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  1. ECCLESIASTES: Vanity of Vanities! Living in a Meaningless World MaggieLow2011

  2. “Turn! Turn! Turn!” The Byrds, written by Pete Seeger To everything (turn, turn, turn) There is a season (turn, turn, turn) And a time to every purpose, under heaven A time to be born, a time to dieA time to plant, a time to reapA time to kill, a time to healA time to laugh, a time to weep A time to build up, a time to break downA time to dance, a time to mournA time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together A time of love, a time of hateA time of war, a time of peaceA time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing A time to gain, a time to loseA time to rend, a time to sewA time for love, a time for hate A time for peace, I swear its not too late

  3. OVERVIEW OF LECTURE SESSION ONE INTRODUCTION: Orthodox or Unorthodox? I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND A. AUTHORSHIP B. DATING (Persian/Hellenistic) SESSION TWO II. THEOLOGICAL THEMES A. GOD B. LIFE C. PLEASURE D. WISDOM E. JUSTICE III. BOOK OUTLINE A. THEME OF JOY B. CHIASTIC OUTLINE C. EPILOGUE MaggieLow2011

  4. INTRODUCTION:Unorthodox or Orthodox? A. GOD • Caring or Cynical? 3:9-22 B. LIFE • Better to Live or Die? 4:1-3, 9:1-6 C. PLEASURE • Stimulant or Narcotic? 2:1-3; 3:20-22; 5:18-20; 9:9-10 D. WISDOM • Useful or Useless? 9:11-10:11 E. JUSTICE • Prevail or Perverted? 8:10-17 MaggieLow2011

  5. I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND A. AUTHORSHIP 1. Pseudonym - Qoheleth = assemble 2. Past rule (1:12) 3. Past kings (1:16) 4. Political critique (4:13) 5. Pseudographies - fictional Akkadian royal autobiographies a. Who is speaker: long-dead ruler b. Works by ruler c. Wisdom by ruler • What words of wisdom would you leave in your will? MaggieLow2011

  6. I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND B. DATING (Persian/Hellenistic) 1. Persian Period (539-332 BCE) Ref: CL Seow, Anchor Bible a. Democratization of Money & Commerce • coins minted to facilitate trade and taxes • democratized usage of money (5:10) b. Economic Opportunities and Risks • royal grants & discretion • 5:18-19 life, wealth, enjoyment as “lot” (heleq) & gift (mattat) but at the sovereign’s discretion (2:26) • opportunities & risks; high-interest rate (10:7) c. Social Problems • social injustice & economic disparity (3:16; 4:1) MaggieLow2011

  7. Mugharet Abu Shinjeh Cave (335 BCE) MaggieLow2011

  8. B. Dating (Persian/Hellenistic) 2. Hellenistic Period (332-63 BCE) Ref: T Kruger, Hermeneia a. Increased Prosperity Ptolemaic unified coin system increased agriculture (5:10) b. Increased Oppression by Taxation royal officials control tax leaseholders (5:8-9) c. Philosophy Individual happiness Hedonism Epicureanism (2:24) Stoicism (3:12-14) - freedom in deterministic world by virtue I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND MaggieLow2011

  9. II. THEOLOGICAL THEMES A. GOD: Caring or Cynical? (3:1-14)  Transcendent • Socio-Economic Context: • Materialistic Presumption • Parable of the Rich Man Lk 12:16-21 • James 4:13-15 I can control my life & my future • Theological Response  God controls your life & your future • What is your response? Lk 12:22-31  Living for the Kingdom of God MaggieLow2011

  10. II. THEOLOGICAL THEMES:Unorthodox or Orthodox? A. GOD: Caring or Cynical?  Transcendent B. WISDOM: Useful or Useless?  Limited C. JUSTICE: Prevail or Perverted?  No Human but Divine D. LIFE: Better to Live or Die?  Fleeting E. PLEASURE: Stimulant or Narcotic?  Gift MaggieLow2011

  11. II. THEOLOGICAL THEMES B. WISDOM – Useful or Useless? (10:1) • good but no guarantee  Limited C. JUSTICE – Prevail or Perverted?(eg.8:10-3) • not immediate but ultimate  No Human but Divine Justice MaggieLow2011

  12. II. THEOLOGICAL THEMES D. LIFE: Better to live or die? (4:1-3; 9:1-6)  Fleeting hebel : Meaningless/vanity? = breath, vapour (73x in Hebrew Bible, 38x in Ecclesiastes) • 6:12 life is… fleeting • 2:26 God is… free • 8:14 injustice is… frustrating • 1:2-3 gain is… futile • What would you write for your obituary? MaggieLow2011

  13. II. THEOLOGICAL THEMES E. PLEASURE - Stimulant or Narcotic?  Gift yitron (profit/gain) v. heleq (lot/reward) 10x 8x • yitron of human toil alwayshebel - 1:3; 2:11 • heleq from God neverhebel - 2:10; 5:18  work not to gain money but to enjoy as God’s gift MaggieLow2011

