Past Series on Ecclesiastes

Published on Jul 11th, 2013 by PACC
Past Series on Ecclesiastes

The Scream is the popular name given to a painting produced by Expressionist artist Edvard Munch in 1893.  It was chosen as a visual metaphor for our series on the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Many people, taking their cue from the opening verses of Ecclesiastes, would see the painting as an apt illustration of how the writer of Ecclesiastes views life.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”

says the Teacher.

“Utterly meaningless!

Everything is meaningless.” (Ecc.1:2 NIV)

The landscape in the background is the Oslofjord, viewed from, Ekeberg, Oslo, Norway.  “As the defining image of the Expressionist movement, The Scream stands as a pivotal work in the history of art… The powerfully rendered, blood-red sky presents the viewer with the reality of Munch’s experience at the moment he is gripped by anxiety in the hills above Oslo. Like his Dutch contemporary Vincent van Gogh, Munch’s desire was to paint a new form of reality rooted in psychological experience, rather than visual. It is this projection of Munch’s mental state that was so artistically innovative – a landscape of the mind, whose impact is still felt in the art of today.”*

 

Lubow, has described The Scream as “an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time. As Leonardo da Vinci evoked a Renaissance ideal of serenity and self control, Munch defined how we see our own age—wracked with anxiety and uncertainty.”**

 

Many people, taking their cue from the opening verses of Ecclesiastes, would see the painting as an apt illustration of how the writer of Ecclesiastes views life.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”

says the Teacher.

“Utterly meaningless!

Everything is meaningless.” (Ecc.1:2 NIV)

 

Scholars debate whether “meaningless” is the best translation of the Hebrew word used here. However, irrespective of the alternative chosen, all translation options accord in affirming that life is mysterious and often deeply perplexing at times.

 

There is no doubt that many of us modern people view life with the deep sense of anxiety and uncertainty that Munch’s picture describes.  We have also got beyond satisfaction with superficial or cliched answers.  We want something that accords with life as we know it. This makes Ecclesiastes brilliantly relevant for while it is not afraid to describe life in all its brutal rawness it also provides answers that resonate with our realities and unlock our anxieties.

 

Join us, then, on this giddy roller coaster of a ride called “Ecclesiastes” as the author honestly explores life’s perplexities and then gives timeless wisdom in making sense of them.