To Personify or to not Personify. Another JW Problem.

In the 2006 publication The Watchtower, in the section Questions From Readers, the Watchtower organization argues that Proverbs 8:22-31 applies to Jesus. A number of things can be said in response to this: That Jesus would have to live with shrewdness (vs. 12 in the New World Translation) and that Jesus is a female (vs. 9.1 — Chapter and verses didn’t come about until the 13th Century). Having said that, what I would like to point out in this post is an inconsistency in the Watchtower’s interpretative methodology as it relates to personhood.

Halfway through the article, it states that “Furthermore, this wisdom is said to speak and act, representing a person.​—Proverbs 8:1.” In other words, one of the criteria for determining if this passage should be applied to Jesus is because wisdom “speaks.” Thus, speaking can be evidence of personification. (Screenshot)

However, in the 2006 Awake! publication from the Watchtower organization, in relation to the Holy Spirit, they says this: “It is not unusual for God’s Word to personify things that are not a person. These include wisdom, discernment, sin, death, and undeserved kindness. Proverbs 8:1–9:6 … Likewise, the holy spirit is not a person simply because in some instances it is personified.” In this quote personification does not necessarily mean something is a person, even the wisdom in Proverbs 8:1-9:6. (Screenshot)

So in the first instance they argue that the personification of wisdom (specifically that it speaks) should count towards the passage being understood to represent Jesus.
But in the second instance they state that personification (Note: of wisdom in the very same passages) does not entail personhood.

So which is it?

What is also interesting here is that if the speaking of Wisdom in Proverbs 8 is evidence for Jesus, then passages in the NT where the Holy Spirit speaks (where the Spirit directly gives specific instructions) would also count as evidence for the personhood of the Holy Spirit (See Acts 13:2, 20:22, John 16:13). This idea, however, would challenge the Watchtower’s idea that the Holy Spirit is just a force.

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Published 5/15/24