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I am trying to understand the relationship between wisdom and light better (as well as logos and "the way"). I am mostly focused around exegesis of the Gospel of John. Jesus is the logos, the light and the way (amongst other things) and was there in the beginning.

Question: Is light the first creation at the beginning of God's way? And is it thus associated with wisdom?

Light seems to be the first of God's creation in Genesis 1. Proverbs 8 claims that wisdom is the first creation.

Genesis 1:1-3, In the beginning (bə·rê·šîṯ) when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light (א֑וֹר)”; and there was light.

Proverbs 8:1-22, "Does not wisdom (חָכְמָ֥ה) call, and does not understanding raise her voice? ... she cries out: ... The Lord (YHWH) created me at the beginning (rê·šîṯ) of his way .."

Note that the word for "way" here is the same word (derech) that is used in the Isaiah 40 passage that appears in all the gospels from John the Baptist's mouth: "Prepare the way of the lord." This proverbs passage seems to be describing "the way of the lord."

It seems like wisdom (according to proverbs) was the first thing God "purchased/acquired" (same verb used to describe Cain in Gen 4) wisdom at the beginning of his way (John maps Jesus onto God's way). In Genesis 1, the first thing that God creates, according to the narrative, is light.

But within the Johannine community we have:

1 John 1:5, This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.

It seems that wisdom was present with God and was the "master builder" through which God achieved creation (Proverbs 8:30). If God is light. This seems much like the opening of John 1 with the logos.

So we get a bunch of links within the text. God is light (1 John). Wisdom is the first of God's "acquisitions" (Proverbs 8). The first creation is light (Gen 1:3). Logos was with God and was God (John 1). So there seems to be a kind of co-arrising between God, light, and wisdom.

It's probably important to think that ancient theories of vision included "emission theory." This would be an idea that Plato inherited, but may or may have been the Hebrew theory of vision. This is the idea that the fire of the eye shines out into the world to allow you to see. It existed in Greece 400BC or so at the latest. It may have been present in the Hebrew imagination as well.

The only place I could find the two words colocated in a verse was here in Ecclesiastes:

Ecclesiastes 2:13-14, "Then I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness. The wise have eyes in their head, but fools walk in darkness."

It may be that the ancient hebrews thought of light and the illumination of the world as synonymous. As in light was the emanation from God's eyes. This could be paralleled in Jesus's "light of the world" and his healing of the blind man (from birth) in John 9.

Is the term "logos" a synonym for wisdom (sophia/chokmah)? There seems to be disagreement on this one. There are other parallels, through John (and broadly early christian texts), to wisdom.

Can anyone provide some guidance to disambiguate this? Is light the first creation? Is this wisdom?

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    There is a relationship between wisdom and light in Second Temple Period literature. See, for example, Wisdom of Solomon 7:25–26, 29-30. Wisdom was understood to exist prior to creation of light. Indeed it is referred to as "the fashioner of all things" in Wis 7:22. See my answer to a related question for those passages and others that may interest you: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/48289/35539. – Ryan Stephen Jun 17 '20 at 4:06
  • This answer may also provide some insight into the relationship circa the roman occupation of Israel. – James Shewey Jun 19 '20 at 17:48
  • I think you're being too literal. God IS wisdom - all wisdom is already present in Him - why would He need to 'create' it? It's just a philosophical approach that digs a deep hole going nowhere... – user48152 Oct 30 '20 at 9:52
  • @user48152, how do you square that with Proverbs 8:22? – Gus L. Oct 30 '20 at 13:06
  • @GusL "The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old". Seems clear enough! The dynamic/'readable' bibles have something to offer - but truth is often a casualty of the process. – user48152 Oct 30 '20 at 20:35
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I am not sure this will answer your question but here it is.

According to physics (about which I have some expertise), "light", namely electromagnetic radiation, cannot exist in the absence of space-time. God does not need space-time to exist because He is the ultimate prime-eval cause.

Now here is the nub of the matter - Since God is eternal, and all His creation has a beginning (because it is not God), then space itself must be a creation of God which would be necessary before light (or anything else) could be created.

Thoughts as the basis for "wisdom" do not require anything other than a mind, in this case, God's mind.

Therefore, on the basis of the physics and axiomatic priority of God over all else, Wisdom must be the first and greatest of God's attributes for without wisdom (as Prov 8 correctly declares) nothing else can be done.

Postscript about Gen 1 -

It is clear that in the six days of creation, the first day begins at Gen 1:3, "And God said ..." as with all other days. In none of these days does God create the earth; nor is there a record of God creating the sun, moon and starts in those first six days - they were created at some earlier time (eg, see Ps 33:6, 9, Job 38:4-7, etc).

Thus, God's creation of light on the first day, is almost certainly that light appeared on earth on the first day but had existed elsewhere previously.

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