Sophia-Maria by Thomas Schipflinger - Read Online
Sophia-Maria
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An indispensable source of reference for anyone wanting to learn more about the Sophianic movement. Schipflinger collected the material for this book over two decades. He traces Her throughout history: in scripture, art and literature, in the writing of Sophia scholars, in Russian iconography and architecture/ and in the images and incarnations of Sophia in Eastern traditions.
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1953).

PART I

SOPHIA IN HOLY SCRIPTURE

1

The Wisdom Books of the Old Testament

THE WISDOM BOOKS OF the Old Testament¹ concern the topic of Wisdom (Hebrew: Chokmah; Greek: Sophia), which is personified in many of the books as a female figure.

Most commentators² include five books in this group: Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes (also called Kohelet), Eccesiasticus (also called the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach) and the Wisdom of Solomon (the Book of Wisdom). They have been characterized in the following way:

Their common intention is to help humanity find happiness. The theme of the Book of Proverbs is the general search for happiness; the Book of Job depicts the immense difficulty of this search; the Book of Ecclesiastes, the resignation and disappointment that can result; the Book of Eccesiasticus illustrates a successful search; and the Book of Wisdom, the attainment of eternal happiness.³

CHANGING VIEWS OF WISDOM

What becomes apparent in the different books is that perspectives about Wisdom gradually changed and were also affected by the historical circumstances present when the individual books were composed.

The Book of Job asks why unhappiness exists if humanity is meant to be happy, for in spite of his piety Job's life has become miserable. He implores God to help him understand the meaning of unhappiness and whether the expectation of reward is justified. What he comes to realize is that happiness and recompense for piety are bound up with mysteries which cannot be understood by reason alone. It is only when this is accepted that the Lord who transcends everything can ultimately bring about happiness and well being.

Eventually things do turn out better for Job. The wise attitude that Job expresses at the beginning of his trials: The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1,21) helps him to persevere through much pain and suffering. Trusting surrender, faith, and constancy in trial leads him to happiness.

The Book of Ecclesiastes (Greek: Ecclesiastes; Hebrew: Kohelet) also talks about surrender; yet not surrender born of piety and courage but of disappointment and resignation:

I considered my handiwork, all my labor and toil: it was futility, all of it, and a chasing of the wind . . .

So I thought, I too shall suffer the fate of the fool. To what purpose have I been wise? Where is the profit? Even this, I said to myself, is futile (Eccles. 2,11,15).

For everything its season, and for every activity under the heavens its time: A time to be born and a time to die ... a time to weep and a time to laugh ... a time for war and a time for peace (Eccles. 3,1–8).

To eat and drink and experience pleasure in return for his labors, this does not come from any good in a person: it comes from God (Eccles. 2,24).

Such resigned surrender can lead to an attitude which is accepting of life, taking life as it comes and making the best of it, satisfied with the modest happiness of daily life.

Yet because Ecclesiastes has a tendency toward resignation and even pessimism, the question has been raised as to why it was taken into the Canon of Holy Scripture? It can be answered that the point of view that it expresses does belongs to a universal kind of wisdom that mediates the tensions between hope and despair, ideal and reality, happiness and unhappiness, and success and failure that life brings. Both Ecclesiastes and Job pose questions about the meaning of happiness in a radical way and try to offer solutions that validate existence.

The Book of Proverbs contains a summary of the proverbial treasures of the Jewish people and their neighbors gathered over a period of hundreds of years (the Wisdom teachings of the Egyptians and Babylonians in particular were integrated into Judaism). Parts of it are older than Job and Ecclesiastes.

The oldest portion of Proverbs talks about various paths to happiness, and in the portion composed later these paths merge into the way pointed out by Wisdom who appears as a person.

Happiness is initially depicted in worldly terms (riches, honor and personal welfare) but ultimately comes to signify the development of qualities like integrity, fear of the Lord, righteousness, good conduct and willingness to learn. Wisdom is life, but it gradually becomes clear that life signifies more than material riches; it is virtue itself:

She [Wisdom] is a tree of life to those who grasp her, and those who hold fast to her are safe (Prov. 3,18).

