“And Wisdom Became Flesh” – How the Gospel of John depicts Jesus as the incarnation of Lady Wisdom

Having already noted the theology in both Proverbs and Sirach which depicts the personified Lady Wisdom as embodied in human figures (i.e., the ideal wife and Simon the High Priest), I have observed the same trend within the Gospel of John. In fact, the connections between Jewish literature describing Lady Wisdom and Jesus within John are far greater in number than the connections in Proverbs and Sirach (and I might not have even found all of them).

The primary conclusion of this evidence suggests that if the Gospel of John repeatedly depicted Jesus Christ as the embodiment and incarnation of Lady Wisdom, which itself is a personification rather than a literal person alongside Yahweh, then this is a strong indicator that the Fourth Gospel is not thinking in terms of Jesus consciously existing prior to his birth. Furthermore, if Logos and Wisdom were understood as synonymous terms (as Wis 9:1-2 suggests), then the theology of Jesus as the incarnation of Lady Wisdom needs to be read in conjunction with the prologue (John 1:1-18).

29 thoughts on ““And Wisdom Became Flesh” – How the Gospel of John depicts Jesus as the incarnation of Lady Wisdom

  1. You are right, of course.!
    If you’d like a second opinion have a look at the Footnote to the Gospel According to John in the NAB Bible -particularly the references relating to John 1 , 1-18.

    ” The Word (Greek logos) this word combines God’s dynamic,creative word (Genesis). PERSONIFIED pre-existent Wisdom as the instrument of God’s creative activity (Proverbs) and the ultimate intelligibility of reality (Hellenisticphilosophy)”

    One cannot fail to notice that Genesis Chapter 1 shows that it was by God’s spoken word that the heavens and the earth were created See verses 3,6,9,11 14 & ,20 etc.

    One must not lose sight of the fact that John was the first theologian and therefore differs in style to the other gospel writers.

    God Bless

  2. John tells us himself what Word he has in mind in verse 3. The Word which God created all things through.
    He is the only unique, one of a kind Son of God, the only one to come forth out of the Father, then all things where created through him, and all things created for him. God who tests our hersts, does not even trust his angel but finds error, God who cannot not lie, therefore His word cannot fail, became flesh and dwelt among his own, with Isa. 55:8-11 the word that goes forth from His mouth which He sent.

    Jesus did not know the Father before his birth Isa. 45:4-5, but start from 44:28.

    Idols are wind (spirit) and confussion, having the wrong understanding about God and the Lord Jesus Christ will cause confussion, even as it would with any book if understood incorrectly, but this is a test of God to see if we love Him with our whole heart Deut 13 and 2 Thess. 2 and Rev 13 (the three in one beast.)

  3. Hi Dustin, I’m glad to have found some of your interviews and now your blog. I have become increasingly convinced of Biblical Unitarianism over the last few months, so I’ve been soaking up all the teachings I can find to help grow my understanding and unlearn the Trinitarian theology I grew up with.

      1. I have one. I work for a Christian ministry that has belief in the Trinity in their statement of faith. All employees are required to agree with it. I did when I was hired, but obviously now I do not. How would you recommend handling that? I support most everything else the ministry teaches, so I don’t want to oust myself.

      2. This is very tricky. I’ve been put out of jobs for standing firm with what the Bible teaches, against the job’s statement. I can say that having done so, I have a clean conscience and feel that I have maintained faithfulness in my commitment to God, rather than compromise and lie. You need to talk the options over with your family along with feeling out how you would be treated at work if you came clean. This is a difficult situation, no doubt.

  4. Hi again Dustin, another question. Is there a reliable Unitarian Bible? I don’t trust the JWs to get it right. Every Bible I own has a distinct Trinitarian bias in places (especially my NASB). But I have no way of knowing when a given passage has a Trinitarian spin because I am uneducated in Hebrew and Greek.

    1. Yes. The Revised English Version. Free online with an app as well. Coincidently, I am on the translation team (Old Testament mostly).

