How can Paul navigate the choppy waters of a pagan environment, with its idols and temples? The obvious place to start is the Shema.
Lent | Third Sunday in Lent (Year B)
Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22
Rod Dreher revealed recently that he couldn't come up with more than six of the Ten Commandments from memory. He also pointed out the irony of this fact coming from someone who often gets on his "high horse about theological ignorance," so I won't pile on. I've mentioned before that, while I haven't retained everything I learned at my evangelical grade school, I do recall a catchy song for remembering the U.S. presidents in order. We also performed a lot of musicals, including the popular '80s Christmas program Angels Aware.
Paul has a way with a sneer. Nineteen times in 1 Corinthians 1, Paul mentions wisdom, and each time we hear a growing sneer in his voice, until he nominates Christ as the wisdom of God. The word "wisdom" is distasteful to him because it is wooing the Corinthians to pursue a dead wisdom when they might turn to a wisdom he calls the "source of life"--and come alive. When Paul writes that Christ is the wisdom of God, he's tapping into an ancient way of speaking about God. He's drilling down into proverbs, where wisdom plays the part of the creative spirit of God. Wisdom is begotten of God, the firstborn of all creation, the very spirit alive in Creation, a feminine expression of God. This isn't just some hocus pocus stuff from the Old Testament, either. The New Testament writers are so influenced by this thinking that they pay homage to Lady Wisdom everywhere.