough people are so I am crying for so many who cannot seem to cry.
But before I had Church History today, I had New Testament. My professor, Dr. Sze-kar Wan-has heard my cry. He is the one I wrote about on Tuesday who said: PREACH, SISTER. Today he did something so beautiful. As we opened up the Gospel of John and we were talking about the Logos; he went back to Proverbs 8. Reminding us of who wisdom started out as – Sophia. But systems have been in place since the beginning of time trying to erase women, and he thinks the move from Sophia to Logos did just that. Now we don’t hear the female side of God. Christology instead of Sophiaology – same thing. He even confessed it is hard for him too, because he was raised so Patriarchal. It was such a beautiful moment to hear from Sophia in class today, and a confession from a male professor who said he is still learning-I had good tears that offset the heartbreak.