Ecclesiastes' Son by Andrew Kuiper

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Ecclesiastes' Son

Andrew Kuiper on Jewish Liturgy & Deeper Christian Exegesis

The book of Ecclesiastes has always been something of a ghost at the banquet of Sacred Scripture. The central theme of hebel or "vanity," understood in the sense of futility, seems to encroach not just on the goodness of creation and the significance of the imago Dei but even on Wisdom herself. All plans for the future are subject to determined times. But those times (unlike Pete Seeger's folksy rendition of Qoheleth's refrain in "Turn! Turn! Turn!") are impossible for man to know and subsequently stymie all his actions. They are in the hands of an obscure God. The divine name of YHWH is not known in the book, only the more general Elohim.

True, Qoheleth says that it is better to be wise than to be a fool, but that seems to border on an aesthetic judgment. The fruits of wisdom and those of folly hardly differ, and all flesh returns to dust without the hope of a final judgment. This evaluation is a far cry from the rest of the Wisdom literature and especially from the quasi-divine status of Lady Wisdom in Proverbs 8, who plays and sings joyfully with the children of men.

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Andrew Kuiper received a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from Hillsdale in 2012 and then taught elementary school in the Great Hearts Charter School system in Phoenix, Arizona. His articles have appeared in The Regensburg Forum and The Imaginative Conservative, and he contributes to the blog at Ex Fontibus (exfontibus.com). He now lives in South Bend, Indiana, with his wife and two boys.

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