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Paperback Reason for Being Book

ISBN: 1725251892

ISBN13: 9781725251892

Reason for Being

In Reason for Being, the creative theologian and sociologist Jacques Ellul--whom John Goldingay described as unexcelled as a theological exegete of the Old Testament among twentieth-century thinkers--invites readers directly to the heart of his engagement with the biblical text. Intended as his concluding last word, Ellul here distills a half-century of careful meditations on Ecclesiastes into a moving treatise on wisdom, vanity, and the presence...


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Customer Reviews

3 ratings

Incomparable Reflections on Qoheleth

I've read several books on Ecclesiastes, and this theological reflection on that simple-yet-complex little book of the Bible blows the formal commentaries away. Ellul admits to not being a biblical scholar, but the depth, breadth, and insight he offers were of far greater value to me. He actually made Ecclesiastes meaningful for my life. And he weaves scholarship into his book throughout, so if you can't read a commentary on Qoheleth without wanting references to von Rad, you won't be disappointed (though Ellul does disagree with von Rad in places). I can't believe it took me this long to discover Ellul. I hope this book, which is the first I've read by him, won't be the last.

Reasons and seasons

I read this book every 5 or so years. It is a tough read. Ellul didnt write comics. He draws closer to the difference between vanity and the creative awareness of God than most. I will read it again in a couple of years time.

One of the best works available for understanding Eccl.

Jacques Ellul, professor emeritus of law at the University of Bordeau, France, has writen more than forty books, including "The Technological Bluff" and "Jesus and Marx". For over 50 years he prayed over and meditated on Ecclesiastes and desired to make Reason for Being his conclusion to his lifework. He approaches his interpretation and contemporary exegesis of Ecclesiastes topically; whereby he looks at the "themes of vanity" and interacts with these themes from his contemporary social analysis (power, money, work, happiness, goodness, justice and wisdom). Of the dozen or so commentaries on Ecclesiastes that I have recently read, I found Ellul's work to be one of the best for bringing balance and contemporary application. Many critics have label Ecclesiastes an incoherent collection of a skeptical and cynical writer, but Ellul sees the Ecclesiastes refreshingly different. He sees the writer as a teacher that faces the crude reality of life and demolishes values and illusions that many hold. Everything is question by the teacher but the presence and action of God. For Ellul the teacher is realistic and pragmatic, a spokesman of the actual reality of human life who tells it like it is. Ellul does a brilliant job delineating the contradictions that permeates the writing of Ecclesiastes. He notes that contradictions are "an essential principle of Ecclesiastes " and that truth in life and about life can not be found without realizing that life itself is contradictory. For Ellul Ecclesiastes affirms the true character of human existence, which itself is essentially contradictory. He states, "Qohelet, the teacher, is a skilled surgeon who opens wounds, including the one wound that dominates human life, and reveals the incredible confusion in our beliefs and assertions, our absolutes and our occupations. Unresolvable contractions forms one of the guidelines of this book." For example, regarding happiness, Ecclesiastes calls it worthless, yet he maintains that the only thing that a person can expect in this life is to take joy and pleasure and live as happily as possible - a contraction.The two predominant and overriding strengths of Jacques Ellul's work are his topical treatment of the key issues that the Qohelet brings up and how he show that Qohelet's words are for us today contemporary and cosmopolitan. Ellul underlines how today "there is nothing new under the sun" regarding the nature of humankind. We still face a crisis of morality and philosophy, of human customs and grandeur, of the foundations of our collective life - a political crisis. He and Qohelet see a crisis of both the individual and society, a crisis of both the immediate and the chronic. The topical treatment that Ellul uses to illuminate the mind of the Q is refreshingly alive with current day application. He integrates the disorder and contractions inherent in our society today, into the word's and wisdom of the Q's d
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