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A Comparison of the Femininity of Lady Wisdom of Proverbs in the Old Testament and Dao of Daodejing

  • Korean Journal of Old Testament Studies
  • Abbr : KJOTS
  • 2024, 30(1), pp.9-45
  • Publisher : Korean Society of Old Testament Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Christian Theology

Kim Soon Young 1

1미주장로회신학대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper conducts a comparative study between the concept of ‘wisdom’ in the book of Proverbs and the fundamental concept of ‘Dao’ in Eastern classics, specifically the Dao De Jing(or, Tao Te Ching). The study aims to achieve two main objectives. First, it delves into the interdisciplinary integration between the personification of wisdom as a divine and female figure in Proverbs 8, representing the wisdom tradition of ancient Israel, and the concept of Dao as elucidated in the philosophy of Laozi, a prominent philosopher during the Warring States period in ancient China. Second, it contributes to a broadened comprehension of femininity that bridges the gap between the ancient and modern worlds, promoting holistic cosmological perspectives and integrative thinking. Especially, Proverbs 8:22-31 serves as the zenith of the feminine wisdom discourse in the Old Testament, captivating readers for centuries, from ancient philosophers to feminists and ecologists. In this passage and related wisdom sections, wisdom is personified as a female entity, depicted as the source of earthly happiness and a benefactor. Similarly, selected passages from the Dao De Jing (Chapters 1, 6, 25, 51, 61) depict the Dao as the ultimate and complete source of heaven and earth, often metaphorically described as the mother of all things, with a central focus on femininity. Thus, it can be argued that Lady Wisdom and the Dao performed the task of overturning the male-centric gender biases prevalent in the ancient world. These two concepts can be considered as the foundational core of Eastern contemplation on femininity, which has existed long before the emergence of Western feminist movements. Furthermore, both wisdom and the Tao are perceived as timeless, foundational forces in the universe, coexisting eternally alongside humanity as comprehensive entities. Therefore, the convergence of these two philosophical traditions offers an alternative path towards the expansion of integrative and inclusive thinking. It represents a cognitive effort to explore life's truths and teachings produced in diverse historical and sociocultural contexts. This journey seeks universality and harmony, embodying an open theology rather than a closed one.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.