  5. To be sure, the Book of John contains several ‘cryptic’ verses, but most of the book is Unitarian in its import.
    The final chapter summarises the situation
    Verse 17 states ” I ascend to my Father and your Father – to my God and your God”
    Verse 31 states ” All these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ the SON of the living God and that you may have life in his name”.

    That’s all very clear, but ‘sandwiched’ between these two verses is verse 28 where the words ‘my Lord and my God’ are the subject of controversy. The Greek structure tends to support ‘ the Lord of me AND the God of me” supporting the view that TWO persons are in view.

    If there were ONE person in view the scripture would say ” The Lord and God of me”

    Trinitarians argue that verse 28 represents an exception to the rule – and the argument goes on!

    I don’t want to get into a ‘brawl’ here but Trinitarians choose to interpret scriptures in a way that facilitates their doctrine – regardless of what a ‘common sense’ interpretation suggests.

    In chapter 10 we see an attempt to separate the interpretation of the Greek word ‘hen’
    We are told ‘ that you and I may be one (hen)’ and a few verses later ‘ I and the father are one(hen)” Is Christ saying that the disciples’ are also God?

    It’s a shame that good men even have to debate these things!!

    Every Blessing

  6. Hey Dustin, I had a thought concerning Hebrews 1. I am writing a response to a Trinitarian sermon given by a pastor I know. One of the proof texts he brought up was that chapter. When it go to the verse, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,” I remembered hearing a unitarian apologist suggest that the verse could be translated, “Your throne IS God forever and ever.”

    I checked how the REV renders this verse and was surprised to find it say, “Your throne, O god, is forever and ever.” That surprised me, since it seems like a concession to the Trinitarian argument. So I looked at that verse in Greek and Psalm 45:6 in Hebrew, and came to this conclusion:

    “This verse could be translated incorrectly, both here and in Psalm 45:6.

    In the psalm, the sentence reads, “kis-’ă-ḵā ’ĕ-lō-hîm ‘ō-w-lām vā-‘eḏ šê-ḇeṭ mî-šōr šê-ḇeṭ mal-ḵū-ṯe-ḵā”. That could legitimately be translated to say, “Your throne is God to the ages and ages, a scepter of righteousness, a scepter of royalty.” BibleHub actually says that all eight of these words are nouns. That is an impossible construct in English, but apparently it’s perfectly good grammar in Hebrew. Since every word here is a noun, there is a lot of flexibility in interpretation regarding how these nouns fit together.

    As for the Greek, we have, “ho thronos sou ho theos eis ton aiōna tou aiōnos kai hē rhabdos tēs euthytētos rhabdos tēs basileias sou”. That could legitimately be translated to say, “The throne of yours the God is to the age of the age, and the scepter of righteousness, the scepter of your kingdom.” In other words, “Your throne is the God.” (BibleHub)

    If we take this option of the verse being mistranslated in both Greek and Hebrew, then there is no confusion here whatsoever. I’ll grant that this is unlikely to be the case, but it is a possibility, and it doesn’t break the rules of Hebrew or Greek grammar. If the verses were really saying that God is the throne, then this would make perfect sense after the author quoted from a prophecy about Solomon being God’s son. As we saw, Solomon reigned from Yehovah’s throne. So his throne literally was God. And Yeshua, too, will reign from Yehovah’s throne. God will be his throne.”

    Is this an accurate way to translate these verses? I don’t know very much Hebrew or Greek, but I do know a bit about linguistics, and I don’t think what I wrote is incorrect. But I thought I should run it by somebody with more expertise before publishing it.

    1. Technically speaking, they can be translated that way. In Hebrew, you have to supply the verb ‘to-be’, and I personally do not care to just add verbs whenever it is convenient. It is much more likely that elohim is functioning in the vocative (O God) rather than a description of the throne, which itself would be strange for the throne of the Davidic king. The “god” mentioned in Psalm 45:6 is a human king, and there is really no need to feel uncomfortable with that. If Psalm 45:6 calls a human king “god”, then it is interesting that Heb 1:8 cites this sort of passage to prove what sort of “god” Jesus is. In short, I feel that both Psalm 45 and Hebrew 1 should have “god” in the vocative rather than a description of the human throne.

