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Approaches To The Figure Of 'divine' Wisdom In The Book Of Proverbs

1679 words - 7 pages


Modem Feminist approaches [c. 1000 words]
Discussing the contemporary sociological perspective of modern feminism to ‘divine’ wisdom should involve a brief overview of the theology’s focus. McGrath suggests that ‘Feminism is a global movement, arguing for gender equality and a right understanding of the relationship between women and men to be affirmed by contemporary theology and practice’ (McGrath, 2011: p.88). Thus, when discussing wisdom in the scriptures the feminists are observing how gender is represented and the effect of this representation upon helping or hindering a ‘right relationship’ between the genders.
To recap, Proverbs illustrate Wisdom as both teacher and as a personified woman, whereas in John, Wisdom is incarnate in the Being Jesus. Matthew is similar to John in that Jesus is presented more like, as Dunn explains, ‘the embodiment of divine Wisdom’ (Dunn, 1980) This is due to Matthew seemingly deliberately editing Q source in order to incorporate wisdom Christology. Similar wisdom Christology editing of Q source also seems to have taken place in Luke as Jesus talks of himself as the ‘go-between’ for God and the world (Luke 10:22)
However, both these books illustrate wisdom as being subjected to the needs of the creator, the wisdom teachers and the gospel writers to the point where wisdom no longer has a prominent or individual place. Fiorenza realised that although the initial reflections on Jesus were all sophialogy, they progressed to being overwhelmed by patriarchy:

When one moves from Jewish Wisdom literature to early Christian writing the figure of Divine Wisdom seems to disappear. Yet a symptomatic reading, which attends to traces and tensions inscribed in the text, can show that a submerged theology of Wisdom, or sophialogy, permeates all of Christian Scriptures (Fiorenza, 1995: p.139)

Thus the initial reading of the Gospels may not instantly recall wisdom theology; it is nevertheless there if the reader knows what they are looking for. Fiorenza, as a feminist theologian, believes in the importance of such rereading in the quest for diminishing the over masculinity of Christian language:

A rediscovery of Wisdom traditions does not invite us to repeat the language of early Jewish-Christian Wisdom theology. Rather it compels us to continue the struggle with conventional masculine language for God and the exclusivist authoritarian functions and implications of such language. Feminist theology must rearticulate the symbols, images, and names of Divine Sophia in the context of our own experiences and theological struggles in such a way that the ossified and absolutized masculine language about God and Christ is radically questioned and undermined and the Western cultural sex/gender system is radically deconstructed (Fiorenza, 1995: p.162).

Therefore Fiorenza believes that the language signifying feminine impetus of God is a way of realising gender equality and thus a better understanding of the...

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