The Vitality of Enjoyment in Qohelets Theological Rhetoric

Wisdom and Work: Perspectives on Human Labor from Ecclesiastes
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Seeing enjoyment and fear to be positively correlated, however, enables a fresh articulation of the book's theology. Enjoyment of life lies at the heart of Qohelet's vision of piety, which may be characterized as faithful realism, calling for an authentic engagement with both the tragic and joyous dimensions of human existence. Product details Format Hardback pages Dimensions x x Other books in this series.

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Sworn Enemies Casey A. Table of contents 1. About Eunny P. Lee Ph. Choon Leong Seow, Princeton, N. Best Selling in Nonfiction See all. Open Borders Inc. Burn after Writing by Sharon Jones , Paperback 2. Save on Nonfiction Trending price is based on prices over last 90 days. You may also like. Hardcover James Lee Burke Books.

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Politics Hardcover Books. Hardcover Cookbook. The Qohelet discourse seems to be forced to a painful conclusion: current Qohelet research finds itself derailed, in a 'condition of pluralism and fragmentation' Bartholomew , even polarisation, and with 'a lack of imagination' O'Brien For some, 'the words used to speak of God and spiritual things became divorced from the ideas and affections to which they referred' McClymond What do postmodernist deconstructionists use as sources?

From a library and information science LIS perspective, Senapatiratne makes the case that:. Biblical scholars of Qohelet are often guilty of using materials they are familiar with and ones that they know will already agree with their predetermined academic positions, rather than the most current and best sources. Overly pessimistic or optimistic theological, social, psychoanalytical or political theories that pursue objective or neutral interpretation Clouser can be a mere mechanical reproduction, bypassing Qohelet's description of life. The dichotomy, however, opens up a gap through which the 'thread of consciousness' Christianson that holds Qohelet together faintly glistens.

Do we peer deep enough? While this is not an attempt to give a complete understanding, in my recent role as a Cancer Association of South Africa CANSA Community Mobiliser in different townships, transformation, specifically personal spiritual transformation, has had to made it possible to enter as a Christian and a theologian into Qohelet's spirituality 3 Steenkamp , What is needed in Qohelet studies is that abstract reductionist Cartesian epistemology Fox , 'shalomic' perspectives Bartholomew , psychoanalytical theory Bundvad ; Helsel , proto-existentialistic perspectives Enns ; Fox and social-psychological models Sneed 4 should opt not just to accommodate specific structural analysis or social circumstances but to incorporate Qohelet's spirituality as well.

I will, on the one hand, keep in mind over-simplification and the interchangeable use of 'joy', 'happiness' and 'pleasure' in scientific Fan et al. On the other hand, I will carefully avoid 'flattening out the contours of the book'. Keeping an eye on Murphy's claim that 'no one will ever succeed in giving a satisfactory outline of the contents of the book' , this article will, not unlike an embroider, humbly opt to offer an 'overarching' or comprehensive Murphy xxxvii-xxxviii theoretical framework.

This framework aims to provide a spiritual journey that holds the book together, an element that was until now absent in the discourse on Qohelet, 5 that is, spiritual transformation as a hermeneutical approach. Spiritual transformation in Qohelet. The research on Qohelet's spiritual dimension, incarnated in life, is few. This section explores spiritual transformation as a theoretical framework. The foundation of spiritual transformation is already present in Qohelet as noticed by some scholars. Enns indicated that Qohelet underwent a 'transformation of sorts', but does not indicate how.

In the opinion of some scholars, Qohelet's transformation can be epistemological Bartholomew , moral Perdue , 62, or cosmic Perdue Pigg states that post-colonial adjustments in Qohelet are to be expected:. If power is beginning to fall apart, then the question would certainly be more apparent about how one might conduct one's self in the current moment. That the images of self-monitoring, fear, suggested solutions, the whispers of a post-colonial understanding of life around tables of eating and drinking and perhaps an implicit wish for change would surface, should not be a surprise pp.

Transformation is evident in Qohelet's transformed proverbs Schultz , law, story, poetry Tanner and a newly interpreted law of vows Levinson According to Homrighausen, Qohelet counselled 'practices of transformation, or can be read with those practices in mind' Deacy is on the verge of metre les point sur les i , that is, spiritual perception, 6 with his statement that 'There is little hope under the sun except through a 'transformation of everyday existence' Paul Marcus, psychoanalyst, is of the opinion that ancient authors such as Ecclesiastes not only identify, with startling brilliance and poetic insight, some of the central problematics of the human condition as modern people construe it but offer what he believes is, in many ways, a reasonable and feasible attitude towards contemporary life that is a better narrative for the human condition and a more compelling technology for self-transformation, self-actualisation and self-improvement Marcus As part of an on-going research trajectory, I will look at how initial signs of spiritual transformation become visible in Qohelet.

