As I was preparing for tomorrow’s lecture in my Synoptic Gospels class, I was reminded of a ‘Q saying’ which involves Wisdom, the often personified attribute of God’s wise dealings with his creation (cf. Prov. 8; Wisdom 6). The Q saying texts to which I am referring are:
Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city… (Matt.23:34)
For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute… (Luke 11:49)
If I had to put my finger in the air and guess which direction the wind is blowing, I would estimate that the original Q saying is found in Luke’s version, where ‘the wisdom of God’ is doing the speaking. If this is the case, then Matthew, having Q in front of him, decided to redact it in a manner which put the words of ‘the wisdom of God’ upon the lips of Jesus (note the shift from wisdom speaking to Jesus speaking in the first person). It would seem awkward for the original Q saying to have Jesus speaking and for Luke to redact that by placing the speech into the mouth of wisdom.
Another Q saying involving Wisdom is located in Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:35. For the record, no official Wisdom sayings appear in Mark’s gospel.
The implications of these observations are worth suggesting. If (and these are pretty big ‘ifs’) the Q collection of Jesus sayings is early, perhaps as early as 40-50 CE, then this places Wisdom christology earlier than its alternative expression located in the Fourth Gospel (God’s personified Logos and God’s Wisdom are closely related). This would mean that John is not saying something so new and innovative compared to the earliest Jesus traditions. If Q records authentic Jesus sayings which indicate that he thought of himself as the embodiment of God’s personified Wisdom, the human expression of God’s wise interaction in the world, then it would be difficult for some of the more critical scholars to write off the Fourth Gospel’s christology as such a late development. It would also posit a legitimate connection between the earliest Jesus tradition and Paul, who considers Jesus to be the fullest expression of Lady Wisdom (eg. 1 Cor. 8:6; 10:4; Col. 1:15-16; etc.).
What do you think?