In my hands are riches and honour, boundless wealth and prosperity. ... I endow with riches those who love me; I shall fill their treasuries (Prov. 8,18,21).

Happy the one who listens to me, watching daily at my threshold. . . . For whoever finds me finds life . . . but whoever fails to find me deprives himself (Prov. 8,34–36).

Wisdom has built her house. .. . Now, having slaughtered a beast, spiced her wine, and spread her table . . . she says . . . Come, eat the food I have prepared and taste the wine I have spiced (Prov. 9,1–5).

Idle hands make for penury; diligent hands make for riches (Prov. 10,4).

The fruit of humility is fear of God with riches and honor and life (Prov. 22,4).

The Book of Ecclesiasticus presupposes fear of the Lord—great reverence for God and His Law—as the necessary precondition for happiness:

The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord. . . . Wisdom's garland is fear of the Lord (Ecclus. 1,14,18).

In common with Proverbs, Ecclesiasticus also enumerates many gifts of Wisdom—honor, pride, cheerfulness, joy and long life (Ecclus. 1,11–12,17–18). In ensuing chapters, however, Ecclesiasticus is clearer about a personal view of Wisdom which sees Her as Mistress and Teacher:

Wisdom raises her sons to greatness. . . . He who holds fast to her will gain honor; the Lord's blessing rests on the house she enters. . . . the Lord loves those who love her (Ecclus. 4,11,13,14).

It is befitting that the wise person serve Wisdom, for in serving Wisdom one serves the Holy One (Ecclus. 4,14) and one's efforts bear fruit: If you cultivate her . . . soon you will be enjoying the harvest (Ecclus. 6,19). The author goes so far as to recommend:

Put your feet in Wisdom's fetters and your neck into her collar. . . . Do not let her go. . . . she will transform herself for you into joy. . . . You will put her on like a splendid robe and wear her like a garland of joy (Ecclus. 6,24,27–28,31).

She will be to him like a mother and young bride and crown him with joy and exultation (Ecclus. 15,2,6). She is the mother of honourable love (Ecclus. 24,18).

In Ecclesiasticus one finds Wisdom and happiness by fulfilling the Law. Wisdom is the law laid on us by Moses (Ecclus. 24,23). The life-giving strength of this Law is compared with the rivers of Paradise and with the most beautiful trees and scented bushes (24,13–15,25). Wisdom's happiness in Ecclesiasticus consists of paradisical abundance and splendor.

The Book of the Wisdom of Solomon is the most recent of the Wisdom Books to appear, and it resolves the enigma of life in an essentially new way. It leaves behind an earthly pursuit of happiness and opens the door to a vision of the eternal life which the soul reaps as its reward: to keep her laws is a warrant of immortality; and immortality brings a person nearer to God (Wisd. 6,18–19). Wisdom leads the way to eternity and the transcendent order, and this fundamentally new perspective questions previously held values and points to the resolution of hitherto unresolved problems.

References to life after death in the Book of Wisdom (and in Proverbs also) evinces an Egyptian influence. Descriptions of Wisdom's cosmological dimension (She is more beautiful than the sun, and surpasses every constellation. . . . She spans the world in power from end to end, and gently orders all things— 7,29; 8,1) also recalls the Egyptian goddess Isis,⁵ though in a more Hellenistic form.

THE HISTORICAL MILIEUX OF THE WISDOM BOOKS

The events of Jewish history help to date the composition of the Wisdom Books and also provide an understanding of the unique features of each individual book (for an overview of the historical placement of the Wisdom Books see Appendix I).

Job's subject matter and reproachful manner reflects its appearance during the time of the Babylonian captivity, when faith in Yahweh was challenged. Commentators date the book's final form to the time around 400 B.C.E.,⁶ in the epoch following exile, when the struggle to restore the old homeland and the temple provided a source of hope and strength to those who returned (Job is the first of the Wisdom Books to achieve a final form).

