Comparing Ecclesiastes To Crimes And Misdemeanors

Talking Points 5

       This is probably my first post not directly relating to my English class, but I thought I’d share a writing assignment given to me in my Religious Studies class today that asked me to analyze the relationship between the film “Crimes and Misdemeanors”, as well as the book of “Ecclesiastes” in the “Bible” while also addressing their relationship to the topic of “theodicy”, or the reason for human suffering. That being said, here is my rant:

      In the film “Crimes And Misdemeanors”, there is a particular scene that addresses the issue of theodicy arguably with a more narrow focus than the rest of the film. This scene captures a flashback Judah has of one of his Passover Seders, in which he is later in the scene able to interact with his family dining with the child form of himself. A basic synopsis of the scene involves his uncle Sol and aunt May arguing over the presence of faith and justice in our world. Sol argues that faith is present and the righteous are rewarded while the wicked are punished. May, however, believes that bad things occur indiscriminately and that suffering occurs regardless of one’s lifestyle. In the book of Ecclesiastes, primarily verses 7:15-18 and the vast majority of chapter 8, the issue of suffering is addressed by King Solomon in a way that seems to favor May’s argument. Despite Solomon’s  explanation of bad things happening regardless of one’s deeds, he does not seem to completely agree with May one hundred percent. On the contrary, he also describes a “fear of God” as being essential to one’s well-being (Ecc. 8:12). While the  film seems to portray May as a little more of a pessimist, Saul seems to be an optimistic man convicted of the belief that he lives in a world of darkness while still managing to see beauty in that same darkness. He does not claim we are completely evil or good , for example(Ecc. 7:15-18). Neither does he believe that there is nothing positive about life (Ecc. 9:7). While many might regard Solomon as a cynic, I have a very hard time regarding him as a pure nihilist- and I’d like to think that Solomon himself would probably state that his audience missed the whole point of his book in response to such a claim. The bigger picture of this book is that great and horrible things are destined to occur regardless of human influence. No man or woman is perfect or purely evil, Solomon explains. Instead, he paints us all as three dimensional beings with more complexities to us than simply an inherently positive or negative nature.


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