Friday, January 3, 2014

Legitimate Mastery and Control of Creation

In his fine book—Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible—Stephen Dempster breifly surveys the Old Testament's wisdom literature: Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. About this literature he says:
[Wisdom literature] develops the theme of human mastery of the world. 'Wisdom' signifies the mastery of a skill in a particular domain. The word is first used in the Tanakh to describe the skill of individuals entrusted with the responsibility of making priestly garments (Exod. 28:1-3) and constructing the tabernacle at Sinai (Exod. 31:1-3). People skilled at various tasks, whether singing (Jer. 9:16-17) or sailing (Ps. 107:27), metallurgy (1 Kgs. 7:14) or military ability (Is. 10:13), shipbuilding (Ezek. 27:9) or snake-charming (Ps. 58:6), could be described as 'wise.' 
Dempster avers that Solomon virtually personifies Old Testament wisdom as he "had the ability to rule effectively over the kingdom of Israel." Commenting on Solomon, he says:
He as the teacher disseminates wisdom—not for any particular skill or limited technical domain, but for life itself. Consequently, Solomon in part embodies what it means to fulfill the call to be human in Genesis 1:27-28, namely, to rule the creation and to exercise dominion over it. Wisdom literature specifically deals with this concern for legitimate mastery and control of creation.
—Stephen G. Dempster, Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003), 202.

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