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The Book of Ecclesiastes (Qohelet) and the Path to Joyous Living


  • Date Published: July 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107088047

£ 80.00

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About the Authors
  • This is the first full-length study of Ecclesiastes using methods of philosophical exegesis, specifically those of the modern French philosophers Levinas and Blanchot. T. A. Perry opens up new horizons in the philosophical understanding of the Hebrew Bible, offering a series of meditations on its general spiritual outlook. Perry breaks down Ecclesiastes' motto 'all is vanity' and returns 'vanity' to its original concrete meaning of 'breath', the breath of life. This central and forgotten teaching of Ecclesiastes leads to new areas of breath research related both to environmentalism and breath control.

    • Illustrates basic techniques for reading spiritual texts such as the Bible
    • Utilizes Levinas and biblical exegesis
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Tony Perry has done it again. Yet another path-clearing book that opens the Bible's wisdom literature to the philosophic mind and the literary ear, as well as to the text scholar's critical gaze and the human reader's searching heart. Perry has transformed received understandings of 'hebel/vanity' in ways that make Qohelet all the more central a guide to the contemporary - as well as the ancient - heart/mind.' Peter Ochs, Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies, University of Virginia

    '[Perry's] examination of Qohelet's enigmatic words in the company of an impressive gallery of thinkers from ancient to modern times is something of a tour de force in bending Ecclesiastes to the task of getting on with life. As a saying of [Perry's] own coinage states: 'OK, all is vanity/breath; now what's for supper?'. John Jarick, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107088047
    • length: 273 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 159 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.55kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the path of moral philosophy and beyond
    Part I. Human Hebel ('Vanity'): Sins of Collection:
    1. 'I Qohelet was king' (1:12): the collector theme (1:12-2:26)
    2. Fool's toil (1:2-3)
    3. Excess and its passions (1:8-11)
    4. A practical guide for living wisely
    Part II. Universal Hebel ('Wind'): Transience, Time, and Indifference:
    5. Cosmic patterns of return and renewal
    6. The catalogue of human times (3:1-8)
    Part III. The Hebel of 'Dis-aster': Totalities, Transcendence, and Crossover Concepts:
    7. Totalities and the outside (dehors)
    8. Living 'under the sun' and with transience
    9. Breath of breaths: Qohelet's motto and theme and refrain: a Levinassian exegesis
    Part IV. The Hebel of Words:
    10. Nothing remains (1:3)? Nothing new (1:9
    Part V. Theological Conclusions:
    11. Qohelet's very final words: a judging God, or judging God (12:13-14)
    12. Qohelet's very first words: testifying against God and his 'evil' (1:13)
    13. The 'all' of humans: fear God but also keep the Commandments (12:13)
    Conclusions: singing in truth
    Appendix: further notes and topics on breath research.

  • Author

    T. A. Perry, University of Connecticut
    T. A. Perry is Professor of Comparative Literature (Emeritus) at the University of Connecticut. He has previously taught at Williams College, Smith College, Loyola University, Hebrew University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including Wisdom Literature and the Structure of Proverbs, The Honeymoon is Over: Jonah's Argument with God, Erotic Spirituality: The Integrative Tradition from Leone Ebreo to John Donne, The Moral Proverbs of Santob de Carrion: Jewish Wisdom in Christian Spain, and God's Twilight Zone: Wisdom in the Hebrew Bible.

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