Reason for Being
A Meditation on Ecclesiastes
Imprint: Wipf and Stock
320 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 x 0.64 in
- Published: September 2022
In Reason for Being, the creative theologian and sociologist Jacques Ellul--whom John Goldingay described as "unexcelled as a theological exegete of the Old Testament" among twentieth-century thinkers--invites readers directly to the heart of his engagement with the biblical text. Intended as his concluding "last word," Ellul here distills a half-century of careful meditations on Ecclesiastes into a moving treatise on wisdom, vanity, and the presence of God. Ellul follows the narrator, Qohelet, on an ironic path to the limits of human wisdom, a path which ends with wisdom's recognition of its own vanity. This would lead to despair over the meaninglessness of our accomplishments and our very lives--if not for the surprising presence of God, who shows up when we least expect it. In the poetic prose of translator Joyce Main Hanks, Ellul's Reason for Being resounds as an arresting interrogation, an invitation to honest self-examination, and a challenge to free dialogue with God here and now.
"Jacques Ellul's prophetic voice rises here to join the existential Hebrew sage in an illuminating and rousing completion to Ellul's expansive corpus. While Ellul's scholarship ranged widely across sociological, philosophical, and theological territory, it returns here to its wellspring: a deep and detailed study of the biblical text. This refurbished publication of the English translation of Ellul's study of Ecclesiastes is a timely reminder. In an age distraught by individual and institutional frailty alike, Ellul unearths the wisdom of fragility and finitude. Ours is a mortal existence whose crevices are filled by the joyous presence of God."
-- Amy J. Erickson, Texas Lutheran University