Biblical Beginnings 4: The Weird & The Wondrous

It isn’t my goal, with this article (or any article), to intentionally offend anyone. However, when I read Genesis 1–11, having removed my conservative evangelical lenses, it is pretty weird and yet wondrous. It compares, in many ways, with other ancient Near East stories about gods, creation, humanity, floods, etc.[1] In Genesis 2, God putsContinue reading “Biblical Beginnings 4: The Weird & The Wondrous”

Biblical Beginnings 3: What’s In a Translation? Interpretation!

Recently, I was listening to CBC Radio 1–that’s Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for my non-Canadian readers–and the host was interviewing a woman who translates novels and graphic novels from Korean to English. In that interview she said, “Translation is an art” and went on to explain. There is no one-to-one correlation between any two languages. ChoicesContinue reading “Biblical Beginnings 3: What’s In a Translation? Interpretation!”

Qohelet 4: What’s in a Word? Actually, a Whole Heck of a Lot!

I think that the most important word in the book of Ecclesiastes is הֶבֶל (i.e., hevel). Most English Bibles, until recently, chose to translate this word as “vanity.” Wycliffe, who produced the first English translation of the Bible in the late fourteenth century was using the Latin text as his source. He transliterated the LatinContinue reading “Qohelet 4: What’s in a Word? Actually, a Whole Heck of a Lot!”

Biblical Beginnings 2: Reading a Familiar Text Carefully

The opening words of any speech, article, or book are crucial for grabbing the hearer’s or reader’s attention and interest and/or setting the stage for the speaker’s or author’s message. A classic example is found in the first words of A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worstContinue reading “Biblical Beginnings 2: Reading a Familiar Text Carefully”

Qohelet 3: “Cliffs Notes” on Ecclesiastes

I will start this post with a confession that may offend any English Lit types. Back in the early 1970s, high school in Ontario was five years long (grades 9–13) for those hoping to go on to university. And we had to take English Literature every year. Some of it I enjoyed, but every yearContinue reading “Qohelet 3: “Cliffs Notes” on Ecclesiastes”

Biblical Beginnings 1: Order out of Chaos

In the public high school that I attended umpteen years (i.e., 5 decades) ago, the principal was a very tall and large framed man—not overweight, just big, and therefore intimidating. Consistent with his size, he had a very deep voice that was so clear and carried in such a way that he really didn’t needContinue reading “Biblical Beginnings 1: Order out of Chaos”

Qohelet 2: Who or What is “Ecclesiastes”?

This post is worthy of the “Bible Nerd Alert” warning because it can be quite technical. However, I will try to distill all that nerdiness into a post of slightly less than 1000 words. This is no small feat, so I hope you’ll at least appreciate the effort, if not the result. Why does itContinue reading “Qohelet 2: Who or What is “Ecclesiastes”?”

Unhelpful Spiritual Clichés

Kurt Willems has written a brief but thoughtful articles on spiritual clichés that are not helpful to share with a person who is in pain. And here are some thoughts I had in response to Willems’ article: For me (and many others I’ve known throughout the years), even when said by someone who really wantsContinue reading “Unhelpful Spiritual Clichés”

Qohelet 1: Stop Cherry-Picking from Ecclesiastes

Virtually every preacher I’ve heard quote from Ecclesiastes has been guilty cherry-picking verses to suit the message they wanted to convey. Sadly, until a few years ago, I too was a cherry-picker. Various passages from Ecclesiastes are quoted, especially at weddings or funerals without any regard for the larger or immediate context. Again, guilty asContinue reading “Qohelet 1: Stop Cherry-Picking from Ecclesiastes”