Monday, February 15, 2010

Michael V. Fox on Proverbs 8:22ff


"The word's [QANAH] lexical meaning, the semantic content it brings to context, is 'acquire,' no more than that. But one way something can be acquired is by creation. English 'acquire' implies that the object was already in existence, but this is not the case with QANAH. To avoid misunderstanding, the better translation in context is 'created.'

While both 'created' and acquired' are legitimate contextual translations of this verb, 'possessed' (Vul, KJV) is not. Though this mutes the theologically difficult implication that prior to creation God did not have wisdom, it does not really fit the context. The verbs in vv 22-25 relating to Wisdom's genesis describe a one-time action, whereas possession is continuous. Subsequent possession may be assumed, though prior possession is indeed excluded. God acquired/created wisdom as the first of his deeds. Wisdom was 'born' (vv 24, 25) at that time. She did not exist from eternity. Wisdom is therefore an accidental attribute of godhead, not an essential or inherent one" (Michael V. Fox, Proverbs 1-9: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. The Anchor Bible. New York and London: Doubleday, page 279).


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