Reading Ecclesiastes explores the literary style and themes of the Book of Ecclesiastes, investigating its overall theological messages and the cultural perspectives which readers bring to bear on their act of reading. Examining the meaning found in Ecclesiastes through the use of two important contemporary reading methods - narrative criticism and cultural exegesis - Mary E. Mills breaks new ground. Highlighting the range of theological meaning attached to the book of Ecclesiastes as a result of treating the text as a form of narrative and a story told in the first person, this innovative book will appeal to all those interested in narrative criticism, literary studies and interpretation and Wisdom tradition and the ancient world more widely, as well as biblical scholars.
'Its greatest strength is in making the reader aware of the nature and possibilities of contemporary postmodern hermeneutics. It clarifies the sort of questions and procedures that are now possible for this book, now that Old Testament hermeneutics have been deregulated, and is a book I would recommend to balance conventional commentaries… a thought provoking volume that opens up some possible future directions for postmodern interpretation of Ecclesiastes.' Scripture Bulletin '… open[s] up new vistas of meaning in Ecclesiastes and invites careful, self-conscious reflection on the text. This is a well researched and incisively written study…' Theology
Contents: Preface; Preamble: The exercise of biblical imagination; The person and the world; Narrative Criticism: Narrative fiction as social commentary; Narrator as character; Story as social discourse; Narrative and Culture: Readers as selves and the exploration of social worlds; Cultural exegesis and the language of selves; Cultural Exegesis: Ecclesiastes as provider of religio-cultural boundaries; Ecclesiastes and the critique of religious values; Ecclesiastes and religio-cultural alterity; Sequel: The interpretation of selves; The art of biblical imagination; Bibliography; Index.