procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ecclesiastes 1.1-11

Ecclesiastes begins next week.

So far two chiasms (only two I hear you cry!)

The first is pretty simple, yet encompasses the entire book:
1.1 Introducing the words of Qohelet
      1.2 The theme: vanity
            1.3-12.7 The theme discussed
      12.8 The theme: vanity
12.9-14 Concluding the words of Qohelet
This is fairly unremarkable, although where the introduction finishes is still a little up in the air as the book does seem to reset from 1.12.

But what this does demonstrate is:

  1. There is a clear introduction and conclusion: in between we will hear from Qohelet on life under the sun.
  2. There are two different assumed speakers: the 'frame' narrator, and Qohelet.
  3. 1.2 and 12.8 state the theme: vanity, or 'hbl', is one way that all things can, for good or ill, be rightly described.

After the introduction:

  • a question (1.3)
  • five examples (1.4-8)
  • a summary (1.9-11)

Compare this with the reverse order - statement, examples, question - in chapter three. But here is the chiasm of chapter 1.3-11:
3 - a question - why do we bother doing anything?
      4 the paradox of humans on the earth - we are in flux yet the earth is solid
           5 the example of the sun - always moving
                6 the example of the wind - untameable
           7 the example of the water - always moving
      8 the paradox of the senses - never satisfied yet weary from sensing 
9-11 a statement - nothing new achieved, no one will be remembered.
You'll notice that I've placed v6 separately to the other four examples; here Qohelet introduces the theme of the wind, which he will go on to say is impossible to tame, to grasp hold of, which he describes as the epitome of the vanity which is life: trying to grab hold of something intangible.

So what is the point? (v3) Nothing new will ever be achieved, and no one who does (if they could) would be remembered. (9-11) And yet even in the introduction we are given a hint, with a reference to Job 28. God is the creator of people, of the earth, of the sun, of wind and water. (4-8) Whatever the point of life under the sun might be, it begins with acknowledging God's sovereignty in creation and our absolute finitude.

Labels: ,


Blogger Pak Joni said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:49 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home