Ecclesiastes (or Kohelet) is named for a teacher who speaks before an assembled community (Hebrew qahal and Greek ekklesia both mean church or community). The author of Ecclesiastes lived in Jerusalem when Palestine was under the rule of Ptolemaic Egypt and Hellenistic influence was steadily increasing. The philosophies of Epicurus (the enjoyment of life) and Pyrrho of Ellis (the founder of skepticism) were especially popular. The author of Ecclesiastes seems to have been influenced by both, for on the one hand he is a skeptic (Futility, utter futility . . . everything is futile—Eccles. 1,2) and on the other he is the Bible's Epicurean:

It is good and proper for a man to eat and drink and enjoy himself in return for the fruits of his labors here under the sun, throughout the brief span of life (Eccles. 5,18).

Do not be over-righteous and do not be over-wise (Eccles. 7,16).

The light of day is sweet, and pleasant to the eye is the sun. . . . Delight in your youth, young man, make the most of your early days..... Banish vexation from your mind, and shake off the troubles of your body (Eccles. 11,7–10).

The composition of Ecclesiastes is dated to the middle of the third century (around 260 B.C.E.).

Most of Proverbs represents the oldest portions of the Wisdom Books. The dates of the book's first and final forms are the most uncertain of all the Wisdom Books (estimates range from 538 B.C.E., around the time of the return from Babylon, to the composition of the Septuagint around 250 B.C.E.).⁸ Thus the approximate time of its final composition can be set around 330 B.C.E.

Eccesiasticus was written by a teacher named Sirach or Sira. It was composed in Hebrew around 180 B.C.E. and translated approximately fifty years later into Greek (around 130 B.C.E.) by his nephew Jesus Sirach (Joshua ben Eleasar ben Sira)⁹ during a turbulent time in Jewish history. The Seleucids had driven the Ptolemies out of Palestine and replaced them as rulers. Around 190 B.C.E. the Seleucid king Antiochus III had lost his war against the Romans and had to pay off enormous war debts. In a brutal and treacherous manner he exacted these sums from his peoples, not hesitating to rob temples and sanctuaries.¹⁰ His son and successor Antiochus IV, was no better. In 170 B.C.E. he took Jerusalem by storm and desecrated the temple, compelling the Jews to hand over temple treasures and to take up Greek practices and customs. This resulted in resistance and lead to the successful revolt of the Jews inspired by the Maccabees. Something of this critical and troubled time is reflected in Ecclesiasticus, particularly in the emphasis on the Law, or the call to be faithful to the Law. Toward this end, the Law or Torah was identified with Wisdom, who had taken up Her dwelling in Israel. The book aimed to bolster self-confidence and thereby help the Jews survive the identity crisis occasioned by the confrontation with Hellenism. One of the fruits of this effort can perhaps be seen in the heroic death of the Maccabean brothers (2 Macc. 7,1–42) who, rather than betray the Law, were martyred in faithfulness to it.

The Book of Wisdom was written in Greek by a Jewish wisdom teacher around 100 B.C.E. in Alexandria, the main center of Hellenism.¹¹ This was a time when Greek culture was so widespread among the upper classes that the Jews were in danger of falling away from their traditional faith. The author of the Book of Wisdom was familiar with Greek philosophy and understood that it contained much that was true and beautiful. He was impressed by conceptions like the soul's immortality, the world's creation through the mutual action of the Nous and Sophia (the Father and Mother of the cosmos), and by the devotion to individual deities like Demeter and Isis in the mystery cults. In all such conceptions and practices he perceived the working of Wisdom (age after age . . . she enters into holy souls, and makes them friends of God and prophets—Wisd. 7,27) and understood the possibility of using Greek teachings to help explain unresolved questions for the Jews. (Until that time, for example, the concept of the soul's immortality was only known in the Jewish tradition in a very rudimentary form.) The teaching about the Nous and Sophia also appeared to relate to Sophia's portrayal in the Wisdom Books as the mediator between Yahweh and creation and humanity.¹²

Inspired by God, the unknown author of the Book of Wisdom took a courageous and necessary step. Recognizing that knowledge in other cultures comes from Wisdom and complements belief in Yahweh, he concluded that it was justified to incorporate such teachings into the Jewish faith. Yet he was also critical about the weaknesses and imperfections of Greek philosophy (such as the worship of Egyptian gods which had been Hellenized). Thus an attempt was made to synthesize what was good and true with traditional Jewish faith and thereby help the Jews in the struggle to come to terms with Hellenism and the religious myths of neighboring peoples like the Egyptians. (One can add that the situation then has much in common with the challenge to Christianity today by the other world religions and that a similar, more powerful synthesis is demanded.)

