The Book of Wisdom in a Theology of Art

by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

In the second day dedicated to Scripture in the course Theology of Art at Mount Angel Seminary, we consider portions of the Psalms and 7:22b-8:1 in the Book of Wisdom.  In Wisdom we read:
For in her there is a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent, and pure and most subtle.  For wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things.  For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore, nothing defiled gains entrance into her.  For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness.  Though she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God and prophets; for God loves nothing so much as the man who lives with wisdom.  For she is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars.  Compared with the light she is found to be superior, for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail.  She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and she orders all things well.
Our time with this passage brought to mind the internal prayer behind the external beauty of visual arts and the role that purity of heart has in the experience of artist, as well as the experience of the viewer.

The Mother of God from the moasic of the Deesis in Hagia Sophia