“Wisdom Christology” has currently become popular, treating wisdom as a crucial category for understanding the identity of Jesus Christ.
For some this is a historical claim about the influence of Old Testament or intertestamental Jewish texts upon New Testament or early Christian understandings. For others, such historical influences are more Greco-Roman, whether in terms of Jesus’s self-presentation as wandering sage or in regard to philosophical motifs. For still others, “Sophia” presents feminist possibilities for reinterpreting traditional theological categories or the male Jesus in woman-friendlier ways.
Some of these claims are not mutually exclusive, but other scholars caution against inflated Wisdom Christologies, sensing that various agendas spawn the myriad historical hypotheses. Though certain historical cautions are warranted, and in this case some feminist theological claims are overblown, we should not overreact. It will not do to minimize Pauline and other New Testament Wisdom vocabulary entirely, as if it were only and always minimal and polemical.
To take one example, polemical or not, the hymn in Col. 1 reflects a positive, even glorious pattern of appropriating the christological implications of Prov. 8. Interpreting Prov. 8 as having christological relevance helps to hold together creation and redemption rather than prioritizing either in lopsided fashion
Even if we assume with Athanasius and most traditional theologians that the incarnation occurred only due to God’s redemptive plan for counteracting the effects of our fall into sin, still the Redeemer is the Logos by whom the world came into being.
On the other hand, lest Wisdom devolve into mere common sense immanent to creation—a matter of opinion polling among sinful humans taking their own looks at a created order that is actually under a curse—in Christ God confronts us with true Wisdom that is personal and redemptive, entailing response to divine initiative.