October 21, 2013 | Posted in:Key texts
The Old Testament’s jewel, Ecclesiastes, is a series of prophetic reflections on the fleeting character of life. Ecclesiastes’ somber yet beautiful aphorisms speak eloquently about time and chance, wisdom and folly, power and injustice, the futility of human ambitions and accomplishments, the inevitability of suffering and death, and the relationship between the human and the divine.
This book introduces the core issues of the “Meaning of Life” course. Are some ways of life intrinsically better than others? If so, why? What is the value of pleasure, wealth, fame, and power if all are transient? Does knowledge in fact “increase sorrow”? Is resignation the only adequate answer to life’s tragedies and injustices? How are we to understand Ecclesiastes’ verdict that “all is vanity and vexation of spirit”?
- Alter, Robert. The Wisdom Books: Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes: A Translation with Commentary. Trans. Robert Alter. W.W. Norton & Company, 2011.
- Bartholomew, Craig G. Ecclesiastes. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms. Ed. Tremper Longman III. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing, 2009.
- Christianson, Eric S., ed. Ecclesiastes Through the Centuries. Blackwell Bible Commentaries. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007.