Spiritual transformation is not 'ceaseless change' Knopf that leads to a 'negative evaluation of life' McCabe and ultimately to a devaluation of life. It can be understood as 'the restoration of the divine-human relational process in mutual embrace' Waaijman It is not just an experience but 'a radical reinterpretation of his understanding of God's actions in and will for the world' and of one's 'own consciousness' metanoia Waaijman ,, From a film perspective, Deacy observes that 'as humankind evolves, traditional religious doctrines and assumptions will necessarily be subject to revision, and even to transformation'.

Qohelet's 'intense spiritual experience led to new horizons, and as a result reoriented the axes of his 7 spirituality "in terms of his contemporary experience"' Peters His lived experience 8 is a path of spiritual transformation whereby he intensively lived his relatedness to God and in that way 'blazed a spiritual trail'. Manifest in his journey towards a restored relation reformation, conversion was, amongst others, the infinite mercy of God Waaijman Transformation is in its essence spiritual and spirituality is in its essence transformational Waaijman Spiritual transformation goes through different forms or stages.

Humans have an infinite horizon of experiences of the Transcendent God Rahner that are 'continually unfolding' Chimhanda Spiritual transformation is not a linear process though.

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This study explores the interplay between the commendation of enjoyment and the injunction to fear God in Ecclesiastes. Previous studies have tended to. The Vitality of Enjoyment in Qohelet's Theological Rhetoric (Beiheft Zur Zeitschrift Fur Die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft) [Eunny P. Lee] on fuwypobixo.tk

Qohelet appears as a 'motion picture - made up as a series of small discontinuous frames' Landy Waaijman points out that spirituality is:. A human enterprise with moments of real growth and false growth, inwardness and self-transcendence, a search process and a divine enterprise with moments of revelation and eclipse, a phased and layered process During what Waaijman ; calls 'transformation in re-creation' or re-formed existence, new, fresh opportunities and new possibilities emerge Hermans 9 it will be illustrated in the stages discussed below.

A person can, however, during the transformation process choose to go forward reformation or turn back deformation. Qohelet has the potential to greatly enrich our understanding of how deformation and reformation work. Sharp and Berger found that the book Qohelet is embedded in the author s 's personal identity and experience that is shaped by his inner and outer horizon. Waaijman ; distinguished, based amongst others on Edmund Husserl's two horizons, an outer horizon and an inner horizon.

It provided him with instructions for his 'life and life situations' Lombaard He interpreted his world and interacted thereupon. His spirituality, however, unfolded in a post-exilic context. He lived at a time s of upheaval when the 'traditional ways of living were giving way to rampant capitalism and trade, when the gap between rich and poor was expanding' Seow , reflecting a vast array of different and changing moral systems, epistemologies and religious understandings Perdue in different time frames.

He gradually developed new insights that prompted surprising spiritual transformation. In the book, Qohelet described his journey Enns as we call it in Africa, his safari to spiritual growth.

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The argument is that in order to return to the spiritual tradition of transformation and to revisit the dynamic roots of Qohelet, studies of Qohelet have to undergo a paradigm shift in theory formation: from a fragmented to a transformational, processual approach. Its transformative power and the way that the divine-human relation takes shape Hausherr 'seldom received mainstream scholarly recognition' Lombaard To understand Qohelet's lived experience, I will draw upon the theoretical framework of spiritual transformation developed by the Dutch professor of Spirituality, Kees Waaijman I will take into account that in these horizons, Qohelet encountered formation and deformation 15 on his or their way to spiritual transformation.

Joy as an aspect of spiritual transformation in Qohelet. Qohelet was on a journey during which his viewpoints changed. The spiritual transformation, theoretical framework reviewed above provides a detailed description of the fragile process that may lie in the background of Qohelet's journey. In spite of the flow of commentaries, the book's joyous underpinning leading to the overturning of his spiritual status quo has been consistently overlooked, not yet been sufficiently explored and thus unappreciated.