      1. Wow, thanks for the lightning response! I’m not “uncomfortable” with calling a man “god” in that sense, it was just a thought I had after studying another verse in that chapter. For context, here is what I’d noticed previously:

        “Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?

        Two things.

        1. It is ridiculous to think of God in Father/Son terms while citing this sentence. Read it clearly: “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.” If Yeshua is “God the Son”, then why this future-tense, prophetic language?

        2. This prophecy was originally spoken to David of Solomon (2 Samuel 7:14). Solomon is portrayed as a foreshadowing of the Messiah. This prophecy is about a man, not God the Son.”

        A prophecy concerning Solomon is applied to Jesus, and I discovered another verse in my research that says that Solomon ruled from the throne of God. ““Then Solomon sat on the throne of Yehovah as king in place of David his father” (1 Chronicles 29:23). It only matters to the extent that every time someone bowed down to him, they were worshiping Yehovah. The same is true when we bow down before Yeshua. Worshiping Yeshua is worshiping God, because Yeshua is the Anointed One whom God has chosen to rule and reign in his place.”

        So when I got to the verse in question, I had 1 Chronicles 29:23 in mind.

  7. Solomon sat on the throne of Yahweh in that Yahweh’s authority and rule were extended through this human king. There is still a throne in heaven, distinct from the throne of the Davidic king.

    1. Yeah, that’s the point I was getting at, that Yahweh is the seat of Solomon’s and Jesus’ authority. My thought concerning Hebrews 1:8 and Psalm 45:6 is that since they both can be translated to say “Your throne is God,” perhaps they are reinforcing the idea from 1 Chronicles 29:23, that ruling from Yahweh’s throne on earth can be thought of poetically as God BEING the throne.

      Regardless, I don’t have a problem with the standard rendering of that verse. I just wanted to know if my novice translation was at least possible in both languages.

  8. As Karen Armstrong states in her excellent book ” The Bible – a biography” early NT writers scoured the OT searching looking for scriptures which would validate their (NT) writings.

    We therefore find in some cases, OT scriptures addressed to the Lord God Almighty are readdressed to Christ in the NT – e.g. compare Hebrews 1 verses 8-10 with Psalm 102 verses 24 and 25.

    In Psalm 45 verses 7 to 10 the Davidic King is being enthroned and we see that-
    —the use of the words ‘therefore god, your God” – tells us that this ‘god’ has a ‘God’
    —Verse 10 tells us ‘ Daughters of kings are your lovely wives’ (NAB bible) so the ‘god’ being
    enthroned is a man.

    In Hebrews 1 verses 8 and 9 we see the words ” But of the Son” – so a verse relating to God is re-addressed to Christ.

    The Trinitarian response is of course “but Christ is God” – and then the nonsense begins!

    A footnote to Hebrews 1 verses 8-10 in the NAB (Catholic) Bible is revealing and states
    ” it is important for the authors Christology that in Psalm 102 verses 10-12, an OT passage addressed to God. is re-addressed to Christ”

    I personally do not accept this ‘shoe-horning’ of scriptures.
    God Bless
    John Brien

    1. I always read “therefore god, your God” as simply restating one God by emphasis, à la “therefore [the] God, YOUR God.” Not in speaking of two different gods, but saying that this God is the God of the king. Is that an incorrect interpretation?

  9. This post is very misleading, as it assumes that Lady Wisdom was the only idea that existed back then which John could be referring to. In fact, John 1:1-18 opens with closer parallels to the Memra theology, Memra being Aramaic for Word. Now both Memra and Wisdom theology are present in the Gospels, but John 1:1-18 is much closer to Memra theology and the very beginning is a summarization of the creation account as it appears in the Targums.

