'To resist 'postmodernity' without qualification is like resisting the end of the second millennium,' writes Peter Leithart. 'It's too late now, and it was going to happen anyway.' With a light touch but serious intent, Leithart (a senior fellow of theology and literature and a Reformed Presbyterian minister) intends to isolate the places where Christians must challenge postmodern theory-which means exactly what? In sum, 'postmodernity contests modernity's aspiration to sculpt the mutable mist of the world. Postmodernity is vapor's revenge.' Leithart translates Solomon's famous 'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity' as 'Vapor of vapors, all is vapor,' concurring with Jewish sources that focus on the image of steam from an oven. Leithart contends that Solomon isn't saying everything is meaningless but that the world is elusive, slipping through our fingers and escaping all efforts to manage it. Yet the observation that provokes Solomon's lament-'the sun rises and the sun sets; and hastening to its place it rises there again'-is the permanence and repetitiveness of creation. Solomon's insight depends on the dynamic interaction of change and permanence, and Leithart grabs hold of this paradox as a way to establish Solomon's resonance with our postmodern world. Most instructively, he shows a way through the gloomy postmodern tenet that nobody is in control: 'this world of tears under the sun is not the only world.there is a time after the time under the sun.'
An Eighth Day View:
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon states that "all is vapor" and describes humans as trying to "shepherd the wind." In "Solomon among the Postmoderns," author Peter J. Leithart uses these claims, as well as the entire book of Ecclesiastes, to show how Solomon resonated with postmodernism.
Exploring the strengths and weaknesses of postmodernism, Leithart shows how the theory reflects an important biblical theme: the elusiveness and instability of the world. But he goes on to show that biblical faith takes us beyond cynicism and despair. "Solomon among the Postmoderns" will appeal to academics and laypeople alike seeking a biblical view of postmodernism.