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Three Philosophies of Life: Ecclesiastes--Life as Vanity, Job--Life as Suffering, Song of Songs--Life as Love [Paperback]

By Peter Kreeft (Author)
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Item description for Three Philosophies of Life: Ecclesiastes--Life as Vanity, Job--Life as Suffering, Song of Songs--Life as Love by Peter Kreeft...

"I've been a philosopher for all my adult life and the three most profound books of philosophy that I have ever read are Ecclesiastes, Job, and Song of Songs." These are the opening lines of Kreeft's Three Philosophies of Life. He reflects that there are ultimately only three philosophies of life and each one is represented by one of these books of the Bible-life is vanity; life is suffering; life is love.In these three books Kreeft shows how we have Dante's great epic The Divine Comedy played out, from Hell to Purgatory to Heaven. But it is an epic played out in our hearts and lives, here and now. Just as there is movement in Dante's epic, so there is movement in these books, from Ecclesiates to Job, from Job to Song of Songs. Love is the final answer to Ecclesiastes' quest, the alternative to vanity, and the true meaning of life. Finally, Kreeft sees in these books the epitome of theological virtues of faith, hope and love and "an esstential summary of the spiritual history of the world".

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Ignatius Press
Pages   140
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8" Width: 6.2" Height: 0.46"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 1990
Publisher   Ignatius Press
ISBN  0898702623  
ISBN13  9780898702620  
UPC  008987026235  

Availability  0 units.

More About Peter Kreeft

Peter Kreeft Peter J. Kreeft (Ph.D., Fordham University) was born in 1937 and is professor of philosophy at Boston College where he has taught since 1965. A popular lecturer, he has also taught at many other colleges, seminaries and educational institutions in the eastern United States. Kreeft has written more than fifty books, including The Best Things in Life, The Journey, How to Win the Culture War and, with Ronald Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > Old Testament
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > Old Testament
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Old Testament > Old Testament

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic

Reviews - What do customers think about Three Philosophies of Life: Ecclesiastes, Life As Vanity Job, Life As Suffering Song of Songs, Life As Love?

Powerful Ideas  May 29, 2008
In "Three Philosophies of Life," Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft examines three books of Scripture and mines them for the worldviews they present.

First he looks at Ecclesiastes, in which "all is vanity." This view, he says, represents the logical extreme of human philosophy; it is as far as we can get without the light of God. Then he examines Job, in which the title character suffers terribly but maintains his faith, thereby showing that a life of suffering with hope trumps one of no hope at all. Last, Kreeft moves to Song of Songs, which, he says, offers a model of both divine love and human love--and, he argues, love is ultimately the place from which we must live our lives.

The book's style suffers somewhat from two things: one, Kreeft likes to make a point and then illustrate it with three or more brief metaphors. But the metaphors can seem stretched, causing them to feel redundant and occasionally silly. By the fifth iteration of any given point, I found myself thinking, "I get it! I get it! Can we move on?" Secondly, I couldn't help the feeling that Kreeft's writing is sometimes afflicted by that nose-in-the-air superiority that creeps into the voice of most people who think they have the answers and are magnanimously doling them out to you. It is, thankfully, an intermittent phenomenon in this book.

Despite the above (admittedly minor) qualms, Kreeft has a bevy of genuinely good ideas here. The section on Ecclesiastes does more "laying the groundwork" than anything, but works in some interesting considerations of existentialism. Kreeft goes on to provide an elegant disquisition on the "problem of evil" in the section on Job. (For a related, but not identical take on Job, read Philip Yancey's Disappointment with God.) In his final section, on Song of Songs, Kreeft presents an itemized list of 26 qualities of love (both human and divine). This is where the book really shines, as it moves beyond "mere" philosophical concerns and speaks with eloquence to a subject we all have a personal stake in.

Kreeft is consciously writing for a lay audience, and he does an admirable job of communicating basic philosophical principles (such as the form of an argument) clearly and without resorting to jargon. At the same time, his ideas are nuanced enough that the book should be useful to people (with or without philosophical training) at any stage of faith. (Although Kreeft is a Catholic, most of his remarks will be relevant to members of any Christian denomination, and even to non-Christians.)

