VOLUME 7 ISSUE 1 SPRING 2021

S p i r i t ua l i t y S t u d i e s 7 - 1 S p r i n g 2 0 2 1 4 9 Miloš Lichner About the authors Prof. ThLic. Miloš Lichner, D.Th., SJ , is a theologian specialized in Latin patrology with particular focus on the theology of St. Augustine and the post-Augus- tinian tradition along with early Christian dogmatic theology. He is involved in translating and publishing works of the Fathers of the Church in Slovak lan- guage. Miloš currently serves as the President of the European Society for Catholic Theology as well as the President of the Slovak Patristic Society. He authored and co-authored multiple books, studies, and articles. His email contact is milos.lichner@truni.sk. Mgr. Mariana Hamarová is currently involved in re- search supporting physical and mental health in the area of virtual reality and serves as the executive ed- itor of the Acta Missiologica journal. Her email contact is hamarova.mariana@gmail.com. 1 Introduction “ Vanity of vanities, all is vanity ” (Lavoi 2006, 219–249) is a ci- tation from the biblical verse of the Book of Ecclesiastes ( Qo- helet 1:2), the authorship of which ascribed by the tradition to the ancient King Solomon. The doubled name of the book is because the term ecclesiastes is derived from the Hebrew term kahal –“assembly”, and the second name indicates the preacher’s profession of the author. In the Hebrew text of the verse Ecclesiastes 1:2, we find the term hebel –“vapour”, “breath”, “breeze”, that is everything that is fleeting , which was translated into the Greek Septua- gint as mataiotès , and into the Latin Vulgate as vanitas . Aside from Ecclesiastes 1:2, however, we also find other bibli- cal references to vanity (e.g. , Psalms 38:6, 12; 61:10; Job 7:16; Proverbs 31:30; Romans 8:20 etc.). In Christianity, this verse was taken out of context very early on and became an independent statement influencing the development of spirituality in Christianity. We also find sim- ilar ideas outside of Christianity – in the ancient Egypt or Greece, for instance; it is one of the key concepts of spiritual- ities and religions of indian origin (Dojčár 2008, 83; Dojčár 2013, 8). I n the history of Christian thought, we find the first independent exegetical commentary to this Old Testament book, and later in separate discussions on spirituality, pre- dominately in the monastic context. Early Church authors, in the struggle against the Manichae- ans and Gnostics, however, tended to avoid the cosmological understanding of this verse, connected with the term every- thing (Gr. ta panta ), and emphasized more the meaning and value of material creation. Among the authors who devoted themselves to the exegesis of this book, we can mention, for instance, the Greek-writing theologian Origen of Alexandria, who at the beginning of the 3 rd century offered an interpretation in the context of three books ascribed to the biblical king Solomon – Proverbs , Ec- clesiastes , and the Song of Songs – and emphasized that the whole created world is subjugated to vanity and corruption. Hieronymus, the Latin commentator to the book of Eccle - siastes from the 4 th century, emphasizes along these lines that the verse acquires its meaning upon the comparison of creation with God (Hieronymus, 522–523). The 4 th century Syrian author Didymus the Blind understands vanity to mean material creation in comparison with spiritual beings, and al- though creation is beautiful, in comparison with them it, too, is vanity (Didymus 1977, 26–28). ← Saint Augustine of Hippo

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