Wednesday, July 24: Ecclesiastes 1 – 4
We turn the page to the next book of the Bible, the Book of Ecclesiastes. Some what to attribute this to King Solomon, others a follower of Solomon, or another King of Judah. Either way, it is a piece of “wisdom” literature, much like Proverbs. However, it take on a bit darker tone that that of our last book, Proverbs.
To start with we have to ask the question what is “Hevel.” You might not have read that in your translation, and our friends at theBibleProject.com have a pretty good explanation for us to consider. You can find their video at the end of today’s post. However, as “Hevel” weaves its way in and out of the story, translation is one of those things that makes a huge difference in our understanding. Take for instance the following differences in translating Ecclesiastes 1:2b:
- Vanity of vanities! All is vanity (NRSV)
- Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless! (NIV)
- Perfectly pointless! Everything is perfectly pointless! (CEB)
- Nothing makes sense! Everything is nonsense! (CEV)
- Smoke, nothing but smoke! There is nothing to anything – it’s all smoke! (MSG)
While these are all similar, there is a pretty big difference between vanity, meaningless, and smoke. After watching the video, perhaps the clearest translation is “smoke”, but then we want definition to give us something to hold on to. Maybe its something like, “nothing has any weight, importance, or meaning . . . its all temporary . . . so why bother?” Together we’ll wrestle with this as we continue reading for the next few days.
Readings for the next few days:
Thursday, July 25: Ecclesiastes 5 – 8
Friday, July 26: Ecclesiastes 9 – 12
Saturday, July 27: Song of Solomon
Sunday, July 28: Isaiah 1 – 4