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Toil(ing) in Two Cultures: An Australian-Samoan Reading of Ecclesiastes 2:18-23

Brian Kolia, one of our PhD students, has just published a chapter in an Australian-Samoan Reading of the book of Ecclesiastes. You can download an Open Access copy of the entire volume and spend time profitably toiling over the fruit of Brian’s labors by clicking on the image of the book cover.

Brian says “For Pasifika islanders, Qoheleth’s philosophy is problematic. The islands are perceived as holiday getaways (for resting) by many non-islanders, but our (is)lands are heavily toiled and require ongoing toil(ing) (service). Our (is)lands are for working, not for relaxing. In fact, the majority of islanders are subsistence farmers, and toil(ing) is therefore essential for survival. To assume that life is easy and free of toil is deemed foolish. To address the questions raised above then, I propose a Samoan reading of toil(ing) in Eccl 2:18–23 through the perspective of tautua (toil). As a Samoan, I am intrigued with Qoheleth’s perception of toil(ing) as vanity and the implications that this perception may have for tautua in the Samoan context.”

Kolia, Brian. “Toil(ing) in Two Cultures: An Australian-Samoan Reading of Ecclesiastes 2:18-23.” In Reading Ecclesiastes from Asia and Pasifika, edited by Jione Havea and Peter H.W. Lau. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2020: 29-41.”