Wisdom, Torah and Christ

King David with Wisdom & Prophecy

A more obvious parallel is the identification of divine Wisdom with the Torah. This identification is already made and made with much greater explicitness in Sir 24:23

All these things [the varying descriptions of Wisdom] are the book of the covenant of the Most High, the law which Moses commanded us, as an inheritance for the assemblies of Jacob.  It fills with wisdom like the Pishon. . .

Very similar is the great hymn in Bar 3:9-37, which climaxes with the thought of Wisdom’s appearance on earth and, again, immediate identification with the Torah.  ‘Afterward he appeared upon the earth and lived among humans. She is the book of the commandments of God, the law which endures for ever...’  (3:38-4:1).

In both cases it would be equally easy to speak of the preexistence of the Torah, and many do.  But it would be more accurate to say that the highest wisdom of God has been made available to Israel in and through the law.  Israel now had access to the wisdom which had been God’s mode of working from the beginning (Sir 24:9), the wisdom which was the secret of good living (Bar 3:14; 4:4).  It was there in the law.  It was the law.  In other words, it was not so much that the law was preexistent as that preexistent Wisdom was now to be recognized as the law.

In effect what Paul and the other first Christians were doing was putting Christ in this equation in place of the Torah. . . .   Paul had in fact already explicitly identified Christ as God’s Wisdom – in 1 Cor 1:24 and 30: ‘Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God‘ (1:24); ‘who has become wisdom for us from God, righteousness, holiness, and redemption‘ (1:30).  …

Christ The Divine Wisdom

The claim being made, then, is the astonishing one that the foolishness of the cross, the proclamation of Christ crucified, is the real measure of divine wisdom (1:21-25).  The thought is probably very similar to that in ben Sira and Baruch and implicit in 1 Cor 8:6: that Jesus Christ is the clearest exposition and explanation of divine Wisdom, that the cross is the fullest embodiment of the wisdom which created the universe and which humans need if they are to live the good life.  … So the creating Wisdom of God can be most clearly recognized now through identification with the crucified Christ.”  (James Dunn, THE THEOLOGY OF PAUL THE APOSTLE, pp 273-274)

In the Septuagint, it is clear that the Divine Wisdom was present at the creation of the world.  The Jewish scriptures made a connection between the Divine Wisdom and Torah, linking them together.  Torah became the way that Wisdom was incarnate before the Word became flesh in Jesus Christ.   The New Testament and the Church Fathers then identified the Divine Wisdom with Christ, the Word of God.  Despite Wisdom being a feminine word in Greek, the Fathers clearly identify Christ as the Divine Wisdom, an idea which shows up in many icons of Wisdom.  Additionally, the Great Byzantine cathedral of Hagia Sophia (Divine Wisdom) is dedicated to Christ.  The Orthodox were convinced that the Word of God is the Wisdom of God.