About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Lady Wisdom

Once in three years on Trinity Sunday the Revised Common Lectionary prescribes its followers to read a quite surprising text from the Proverbs 8. The final part of the reading, and also its most perplexing part, is a hymn of Lady Wisdom (Proverbs 8:22-31). This hymn, when translated without ideological (dogmatic) blinders, and with understanding of the Ancient Near Eastern religious milieu, would hardly be considered orthodox by most Jews or Christians.
Yet, it can also help us identify and understand deeply rooted inhibitions and "neuroses" of our religion. I wrote about it little here - "Religion in need of therapy"

Hymn of Lady Wisdom 
“The LORD has married me*,
even before his oldest works. 
At the beginning I was put in place**,  
well before the beginning of the earth. 

There were no oceans, and I was to give birth***,
even before the springs broke with water.
Before mountains were planted,
before the first hills appeared,
I was about to give birth.

Before he had made the earth with its borders,
before the first lumps of dry land (emerged).

In his fixing of the heavens, I was ...
in his cutting of the arch of horizon above the face of the sea.
in his hanging up of clouds above,
in his pushing up the fountain springs from below.
in his setting of limits to the waters,
so that they would never transgress his commands,
in his establishing the pillars of the earth ... +

In all of this I stood faithfully by his side,
day after day I was the one of his delight ++
his purest joy at all times.
I gave (him) joy in world of land,
and delight in humankind.”

Some translation notes:
* קנה (QNH) in fact “acquired me”, “bought me”, as in Ruth 4:4ff. It certainly is not "fashioned, created, etc" as often rendered in church-pew translations. Other interpretation option is derived from the meaning "to beget, to procreate" - and translating "he has begotten me"
**  נסך (NSK)“installed”, used often about princely figures, other possibility is to translate "he has fashioned me (in his womb)". In the text above I have translated in the sense that Wisdom was married to YHWH (was bought and placed/installed on his side). It is also possible that first two verses speak about Wisdom being begotten and formed in the womb of YHWH (similar to Athena and Zeus). Being born of YHWH to become his partner. Ugaritic text KTU 1.23 similarly oscillate between vocatives father and husband
*** חול (WL) – Polele/Polal stem depending on punctuation – is not to give birth“ (which in the passive might have been – to be born“ as often translated) but to dance/whirl in trance/pain“, in intensive stems to give birth“ - if passive stem it would be "was twisted by pain, was brought to labour".
+ Nice rendition of classical Semitic creation locus.
++ שׂחק (SQ) “to laugh, to make sport”, just like צחק (ṢḪQ) “to laugh” for instance in Gen 26:8 or Exo 32:6, might have some sexual overtones.

       Lady Wisdom in this poem shares many characteristics of the major Ancient Semitic goddess Asherah. It is almost certain that Lady Wisdom is just an attempt to re-coin the original goddess Asherah, consort of the god El, and subsequently also the wife of YHWH after El and YHWH were merged. (More on YHWH and Asherah, epigraphic finds etc. in this blog entry - "Did YHWH have a wife?")
      With monotheisation of the Tanakh religion one half of the divine couple, the goddess Asherah, was suppressed and in the early stages degraded into hypostasis (actually something more like mere allegoric figure) of Wisdom. 
1) As consequence of this simplistic rush to monotheism (not by integration but by rejecting half of the divine gender roles) monotheistic religion became grotesquely patriarchal and misogynistic. 
2) This forceful divine divorce also led to the almost complete abandonment of the classical ancient cosmogony (in which the world is being "procreated" by the divine couple). God and the world became completely separated, the world and nature became objectified, resulting eventually in an ecological crisis.
3) This degrading of a major deity into a mere allegoric figure also had a reverse regressive effect on the appreciation of the reality which had been alegorised. Thus wisdom (appreciation of  reason and science) became suspicious, associated with strategy of suppression and rejection. 

       Clearly these three major problems: misogyny, uneasy relationship with environment and tension between religion and science remain major crippling issues of Judeo-Christian (as well as Muslim) religions.  

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