Original Research

Qohelet as liminal intellectualism

Ananda Geyser-Fouche, Lerato L.D. Mokoena
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a5954 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.5954 | © 2021 Ananda Geyser-Fouche, Lerato L.D. Mokoena | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 February 2020 | Published: 05 February 2021

About the author(s)

Ananda Geyser-Fouche, Department Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Lerato L.D. Mokoena, Department Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Qohelet is one of the most fascinating books in the Hebrew Bible because it falls outside of the confides of what it is deemed as orthodox in terms of genre, literary components and theology. Considered in both antiquity and contemporary interpretations as Wisdom Literature, the book holds rich material to be interpreted and classified in a myriad of ways. It is no secret that Qohelet is an idiosyncratic scholar whose position is defined by unusualness, to define it as defiance would be extreme. As traditional renderings of liminality are often but not always limited to spatiality and time, here liminality is defined as an intellectual exercise. The decision to locate Qohelet as a liminal intellectual is informed by the epistemology encountered in the book if the consensus is that Qohelet existed in post-exilic Israel and that the book borders mostly around philosophical themes and ideas. The aim of this article is to outline and state how, when and why Qohelet becomes a liminal intellectual. This article subsequently borrows from the discipline of anthropology to illuminate how such a position is attainable and possible through a reading of Qohelet with an intersection of Arnold van Gennep’s conception of liminality that traditionally speaks to the margins and structures of positions to how we use some of those tools of analysis to construct a liminality, which privileges knowledge production and encompasses so much more.

Contribution: This article contributes to the ongoing arsenal of interdisciplinary studies which fits and embraces the scope of the journal.


Keywords

liminality; Qohelet; spatiality; separation; transition; absolutism

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