Ecclesiastes Through the Centuries
Wiley Blackwell Bible Commentaries, Band 37 1. Aufl.
Over the centuries, Ecclesiastes has influenced numerous and diverse aspects of life and thought. Ecclesiastes Through the Centuries assesses the effects of the book on the culture of the various times in religious, artistic, and social contexts. Presents an innovative, reception history approach to the study of Ecclesiastes, by tracing its influence on religion, culture, literature, art, and social thought Explores a fascinating range of Jewish and Christian readings Features engaging and unusual examples from art, music, literature and history: from Thackeray and Orwell, to Salvador Dali’s Illustrated Bible, to the inflammatory exposition of Ecclesiastes at the funeral of Queen Mary Published in the innovative Blackwell Bible Commentaries series; for further information visit the series website at www.bbibcomm.net
Series Editors’ Preface xi Preface xiii Preface to the Paperback Edition xvii Testimonia 1 The Vagaries of Interpreting Ecclesiastes 1 Charting a Harsh Terrain 4 Qoheleth the Philosopher 5 Wrought by Melancholy 7 Preacher of Joy 9 True to Life 10 Qoheleth and Christianity 14 Qoheleth and Justice 15 Introduction 17 1 A History of Reception Histories 19 2 Reading Strategies and Lines of Influence 22 Pre-Modern Reading: –1500 23 Early Modern Reading: 1500–1800 40 A. Renaissance and Reform 40 B. Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Verse 51 C. On the Way to Modernity 57 Modern Reading: 1800– 65 A. Literature 65 B. Visual Art, Music and Film 75 C. Comparative Studies 84 Ecclesiastes 1 87 The Life and Death of Solomon the Author: 1:1 et passim 89 A. Alive and Well in Pre-Modernity (–1500) 89 B. Embattled in Early Modernity (1500–1800) 95 C. Dead in Modernity – Solomon’s Ghost (1800–) 96 Vanitas Vanitatum: 1:2 et passim 98 A. Despising the World through Vanitas (–1500) 100 B. Renaissance Vanitas: Despising Jerome and Suspecting the Sciences (1500–1800) 106 C. Literary Vanitas: New Points of Reference (1800–) 125 D. The Breadth of Vanitas 140 The Overture Played Out: 1:3–18 142 Ecclesiastes 2 156 Wrestling with the Test of Pleasure: 2:1–10 157 Understanding Wisdom, Folly and God’s Gifts: 2:11–24 161 Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 164 The Totality of Times 165 Ecclesiastes 3:9–6:12 174 On Fate, Knowledge and Anthropology: 3:9–22 175 On Oppression and the Value of Companionship: 4:1–12 180 On Conducting Oneself in the House of God: 5:1–8 183 On the Possibility of Profi t and Relief from hebel: 5:10–6:12 184 Ecclesiastes 7–8 188 The Curious Values of Wisdom: 7:1–12 189 The Incongruity of Experience and the Inaccessibility of Wisdom: 7:13–29 192 About Wisdom, Power and Authority: 8:1–17 201 Ecclesiastes 9:1–12 206 The Wisdom of Death and Life 207 Ecclesiastes 9:13–11:10 216 Wise Conduct in the Light of Uncertainty: 9:13–11:6 217 The Final Call to Joy: 11:7–10 221 Ecclesiastes 12:1–7 225 The Rule of Allegory 227 Beyond Allegory 232 Ecclesiastes 12:8–14 247 The Final Word 249 A Hermeneutical Postscript 256 Understanding the Pervasive Appeal of Qoheleth 256 The Exegetical ‘Fidelity’ of Ecclesiastes’ Reception History 259 How Might This Reception History Inform the Discipline? 261 Bibliography 264 Primary Sources 265 1. Pre-1500 265 2. 1500–1800 267 3. Post-1800 271 Reception Histories of Ecclesiastes 275 1. Jewish and Christian 275 2. Surveys of Academic Approaches 280 3. Literature 281 Specialist Comparative Studies 283 Ecclesiastes General Secondary Sources 285 Other Secondary Sources 291 Appendix – The Quotable Qoheleth: Ecclesiastes in Popular Discourse 296 List of Illustrations 300 Acknowledgements 302 Name Index 303 Subject Index 312
"Christianson's study of Ecclesiastes's cultural impact is rich and rewarding. [He] beautifully exposits the material that he treats, and suggests by brief reference some other avenues of fruitful exploration. In these ways, Ecclesiastes Through the Centuries serves both as an excellent treatment of the title theme and a good model for other reception histories to follow. The book may be heartily recommended, without reservation." (Bible and Critical Theory) "A fundamental resource on biblical interpretation, especially in the modern world, this book is a winner." (International Review of Biblical Studies) "Students of Ecclesiastes have been waiting a good many years for a book like Eric Christianson's study … Not since the time of Christian David Ginsburg's magisterial commentary Coheleth (commonly called the Book of Ecclesiastes) in 1861 has there been such a thorough survey of the reception history of Ecclesiastes." (Lutheran Theological Journal) "With the text's many difficult and provocative passages, the reception history of Ecclesiastes is always going to be more interesting than that of many biblical books, and in this erudite but entertaining commentary, Christianson takes full advantage of the rich materials at his disposal...The introduction and commentary proper cover many topics, from patristic and rabbinic exegesis through to modern science-fiction, with numerous stops on the way...Christianson is a genial guide throughout, and his own enthusiasm is clear; the book is very well written and accessible, moreover, so that it should appeal to both specialists and a wider public...Overall an excellent book." (Society for Old Testament Study Book List)
Eric S. Christianson is an independent scholar living in the UK. He is author of A Time to Tell: Narrative Strategies in Ecclesiastes (1988) and co-editor of Cinéma Divinité: Religion, Theology and the Bible in Film (2005), The Lure of the Dark Side: Satan and Western Demonology in Popular Culture (2009) and Holy Terror: Understanding Religion and Violence in Popular Culture (2010).
Over the centuries, Ecclesiastes has influenced numerous aspects of life and thought. Ecclesiastes Through the Centuries assesses the diverse effects of the book on culture in religion, art, and social contexts. Ecclesiastes shaped the life of European abbeys of the middle ages. For Renaissance thinkers it provided a sceptical line of inquiry weighted with the disquieting authority of Scripture. It has inspired the imaginations of artists, musicians, and poets from the Renaissance to the present day. The influence of Ecclesiastes on literature has engaged authors as diverse as Bacon, Donne, Eliot, Hardy, Melville, and numerous Elizabethan poets. This commentary traces these influences as well as the fascinating range of Jewish and Christian readings. The result is an informative and broad-ranging approach to the impact of this book through the centuries that will engage all those studying the Bible. For further information about the Blackwell Bible Commentaries please visit www.bbibcomm.net.
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