Biblical Archaeology Review 36:2, March/April 2010

Strata: The Bible in the News

Nothing new under the sun

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

In Hebrew they say Ein chadash tachat hashemesh; in Greek, Ouk esti pan prosfaton upo ton hlion; and in Latin, Nihil sub sole novum.

No matter how you say it, it comes down to pretty much the same thing: “There’s nothing new under the sun.” And if we pay attention to contemporary reports in the press, that adage—attributed to a son of David in Ecclesiastes 1:9—remains as true today as it ever was.

Sometimes, as is the case in sports, a rather long memory is required. An example from soccer can be cited to demonstrate this point (from The Observer in March 2009): “St. Mirren’s victory may have a seismic shock in some quarters, but it merely confirmed there is nothing new under the sun,” as the writer proves by citing a Scottish Cup match 47 years earlier. Not to be outdone, a columnist for the same publication casts an even longer look backward, in this instance to tennis: “As the Good Book (nearly) says: ‘There ain’t nothing new under the sun’—and it might have added, ‘particularly newspapers’ obsession with what female competitors wear at Wimbledon.’” The earliest citation here goes back 80 years.

I can imagine that Solomon (traditionally identified as the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes) might well have had an eye for sports and women’s wear (on and off the court).

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