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I'm in an Ecclesiastes mood and was wondering if you all would like to read through it with me and let me know your thoughts. Moshe and Latria, I'd especially appreciate seeing your viewpoints but everyone is welcome. I did a similar thread last year with Matthew ( http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/322002 ) but it petered out before we finished the book so I'm making a new thread for each chapter this time, probably every other day or so. There's 12 chapters in Ecclesiastes so it should take about a month.

On board? Awesome! I'd love to see the diversity of opinions come forth.

Chapter 2 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/426297

Chapter 3 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/426850

Chapter 4 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/427612

Chapter 5 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/428089

Chapter 6 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/429192

Chapter 7 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/430314

Chapter 8 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/431776

Chapter 9 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/432501

Chapter 10 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/433602

Chapter 11 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/434729

Chapter 12 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/435835
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
This is from the NIV translation and I copied and pasted from here:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=25&chapter=1&ve...

Ecclesiastes 1
Everything Is Meaningless
1 The words of the Teacher, [a] son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!"
says the Teacher.
"Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless."

3 What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?

4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.

5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.

6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.

7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.

8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.

9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

10 Is there anything of which one can say,
"Look! This is something new"?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.

11 There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow.

Wisdom Is Meaningless
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
15 What is twisted cannot be straightened;
what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I thought to myself, "Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge." 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.

Footnotes:
[a] Ecclesiastes 1:1 Or leader of the assembly ; also in verses 2 and 12

 
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
Ecclesiastes is a downer, FYI.

Also, I prefer NRSV for this book because of the Hebrew Poetry that is involved.

-DK
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
DKahnt wrote:
Ecclesiastes is a downer, FYI.

Also, I prefer NRSV for this book because of the Hebrew Poetry that is involved.

-DK


I've heard it called that before, yes. I love it as it's one of the most realistic books of the Bible.

Do you have a link for the NRSV version? I don't see it at the site I copied and pasted from.
 
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
FYI your thread last year... on Matthew is how I ended up here in RSP as a more serious poster. Even though I don't think I posted in it much or at all. But it kept me coming back to read stuff.

I think I will be in for part of this one depending on my time constraints. I will certainly read the threads.
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1

A buddy just published a devotional for teenagers based on Ecclesiastes. It's rad.

http://bit.ly/m6AAP
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
Scott Firestone IV wrote:

A buddy just published a devotional for teenagers based on Ecclesiastes. It's rad.

http://bit.ly/m6AAP


The Amazon preview makes it look like a watered-down Sunday School handout for 8-year-olds.
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
quozl wrote:
Do you have a link for the NRSV version?

http://bible.oremus.org/
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
My thoughts on Ecclesiastes 1:

Solomon says everything is meaningless yet he writes a book to tell us all that. Why? Is knowing life is meaningless important for some reason?

He then goes on to explain what he means by "meaningless" in the rest of the chapter.

P.S. Marshall, the age of the Earth is addressed in verse 4.

By the way, we're all pretty smart people here in RSP. Do you agree with verse 18?

Quote:
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.



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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
quozl wrote:
Scott Firestone IV wrote:

A buddy just published a devotional for teenagers based on Ecclesiastes. It's rad.

http://bit.ly/m6AAP


The Amazon preview makes it look like a watered-down Sunday School handout for 8-year-olds.


Here's a couple witty rejoinders:

So by saying "looks like" you're admitting you didn't read it? Way to make snap judgments.

You are not a teenager. It was designed for teenagers. They weren't aiming for the 35-year-old annoying contrarian demographic.

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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
Scott Firestone IV wrote:
quozl wrote:
Scott Firestone IV wrote:

A buddy just published a devotional for teenagers based on Ecclesiastes. It's rad.

http://bit.ly/m6AAP


The Amazon preview makes it look like a watered-down Sunday School handout for 8-year-olds.


Here's a couple witty rejoinders:

So by saying "looks like" you're admitting you didn't read it? Way to make snap judgments.

You are not a teenager. It was designed for teenagers. They weren't aiming for the 35-year-old annoying contrarian demographic.



Thanks for the rejoinders! They're very engaging!

I read the Amazon preview. I know I would have been put off the writing style when I was a teenager. Do today's teenagers like that sort of thing?

Anyway, what insights does the book have on Ecclesiastes? What thoughts do you have? Would you like to share?
 
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
quozl wrote:
I love it as it's one of the most realistic books of the Bible.


Could you elaborate on your use of "most realistic" as it applies to this book and the Bible as a whole?

Here is the NRSV version:

Ecclesiastes 1

Reflections of a Royal Philosopher

1 The words of the Teacher,* the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,*
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
3 What do people gain from all the toil
at which they toil under the sun?
4 A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains for ever.
5 The sun rises and the sun goes down,
and hurries to the place where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south,
and goes round to the north;
round and round goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
7 All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they continue to flow.
8 All things* are wearisome;
more than one can express;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
or the ear filled with hearing.
9 What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
‘See, this is new’?
It has already been,
in the ages before us.
11 The people of long ago are not remembered,
nor will there be any remembrance
of people yet to come
by those who come after them.

