Creation And The Role Of Wisdom In Proverbs 8: What Can We Learn? -- By: Matthew Mcaffee

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 10:2 (Fall 2019)
Article: Creation And The Role Of Wisdom In Proverbs 8: What Can We Learn?
Author: Matthew Mcaffee


Creation And The Role Of Wisdom In Proverbs 8:
What Can We Learn?1

Matthew McAffee

Welch College, Gallatin, Tennessee

The literary relationship between Prov 8:22–31 and Gen 1–2 has been a topic of interest among scholars. The traditional view of the composition of the Pentateuch assumes the chronological priority of Gen 1–2, which means the topic of creation in Prov 8:22–31 is naturally informed by it. Critical theories postulating a later date for the creation material of Genesis have upended the traditional assumptions regarding Prov 8:22–31 and its awareness of Genesis. If any literary relationship exists between these two texts, Gen 1–2 would have to be dependent upon Prov 8. This formulation poses significant exegetical challenges that will be explored in this article. It will be argued that it is difficult, if not impossible, to argue for the chronological priority of Prov 8. Nonetheless, the contents of these two passages strongly favor the original notion of a literary relationship between them. Also central to this discussion is the relevance of parallels from Babylonian creation stories and how much they should inform one’s interpretation of creation in the Old Testament.

Key Words: Akkadian, Atra-hasis, Babylonian, creation, Enuma Elish, ex nihilo, Ugaritic, חכמה (wisdom), בראשׁית (beginning), תהום, (deeps), קנה (acquire/create), אמון (craftsman), רחף/rḫp (hovering), מעינות (springs)

Proverbs 8:22–31 celebrates the origins of wisdom. Personified wisdom argues for her preeminence over the rest of the created order, having been brought into existence before the world began. She was there with God in the beginning when he established the heavens and the earth.

Proverbs 8:1–36 is the second of three speeches from the mouth of

Wisdom: (1) Prov 1:20–33, (2)

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