Some years ago I wrote meditations which reflected on how I experienced a pilgrimage to Greece. As I reflected on what we saw and learned, I realized that in Greece, philosophy and the discussion of what constituted wisdom and folly were of great importance. As our resident philosopher, Dr Clouser, is away from our blog this week, I thought I would post one of the meditations I wrote. Enjoy!
A Scripture Text about Wisdom
13 The woman Folly is loud;
she is undisciplined and without knowledge.
14 She sits at the door of her house,
on a seat at the highest point of the city,
:15 calling out to those who pass by,
who go straight on their way.
:16 “Let all who are simple come in here!”
she says to those who lack judgment.
:17 “Stolen water is sweet;
food eaten in secret is delicious!”
:18 But little do they know that the dead are there,
that her guests are in the depths of the grave.
The Acropolis in Athens
High on the Acropolis in Athens is the Erechtheum. A significant feature of this temple dedicated to Athena and the memory of her contest with Poseidon for the allegiance of the Athenians’ hearts is the porch of the Caryatids. The temple was built in about 400 BC. It is one of the more intriguing spots on the Acropolis. Each of the pillars for the roof of this porch is a carved statue of a woman. And each of them is unique. The ones on the near side all have the same leg moving forward and the three on the far side have the other bent forward. Each seems to be inviting people to come to enjoy the cool shade of the porch they are providing by holding up the roof. The statues demonstrate the skill of the artist to create something beautiful.
You Cannot Go There
Yet, one of the interesting features of this porch was that it was only accessible from the inside. Authorized religious figures could recline in the shade; and no one else. It was an inviting place, yet was off limits. That helps me to understand something of how Solomon’s personification of Folly can be understood. The woman Folly has gone to the highest point of the city to call out to all the simple people, “Come to me!” However, the problem is that no one can actually do that.
The promise could not be carried out. In reality, the promise was instead an empty invitation. In fact, as Solomon says, little do the simple know that the dead are there, her guests are in the depths of the grave. As this porch beckons to us to relax in the shade, little do we know that the dead are buried there. This porch contains the tomb of an ancient king of Athens according to tradition.
But I react negatively to that thought. I believe it is good and right to avoid deceptiveness. Furthermore, I am convinced that is what Solomon was saying as well. He speaks about wisdom who has also gone to the highest point of the city. Wisdom calls to people to come to her and so to learn how to have understanding in life. I know this pushes the symbolism in ways that maybe no one else sees, but Solomon’s wisdom has sent out her maidens and hewn out her pillars which are seven in number. The porch of the Caryatids has only six. Isn’t that the way it always is with humanity? We come up short of what God desires us to be. We flounder around in folly, and miss out on wisdom.