Friday, April 20, 2007

An Ecclesiates Non sequitur

Recently reading through some notes on Ecclesiastes, I noticed an odd Non sequitur from Quoheleth's comments in chapter 3:

18 I also thought, "As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?"

The point is that viewed from a horizontal perspective that Quoheleth has adopted "under the Sun", it isn't clear what the post-mortem fate is of man or animal. The Non sequitur made by the (unnamed) commentator was that this addressed the modern folly of pet cemeteries!

Unless you are a young earth creationists, the earth is considerably older than 6000 years. For some 40,000 years, dogs have been hanging around firstly our refuse tips (yes, that is why puppies do that!) and now our homes. They have been humanised without becoming human. I had dogs when I grew up and have owned/looked after our dog for 10 years. Naturally, I have become intensely found of my Labrador, and he of me (in his own doggy way).

To mourn a lost pet is natural; people mourn the loss of others to death or relationship breakdown, the loss of jobs or life-roles (empty nest syndrome), and so on. Pet cemeteries may speak of extravagance, but I am not sure Quoheleth applies here. One person's sentimentalism is an others heart felt grief.

Beware eisegesis! More on Ecclesiastes as I go

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes we've only to look at Job to see that God allows us to be tested and when we come through the fire there we find that we are refined, renewed and somehow solid in a way that our testing will always define us. As to animals, absolutely, many a good animal, the good gift of creation, will be part of the heavenly world. The Lion and the Lamb will lie down together, surely there is no better picture of creation at peace with itself than this. That there are also animals inhabited by evil can also be seen when Jesus allows the evil spirits that had inhabited the man to enter the pigs. Many a dog though I expect can be found in the heavenlies, for how great is the friendship of the K9 and the faithfulness and unconditional love and no wonder the great grief that some feel when their family pet dies, in some cases even greater than the death of a family member or loved one. Enjoy your dog whilst you have it with you and thank God for his animal kingdom.