Book Review: Nothing New Under the Sun, by Adam S. Miller

Just over a year ago, I reviewed Adam S. Mller’s recently released great little book, “Grace is not God’s Backup Plan”, a new paraphrase of the book of Romans, which helped to explain grace in useful terms.

Now, Adam does a similar paraphrase, but on what is perhaps the most dismal and depressing book in the Bible: Ecclesiastes. In fact, the full title of the book is, “Nothing New Under the Sun: a Blunt Paraphrase of Ecclesiastes“.  The word, “blunt” is very apt, as the Preacher does not mince words. Thankfully, Adam takes the teachings of the Preacher and paraphrases them, updating them to our day and expounding from within the paraphrase the key points of each chapter.

In my study and blogging on Ecclesiastes, I’ve noted how bleak the Preacher is. Adam, however, may have found the silver lining. He explains that while the Preacher does teach that there is “nothing new under the Sun” and that “all is vanity”, it is this very hopelessness that makes the book so important.

Discussing the human desire to avoid hardships, pessimism, and crassness (all found in Ecclesiastes), he notes: “But the cost of avoidance is high. As Paul insists, in order to become Christian, we must first learn to be hopeless. Hopelessness is the door to Zion.”

This immediately made me think of the prophecies of the last days, in which Zion will be established.

And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.

And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety. (D&C 45:67-68)

In this instance, the hope of Zion only comes after there is no other hope. And so it is with Adam’s paraphrase. Ecclesiastes means hopelessness, until combined with Paul’s teachings on hope and grace.

As with his paraphrase of Romans, his short discussion on Ecclesiastes is followed by a powerful paraphrase of each chapter. In fact, he shares it twice, once as prose and the second separated by verse.

For anyone wanting to better understand this ancient work, and how it aptly applies to our materialistic world today, I highly recommend this book, as well as Adam’s previous book, “Grace is Not God’s Backup Plan.

You may also want to read Adam’s excellent book, “Letters to a Young Mormon

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