The Book of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus were both taken into the scriptural canon of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches (the fixed inventory of the Bible) but not into the canon of the Jewish tradition. For even though they were valued and used in the synagogue, they were not considered to be of canonical age. Luther and the Reformation also did not recognize them as canonical, although Luther included them in his translation of the Bible and held them in high esteem.¹³

THE PERSONAL CONCEPTION OF WISDOM

Holy Wisdom (Chokmah or Sophia) was generally understood as the key to happiness and soon came to be viewed as a virtue and capacity given by God for recognizing what leads to happiness and achieving it. Gradually Wisdom begins to be revealed as a mysterious being in God, created before all time, who works together in the creation and counsels God, sharing the throne as God's Beloved (Prov. 8,22–31; Wisd. 8,3–4; 9,4). Because of Her role in creation She mediates between God and the world, coming from God and leading back to God.

A dawning sense of Wisdom's independent nature had appeared in the Book of Job (28,27); but She is clearly recognized for the first time in Proverbs, where She is poetically proclaimed as the Teacher and Guide to happiness who hosts the banquet of understanding and life (Prov. 8,32–36; 9,1–6).

Ecclesiastes does not take up Wisdom's personal aspect, which perhaps would not have interested its unspeculative author whose concerns are more practical. Ecclesiasticus does present Her in personal terms, depicting Her proceeding from the mouth of God, Her rulership over the world and its nations, and Her particular relationship to the people of Israel. What is especially emphasized is Wisdom's function as the universal Law (Torah) of God and the world which orders and directs all things. Following the Law becomes the path to happiness, though this happiness is still defined in worldly terms (Ecclus 24,1–12; 23–26).

The Book of Wisdom takes a further step toward unveiling the mystery of Holy Wisdom. What was tentatively perceived in the previous Wisdom Books is glimpsed more fully: that She proceeds from God, and Her divine dignity and life at God's side, assisting and counseling God. All of this is depicted in a clear language which would seem to go beyond a poetic personification (Wisd. 7,25–28; 8,3–4; 9,4).

She is presented in Her relationship to creation and the cosmos also, as the spiritual power which creates, permeates, enlivens, and renews all things (Wisd. 7,22–24). Who more than wisdom is the artificer of all that is? (Wisd. 8,6). She cares for humanity by always and everywhere providing friends and prophets of God (Wisd. 7,27).

• • •

It is a grandiose picture of Wisdom that emerges from everything that is said about Her in the Wisdom Books. As will be discussed in the chapters which follow, some Church Fathers understood Her as the Logos and some as the Holy Spirit.¹⁴ Others have called Her the Mother of Creation and the Soul of the World and have identified Her as Mary,¹⁵ the Mother of the Logos Son of God who assisted Him in the work of salvation. This latter understanding is reflected in the liturgy of the Church, whose epistle readings for Marian feast days are taken from the Books of Wisdom (see Appendix II).

The question of the validity of understanding Wisdom-Sophia as a person will be discussed in more depth in chapter 6.

The following verses¹⁶ from the Books of Wisdom are some of the most significant, and help to characterize the figure of Lady Wisdom. They are arranged according to subject, beginning with Wisdom's origin and culminating with the prophet Baruch's prophecy of Wisdom's appearance on Earth.

