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Online Text for Ecclesiastes

Online Resources for Ecclesiastes

Offline Resources for Ecclesiastes

Information on Ecclesiastes

James L. Crenshaw writes: "The first-person pronoun punctuates the book of Ecclesiastes, leaving the impression that a single author is responsible for its content. However, the book concludes with a section that refers to the author in the third person (12:9-14). These comments resemble an epitaph (12:9-11) and a polemical corrective (12:12-14). Furthermore, since 1:12 seems to be the author's introduction to the book, 1:1 may be viewed as a secondary superscription based on 1:12. In addition, a thematic statement, which may derive from Qohelet, forms an envelope around the book (1:2; 12:8). In any event, there is sufficient evidence to question the literary integrity of Ecclesiastes. This suspicion is heightened by the presence of contradictions, particularly with regard to the ultimate fate of the wicked. Does Qohelet think God will judge them or not? Because the book answers this question both positively and negatively, critics usually attribute these opposing views to different authors." (Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 518)

Roland E. Murphy writes: "The terminus ad quem is fixed by the discovery of Hebr fragments found at Qumran, which indicate that a copy of the book was in circulation about 150 BC (J. Muilenburg, BASOR 135 [1954] 20-28). Although the presence of Aramaisms is an inconclusive argument, the Persian words ('park,' 2:15; 'sentence,' 8:11) suggest the terminus a quo at about 500 BC. Most authors prefer the 3rd or 4th cent. The language is late and similar to mishnaic Hebrew. Some scholars (e.g., H. L. Ginsberg) have argued that it is a translation from Aramaic; M. J. Dahood has urged a strong Phoenician influence upon the writer." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 1, p. 534)

Jay G. Williams writes: "In the midst of this confusing contradictoriness of life, Koheleth still manages to hold onto a few unambiguous verities. Death is real and hope beyond the grave is an illusion. Man is not God; he neither created the universe nor does he know what time holds in store. Man ought to remember his Creator and his own created condition. Such wisdom may not bring salvation or even peace, but it is better than blind folly which holds up false hopes. The wise man knows, at least, the limitations of his own wisdom, and perhaps is enabled thereby to laugh at and with life a bit." (Understanding the Old Testament, p. 300)

Samuel Sandmel writes: "It is not enough to say of Ecclesiastes that it only circulated and was brought into the Tanak because it was supposed to have been written by Solomon. There is so much truth in Ecclesiastes that one cannot close his eyes or ears to these statements. If it is countered that the literal meaning of much of Ecclesiastes is hostile to religious faith, one must reply that all too often religious faith is misconceived of as a sombre gloomy matter, never lightened by the spice of wit or made tolerable by a little malicious but healthy doubt. The genuinely religious do not blot out the doubts that are to be found in Ecclesiastes by pretending that they do not exist. They tolerate them as part of the normal expression of perceptive and thoughtful people. These words of doubt do not defeat genuine religious faith, but form that counterbalance that keeps religious faith effective and suitable for human beings." (The Hebrew Scriptures, pp. 273-274)

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