In the Advent Antiphon, “O Wisdom”, wisdom is personified as an attribute of Christ. At the human level, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). Biblical wisdom is not the prerogative of any one group. We might expect it of leaders, counsellors and judges, but it is also attributed to artisans and craftsmen (e.g. in Ex 31:1-10). Some translations refer to this wisdom as ‘skill’, which rather obscures the continuity of wisdom through the different vocational groups. The ‘wisdom’ of the craftsman and artisan is more than manual dexterity or skill; it implies a deep understanding of, and a disposition to be accountable to, one’s craft and the material it works on. This is the disposition of the genuine artist towards his or her art and of the poet towards language.
These ‘wise artisans’ are paid an eloquent tribute in the Apocryphal Book of Ecclesiasticus 38:24-34, where the remarkable statement is made that it is they who “will maintain the state of the world.”