The Threefold Cord of Ecclesiastes

in European Judaism
John Jarick Regent's Park and Mansfield Colleges, Oxford, UK

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This lecture explores the book of Ecclesiastes as a kind of exemplar of the proverbial saying in 4:12 that ‘a threefold cord is not quickly broken’. The first strand of the book – a ‘black thread’ – is the thesis in Kohelet's teaching, that all human endeavour amounts to nothing but transience and insubstantiality. The second strand – a ‘white thread’ – is the antithesis in Kohelet's teaching, that value can be discovered in eating, drinking, and finding enjoyment in one's toil. And the third strand – a ‘golden thread’ – is the synthesis in the book, that one should walk a middle way, recognising the manifold vanities of life on the one hand and the value of the simple pleasures of life on the other, and striving to be neither too wicked and foolish nor too righteous and wise for one's own good.

Contributor Notes

John Jarick is Lecturer in Old Testament at Regent's Park and Mansfield Colleges, Oxford. He is a former Secretary of the Society for Old Testament Study and a former Editor of the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament.

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European Judaism

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