Saturday, December 17, 2005

O Wisdom

O wisdom, O holy word of God,
you govern all creation,
with your strong yet tender care:
Come and show your people the way to salvation.

THE scribes wrote, "In the beginning God created. . . ." At first it was enough to give God's title, just "God," the God who is God, and to declare that God created the world. But language moves toward specificity: What we believe to be significant we distinguish linguistically from neighbors near and far. So the simple noun God was soon found to be meager, insufficient.

So to the question seeking discrimination, "But how did God create the world?" the ancient Hebrews sang a clarification: "God who by wisdom made the heavens, whose mercy endures for ever." (Psalm 136)

What is it about God that created the world? Wisdom. What did God use to create the world? Divine wisdom alone. Now we have a handle on this untouchable God: Wisdom. Why, we know about wisdom!-the workings of mind meshed with compassion. We can understand a little bit, at least, of God: Wisdom.

So much did divine wisdom occupy Hebrew imaginations that a figure is born, a mighty woman springing fully armed from the Hebrew poet's head: Lady Wisdom herself, whom God created first in the primeval time of creating. Lady Wisdom was God's companion, God's help, meet for creating the universe. The Hebrew writers prize her judgment, her stature, her beauty. This first-begotten of God stands by life's pathways and points us the way to her home in God. Later, Jews speaking Greek called her Sophia, the Wise Woman, a feminine personification of that essential attribute of omniscient God.

--Gail Ramshaw

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