    I find that much too often people reference the Wisdom theology and ignore the Memra theology for some reason. Can’t tell if it’s on purpose or not.

    Anyway, what this indicates is that Yeshua was understood to be the angel of YHWH, the second member of the echad-YHWH, who was also the glory of YHWH (Ezekiel 8:2-6, the light of the world) and also the word of YHWH (1 Kings 18:31, the Memra), etc etc, the King of Israel who left the temple in Ezekiel and the HaAdon who was prophesied to return in Malachi 3. Thus the light which men rejected, which is the Glory, is returning. He is the “arm of YHWH” in Isaiah 53 and other passages, also the “right hand of YHWH”, which is what Yeshua ascending to the right hand of power is about: he’s returning back to the glory that he had before the world began. So it can’t be said that Yeshua isn’t thought of consciously existing prior to his birth because the angel of YHWH is a personal figure. Yeshua is this personal figure who said “I am the God of Bethel” to Jacob, now incarnate. This is very different from the embodiment language of Lady Wisdom.

    As well, as others such as those on Tektonics have pointed out, Lady Wisdom in Proverbs is best understood as a hypostasis, as is the case of pagan gods being the hypostases of truth and such. This means that Wisdom isn’t a literary personification but an actual god. Or rather, to the Jews, an actual God. Particularly, Wisdom is said to be born/begotten (the Only-Begotten God) in Proverbs and is identified with the word of YHWH, as the wisdom of YHWH proceeds from his mouth along with knowledge and understanding. Thus, the angel of YHWH is also the wisdom of YHWH, and so one of the titles for the spirit of YHWH is the “spirit of wisdom”, which settled up Joshua after Moses died and qualified him as a prophet. So all of the evidence points to the pre-existence of Yeshua, which is also consistent with the pre-Pauline oral traditions.

    The Tektonics link: http://www.tektonics.org/jesusclaims/trinitydefense.php

    1. I think that the footnotes to Johns Gospel in the NAB Bible speaks to this most eloquently
      “The Word
      (Greek logos) : This term combines Gods dynamic , creative word (Genesis), personified preexistent Wisdom as the instrument of Gods creative activity (Proverbs) and the ultimate intelligibility of reality (Hellenistic philosophy ) etc
      So readers, whatever their background could understand what was being said.

    2. Cyypher you are misinformed and out of date with current consensus from NT Scholarship in regards to the nature and notion of Wisdom & Memra literature and their connection with NT authors. Read books by Larry Hurtado & James Dunn, who clearly articulate and dismantle the false presumption that Wisdom was a hypostasis/ a distinct person or ‘god’ existing along side God Almighty; furthermore, also read books by Father Martin McNamara who also dismantles the false notion the ‘Memra’ of the Lord was a distinct person or hypostasis as well. These notions about Wisdom & memra were literary tools/ personifications, not persons subsisting with Elohim.

      When you re-interpret the notion of wisdom and Memra applying erroneous trinitarian eisegesis to interpret personifications as persons, then you ultimately have made the transition away from Jewish monotheism to trinitarian polytheism.

      Furthermore, ‘Elohim’ in reference to The God of Israel, no where does He ‘Elohim’ – God – denote a divine substance shared amongst multiple divine persons, – ‘Elohim’ is not a WHAT in the bible, Elohim is a personal WHO, and/or neither does ‘Elohim’ denote a plurality of divine persons that collectively form a one single being, so you are misleading to presume that Jesus was the 2nd person of the Trinity in the bible, maybe according to trinitarian doctrine, but not according to the Bible Cyypher

      The Bible does not biblically substantiate trinitarian ‘monotheism’ that The One God, HE is comprised of 3 distinct persons that form HIS One divine Being?

      Be like Jesus who declared … “it is written and FOREVER REMAINS written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him ONLY ’” and Jesus also affirms the Lord Thy God “is One and there is no other but HIM”

      Jesus the Messiah worshipped and prayed to his God alone:

      “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” Luke 6:12

      “After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone” Matthew 14:23

      “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray” Luke 5:16

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