WISDOM'S ORIGIN

Ecclus. 1,1–9Wisdom's Nature and Lineage

1 All wisdom is from the Lord; she dwells with him for ever.¹⁷

2 Who can count the sands of the sea, the raindrops, or the days of unending time?

3 Who can measure the height of the sky, the breadth of the earth, or the depth of the abyss?

4 Wisdom was first of all created things; intelligent purpose has existed from the beginning.

5 The fountain of wisdom is God's word on high, and her ways are eternal commandments.

6 To whom has the root of wisdom been revealed? Who has understanding of her subtlety?

7 Who has discovered all that wisdom knows, or understood her wealth of experience?

8 One alone is wise, the Lord most terrible, seated upon his throne.

9 It is he who created her, beheld and measured her, and infused her into all his works.

Prov. 8,22–31—Wisdom Witnesses to Her Creation

22 The LORD created me the first of his works long ago, before all else that he made.

23 I was formed in earliest times, at the beginning, before earth itself.

24 I was bom when there was yet no ocean, when there were no springs brimming with water.

25 Before the mountains were settled in their place, before the hills I was born,

26 when as yet he had made neither land nor streams nor the mass of the earth's soil.

27 When he set the heavens in place I was there, when he girdled the ocean with the horizon, when he fixed the canopy of clouds overhead and confined the springs of the deep,

29 when he prescribed limits for the sea so that the waters do not transgress his command, when he made earth's foundations firm.

30 Then I was at his side each day, his darling and delight, playing in his presence continually,

31 playing over his whole world, while my delight was in mankind.

Ecclus. 24,1–9—I Am the Word Spoken by the Most High

1 Hear the praise of wisdom from her own mouth, as she speaks with pride among her people,

2 before the assembly of the Most High and in the presence of the heavenly host:

3 "I am the word spoken by the Most High; it was I who covered the earth like a mist.

4 My dwelling-place was in high heaven; my throne was in a pillar of cloud.

5 Alone I made a circuit of the sky and traversed the depths of the abyss.

6 The waves of the sea, the whole earth, every people and nation were under my sway.

7 Among them all I sought where I might come to rest: in whose territory was I to settle?

8 Then the Creator of all things laid a command on me; he who created me decreed where I should dwell. He said, Make your home in Jacob; enter on your heritage in Israel.

9 Before time he created me, and until the end of time I shall endure.

Ecclus. 24,10–18—I Took Root Among an Honorable People

10 In the sacred tent I ministered in his presence, and thus I came to be established in Zion.

11 He settled me in the city he loved and gave me authority in Jerusalem.

12 I took root among the people whom the Lord had honoured by choosing them to be his own portion.

13 There I grew like a cedar of Lebanon, like a cypress on the slopes of Hermon,

14 like a date-palm at En-gedi, like roses at Jericho. I grew like a fair olive tree in the vale, or like a plane tree planted beside the water.

15 Like cinnamon or camel-thorn I was redolent of spices; like a choice myrrh I spread my fragrance, like galbanum, aromatic shell, and gum resin, like the smoke of frankincense in the sacred tent.

16 Like a terebinth I spread out my branches, laden with honour and grace.

17 I put forth graceful shoots like the vine, and my blossoms were a harvest of honour and wealth.

18 I give birth to honorable love, to reverence, knowledge, and holy hope; all these my eternal progeny I give to God's elect.¹⁸

WISDOM AS THE TORAH

Ecclus. 24,23–29; Bar. 4,1–4—Wisdom is the Torah or Law of God

23 All this is the book of the covenant of God Most High, the law laid on us by Moses, a possession for the assemblies of Jacob.

24 Never fail to be strong in the Lord; hold fast to him, so that he may strengthen you. The Lord Almighty is God alone, and beside him there is no saviour.¹⁹

25 It sends out wisdom in full flood like the river Peshon or like the Tigris at the time of first fruits;

26 it overflows like the Euphrates with understanding or like the Jordan at the harvest season.

27 it pours forth instruction like the Nile, like the Gihon at the time of vintage.

28 No one has ever known wisdom fully and from first to last no one has fathomed her,

29 for her thoughts are vaster than the ocean, her purpose more profound than the great abyss.

