Finding Sophia: The Use of the Book of Wisdom in Hebrews 1:3 and Its Christological Implications

Wisdom is often a hidden influence in the NT writings and yet her presence can be crucial to understanding the context and meaning of the texts. This paper will examine the underlying influence of Wisdom Literature on Hebrews 1:3. I will argue that the author’s use of the tradition both incorporates the feminine personification of God as Wisdom and indicates a high Christology. Using Jay Lemke’s approach to intertextuality and a feminist biblical interpretive orientation, this paper examines one example—the text of Heb 1:3—and shows how it draws from the deuterocanonical Book of Wisdom, especially Wis 7:25-26. The significant intertextuality between Heb 1:3 and Wis 7:25-26 is seen in the writer of Hebrews paraphrasing the other text. This is primarily evident in the use of three identical words in common between the two texts. In Heb 1:3, the circumstance of the Son being a “reflection” of God’s glory and thereby having proximity to the Father had important implications for the original audience as it does for us today. Because Christ as mediator has a physical and relational closeness to God the Father, he then mediates for us also to come near. Additionally, the female personification of Wisdom gives us new metaphors which expand how we may speak of Jesus in a way that also welcomes those who have been marginalized. The identification of Jesus with divine Wisdom as a female representation of God allows for and indeed leads to the recognition of the divinity of Jesus Christ. The association of Jesus with Wisdom tradition in early Christianity also resulted in an understanding of his pre-existence and incarnation. This helped orient the understanding of God on a path towards a robust Christology.