Sophia Bible Christian

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The following New Testament passages have been identified as possibly drawing on Wisdom/Sophia traditions to express early understandings of Jesus.

A similar list of Wisdom/Sophia texts from the Hebrew Bible is also available on this site: Sophia Bible Jewish.

Sayings Gospel Q

The following passages from the Q source reflect an early view of Jesus as Sophia'€™s child:

Luke 11:49-€“51 = Matt 23:34-€“36

Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, "€˜I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,"€™ so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. [Luke 11:49-€“51]

Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation. [Matt 23:34-€“36]

Luke 7:33-€“35 = Matt 11:18-€“19

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, "€˜He has a demon;"€™ the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, "€˜Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!"€™ Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children. [Luke 7:33-€“35]

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, "€˜He has a demon;"€™ the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, "€˜Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!"€™ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. [Matt 11:18-€“19]

?? Matt 11:28-€“30 (note the allusions to Sirach 51:23-€“26)

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. [Matt 11:28-30]

Draw near to me, you who are uneducated, and lodge in the house of instruction. Why do you say that you are lacking these things, and why do you endure such great thirst? I opened my mouth and said, Acquire wisdom for yourselves without money. Put your neck under her yoke, and let your souls receive instruction, for it is to be found close by. [Sirach 51:23-€“26]

Paul'€™s Letters

An understanding of Jesus as closely related to the Sophia of God seems to underlie these passages in Paul'€™s authentic writings.

1 Cor 1:10-€“31 (esp. vss. 24 & 30)

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe'€™s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, "€œI belong to Paul,"€ or "€œI belong to Apollos,"€ or "€œI belong to Cephas,"€ or "€œI belong to Christ."€ Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "€œI will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."€ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God'€™s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God'€™s weakness is stronger than human strength. Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, "€œLet the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."€

Note the continuation of this line of thought in 1 Cor 2:6-€“13

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God'€™s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, "€œWhat no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him" ... €”these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God'€™s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.

Phil 2:6-€“11 (an early hymn celebrating a pre-existent Christ figure)

[Christ Jesus] who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death
—€”even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Later Pauline Tradition

In later writings from the Pauline tradition, the following texts may be relevant.

Colossians 1:15-20 (pre-existent Christ parallels Sophia in the Jewish tradition)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

Ephesians 2:14-€“16 (possibly fragments of an early Christ hymn?)

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.

1 Timothy 3:16 (hymn fragment)

Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:
He was revealed in flesh,
vindicated in spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among Gentiles,
believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.

Johannine Writings

The Logos (Greek for "word"€) hymn in John's Gospel may be related to the Sophia tradition.

John 1:1-€“18 (Logos hymn)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father'€™s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, "€œThis was he of whom I said, '€˜He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'"€) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father'€™s heart, who has made him known.

1 John 1:1-3 (echoes of the Logos hymn?)

What we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—€”this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us—we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Other Letters

It is possible that the Sophia/Logos tradition may also be observed in these texts.

Hebrews 1:1-€“4 (already reinterpreted into "Son"€ Christology here)

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God'€™s glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

1 Peter 3:18-€“22 (fragments of another early Christ hymn?)

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, ... through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.