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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Wisdom in Early Christianity

In later Jewish literature, the continuing development of wisdom thought resulted in a heightened understanding of (heavenly) Wisdom as an active agent of creation, revelation and salvation—sometimes identified with Torah and sometimes viewed as Torah's source.

The evolved understanding of the mysterious Wisdom figure of Proverbs 8 provided the basis for an important development in Christology. Perhaps as early as Paul and Matthew and certainly in the Prologue of the Gospel of John ( 1.1–18 ), Jesus Christ was identified with Wisdom-Word and in that light was interpreted as involved in creation and salvation. The consequences of such Wisdom speculation for the subsequent course of theological thought were profound.

Other wisdom influences on early Christianity, especially those related to moral instruction, are also to be seen. The presentation of Jesus as teacher is strong in the early tradition. Sapiential materials are embedded in the Gospels, as may be seen in the Matthean Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7 ). The teachings source “Q” used by Matthew and Luke may belong to the literary genre “Sayings of the Sages” (logoi sophōn) with origins in the wisdom collections of the Old Testament and Judaism. The forms of practical wisdom instruction persist: beatitudes commend behavior beneficial to the hearer; proverbs identify lessons found in life experience; parables introduce new insights or ways of viewing the world. Additionally, the Letter of James is made up primarily of instruction for leading a moral life and shows many similarities to Hellenistic wisdom literature.

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