Ecclesiastes : Annotated & Explained

4.71 (32 ratings by Goodreads)

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Koheleth's powerful guidebook for living without certainty and security in a world of constant change can become a companion for your own spiritual journey.

Twenty-three hundred years ago, an unnamed Hebrew sage known only as Koheleth, the Assembler of Wisdom, rocked the ancient Jewish world with a critique of society that shattered conventional notions of God, piety, politics and power. Koheleth lived in a world of change and challenge not unlike our own. His teachings, known as the Book of Ecclesiastes, sought to empower people not unlike ourselves, which is why this book of the Hebrew Bible still speaks to us--people of all faiths--today.

In this contemporary and accurate translation, Rami Shapiro presents the Book of Ecclesiastes as neither revelation nor prophecy but as a rational and inspirational guide to living well in the midst of uncertainty. Beginning with its opening broadside, "Havel havalim!"--not "futility" or "vanity" as most translations would have it, but "breath," "vapor" and "impermanence"--Shapiro opens up Koheleth's approach to living in a world where nothing lasts and justice is illusory; a world devoted to accumulating power, wealth, pleasure and even knowledge that leaves you drowning in anxiety and needless suffering. He shows how Koheleth's God demands neither sacrifice nor adherence to commandments, offering instead a practical lifestyle rooted in moderation, meaningful work and friendship.

Now you can experience the Book of Ecclesiastes and understand Koheleth's teachings with no previous knowledge of the Hebrew Bible. This SkyLight Illuminations edition presents insightful commentary that restores this ancient text to its timeless place as a guide to living sanely in an often insane world.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 160 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 12.7mm | 349.27g
  • English
  • Annotated
  • Annotated
  • 1683360419
  • 9781683360414

Review quote

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is a gifted translator and teacher and provides a text that is clear and easy to understand. In his extensive preface he clearly outlines his own presuppositions and his approach to the text of Ecclesiastes. Heavily influenced by Buddhism, he understands the references to "God" in the text as referring to nature or the way things are "under the sun." He tempers his views by noting his understanding that the author is writing for people of all faiths and backgrounds. The book also includes a foreword by Rev. Barbara Cawthorne Crafton.

Shapiro's notes compare the text of Ecclesiastes with Pirke Avot, as well as with the classic wisdom literature of other religions, and of classical philosophy. According to Rabbi Shapiro, Ecclesiastes is the one book of the Hebrew Bible that speaks to those who may be alienated from traditional religion. The text never uses the Tetragrammaton, and does not discuss devotional practices or life after death. It hews to a simple but thought provoking message that says that the key to a happy and well lived life is to eat and drink simply and moderately, to find good and satisfying work and to cultivate a few close relationships. Rabbi Shapiro emphasizes this point over and over again in his comments.

Not all will agree with all of his interpretations and conclusions. Nonetheless Rabbi Shapiro's book is a serious, well thought out, and well written contribution to a perplexing part of the Hebrew Bible. His work deserves to be included in all collections devoted to Biblical Studies and Jewish thought, and is appropriate for all adult students of the Bible whether in academia or in the general community.

--Association of Jewish Libraries
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About Rabbi Rami Shapiro

Rami Shapiro, a renowned teacher of spirituality across faith traditions, is an award-winning storyteller, poet and essayist. He is author of The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice, Recovery-The Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice and The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature: Selections Annotated & Explained (all SkyLight Paths), among other books.

Rami Shapiro is available to speak on the following topics:

Writing-The Sacred Art: Beyond the Page to Spiritual PracticeStop Playing God: 12 Steps as Spiritual PracticeBiblical Wisdom for Post-biblical Times: An Exploration of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and JobThe Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Cultivating Compassion in Daily LifeHasidic Wisdom: An Exploration of Hasidic Storytelling, Theology and Contemplative PracticeSaints and Sages: Biblical Prophets, Ancient Rabbis and the Building of a Just World
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Rating details

32 ratings
4.71 out of 5 stars
5 81% (26)
4 12% (4)
3 3% (1)
2 3% (1)
1 0% (0)
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