Such is Life

Submitted by Peter on

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This Book Study will begin May 21, 2017

Though some twenty three centuries have passed since an anonymous Jewish sage calling himself the Proclaimer (Ecclesiastes) set down his thoughts about life, they are strangely in tune with todays secular age. Its surprising, therefore, that they ever found a place in Holy Scripture. Lloyd Geering has brought Ecclesiastes to life by ingeniously composing imaginative dialogues with the sage, which show that he was a free thinker, a humanist, and an existentialist. In fact, this biblical heretic essentially undermined the rest of the Hebrew Bible by finding no discernible thread of purpose in the universe or in human existence, and by proposing that though Nature operates in ever-repeating 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 into thinking things out for ourselves in our search for meaning in life.


Chapter 11 (the text in modern English)
1 - “With the increase of wisdom comes the increase of grief.” Is this related to our increasing suicide rate? 172
2 – What’s wrong with Ecclesiastes work that he finds it so meaningless? 175
3 – What do you do to increase your luck? 181
4 – What is it about Ecclesiastes that he thinks there should be different fates for different people? Why not the same for all? 187
5 – Do you have any comments on comparing this translation with another? 192
Chapter 12
6 – What changes will we see when humanity moves from adolescence into adulthood? 194
7 – Do you disagree with any of the marks of secular thought? 200
8 – How would YOU compare Ecclesiastes and Jesus? 205
9 – How do you see the difference between “God bless!” and “Have a good day!”? 208

Chapter 9
1 – What is your favorite proverb? Why? 134
2 - “People have always liked to appeal to authority”. Why? 136
3 – What would (do) you do when searching for wisdom? 142
4 – Does having a proverb for all occasions make you a wise person? 145
5 – Would you rather live in a world of fools or a world of wise people? 150
Chapter 10
6 – Why do you think Ecclesiastes found one man in a thousand, but not one woman? 154
7 – Is technology an inevitable result of evolution? Why? 158
8 – Was Ecclesiastes bipolar? 164
9 – What is the benefit of thinking of the grave? 166
10 - “Nature will bring judgment everything we do”. Comments? 168

Chapter 7
1 – What is your best guess at what happens at death, and why? 97
2 – Where do you think optimism and pessimism come from? Is your glass half full or half empty? 98
3 - “Everything is empty of any lasting significance!” Comments? 102
4 – Why do some people see literal and other metaphor in ancient stories and writings? 108
5 – If you don’t like the birth – life – death cycle, how would you reorganize the world? 111
Chapter 8
6 – What is the meaning of life (short form)? 116
7 – How is it that artists are understood only after their death? 118
8 - “the very concept of purpose is a human creation”. Comments? 120
9 – What’s the difference between purpose and order in the world? 124
10 – Compare this book study group to a synagogue. 130

Chapter 5
1 – What is your “history of God” in a short version? 68
2 – Where do you see us now trying to “straighten what Nature (God) has made crooked”? 71
3 – Does it take brains to do real evil? 72
4 – Compare sacrifice with understanding. 72
5 – What’s wrong with “mak(ing) humankind itself the measure of all things”? 74
Chapter 6
6 – How does morality fit into nature? 80
7 – What do you think about the possibility of a higher level morality that we may someday come to understand? Has there been enough Moral Development to see a trend like what we have seen in natural evolution? 83
8 – What will (would?) the world look like when (if) we eliminate systemic injustice? 86
9 - “Human hearts are full of evil.” Do we have any chance at all? What directions offer hope? 91
10 – Where do you think the idea of the underworld of the dead, as described by Ecclesiastes, comes from? 92

Chapter 3
1 – How do you feel about being classified as “members of a culture uniquely inclined to analyse and challenge received truths”? 33
2 – How much do you identify with humanism and at what expense to priestly, prophetic and messianic traditions? 38
3 – What is NOT impermanent? (a double negative, I know.) 41
4 – Does the statement on pg. 44 “there is nothing new on the face of the earth.” contradict the statement on pg. 41, “everything is impermanent”?
5 – Technological changes: How well do you feel you cope with them? 45
Chapter 4
6 – What do you think of the cosmological argument for God? 53
7 – Comment on miracles. 55
8 – Why do you think Ecclesiastes says: “The reality of God seems to me to be as self evident as the reality of the world itself.” 57
9 – What do you think about replacing God with Nature? 63

Chapter 1
1 – I recommend that you start by reading Ecclesiastes in your Bible. It’s only about 12 pages. Pg 1
2 – When did you first encounter conflicting viewpoints in the Bible? Pg 4
3 – How do you see Wisdom failing in our current society? Pg 7
4 – Comment on the definition of Wisdom on Pg. 12.
5 – Have you read the Book of Job? Pg 15
6 – Why do we seek out and value permanence? Pg 16
Chapter 2
7 – What translation do you see as the biggest problem for moderns? Pg 21
8 – What do you think of Geering’s approach? Pg 25