Interpreting Proverbs 11:18-31, Psalm 73, and Ecclesiastes 9:1-12 in Light of, and as a Response to, Thai Buddhist Interpretations

A Contribution to Christian-Buddhist Dialogue

Series:

This book discusses how three Old Testament wisdom texts can be interpreted in light of, and as a response to Thai Buddhist interpretations. Its central aim is to explore a new method in Buddhist-Christian dialogue that has three steps. First, Buddhists are asked to reflect on biblical texts, second, the texts are analyzed by placing Christian and Buddhist perspectives side by side, and finally points of convergence and difference are established in order to provide a platform for further dialogue. The study succeeds in demonstrating that the method explored is a fruitful approach to interreligious dialogue which takes interpretations of biblical texts by the religious ‘other’ seriously, and manages to both affirm commonalities and face religious difference.

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Biographical Note

Kari Storstein Haug, Ph.D. (2008, School of Mission and Theology – MHS), is Associate Professor of Missiology at MHS, Stavanger, Norway. She has published several articles on the encounter between Christianity and Buddhism in a Thai context.

Table of contents


Acknowledgements ... ix

1. Introduction ... 1
Biblical Interpretation and Interreligious Dialogue ... 1
Primary sources and Method ... 11

PART I
THAI BUDDHIST INTERPRETATIONS OF PROVERBS 11:18-31, PSALM 73, AND ECCLESIASTES 9:1-12

Introduction to Part I ... 33

2. Thai Buddhist Interpretations of Proverbs 11:18-31 ... 35
Introduction ... 35
“Do Good, Receive Good; Do Evil, Receive Evil” ... 37
“The More You Give, the More You Get” ... 43
“As You Sow, God Gives the Fruit” ... 50
“There Is No Way to Escape [the Consequences of Acts]” ... 57
“Humans Control Their Own Destiny” ... 63
“We Are Good, but Might be Punished in This World” ... 68
“Women Must Have Wisdom” ... 71
“This Text Teaches People to Do Good” ... 73
Intermediate Conclusion ... 77

3. Thai Buddhist Interpretations of Psalm 73 ... 85
Introduction ... 85
Why Do the Wicked Prosper, While the Good Suffer? ... 86
Trust in God ... 109
Combining the Two Themes ... 116
Intermediate Conclusion ... 124

Chapter 4: Thai Buddhist Interpretations of Ecclesiastes 9:1-12 ... 131
Introduction ... 131
“Use Your Time in the Best Way Possible” ... 132
“There Is Time and Opportunity for All” ... 143
“Everything Is in the Hands of God” ... 146
“All Meet the Same เคราะ (Khraw, Fate)” ... 155
Intermediate Conclusion ... 161

Chapter 5: Conclusion to Part I: Thai Buddhist Interpretations ... 167
Introduction ... 167
The Understanding of the Main Themes and Issues ... 167
Resources Used in the Interpretation of the Texts ... 169
How the Interviewees Related to the Texts ... 170

PART II
INTERPRETING PROVERBS 11:18-31, PSALM 73, AND ECCLESIASTES 9:1-12 IN LIGHT OF, AND AS A RESPONSE TO THAI BUDDHIST INTERPRETATIONS

Introduction to Part II ... 179

Chapter 6: Interpreting Proverbs 11:18-31 in Light of, and as a Response to Thai Buddhist Interpretations ... 181
Introduction ... 181
Interpreting Proverbs 11:18-31 in Textual Context ... 182
Interpreting Proverbs 11:18-31 in Response to Thai Buddhist Interpretations ... 220
Intermediate Conclusion ... 227

Chapter 7: Interpreting Psalm 73 in Light of, and as a Response to Thai Buddhist Interpretations ... 231
Introduction ... 231
Interpreting Psalm 73 in Textual Context ... 232
Interpreting Psalm 73 in Response to Thai Buddhist Interpretations ... 252
Intermediate Conclusion ... 260

Chapter 8: Interpreting Ecclesiastes 9:1-12 in Light of, and as a Response to Thai Buddhist Interpretations ... 265
Introduction ... 265
Interpreting Ecclesiastes 9:1-12 in Textual Context ... 266
Interpreting Ecclesiastes 9:1-12 in Response to Thai Buddhist Interpretations ... 288
Intermediate Conclusion ... 299

Chapter 9: Conclusion Part II ... 303
Introduction ... 303
“As You Sow, You Will Reap” ... 303
Other Issues ... 307

Conclusion ... 309
Suggestions for Further Research ... 312

Appendix ... 315
Sources and Bibliography ... 317
Index of Biblical References ... 329
Index of Subjects ... 336
Index of Names . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 340

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