The Origin of the Virgin Mary can be Found in Old Testament Wisdom Literature

womanwisdomThe ancient Hebrew people were God’s chosen people. This is clearly stated in the Old Testament. “But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen” (Isaiah 44:1). The Wisdom of Solomon presents a worldview that considers wisdom to be a gift from God to His friends. “I do not hide her wealth, for it is an unfailing treasure for mortals; those who get it obtain friendship with God” (Wisdom 7:13-14). This idea that there are certain people who are selected by God to be conduits of His grace to earth is the basis to election theology.

The occurrences of the word, “Word,” in the Wisdom of Solomon implies that the words we speak are the fruit that we bear. “Let us see if his words are true” (Wisdom 2:17). The word, “Word,” also implies the grace given to humanity by God. “Therefore set your desire on my words; long for them, and you will be instructed” (Wisdom 6:11). This fruitfulness in God’s word is the basis to creation theology. God initiates bringing forth new life through his word; and humanity lovingly responds in kind.

The genre of wisdom literature richly expresses both election theology and creation theology. One particularly inspiring passage containing both creation theology and election theology is given in the book of Isaiah. This concise passage from Isaiah is a beautiful example because its essence permeates the entire book of the Wisdom of Solomon. “The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise” (Isaiah 43:20-21).

By breaking apart this inspiring passage from Isaiah and awakening to its reflection in the later book, the Wisdom of Solomon, one can observe the molding formation of creation and election theology. The image of wild animals honoring God portrays a creation metaphor indicating how God’s word tames and brings order to creation. This is reflected in Wisdom of Solomon, “though you were not unable to give the ungodly into the hands of the righteous in battle, or to destroy them at one blow by dread wild animals or your stern word” (Wisdom 12:9).

The water given by God in the wilderness is the Word of God. The Wisdom of Solomon links God’s word with food and drink.

Therefore at that time also, changed into all forms, it served your all-nourishing bounty, according to the desire of those who had need, so that your children, whom you loved, O Lord, might learn that it is not the production of crops that feeds humankind but that your word sustains those who trust in you. (Wisdom 16:25-26)

The people whom God forms are formed by His word. When God forms someone, He is forming them for Himself. God intends for his work to eventually bring Him praise. “Your all powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior carrying the sharp sword of your authentic command, and stood and filled all things with death, and touched heaven while standing on earth” (Wisdom 18:15-16). This word molds and shapes through dreadful dreams and unexpected fears so that humankind may know why they are perishing.

Healing comes from God, not from any human power. All power given to a human person is given by the word of God. “He conquered the wrath not by strength of body, not by force of arms, but by his word he subdued the avenger” (Wisdom 18:22). Healing does not come from some potion or medicine invented by humankind. All healing has its source in the word of God. “For neither herb nor poultice cured them, but it was your word, O Lord, that heals all people” (Wisdom 16:12).

The final word is a word of praise. This word of praise is offered back to God by all His creation. However, the praise of humankind is given through timeless, secret sacrifices.

For in secret the holy children of good people offered sacrifices, and with one accord agreed to the divine law, so that the saints would share alike the same things, both blessings and dangers; and already they were singing the praises of the ancestors. (Wisdom 18:9-11).

There is progression taking place from the book of Isaiah and Proverbs into the Wisdom of Solomon. The presence of God not only walks alongside humanity but begins to mold and shape humanity from within. The word of God is internal, not external. The word of God not only comes forth from God but is also reflected in the praise offered by humanity back to God. The third person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is being formed and developed. Woman Wisdom portrays the characteristics of this third person of the Godhead. She “marries” the human heart and shapes the human soul.

I loved her and sought her from my youth; I desired to take her for my bride, and became enamored of her beauty. She glorifies her noble birth by living with God, and the Lord of all loves her. For she is an initiate in the knowledge of God, and an associate in his works. (Wisdom 8:2-4)

In this passage, the concept of love, vulnerability, self-sacrifice, and human participation with God as a co-worker and co-creator begins to emerge. The Lord loves her for she is an associate in his works. After the Wisdom of Solomon was written, the Virgin Mary would soon come to manifest her presence into the history of the world.

 


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