In this book, Arthur Keefer offers a timely assessment of Ecclesiastes and what it has to do with the meaning of life. Drawing on recent psychological research, he argues that this Hebrew Bible text associates the meaning of life with various types of suffering in life. Keefer here situates Ecclesiastes within its ancient intellectual world. Offering an analysis of contemporary texts from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, he demonstrates that concerns about meaning and suffering were widespread in the greater Mediterranean world. Ecclesiastes, however, handled the matters of suffering and meaning in an unprecedented way and to an unprecedented degree. With its rigorous commitment to precise definitions of life’s meaning, Keefer’s book provides a comprehensive set of definitions for “the meaning of life” as well as a conclusive point of reference for interpreters of Ecclesiastes. It also opens avenues for the interdisciplinary interpretation of texts from the ancient world.
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