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Ecclesiastes 1 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Conrade Yap   
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 12:12

TITLE: THE SEARCH FOR MEANING

DATE: 30 May 2012
AUTHOR: Dr Conrade Yap
TEXT: Ecclesiastes 1:1-11
"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
The writer of Ecclesiastes has made the search for meaning as a key theme in this biblical book. While traditionally most readers see King Solomon as the author of this book, many modern scholars prefer to remain agnostic about this. In other words, while they accept the conventional attribution to Solomon as writer and author of Ecclesiastes, they are convinced that the text, the language, and the literary style is actually another person other than Solomon. The biggest factor that determines authorship is agreement as to WHEN the book was written. Most scholars nowadays will prefer to treat the author as "unknown" with an acknowledgement of a possibility of Solomon being the writer. Those who argue that Ecclesiastes was written somewhere in the early 10th Century BC will say that King Solomon is the author. Those who argue that the book was written much later, even up to 200 AD, will say that the author is not Solomon.


The Hebrew title of this book is "Qoheleth" which is sometimes translated as "Teacher" or "Preacher." Reading this book from can be depressing as we see how the author struggles with finding meaning in all the things he does. What then do we make of the meaninglessness pronouncement throughout the book, at least at the beginning?


Key to understanding this book is to adopt its energetic and intentional search for truth and true fulfulment in life. Notice the recurrent theme: "under the sun?" From the Jewish Talmud, it is commented that because of all the meaninglessness of activities under the sun, therefore, one ought to learn to shift attention from under the sun to things ABOVE the sun. Here is how it works.


What does a man gain from all his labour? He can only do his best. He can only work what is within his control. He can only manage the manageable, and trust God for the rest. Life and nature looks more like a cycle of events and phenomena. Like the way the sun sets and rises, how the rivers flow into the sea constantly but never full, because water evaporates into the sky and falls back to the ground as rain to complete the cycle. This is the truth. Life is a cycle. As long as man is on this earth, he remains part of this cycle of events: mundane, routine, and often punctuated by a rhythm of meaning and meaninglessness.


Reflecting Christ: Jesus comes to earth to help us end our cycle of sinning toward damnation. He comes to offer us life, of learning to spiral upward toward heavenly kingdom, purposeful joy and hopeful anticipation.


Conrade

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 12:25