Bar. 4,1–4

1 She is the book of God's commandments, the law that endures forever.

2 Return, you people of Jacob, and lay hold of her; set your course towards the radiance of her light.

3 Do not yield up your glory to another or your privileges to a foreign nation.

4 Happy are we, Israel, for we know what is pleasing to God!

WISDOM'S FUNCTIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS

Job 28,12–27—Wisdom Transcends Time and Space

12 But where can wisdom be found, and where is the source of understanding?

13 No one knows the way to it, nor is it to be found in the land of the living.

14 It is not in us, declare the ocean depths; the sea declares, It is not with me.

15 Red gold cannot buy it, nor can its price be weighed out in silver;

16 gold of Ophir cannot be set in the scales against it, nor precious cornelian nor sapphire;

17 gold and crystal are not to be matched with it, no work in fine gold can be bartered for it;

18 black coral and alabaster are not worth mention, and a parcel of wisdom fetches more than red coral;

19 chrysolite from Ethiopia is not to be matched with it, pure gold cannot be set in the scales against it.

20 Where, then, does Wisdom come from? Where is the source of understanding?

21 No creature on earth can set eyes on it; even from birds of the air it is concealed.

22 Destruction and Death declare, We know of it only by hearsay.

23 God alone understands the way to it, he alone knows its source;

24 for he can see to the ends of the earth and observe every place under heaven.

25 When he regulated the force of the wind and measured out the waters in proportion,

26 when he had laid down a limit for the rain and cleared a path for the thunderbolt,

27 it was then he saw wisdom and took stock of it, he considered it and fathomed its very depths.

Wisd. 7,22–28Wisdom's Power and Transcendence

22 In wisdom there is a spirit intelligent and holy, unique in its kind yet made up of many parts, subtle, free-moving, lucid, spotless, clear, neither harmed nor harming, loving what is good, eager, unhampered, beneficent,

23 kindly towards mortals, steadfast, unerring, untouched by care, all-powerful, all-surveying, and permeating every intelligent, pure, and most subtle spirit.

24 For wisdom moves more easily than motion itself; she is so pure she pervades and permeates all things.

25 Like a fine mist she rises from the power of God, a clear effluence from the glory of the Almighty; so nothing defiled can enter into her by stealth.

26 She is the radiance that streams from everlasting light, the flawless mirror of the active power of God, and the image of his goodness.

27 She is but one, yet can do all things; herself unchanging, she makes all things new; age after age she enters into holy souls, and makes them friends of God and prophets,

28 for nothing is acceptable to God but the person who makes his home with wisdom.

Wisd. 6,12; 7,29–30; 8,1–2—The Splendor and Magnificence of Wisdom

12 Wisdom shines brightly and never fades; she is readily discerned by those who love her, and by those who seek her she is found.

29 She is more beautiful than the sun, and every constellation. Compared with the light of day, she is found to excel,

30 for day gives place to night, but against wisdom no evil can prevail.

1 She spans the world in power from end to end, and gently orders all things.

2 Wisdom I loved; I sought her out when I was young and longed to win her for my bride; I was in love with her beauty.

Wisd. 8, 3–9,16–18,21—The Riches of Wisdom

3 She adds luster to her noble birth, because it is given her to live with God; the Lord of all things has accepted her.

4 She is initiated into the knowledge that belongs to God, and she chooses what his works are to be.

5 If riches are a possession to be desired in life, what is richer than wisdom, the active cause of all things?

6 If prudence shows itself in action, who more than wisdom is the artificer of all that is?

7 If someone loves uprightness, the fruits of wisdom's labours are the virtues; temperance and prudence, justice and fortitude, these are her teaching, and life can offer nothing of more value than these.

8 If someone longs, perhaps, for great experience, she knows the past, she can infer what is yet to come; she understands the subtleties of argument and the solving of hard questions; she can read signs and portents and foretell what the different times and seasons will bring about.

9 So I determined to take her home to live with me, knowing that she would be my counsellor in prosperity and my comfort in anxiety and grief.

16 When I come home, I shall find rest with her; for there is no bitterness in her company, no pain in life with her, only gladness and joy.

17 I turned this over in my mind, and I perceived that there is immortality in kinship with wisdom,

18 and in her friendship there is pure delight; that in doing her work is wealth inexhaustible, to be taught in her school gives understanding, and an honourable name is won by converse with her. So I went about in search of some way to win her for my own.

21 but I saw that there was no way to gain possession of her except by gift of God—and it was itself a mark of understanding to know from whom that gift must come.