To provide clarity and enhance understanding of spiritual transformation, the analysis will be done based of the key word 'joy', delineating four phases, stages or movements in a diachronic perspective. Qohelet's safari can be described as liminal, belonging to different states and statuses. Qohelet's experience is liminal because he was sandwiched between an initial insider and thrice an outsider by virtue of his religious orientation, in between a sage-king and a sage-writer s , and betwixt a privileged lawmaker and a sub-class enjoyer or merrymaker.

This inner transformation can be detected in form and expressions. Being a religious person, Qohelet reacted to the issues of his time in the 'language of his spiritual experience' Waaijman The repetition of the keyword 17 'joy' 18 or what Robbins called the inter-texture or 'interactive world' provides a 'hermeneutical clue in arriving at a balanced, text-centred approach' 19 Fuhr ; Waaijman , , Joy's interpretation as a 'metaphorical frame of reference' undergone a profound dynamic transformation. Considering that textual inconsistencies are 'writerly' attributes Thiselton , the aim is to indicate how the changing face of 'joy' was introduced, put together and even left in the text by the editor s to note the way Qohelet related personally to God.

Qohelet's apparent 'cacophony' is because of his recognition of different spiritual stages without making a specific stage normative. Taking into account that 'delimitation is also a reduction' Cilliers , four phases, stages or movements will be distinguished, but can in fact not be separated.

These are experimentation, reinterpretation, realignment and recommitment. Experimentation: Joy in things. Qohelet calls for joy 20 in seven key texts Ec , ,22, , , , Joy and contentment are found in Ec ; ,22; ; , ; ; depicting work, eating and drinking, marriage and family. Although he valued 'joy', he denigrated the futility of his positive remark: 'I praised joy' NAB Translation with the apparent antitheses: 'joy - What use is it? He exemplified this pyrolysis, meaning a meltdown or cleaning out of old idea s in Ec , see footnote 13 and Table 1.

As an example hereof, he initially had the impression that the Torah was bliss. It was soon followed by the empiricist Redding experiential idea that 'joy is things' Ec Barbour As a result, he began to seek or strive for prosperity , progress , 9 and personal tribute Lohfink This contextual or constructivist view of 'joy' is implied by Bible translations that render the expression 'pleasure'.

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The above two types or stages or aspects of joy Fishbane 21 are not a juxtaposition or contrasting emotional registers nor has the two verses, the same meaning Kruger The differentiation between the above two types or stages or aspects of joy Fishbane is an example of Qohelet's oscillation between deformation and reformation. This new view brought no happiness though Ec , and Qohelet encountered through wisdom 22 deformation.

He was distressed, filled with sadness and overcome by frustration As Fuhr , 15 and Fox state, 'joy is commended throughout the book Ec ; ; ; [Heb ]; ; ; , while pleasure is questioned as to its value follow Ec , '. The reason being that 'joy differs from the pleasures of projection because it requires us to keep in mind the duality of affective life' Gay It is as if Qohelet deliberately created tiny holes in the text for a lacy effect.

These nuances in the text give us a glimpse of the New Testament deformation spiritus-spiritualis analogously with carno-carnbalis. Joy can be corrupt, self-absorbed rejoice only in a person's own good or the perverse rejoicing in the misfortune of others called 'schadenfreude' Yale Center for Faith and Culture As the twisting of embroidery's thread can result in a lot of fraying and tangling, incompleteness or brokenness can cause 'tension' in Qohelet Morgan I would qualify the statement: Qohelet's 'deformation causes spiritual tension' 23 because the 'inner journey' is 'tension-producing' Waaijman This field of tension plays a vital role in spirituality Waaijman During the spiritual journey towards authentic existence, the absurd creates a tension necessary to the maturation and authenticity of the religious person Morgan Tension has a function.

It urges Qohelet to move. He develops an urge to further transform as illustrated by his understanding of God. Reinterpretation: Understanding God anew. Although Qohelet's journey was deeply transformative, his journey was not a 'complete, but an unfolding experience' Lombaard He was in the practice of pulling the layers away.

His layered understanding of joy unfolded because his understanding of God unfolded Sekine In earlier Jewish thinking, institutionalism temple and legalism Torah guaranteed God's rewards or punishment Sekine Salvation was synonymous with slavish obedience. God was rituals and rules Perdue Qohelet and his contemporaries, however, we're asking very different questions than the ones put forth by the Torah devotees.