The Futility of Seeking Wisdom

12 I, the Teacher,* when king over Israel in Jerusalem,
13 applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with.
14 I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.*
15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
and what is lacking cannot be counted.
16 I said to myself, ‘I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.’
17 And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind.*
18 For in much wisdom is much vexation,
and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow.
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
nichol wrote:
quozl wrote:
I love it as it's one of the most realistic books of the Bible.


Could you elaborate on your use of "most realistic" as it applies to this book and the Bible as a whole?


Sure. I mean that pretty much everone can relate to it because it doesn't really deal with God, it mostly deals with people. Of course, at the end, he ties it in to God but the journey there resonates with pretty much everybody (I think -- it will be interesting to find out what people here in RSP think about it). Realistic probably isn't the best term for it.

Thanks for posting the NRSV version!
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
Drew1365 wrote:
quozl wrote:
My thoughts on Ecclesiastes 1:

Solomon says everything is meaningless yet he writes a book to tell us all that. Why? Is knowing life is meaningless important for some reason?


I think, more specifically, he's saying that pursuing fulfillment in work or in the pursuit of knowledge is meaningless. Humanity has a short time on earth. Long after we're gone, the world will continue in its natural courses. So to spend your life chasing after knowledge or in labor is essentially meaningless in the grand scheme of things.


Yes, but I think he addresses more than just work or knowledge. Verses 8-11 seem to say that all in life that can be seen, heard, or done is meaningless.
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
quozl wrote:
Drew1365 wrote:
quozl wrote:
My thoughts on Ecclesiastes 1:

Solomon says everything is meaningless yet he writes a book to tell us all that. Why? Is knowing life is meaningless important for some reason?


I think, more specifically, he's saying that pursuing fulfillment in work or in the pursuit of knowledge is meaningless. Humanity has a short time on earth. Long after we're gone, the world will continue in its natural courses. So to spend your life chasing after knowledge or in labor is essentially meaningless in the grand scheme of things.


Yes, but I think he addresses more than just work or knowledge. Verses 8-11 seem to say that all in life that can be seen, heard, or done is meaningless.


It looks to me as if verses 1-11 come directly out of his experiences, which he relates in verses 12-18. He can say that all of those things are meaningless, or vanity, because he's done it all. After having tried everything, he sees that he's gained nothing, and hasn't made a real difference in the world.
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
juheimbu wrote:
It looks to me as if verses 1-11 come directly out of his experiences, which he relates in verses 12-18. He can say that all of those things are meaningless, or vanity, because he's done it all. After having tried everything, he sees that he's gained nothing, and hasn't made a real difference in the world.


That's a good point which I glossed over. Thanks!
 
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
Teacher,* - the * relates to a proper name that is translated as teacher (or preacher) in most translations: Qoheleth. It its interesting to note that this name appears only in Ecc. (1:1; 1:2; 1:12; 7:27; 12:9; and 12:10) except for one lone appearance in Deuteronomy 33:4 (NRSV: Moses charged us with the law, as a possession for the assembly of Jacob.)

Qoheleth is the name in which Ecc. derives its name and is usually thought of as a pseudonym. (cf: Anchor Bible Dictionary. Volume 2, pp. 271-272. Doubleday, New York. 1992.)

FYI.

Sorry, my Biblical Studies major is kicking in.

-DK
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
Drew1365 wrote:
Hypothetical:

-- A believer decides to live as a non-believer for a month. In everything he does, he acts as if there is no God, no afterlife, no moral construct guiding his behavior.

-- A non-believer decides to live as a believer for a month. In everything he does, he acts as if there is a God, an afterlife, and a moral construct providing guidelines for his behavior.



Having looked at life from both sides, which of the two, if either, ends the month happier?

Which of the two, if either, ends the month with a clearer view about the purpose of life?








You've created an impossible situation. A true believer cannot simply abdicate belief for a period of time. Likewise, a true unbeliever cannot simply believe for a period of time. I guess it could happen in movies (Trading Places and Freaky Friday are two that come to mind), but no knowledge of value would come of the exercise.