WISDOM'S TEACHING: A MESSAGE OF LIFE AND SALVATION

Prov. 9,1–6; Ecclus. 24,19–22—Wisdom Sends an Invitation

Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars.

Now, having slaughtered a beast, spiced her wine, and spread her table,

she has sent her maidens to proclaim from the highest point of the town:

Let the simple turn in here. She says to him who lacks sense,

"Come, eat the food I have prepared and taste the wine that I have spiced.

Abandon the company of simpletons and you will live, you will advance in understanding."

Ecclus. 24,19–22—Wisdom Sends an Invitation

19 "Come to me, all you who desire me, and eat your fill o. my fruit.

20 To think of me is sweeter than honey, to possess me sweeter than the honeycomb.

21 Whoever feeds on me will hunger for more; whoever drinks from me will thirst for more.

22 To obey me is to be safe from disgrace; those who make me their business will not go astray."

Prov. 1,20–28,33—Wisdom Issues a Warning

20 Wisdom cries aloud in the open air, and raises her voice in public places.

21 She calls at the top of the bustling streets; at the approaches to the city gates she says:

22 "How long will you simple fools be content with your simplicity?

23 if only you would respond to my reproof, I would fill you with my spirit and make my precepts known to you.

24 But because you refused to listen to my call, because no one heeded when I stretched out my hand,

25 because you rejected all my advice and would have none of my reproof,

26 I in turn shall laugh at your doom and deride you when terror comes,

27 when the terror comes like a hurricane and your doom approaches like a whirlwind, when anguish and distress come upon you . . .

28 When they call to me, I shall not answer; when they seek, they will not find me.

33 But whoever listens to me will live without a care, undisturbed by fear of misfortune."

Prov. 4,1–9—Wisdom is the Guide to Happiness and Salvation

1. Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction, consider attentively how to gain understanding;

2. it is sound learning I give you, so do not forsake my teaching.

3. When I was a boy, subject to my father, tender in years, my mother's only child,

4. he taught me and said to me: "Hold fast to my words with all your heart, keep my commandment, and you will have life.

5. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget or turn a deaf ear to what I say.

6. Do not forsake her, and she will watch over you; love her, and she will safeguard you;

8. cherish her, and she will lift you high; if only you embrace her, she will bring you to honour.

9. She will set a becoming garland on your head; she will bestow on you a glorious crown."

Prov. 4,20–23Wisdom's Words Bring Health and Life

20 "My son, attend to my words, pay heed to my sayings;

21 do not let them slip from your sight, keep them fixed in your mind;

22 for they are life to those who find them, and health to their whole being.

23 Guard your heart more than anything you treasure, for it is the source of all life."

Prov. 8,1,12–21—Wisdom Teaches Wise Men and Kings

1 Hear how wisdom calls and understanding lifts her voice.

12 "I am wisdom, I bestow shrewdness and show the way to knowledge and discretion.

13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil. Pride, arrogance, evil ways, subversive talk, all those I hate.

14 From me come advice and ability; understanding and power are mine.

15 Through me kings hold sway and governors enact just laws.

16 Through me princes wield authority, from me all rulers on earth derive their rank.

17 Those who love me I love, and those who search for me will find me.

18 In my hands are riches and honour, boundless wealth and prosperity.

19 My harvest is better even than fine gold, and my revenue better than choice silver.

20 I follow the course of justice and keep to the path of equity.

21 I endow with riches those who love me; I shall fill their treasuries."

Wisd. 6,17–20—Wisdom Leads to Immortality and God

17 The true beginning of wisdom is the desire to learn, and a concern for learning means love towards her;

18 the love of her means the keeping of her laws; to keep her laws is a warrant of immortality;

19 and immortality brings a person near to God.

20 Thus desire for wisdom leads to a kingdom. If, therefore, you value your thrones and your sceptres, you rulers of the nations, you must honour wisdom so that you may reign for ever.

SOLOMON: ARCHETYPE OF A WISDOM-SEEKER

Wisd. 8,21; 9,1–18—Solomon Prays for Wisdom

21 So I pleaded with the Lord, and from the depths of my heart I prayed to him in these words:

1 God of our forefathers, merciful Lord, who made all things