Perhaps the best thing I can say in favor of "Three Philosophies of Life" is that, reading Kreeft's exploration of Song of Songs, I became excited to love--both God and those around me. A book that can encourage us to become better than we are deserves to be noticed.

If you're lost in existential despair...  Jul 29, 2007
Kreeft's premise is that there are only three philosophies in life, and each is best illustrated by three books of the Old Testament. The three books are known as wisdom books (aptly named) and are Ecclesiastes--life as vanity, Job--life as suffering, and Song of Songs--life as love. These parallel closely to hell, purgatory, and heaven. (Please do not be turned off by the theological term of purgatory. As Kreeft explains, it is a time full of hope, of transformation, a building of deep faith.)

This book is not an explanation or analysis of these Scriptures. It dwells on the summum bonum question--what is the meaning of life, why are we here, what is the point of it all? Each of these three books attempt to answer it in their own way. And as a result, they are linked together as stepping stones or phases on the path to seeking the answers for ourselves, in seeking God.

Everyone has had experiences of these three areas in their lives in some measure. As I read through each section, I felt my mood change as I found myself identifying deeply with the vanity and purposelessness the Preacher finds in Ecclesiastes, with the loss, doubt, questioning, and hope of Job, and with the love and desire of the lovers in Song of Songs.

Kreeft does a marvelous job throughout the whole book. He manages to tie philosophy, theology, and especially the mystery of God's love (mysticism) in a beautiful tapestry that will warm a seeking soul.
The Trinity of Life  Jun 21, 2006
Peter Kreeft has the ability to sort out the weighty matters of life in a smooth and concise way. In the "Three Philosophies of Life:..." he manages to reveal the meaning of three Old Testament books, "Ecclesiastes," "Job," and "Song of Songs (Solomon)," and apply them lyrically to the patterns of our lives. His books are so stirring that they manage to sort us out as well as the subject matter. He shows us three aspects of life: "Much of our life is vanity," "the meaning of suffering," and "the manifestation and importance of love." He challenges the reader without ever being opaque--not an easy task with such deep material. Being straighforward and smooth, he seldom uses parenthetical matter to interrupt his own thoughts. This is a brilliant work from a brilliant author and teacher.
An existentially satisfying book for the Christian...  May 25, 2005
Kreeft's book is an insightful exegesis of some of the most difficult biblical text to understand. In a rough outline form, let me share what I found to be some of the best aspects of the book:
1) He makes a corollary from Ecclesiastes, Job, and Song of Solomon to passing from hell, purgatory, and heaven. He keeps the terms of this analogy well. For instance, he compares the meaningless vanity of Ecclesiastes to the tormenting void of desperation that is hell.
2) I disagree with a previous critic who said Kreeft was fallacious in reasoning. In fact, many of his arguments hinge on the necessity of logic: the fallacies of ambiguous definition (what IS "happiness" and "meaning"?), the logical necessity of syllogism (the famous Augustinian syllogism concerning God's goodness and omnipotence), and the principle of causality: what are the consequences of life choices? No; logic is central to each work of Kreeft's.
3) It is a great book to read as a supplement to biblical text for a time of devotion and reflection each day.
4) It is a great introduction to the questions concerning both philosophy of religion and theology; for instance- what is the role of experience in faith? Is fideism the appropriate stance of Christian faith?

All in all, I think the book is fantastic.
a rewarding read  Feb 20, 2005
Three Philosophies of Life looks at three of the most profound books of wisdom - Ecclesiastes, Job, and Song of Songs - in an attempt to answer one of the deepest and most important questions humanity can ask. Each of the three books represents a state of the soul: Ecclesiastes as Hell, Job as Purgatory (as in, any suffering that purges, not necessarily the Catholic sense of Purgatory), and Song of Songs as Heaven. 'All three conditions,' Kreeft writes, 'begin here and now on earth.' In this book, Kreeft takes us on a journey (reminiscent of Dante's Divine Comedy) to find meaning - not only the meaning of life itself, but the meaning of our lives, of my life. Of your life. He discusses the all-vanity philosophy of Ecclesiastes, the theodicy of Job, and the love story of Song of Songs in relation to our lives on earth, our search for meaning, and our need for a personal relationship with God.

This is a very profound book with a wealth of insight to share. I highly recommend it for anyone who has ever wondered what life is all about, or whether it's about anything at all.

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