Augustine on Christ as Wisdom

In light of the comments made recently by Amy Plantinga Pauw in her TF Torrance Lectures here at Aberdeen, I found the following from Augustine interesting:

The question then arises, why do the scriptures almost nowhere say anything about wisdom except to show it as either begotten or made by God? Begotten, that is to say, when it means the wisdom ‘through whom all things were made’; created or made as it is in men, when they turn to the wisdom which is not created or made but begotten, and are enlightened; then something is brought about in them which is called their wisdom…

Is it perhaps to commend to us for our imitation the wisdom by whose imitation we are formed, that wisdom in those books never speaks or has anything said about her but what presents her as born of God or made by him, although the Father too is wisdom itself? For the Father utters her to be his Word, not like a word spoken aloud from the mouth, or even thought of before it is pronounced–such a word is completed in a space of time, but this other Word is eternal; and she by enlightening us utters to us whatever needs to be uttered to men about herself and about the Father…

This then is the reason perhaps why it is the Son who is being introduced to us whenever mention is made of wisdom or description given of her in scripture, whether she herself is speaking or being spoken about. Let us copy the example of this divine image, the Son, and not draw away from God… For it does not imitate another going before it to the Father, since it is never by the least hair’s breadth separated from him, since it is the same thing as he is from whom it gets its being. But we by pressing on imitate him who abides motionless; we follow him who stands still, and by walking in him we move toward him, because for us he became a road or way in time by his humility, while being for us an eternal abode by his divinity…

Thus to conclude, it is not surprising that scripture should be speaking about the Son when it speaks about wisdom, on account of the model which the image who is equal to the Father provides us with that we may be refashioned to the image of God; for we follow the Son by living wisely. (On the Trinity, Book VII, §§4-5)

While it may be more difficult than the Church Fathers thought to identify Christ with the Wisdom of Proverbs 8, the New Testament and Augustine point us toward “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24). Augustine here is interestingly paralleled by Calvin as well: “…as God he is the destination to which we move; as man, the path by which we go. Both are found in Christ alone” (Institutes, 3.2.1).

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