They reflected on the horrors of the Babylonian exile and the series of 'collective' losses. Behind Qohelet's individual experience was the appropriated experience of the whole nation Fishbane These experiences cultivated a painful awareness that causal rules guarantee nothing Sekine Torah adherence in order to guarantee self-preservation is vanity.

Joy is rather the 'willing performance of the commandments and service to God' that 'leads to divine inspiration' Fishbane Qohelet's perception of God changed too. God is not just rules torah and ritual Lohfink ; Perdue ; Sekine or give just rite and ritual. God gives joy Ec , 25, , , God gives joy he therefore wills joy:. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun - all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.

Ec To be joyful is Divine will. As a result, Qohelet places joy in the core of human life because God, who gives joy, is at the core of human life. He was no longer frozen in a literalist interpretation of the Torah. He became spiritually defrosted. Realignment: Enjoy with God. A realignment towards God followed. Joy with God became valued. It is in sync with Waaijman's statement that emotion's function is to move us past the visible to the Infinite Waaijman In contrast with Sneed that dismisses Qoheleth's joy statements as an irrational response, a kind of 'drug that enables him to endure the painful existence of life' Lang and Anderson's statement that the 'so-called joy statements of the book' are probably 'ironic pessimistic tropes' 'as a means of coping with the reality of life' Waaijman emphasised that affection and enjoyment direct us to the invisible things Waaijman Enjoyment also directs us to the practical.

On Qohelet's spiritual journey, he went through deformation to reformation. In Ecclesiastes , his earlier commendations Ec , were converted in imperatives 'eat, drink and enjoy life' and bread to be eaten in joy Ec , To give in hospitality became the communal embodiment of joy Brown , Joy became the joy in the small things of everyday life because 'God is in the small joys of everyday life' Sekine God is joy.

Joy is not 'merriment unconnected to any religious duty' Fishbane That is hedonistic pleasure. Joy is in the small things: eating, drinking and enjoying Ec 'inspired by God' Gianto Joy in simple pleasures is sacramental Lee This insight was triggered by the post-exilic realisation reinforced by Hellenism's rising influence of the exilic principle's deeper meaning, 'I am what I am' Ex see Waaijman God's name, 'I am', indicates that God is not just a God of doing, but also of being. Therefore, he asks of us not to dim or reduce ourselves to just 'human-doing' or 'human-having', but to 'human-being', that is 'to enjoy', and sometimes just 'be'.

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The transcendent should glisten through the immanent. Qohelet hitherto experienced reformation. He perceives joy in a new light.

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The concrete world of everyday life became the basic material for an encounter with God Brown ; Waaijman God incarnated in lekker [Africa's youngest indigenous language; Afrikaans word for 'nice'] becomes joy. Joy matters, not just because life is short Fox , death is near Longman , and God is alive Murphy Joy matters because it is an act that indeed produces internal transformation Lee It breaks down the dichotomies between matter and spirit and enhances our ability to actualise more potentialities Liston Joy is a spiritual transformational act.

Act joyful and life's joyful 'opportunities and internal possibilities' Brown unfold. Joy is 'to open yourself up to all the different experiences that life has to offer'. To act joyfully is to become joyful.

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Joy becomes an index for transformation - and takes the form of a call to energetic action Ec , because 'all is perfectly in its time' Ec Lohfink The point is that joy in Qohelet is not just an emotion. Joy is a conductor of the good, authentic Liston ; Lohfink life - not in an instrumentalist way Lombaard or constructivist way, but joy as an orientation and a 'response to God's activity' Niemandt that recreates, renews and revitalises lives.

Joy makes us strong' Foster Joy moves us and inspires us to move. Joy is the expression and manifestation of the good life, and the good life cannot be envisioned in its fullness without reference to joy. Joy casts a positive vision of what life is truly for Crisp Transformation is an invitation to personal reformation in addition to everyday joy. Joy is the 'crown' Crisp xiv. To enjoy without God is only pleasure.

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Koheleth, the Man and His World. This being said, the exceptional nature of the Hebrew Bible and the success in promoting it as the Word of God has not only changed the nature of religious devotion but owes its existence to generations of Scribes who bear witness to a monumen- tal history but remain themselves invisible; ascribing authorship to a more pleasing and apposite appetite. New York: Judaica Press, , c Subscribe to our newsletter Some error text Name. Minneapolis : Fortress , Berkeley : University of California Press

To enjoy with God is joy.