Ecclesiastes – Patrick McGucken

By September 3, 2013 Hermeneutics No Comments

Patrick McGucken

Mr. Herring

Hermeneutics 10B

February 1, 2013


In the movie The Green Mile, Paul Edgecombe (Tom Hanks) plays a security guard for death row inmates. Paul has the monotonous job of leading inmates to their death. He then encounters a prisoner like never before, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan). John Coffey is an angel, who can sense evil in the world. This movie shares some of the same themes from Ecclesiastes. The Green Mile includes many acts of evil, John Coffey’s death being the most important. Coffey can see the evils of the world, and tries to right them. In the end all is vanity because Coffey could not change anything, and is probably forgotten after a couple of months. The Green Mile shows the world like Ecclesiastes does. In Ecclesiastes, there are many different messages that can be summed up in one phrase. It does not matter what you do, because in the end you will be forgotten, so make the most out of your life. This message can be taken out of context to mean drink as much as possible and have equal amounts of pleasure. However this is not what the verse means; it simply means that people should try to enjoy their lives. The purpose of Ecclesiastes is to encourage people to fear God. It may not seem like it, but the author uses depressing terms to show the one meaningful thing in the world, fearing God. Although it is hard to see at first, Ecclesiastes contains good news. Throughout this paper the term “good news” will refer to any information that gives hope to the readers.

Ecclesiastes was written during the time of Solomon. The book begins with the quester telling the readers that nothing matters. He then shows many examples of ways things do not matter, and tries to interpret the meaning of life. In the end, he discusses how the people need to fear God.  There are many messages that are prominent in Ecclesiastes. One of the key messages is that life is smoke. “Smoke, nothing but smoke. There’s nothing to anything-its all smoke,” (Message pg. 1). The term smoke does not simply mean the thick gas that flows from fire. Smoke in this case refers to something being meaningless. Another theme is that there is nothing new. In Ecclesiastes, it talks about how there is nothing new under the sun. He also includes that nothing changes, and that everything is boring, (Message pg. 1). The final prominent message in Ecclesiastes is that with knowledge comes suffering. “Much learning earns you much trouble. The more you know, the more you hurt,” (Message pg. 2). This verse shows the author’s negative view on knowledge. He continues the thought, and says that people who die young are lucky because they do not know much. This is because not all knowledge is beneficial to everyone.  Overall, there are many prominent themes in Ecclesiastes.

Furthermore, the purpose of Ecclesiastes is to encourage everyone to fear God. The author accomplishes this by showing how terrible the world really is, and how anything a person does is forgotten. That is except fearing God. The author writes in the final chapter that the only purpose to life is to fear God. “The last and final word is this: Fear God,” (Message pg. 16). The quester makes it quite clear that there is only one thing important to do on earth. Although the author encourages the people to live life to the fullest, he acknowledges that it will not matter in the end.  The author writes that the world is terrible and meaningless, to show what is really meaningful.

Finally, there is good news in Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes although depressing, shows some sign of hope for the future. Many believers look forward to being brought home to Heaven. Ecclesiastes shows this in many occasions. “And that’s it. Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or evil,” (Message pg. 16). Although this does not sound pleasant, it means when people die they will be with God. Even though God will judge them, they will spend the rest of eternity in Heaven with God. Another glimpse of hope is that God made people out of love, (Message pg. 10). This is important because earlier when the author mentioned God it was not so caring. He described God as someone just waiting to punish everyone for his or her sins. This verse however shows that God has a special connection with the people and will remember and care for them. Overall, even though Ecclesiastes is a depressing book, it has a few glimpses of hope for the future.

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