Sunday, April 4, 2010


The completed set of 22 woodcut prints, created between 2000 and 2005, are meant to be a visual adaptation of the Old Testament book. The narrator of the book (Qoheleth, or "The Preacher"), having concluded that he is unable to understand the true nature and intentions of God, decides to write about what he has come to know well, the eternal truths of human nature and natural law. These truths are just as valid some 2300 years later, making the ancient book very adaptable for contemporary treatment. The titles are derived from quotes pulled directly from various translations. As with other print series I've done, some depictions are fairly literal approaches to the original text, while some use more unusual interpretations that are still meant to be faithful to the intent of the author. I tried to capture the overall major themes as I understand them: the importance of seeking wisdom, doing good works, and enjoying the good things in life when they happen, but coupled with the inevitability of sadness and death, and the fact that life often seems confusing, random, and useless. (keep in mind that I'm an artist, not a theologian) My goal was that someone who viewed the whole series of prints would be left in approximately the same emotional and philosophical state as someone who read the book.

For the purposes of this site I have chosen 18 of the images. I have grouped them along some of the major themes of Ecclesiastes as I interpret it. Some of the prints could be in more than one of my categories. These are from carved wood blocks printed with black ink, after which the prints are hand colored with watercolors. With each print I have included the specific verse from which I derived the title and theme for each print. In most cases I excerpted a piece of the quote for the title, in a few cases rearranging the words slightly to make a more practical title. There is also a little background about how each print came to be made.

NA- The New American Bible
GN- The Good News Bible

All images Copyright 2000 to 2005 by Paul Bonelli

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