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Friday, January 20, 2012

What Do Jehovah's Witnesses Understand "Wisdom" to be at Proverbs 8:22-31?

When examining Proverbs 8:22-31, some have argued that this passage isn't talking about Jesus but rather Wisdom itself personified. They further may point out that Wisdom may previously have been referred to in the feminine gender.

However, in Prov. Chapter 8, Wisdom is manifest only by being expressed in some way. God's own wisdom was expressed in creation (Prov. 3:19, 20) but through his Son. Many professed Christian writers of the early centuries of the Common Era understood Prov. 8:22-31 to refer symbolically to God's Son in his pre-human state. In fact, the understanding that "Wisdom" in Prov. 8:22-30 is, in reality, figurative of Jesus in his pre-human existence has always existed in the majority of churches that call themselves Christian. It was commonly noted in the writings of the Church Fathers of the first centuries of Christianity (including such noted scholars as Origen, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, etc.) Many Bible scholars (trinitarians included) have even said that this connection was made in the New Testament at 1 Cor. 1:24. (For a list of quotes from trinitarian scholars admitting this, see: Prov. 8:22-30 "Wisdom" and Christ; Examining the Trinity)

Wisdom in the Feminine Gender

It is true that in Hebrew, which assigns gender to its nouns (as do many other languages), the word for "wisdom" is always in the feminine gender. This would continue to be the case even though wisdom is personified and so would not rule out wisdom's being used figuratively to represent God's firstborn Son. For instance, the Greek word for "love" in the expression "God is love" (1 John 4:8) is also in the feminine gender but that does not make God feminine.

Wisdom Used Figuratively, Not Literally

Jehovah God is the Creator of all things. He is uncreated, without beginning (Rev. 4:11). Job 36:26 says, "In number his years are beyond searching." It is impossible to place an age upon him, for there is no starting point from which to measure. Because He is ageless, He is properly called "the Ancient of Days" since His existence stretches endlessly into the past. (Dan. 7:9, 13) And so, since Jehovah God has existed forever, therefore wisdom had to have always existed within Jehovah forever. (Ps. 90:2)

So we could ask those using these trinitarian arguments: If Prov. 8:22-31 is really talking about literal wisdom itself, than how could wisdom even have been "begotten"? How could it have even been "produced", "set up", "created", or "made"? If this was talking about literal wisdom itself, then how could wisdom be "beside" God or "before" Him? How could wisdom be "the one He was specially fond of"?

So instead of literal Wisdom itself (of which God had to already have in order to "beget", "produce", "set up", "create", or "make" anything), when Prov. 8:22 also says that the subject is, "the earliest of his achievements of long ago", this corresponds more to the description of Jesus in Col. 1:15 where it says that he is "the first-born of all creation". Or when Prov. 8:23 says, "From time indefinite I was installed, from the start, from times earlier than the earth", this corresponds more to the description of Jesus in Micah 5:2 where it says that his "origin is from early times, from the days of time indefinite". Or when Prov. 8:22 says, "Jehovah God himself produced me as the beginning of his way," this corresponds more to the description of Jesus in Rev. 3:14 where it says that Jesus is "the beginning of the creation by God".

And as for the Hebrew word 'qanah', it can mean either to "produce, acquire, create" or "possess". Context is key in finding out which one it means. Bibles which are biased toward the Trinity do not want to render it as "Produce" or something similar because that would mean that Jesus has a beginning, and that would contradict the Trinity doctrine.

Yet, because the context of Prov. 8:22-31 so overwhelmingly supports the translation of the word 'qanah' as "create", even scores of trinitarian bibles have decided to render it as such.

Additional Reading:

Does "Wisdom" at Prov. 8:22-30 refer to the Messiah, and does it say that he was created? (Search For Bible Truths)

Is Proverbs 8:22-31 talking about Wisdom personified instead of Jesus? Why is Wisdom referred to in the feminine gender? (Search For Bible Truths)

Scores of trinitarian bibles have decided to render the word 'qanah' as "create". (Jehovah's Witnesses Questions and Answers)

Prov. 8:22-30 "Wisdom" and Christ (Examining the Trinity)

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