Zsuzsa Mathe, Vanitatum Vanitas. Some rights reserved by Asztro.

All is vanity

When Don Meredith, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback who became a well-known commentator on Monday Night Football, died last year, an obituary ended its account of what seems to have been an enviably full and varied life by quoting a comment he made to Sports Illustrated: "My deepest fear is that one day I'm going to find out that this is all there is to life, and it won't be enough."

Meredith voiced a sentiment sounded again and again by a biblical character known only by his title, Qoheleth (hereafter, Q), a man whose quoted words make up most of the book of Ecclesiastes (hereafter, E). He is a man who has undertaken to find out what there is to life, and whether—in the form of wealth, pleasure or the pursuit of wisdom—it will be enough. The question, in other words, "What is the point of it all?" or "What does it all add up to?"

 

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