It would be meaningless! cool
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
Ecclesiastes belongs in the catagory of wisdom. Wisdom texts reflect on the nature of the world and the God who created and controls it, and on the place of humans in this divine creation. Whether from experience or revelation, the wisdom is regularly understood to have God as its ultimate source. In the case of Ecclesiastes, the wisdom is presented as experiential. The sage who comes to it through his experiences, one might even say experiments, is designated in Hebrew as Koheleth, and so supplies the Hebrew title for the book. Christian tradition generally uses, for book and sage, Ecclesiates, "the one who assembled," which is the Greek rendering of Koheleth found in the Septuagint.
The twelve chapters of Koheleth cover a miscellany of topics: the cycles of the natural order; the amassing of wealth in property and other forms; the opposing forces that govern life; friendship, particularly as an antidote to life's wearying uncertainties; the virtues and difficulties of human authority; the nature of folly and the possibilities and limitations of wisdom; the enjoyment of one's toil; the terrors of old age. Behind these topics, it appears, are certain fundamental themes. The first is expressed by the term "futility" (hevel). For Koheleth, this is foremost the inability of humans to make sense of the world around them-to see a coherent patterns of activity for each human, animal, and other phenomenon, and he uses the word ma'aseh ("deed, work, action" from '-s-h, "do, make") for these (chap 8), indicating also that they seem folded into the larger ma'aseh of God. But the human ability to discern what these are is frustrated, he argues, again and again; most significantly, the traditional doctrine of reward and punishment for the good and the wicked does not appear to work, at least in this life. In this regard, Koleleth is arguing against the position evident in the boof of Deuteronomy or the bulk of Proverbs.
The one thing that is clear for Koheleth is death. It is the final point in each one's , the one immutable event in life that every human, animal, and other organism must succumb to; it cuts accross all categories of morality and class. If there is any survival beyond death, either physically or in terms of memory and influence, humans cannot know this, and so cannot rely on it. What is left to humans, then, as Koheleth sees it-though he does raise an occasional doubt (e.g., 6:1-12)-is principally to enjoy their toil while thet are alive. This "portion" (helek) (2:21) is granted to them by God as part of their activity. Individual rewards and punishments, however, have no enduring significance because they are cancelled out by death and cannot be passed on to future generations. The capacity to disern all this-to understand what can be known and what cannot-is for Koheleth the task of wisdom. Wisdom, therefore, is most effective when it is used to clarify its own limits. In doing so, wisdom need not deny-nor does Koheleth deny-that God is in control and has a coherent pattern of activity that will bring every creature to account. Accordingly, it makes sense not to tempt the anger of God, say, by making rash prayer at the sanctuary or rash vows (4:17-5:5). This affirmation of God's authority and judgment is, indeed, what rabbinic interpreters have emphasized as the central element in Koheleth, and while some modern critics have assigned the vv. that express it to later, orthodox editor(s) of the book, it comports well with the limits on human wisdom, a central theme of the original author.

From The Jewish Study Bible featuring The Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation Torah - Nevi'im - Kethuvim
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
That's a good overview. What do you personally think of chapter 1, specifically?
 
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
quozl wrote:
That's a good overview. What do you personally think of chapter 1, specifically?


The pursuit of anything of and in this world to excess is foolishness and our 'teacher' will explain to us why in the following chapters. For its not this world or time we should be striving for but the better world and time to come. Its good that our 'teacher' in striving to zealously find the answers through wisdom found that it was like 'chasing the wind' and led to vexation and heartache.
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
nichol wrote:
quozl wrote:
That's a good overview. What do you personally think of chapter 1, specifically?


The pursuit of anything of and in this world to excess is foolishness and our 'teacher' will explain to us why in the following chapters. For its not this world or time we should be striving for but the better world and time to come. Its good that our 'teacher' in striving to zealously find the answers through wisdom found that it was like 'chasing the wind' and led to vexation and heartache.


Interesting that you inserted "to excess" into the text. Are you basing that off your readings of the following chapters?
 
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
quozl wrote:
nichol wrote:
quozl wrote:
That's a good overview. What do you personally think of chapter 1, specifically?


The pursuit of anything of and in this world to excess is foolishness and our 'teacher' will explain to us why in the following chapters. For its not this world or time we should be striving for but the better world and time to come. Its good that our 'teacher' in striving to zealously find the answers through wisdom found that it was like 'chasing the wind' and led to vexation and heartache.


Interesting that you inserted "to excess" into the text. Are you basing that off your readings of the following chapters?


Some from the following chapters; but mostly from the rest of the Bible. There is only one excess that is rewarded, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." (Deut. 6:5) And "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Lev. 19:18)
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
nichol wrote:
quozl wrote:
Interesting that you inserted "to excess" into the text. Are you basing that off your readings of the following chapters?


Some from the following chapters; but mostly from the rest of the Bible. There is only one excess that is rewarded, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." (Deut. 6:5) And "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Lev. 19:18)


While I could pick out other passages where excess is rewarded (for example, give generously), I'm wondering why you think it is only excess that is considered meangingless and not everything as the passage seems to indicate.
 
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Re: Reading through the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1
quozl wrote:
nichol wrote:
quozl wrote:
Interesting that you inserted "to excess" into the text. Are you basing that off your readings of the following chapters?


Some from the following chapters; but mostly from the rest of the Bible. There is only one excess that is rewarded, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." (Deut. 6:5) And "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Lev. 19:18)


While I could pick out other passages where excess is rewarded (for example, give generously), I'm wondering why you think it is only excess that is considered meangingless and not everything as the passage seems to indicate.


Boy, this is getting to be a two-person conversation.

The 'give generously' excess flows from the ONE excess stated above as do the others you are implying. The fact that the Bible cannot contradict itself (now there's a statement that should have some people talking) shows that wisdom, work, etc. are to be valued and pursued (see Proverbs); but when done in excess they show themselves to be without real substance, value, permanence, significance or meaning. No where will you find the author saying that a deep personal relationship/worship of God is meaningless.
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