Eden and Jesus as the Wisdom of God in the Gospel of John


The theology of Jesus as the Wisdom of God – God’s “extension of self” to human beings – which draws heavily on the imagery of the Garden of Eden, was clearly present in the early Christian Church. Indeed, it is argued that the recognition of Jesus as Wisdom, and hence the unsurpassed manifestation of Edenic blessing, provided the theological bridge between the Old and New Testaments. This association can be found in the synoptic gospels where, for example, Jesus, through Matthew, declares that “...wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” (Mt 11:19). Luke, significantly, changes the word “deeds” to “children” (Lk 7:35) so that Jesus becomes identified with Wisdom not just through his words and actions, but also through the presence of those whose transformed hearts bear witness to Christ. Such imagery, then, informs not only a nascent theology of the Incarnation, but understandings of the kingdom of God as well. Nevertheless, the identification of Jesus as Wisdom is only of partial concern in these texts - it is in John’s gospel where the perfect identification of Jesus with Wisdom is most fully developed. In particular, John’s story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob (Jn 4:4-42) effectively demonstrates how images of Eden in Old Testament representations of Wisdom - used to analogise God’s loving predisposition towards the world, and the blessings of that bounteous love - were appropriated by New Testament authors to reveal Jesus as the source and perfect sign of the new Creation.


Gospel of John, Jesus, identity, Wisdom of God, Eden imagery

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