  14. II. THEOLOGICAL THEMES: A. GOD: Caring or Cynical?  Transcendent B. WISDOM: Useful or Useless?  Limited C. JUSTICE: Prevail or Perverted?  No Human but Divine D. LIFE: Better to Live or Die?  Fleeting E. PLEASURE: Stimulant or Narcotic?  Gift MaggieLow2011

  15. OVERVIEW OF LECTURE SESSION ONE INTRODUCTION: Orthodox or Unorthodox? I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND A. AUTHORSHIP B. DATING (Persian/Hellenistic) SESSION TWO II. THEOLOGICAL THEMES A. GOD B. WISDOM C. JUSTICE D. LIFE E. PLEASURE III. BOOK OUTLINE A. THEME OF JOY B. CHIASTIC OUTLINE C. EPILOGUE MaggieLow2011

  16. III. BOOK OUTLINE A. THEME OF JOY • 2:24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find enjoyment in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,… • 3:13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all his toil—this is the gift of God. • 3:22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot… MaggieLow2011

  17. III. BOOK OUTLINE A. THEME OF JOY • 5:18-19 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find enjoyment in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables(hishliyt) him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. MaggieLow2011

  18. III. BOOK OUTLINE A. THEME OF JOY • 8:15 So I commend(shavach) the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun. • 9:7 Go(lek; imperative), eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God already favors(ratsah) what you do. MaggieLow2011

  19. III. BOOK OUTLINE A. THEME OF JOY • 11:9 Be happy(shemach, imperative), young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but (and) know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment…. 12:1 Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,… MaggieLow2011

  20. III. BOOK OUTLINE A. THEME OF JOY • What do you enjoy about your work? Or what work do you enjoy? Or simply, what do you enjoy doing? MaggieLow2011

  21. III. BOOK OUTLINE B. CHIASTIC OUTLINE (based on theme of joy) AA’ Human Toil and Wisdom No Yitron • Life is unpredictable (9:11-12; 10:8-9) • Yet, one must work wisely (11:1-6)  So, enjoy your work BB’God’s Sovereignty • over time (3:1-8), injustice, death So, enjoy life MaggieLow2011

  22. III. BOOK OUTLINE B. CHIASTIC OUTLINE (based on theme of joy) CC’Human Limitations • 4:9-12 Do not do better • 7:7 Do not know better so, fear God (5:7; 7:14) D Human Greed v. God’s Gift • 6:1-2 cf. 5:10 Human greed  So, enjoy God’s gift (5:18-20) MaggieLow2011

  23. III. BOOK OUTLINE B. CHIASTIC OUTLINE AA’ Human Toil and Wisdom Gets No Gain • Life is unpredictable life; yet work wisely So, enjoy work BB’God’s Sovereignty • Over time (3:1-8), injustice (3:16-17), death So, enjoy life CC’ Human Limitations • Do not do or know better (4:9-12; 7:7)  So, fear God D Human Greed v. God’s Gift So, enjoy God’s gift MaggieLow2011

  24. III. BOOK OUTLINE C. Orthodox Epilogue (12:9-14): • Critique (per Longman) - narrator’s evaluation of Qoheleth - goads and nails are negative - excessive books including Qoheleth • Approval (per Murphy) - narrator’s praise for Qoheleth - goads and nails are necessary - excessive books beyond Qoheleth MaggieLow2011

  25. III. BOOK OUTLINE THE END OF THE MATTER: People are encouraged, even commanded, to enjoy, despite uncertainties, injustice, and death. One can do so only if one recognizes the transcendence of God who has planned everything, both good and bad.… MaggieLow2011

  26. III. BOOK OUTLINE THE END OF THE MATTER: It is our lot to toil; it is also our lot to enjoy the fruit of that toil. We should not work so hard that we neglect to enjoy, neither should we feel guilty when we stop to do so. It is what God has approved and will hold us accountable for. MaggieLow2011

  27. III. BOOK OUTLINE THE END OF THE MATTER: Qoheleth prescribes enjoyment not just as a narcotic for pain but as the antidote to greed. It is also a pathway to God for as we cease from the idolatry of work and wealth, we leave room for God to speak to us (5:19). MaggieLow2011

  28. III. BOOK OUTLINE THE END OF THE MATTER: • Physical enjoyment Eccl 9:7-8 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart,… Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. • Relational enjoyment Eccl 9:9 Enjoy life with your wife,… • Vocational enjoyment Eccl 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,… • What will you do this week in response? MaggieLow2011

  29. OVERVIEW OF LECTURE SESSION ONE INTRODUCTION: Orthodox or Unorthodox? I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND A. AUTHORSHIP B. DATING (Persian/Hellenistic) SESSION TWO II. THEOLOGICAL THEMES A. GOD B. WISDOM C. JUSTICE D. LIFE E. PLEASURE III. BOOK OUTLINE A. THEME OF JOY B. CHIASTIC OUTLINE C. EPILOGUE MaggieLow2011

  30. ECCLESIASTES: Living Meaningfully in a Meaningless World MaggieLow2011