The relationships between Hebel and Mataiotes
This paper is about researching the relationships between two biblical words: hebel and mataiotes. In some aspects this paper is in the field of Old Testament because it deals with the text of Ecclesiastes. At the same time this paper is in the field of New Testament because it deals with the text of Romans. However I do not think that this is bad approach to this paper because we must read the Scripture in the light of both Testaments. They cannot be divorced. The Old Testament must read in the light of Jesus. John 5:39 says, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf.” Jesus Christ is in the every single page of the Old Testament. On the contrary, we have to read and understand the New Testament in the light of Old Testament. Matthew 5:17 says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” Also so many passages of Old Testament are cited or rephrased in New Testament. For instance, the book of Romans in the New Testament quotes liberally from Old Testament. Paul loves to cite the Old Testament because of his social and academic background. So if we are to understand any part of the scripture, we must see both. In this paper, however, I incline toward the Old Testament somewhat because I believe that the word mataiotes could be understood more fully by seeing the term hebel in Ecclesiastes.
I have compared and contrasted some Old Testament scholars on their understanding of the choice of the specific English word used to translate hebel: Davis and Ellul. They are wonderful scholars and gave me a great amount of insightful advice through their books. Ellul, especially, has studied Ecclesiastes for forty years. According to him his book is the conclusion of the rest of his book and life. Both scholars teach me that we have to see the passage inter-textually. Therefore, to understand hebel in Ecclesiastes, we need to see the Abel account in Genesis 4.
I have also look at how these relate to the term mataiotes in Romans 8. I believe that when Paul writes his letter to his audiences in Rome, he knows their sufferings under the Roman Empire and wants to give novel and genuine hope to them. And finally, I have look at what relationships are between the two words hebel and mataiotes.