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Adult Education Program on April 10 at 5p: “Ecclesiastes: the Oddest Book in the Bible. Dr. David Penchansky is Professor Emeritus at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he taught for 29 years. He earned his PhD in Hebrew Bible from Vanderbilt University in 1988. His recent publications include Understanding Wisdom Literature: Conflict and Dissonance in the Hebrew Text (2012), Solomon and the Ant: the Qur’an and the Bible in Conversation (2021), and the article “Hosea” for The Jerome Biblical Commentary for the 21st Century (2022). Over the past decade he has shifted his research focus to the Qur’an. Solomon and the Ant represents his first effort to formally study Qur’anic texts. He continues to teach in community venues and for the University of St. Thomas.

When we read the Bible, we seek comfort and knowledge of the holy. But the Book of Ecclesiastes tells us not to bother. Being good is overrated, and don’t waste time thinking about an afterlife. Humans and animals all go to the same place, while life in the here and now does not matter either. And yet, the book ends with the admonishment to “fear God and obey his commandments.” So what’s going on here? David sees the Book of Ecclesiastes as a site of debate, which is why in Understanding Wisdom Literature he calls the chapter on Ecclesiastes, “The Three Qoheleths.” Qoheleth is the name given to the author of Ecclesiastes. Thus in his book, this ancient author considers three conflicting views of life’s meaning – all to be revealed!

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