An Open Invitation

Dear Friend,

Welcome to this website. It hosts a series of reflections that addresses the question of the meaning of life.

It is undeniable that we all have a deep-seated desire to make sense of life. Existential psychotherapies seek to help us find a meaning in life, a purpose to live for. But we do not seem to be satisfied with having just any reason for living. What is the whole point of being born only to die some time later? Human beings seem to have an innate need for the (not just a) meaning of life. Our heart seems to cry out for the purpose of our transitory existence in this world.

This series of reflections is written in response to this cry for meaning. It is an exposition of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. You would be amazed how relevant this ancient piece of wisdom literature is to contemporary thinking and living. Ecclesiastes addresses our need for the meaning of life in a rather comprehensive, coherent and compelling manner. I invite you to take the journey to explore with me what this book has to say to us.

The beginning of the journey is just this CLICK away.


Sincerely,
T. F. Leong
tfleong@wheatonalumni.org

6 Comments:

Blogger Sivin Kit said...

welcome Dr. Leong to blogosphere. :-)I need to catch up and update my blogroll and point some people here. Will try to engage you here and there. Right now, enjoying some John D. Caputo (which is kind of a 21-C Qoheleth in a way as far as an academic philosopher is concerned - fascinating!)

5:28 PM  
Blogger Hsin ling said...

Dear Tien Fock, Thks for this. I have absolutely NO idea what I am in for when I start 'feasting' on your blog on Eccl being the absolute unscholarly person I am....anyway, let the journey begin! I offer myself as a guinea pig as to the user-friendliness of your writings on Eccl! God bless you and yours! Hsin ling

11:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Dr Leong:
thanks for the blog, this is very useful material. i like it very much. I have sent the link to some of my freinds at EAST. hope that many christians will benefit from the blog.Thanks! God bless

Fay

10:10 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Erdman said...

Dr. Leong you state that:
"Human beings seem to have an innate need for the (not just a) meaning of life."

I need to introduce you to some of my friends.

No one is looking for "the" meaning of life anymore. It is about developing meaning for yourself as you move through life. This, I think, is a much better fit for Qohelet. He does not view life as a meaningful venture, but as a journey through which one must do what they can to find satisfaction within the context of meaninglessness (i.e. hevel).

There are "meanings," not "the meaning."

3:38 AM  
Blogger tfleong said...

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for dropping a comment.

The view that there are "meanings," not "the meaning," is indeed becoming popular. But it is not true that no one is looking for "the" meaning of life anymore. I personally do, and so do some of my students and friends. The view presented on this page is actually Qoheleth's teaching according to the interpretation of Ecclesiastes presented in the exposition. I present it here in advance so that the reader knows what to expect.

My exposition presents a fresh interpretation of Ecclesiastes using a fresh interpretive approach. It was first developed when I wrote my Master's thesis in Wheaton College, Illinois. It was further developed through 2 long papers I presented to my Hebrew professor in UCLA, who commented that I was "on the right track." It has since been further refined. This interpretation presents the view that people do seek for the meaning of life though they may not realize it. You can sample it by reading my exposition on 12:13-14.

But to appreciate the interpretation, the exposition must be read as a whole, just as Ecclesiastes must be read as a whole. Unfortunately most commentators do not even consider Ecclesiastes a coherent whole. My exposition seeks to show that Ecclesiastes could and should be read as a coherent whole. Note that my translation and interpretation of virtually every verse are supported by at least one commentator who do not share my overall interpretation of Ecclesiastes. This means I am not twisting the meaning of words and sentences just so that they fit a preconceived conclusion. I will let the reader decide whether my interpretation of Ecclesiastes "is a much better fit for Qohelet."

The Hebrew word "hebel" does not mean "meaningless" or "meaninglessness." None of the 3 standard Hebrew lexicons lists this as a meaning for the word. I plan to write a more comprehensive piece on how the word should be translated in Ecclesiastes. For now you can read my exposition on 1:2-3. The exposition on these 2 verses has 2 parts. In the first part I show why the word should still be translated "vanity." In the second part I show why it should not be translated "meaningless." (It is true that in a few contexts--see exposition on 4:7-8--the word can be translated "meaningless." But this context-bound nuance is what is called an "implicature" in philosophy of language, and is not to be confused with the meaning of the word.) How "hebel" is translated affects the meaning of Ecclesiastes and our understanding of Qoheleth's view of life.

Sincerely,
Tien Fock

5:22 PM  
Blogger Quirkz said...

Hi Dr Leong,

Just dropping a note to say "Hi!" =) I'm not sure if you remember me, I used to work at EAST =)

great to be able to access your writings on the WWW =)

- Kai Li

10:11 PM  

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