Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Image from the public domain
All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
— Ecclesiastes 1:7
The combination of the philosophical content of Ecclesiastes and the language of the 1600s makes for some beautiful poetic imagery. When we compare this verse to the more modern (and more prosaic) translation in the NSRV we can see the difference. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they continue to flow. Where the first inspires the second merely informs. You'll also note that in the King James version the second phrase offers the idea of cyclic life, where the NSRV (and other translations) suggest only continuation.
It is this idea of regenerative, cyclic life that I find interesting. The Greeks had a word for it: zoe, meaning the ongoing spiritual life, to differentiate it from bios, the particular life. Here is an elegant description of the difference between zoe and bios.
In the New Testament, there are two words used that we translate as life: bios and zoe. Bios is about our physical existence, our biological life. It's about eating, drinking and sleeping, about work and leisure—life in the here and now. But zoe is something deeper than just physical life. This is the abundant spiritual life that the Bible speaks of in John 10:10. It's life that rises up out of the soul and overflows into the physical.1
Learning about zoe a few years ago opened my eyes to the beauty of death, seeing it now as regeneration, not ending. A person dies, a spirit regenerates; energy flows through the world first like river water, then like vapour, seeking its source, starting over.
1 The Bread of Life, 10/05/2017