Sunday 4 July 2010

Such is Life

The Polebridge US edition of Lloyd Geering's latest book is about to be released. Such is Life is subtitled "a close encounter with Ecclesiates", one of the most fascinating books in the Hebrew Bible (Geering describes it as "the heretical book of the Bible"), along with a fresh translation which truly breaks the mold. Unlike the usual, weighty and dense treatments of biblical texts, this one is quite different: it's couched as a personal conversation across the centuries between Geering and Qoheleth, the Proclaimer.

There are risks with this approach, and striking the right balance is a matter of fine judgment. Too personal an approach can be trite, too academic a tone and you defeat the whole purpose of doing it this way. In my view Geering has got it right ninety-nine percent of the time. The result: you won't need a degree in rocket science, let alone theology, to make sense of this engaging text. Here's the publisher's blurb from the Steele Roberts edition published earlier this year.

"The best we can do is to eat and drink and enjoy ourselves in our work." Though 23 centuries have passed since a Jewish sage calling himself the Proclaimer (Ecclesiastes) set down his thoughts about life, they are strangely in tune with today’s secular age. Lloyd Geering has ingeniously brought Ecclesiastes to life in a series of dialogues with him, which show that, in today’s terminology, Ecclesiastes was a free-thinker, a humanist and an existentialist. In fact, this biblical heretic is at odds with the rest of the Bible – he find no discernible thread of purpose in life or the universe, and proposes that though Nature operates in cycles, much of human life is determined by sheer chance. The role of the sage, as Ecclesiastes saw it, was not to pass on gems of eternal wisdom, but to goad us to think things out for ourselves in our search for meaning.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this review. Ecclesiastes is just about the only book in the Bible that gives me any consolation on my journey through this dreary interval between birth and death. I look forward to reading what another fan has to say about it.