erosophy in the Bible

In reading for my “Ancient Near Eastern Wisdom Literature” class this week I bumped into some lovely erosophic writings in the apocryphal wisdom books. These wisdom books with their strong Hellenistic influences opened my eyes to some of the more sensuous wisdom literature that I didn’t really realize was hiding out between the Hebrew Bible and New Testament books in my big ‘ol Oxford Annotated.

“Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her. One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty, for she will be found sitting at the gate.”
Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-14

“Wisdom teaches her children and gives help to those who seek her. Whoever loves her loves life, and those who seek her from early morning are filled with joy…. For at first she will walk with them on tortuous paths; she will bring fear and dread upon them, and will torment them by her discipline until she trusts them, and she will test them with her ordinances. Then she will come straight back to them again and gladden them, and will reveal her secrets to them.”
Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 4:11-12, 17-18

Wisdom is personified almost the same as a lover would be, seducing us into living intimately with her, seducing us into pursuing her out of our own desire for her. Spurred by a desire to “know”, we are seduced by wisdom. In these wisdom texts I began to see where Christianity’s move towards wisdom Christologies came from, with wisdom being spoken of as a redeemer and deliverer. It is easy to see how wisdom earns a place/role in trinitarian theology, an indecent third to queer our notions of God – whatever could that seductive woman be doing in there with the “Father” and “Son”?

It’s interesting to me that the same Hellenistic philosophical influences that I curse for their contribution to Christianity becoming so body/female-unfriendly are the ones that here in this literature mate with Jewish wisdom literature, giving birth to such possibility-filled texts. A good reminder for me of the importance of ambivalence.

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on the word ‘erosophy’

So this word, erosophy, is one that I’ve been playing with in the last few months to try and describe what my passion is. I adore wisdom literature, I adore the discourses of philosophy and theology, I also adore the world. How do I articulate my attentiveness, alongside the highly thoughtful discourses of the mind, to the body as well?

“Philosophy” means love of wisdom : philo + sophia. In the process of reading for a class called “Sexes, Genders and Theologies of Desire” I decided that my love of wisdom actually comes closer to an eros love that is interested and passionate than a philos love that is disinterested and distant.

And so in looking for a catchy title for my blog, I remembered this word. I’m not going to claim total credit for it, I’m sure others have thought of it, and just because I’d never heard it before my mind latched onto it, doesn’t mean I can own the word. A quick google of the word reveals an interesting mix of people who have stumbled into its rich linguistic possibility.

I could probably just spend most of my time writing entries that reflect on the word ‘erosophy’… what do you think of it?

sermonic pains

I had the hardest time writing my sermon for church today. It was agonizing.

One might think that after nearly four years of graduate theological education I would be at ease with writing a sermon, that I would be able to easily come up with something both touching and enlightening without much trouble at all, and one might think that as I learn more, the process of writing a sermon would get easier and easier. On the contrary, the exact opposite seems to have happened to me. In the past year, it has seemed like each sermon is harder to write than the last, each one reaches deeper into my soul for its material, each one takes on more of a life of its own, demanding commitments from me that I’m not necessarily able to make, demanding thinking and writing that will expose me and turn myself inside-out. And it’s in no way ethical of me to stand up behind the pulpit and present all the little inside bits and tough spots in my own life, so I must carefully sort out what to say. And that’s not even to mention the level of expectation on the side of the congregation!

Be they reasonable or not, I have conjured up lavish notions of the high expectations the people sitting in the congregation must have of me. It is both delightful and torturous to deliver a sermon in the congregation one has grown up in. What could I possibly have to say to the wise and weathered folks that have hugely contributed to the person I am today?

The scripture this morning was the parable of the Prodigal Son – although I’d probably say Prodigal Sons now, since I spent a great deal of time talking about the older son, the bitter one who stayed behind and didn’t want to join in his brother’s welcome-home feast.

I am astonished by how much I revealed about myself this morning without actually revealing the gory details, and I am equally astonished by the fact that people actually enjoyed the torturous and tenuous route I led them along today. I provided a framework of grace, and then poked and provoked and prodded everyone, leading them through how they may and may not be like each of the characters in the story. It was a journey that people seemed to enjoy, even though they did say they felt challenged and prodded.

I think that the pain I went through to put that sermon into the world is perhaps the most honest way to do it. Maybe it doesn’t have to be that painful, but shouldn’t the gospel, especially the kingdom parables, really hit us in uncomfortable and challenging ways?

And again he said, ‘To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’

If the kingdom is like yeast, maybe God is the woman and I am the dough, being kneaded and worked until I can rise.

the first post

erosophy: the passionate, interested, erotic love of wisdom. Similar to ‘philosophy’, but not quite the same. Derived from the Greek eros and sophia.

Spring is a good time of year for new beginnings. There are tomato seeds sprouting on my dining room table, and ideas sprouting in my head. I want to have a place where I can test out some of those ideas and also where I can gush about my ripe tomatoes when the show up later this summer.

So here it is, the first post to my new blog. I have tried this before, and at different times I’ve actually kept fairly good, consistent blogs. Other times I’ve failed miserably. I’ll still post weekly in Christian’s blog, and just post those twice – both here and there. Hopefully this will be a place where I can share my theological reflections and also dialog with you, the mystery reader! So be sure to leave lots of comments so I can learn about what you think.