..."alive" after death in the HB?

Martin A. Shields mshields at mail.usyd.edu.au
Sun Dec 22 21:05:31 EST 2002

On 23/12/02 9:16 AM, Ben and Jo Crick at ben.crick at argonet.co.uk wrote:

> I agree. But we have to consider that Qoheleth is talking 'tongue in cheek',
> answering the pessimism of the ungodly who find nothing in this world
> beyond the physical and the ephemeral. For the ungodly, "life is just one
> damned thing after another", as Elbert Hubbard said in his /A Thousand and One
> Epigrams/. A time to do something, and a time to undo it. In the Babylonian
> /Dialogue of Pessimism/ suicide is the only escape. In the /Gilgamesh Epic/
> the god Shamash can only pronounce "The life you pursue you shall not find".
> Only for the pessimist is there no difference between human-animal and
> animal-animal.

I have a problem with the view that Qohelet is using irony here or talking
"tongue in cheek" which is that I cannot find where he removes his tongue
from his cheek. I know there are those who claim that Qohelet is presenting
a perspective on life from an "ungodly" perspective to highlight its
emptiness or vanity, but the problem is he never even hints that there is a
viable alternative. Suggesting that he uses irony is ultimately a cop-out
because it allows us to claim he is saying the opposite to what he's

Oh, and isn't it Siduri who tells Gilgamesh that "The life you pursue you
shall not find"?

> But God the Creator has added an extra dimension to the human psyche, or
> rather NePe$: the dimension of *Eternity*. Man alone has inklings of
> immortality, Ecclesiastes 3:11. GaM 'eT-Ha`oLaM NaTaN B:LiBBaM  [God] has
> even set Eternity in their hearts. Man is striving after purpose and meaning
> in Life, but cannot find it without reference to the Personal/Infinite
> Creator of the Universe and of Time itself.

This may be true, but it is not something Qohelet claims--he nowhere claims
that you can find purpose or meaning in life, whether it be with or without

Best regards,

Martin Shields.

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