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The Critical Reflection of the Traditional Wisdom: The Exegesis and Theological Message of Ecclesiastes 7

Cha, Jun-Hee 1

1한세대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article may suggest an attempt to build a bridge between the teachings of theological schools and the preaching in the churches. For that reason, firstly I will focus on understanding the meaning of chapter 7 of the book of Ecclesiastes which contains considerable problems. Furthermore, I will draw the theological message from the text with an expectation that message is to be proclaimed in the churches. Firstly, Ecclesiastes ch. 7 composes quotations from the claim of traditional wisdom and critical arguments against the claim of traditional wisdom. Thus, if the quotation is not separated from Qohelet's statement, there will be a conflict among these incompatible claims, and so it will not be clear what Qohelet says in this text. Verses 1-6a, 11-12, 19, 26 and 28 are regarded as quotations. The rest of the verses in chapter 7 is Qohelet's critical argument against the quotations. Secondly, Ecclesiastes 7:1-10 is about putting a brakes on pessimistic view of life. The author of the quotation maintains that since life finally comes to death, the human heart should be placed in the mourner's house; the author suggests the pessimistic view of life(Ecc. 7:1-6a). Qohelet, however, suggests that because life goes toward death, human beings should place value in reality and enjoy present life; Qohelet indicates the positive view of life(Ecc. 7:6b-10). Thirdly, Ecclesiastes 7:11-14 contains profound reflections on the acts of God. Qohelet criticizes(v. 13-14) the overconfidence of the conventional wisdom teaching(v. 11-12). Qohelet argues that the true wisdom teaches the human being to accept the unalterable, unavoidable inconvenience and misfortune, and adjust their lives to those situations. Fourthly, in Ecclesiastes 7:15-20, Qohelet probes into the weak point of the conventional retribution theory(v. 15), and advises to avoid the extreme attitudes(excessive goodness and excessive wickedness; v. 16-17). He theologically explains the middle way, that is, moderation(mediocritas) linked with the fear of God(v. 18). Qohelet suggests that the fear of God is more important than the obedience of Torah. Fifthly, Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 is about how to rightly deal with reviling words on other people's mouth. This paragraph could be regarded as advice to magnanimity and generous attitude if verse 21b is the final clause, or it could be analyzed as advice to skeptical attitude if the verse is a cause clause. Sixthly, Ecclesiastes 7:23-24 concerns incomprehensibility of wisdom. Anyone cannot find the wisdom. Seventhly, Ecclesiastes 7:25-29 is the most difficult part of Ecclesiastes. From the aspect of creation theology(v. 29), this verses refute the claim of detesting females which was the propensity of Hellenistic culture(v. 26, 28b). Qohelet asserts that the claim of detesting females is a model of wickedness, stupidity, madness, and folly(v. 25).

Citation status

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