Ecclesiates, Sirach, Wisdom & Song of Songs

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Jesus & Wisdom
Ecclesiastes
Is life lived in Vain?
Author
 The author was a sage that
reflected on the meaning of life
during the time the Jews were
under Greek rule
 He questioned the common
notion that virtue leads to good
fortune, and wickedness to
misfortune.
 The author is Ecclesiastes in
Greek (or Qoheleth in Hebrew)


Ecclesiastes means member of an
assembly
Qoheleth means teacher
 He worried about injustice
and wickedness
the book
 The book is known for what
appears to be a pessimistic
outlook on life.
 He asked God, “Why?”
 He says that nothing makes a
difference

People are born, die, and are
forgotten, and there is nothing new
under the sun:


“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!”
(1:2).
Here vanity means
“meaninglessness.”
Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)
Wisdom in the
Teachings of Israel
 Jesus Ben Sirach= author


Ran a school for scriptural study
and Jewish wisdom
Wanted to instruct Jews who
were confused by the
philosophical question of the
Greeks


All wisdom comes from Godnot from the Greek thought!
Recall: Greeks emphasized
reason over faith
 Depicts wisdom as a woman who was with God at Creation-
like Proverbs
 Wisdom is found in the teachings of Israel as given by God,
and keeping the Commandments is the way to wisdom.
 The book’s alternate name is Ecclesiasticus- which means
“church book” (is not the same as Ecclesiastes)
Wisdom of Solomon
The Author
 The author (called a sage)
struggled with the problem
of evil
 He refused to accept the idea
that God rewards goodness
and punishes sin in this life.
 He witnessed righteous Jews
being tortured
 The answer was that
rewards and punishment
will not necessarily come in
this life.
 Believed in afterlife
 The Greeks introduced
the concepts of body
and soul to Judaism
The Book of Solomon: content
 Also called the Book of
Wisdom- attributed to King
Solomon, who died long before
the book was written
 The vindication of the
righteous is awaited after
death.

The hope is not for resurrection
but for the continued life of the
soul, which is untouched by
torment or death.
 God did not make death
 death entered the world through
“the envy of the devil” 2:24
The Spirit of God
 In the opening chapter of the
book we are told that wisdom
is a holy spirit (1:5)
 Wisdom is the spirit of the
Lord that fills the whole
world 1:7.
A collection of love poems
or love songs
Also know as Song of
Solomon or Canticles
It is a collection of love
poems
that early interpreters
saw as a religious
allegory of God’s
passion for Israel.
It is a collection of love
songs, a celebration of
erotic love between
man and woman.
The association to
Solomon is due to the
fact that his name is
mentioned six times.
Solomon is never the
speaker in any of the
passages that mention
him.
Most often, the speaker
is a woman, sometimes
addressing the beloved
directly, sometimes
speaking to “the
daughters of
Jerusalem.”
Major modern
interpretations
(1) a drama with either
two or three main
characters
(2) a cycle of wedding
songs
(3) a single love poem or
(4) a collection of love
poems.
Why is the Song of Songs a book of
the Bible, when it does not even
mention God?
Some people think even its
language of love and sexuality are
inappropriate for a holy book.
But the Jews and Christians who
decided to include it in their
respective Bibles recognized that
God designed human love as a
powerful and holy bond.
Early interpreters of the
book saw the work as a
religious allegory.
For both Jews and
Christians- the bride and
groom’s mutual love was an
image of God’s love for and
passionate devotion to
Israel.
For Christians- it was also a
figure of Christ’s love for his
“bride,” the church
The bride longs to be as
close to the groom as
the name seal that he
wears on a cord about
his neck, resting on his
heart.
She would be one with
him-as he and his name
are one.
In this passage we hear the
well-known tribute to the
power of love:
Set me as a seal upon your
heart, as a seal upon your
arm; for love is strong as
death, passion fierce as the
grave. 8:6
Love can overcome death.
This is the wisdom offered us by
the Song of Songs.
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