Ecclesiastes

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Ecclesiastes

(ēklē'zēăs`tēz), book of the Bible, the name of which is a latinized derivation of the Hebrew Qohelet [the Preacher]. Although traditionally ascribed to Solomon (who is identified as the author in the text), it was clearly written much later (c.300 B.C.). Like Job, the book takes issue, it would seem, with the confident assertions of the Wisdom tradition exemplified by Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) and Proverbs, both of which stress the possibility of leading a life in harmony with cosmic order. For the author of Ecclesiastes, life bears no order and no meaning. Omnipresent wickedness and death are realities which mock all effort to find meaning and purpose in life. Moreover, the purposes of God cannot be fathomed. It opens with the theme that, since "all is vanity," life should be enjoyed. This is followed by passages in praise of wisdom and mercy, with increasing emphasis on the universality of death; there is a brief epilogue on the fear of God's judgment. Despite the devout and ill-fitting conclusion of the work, the apparent cynicism of the book as a whole is said to have distressed the ancient rabbis; some scholars ascribe to pious correctors a number of nonpessimistic observations. Ecclesiastes is one of the biblical examples of wisdom literature (see Wisdom of SolomonWisdom of Solomon
or Wisdom,
early Jewish book included in the Septuagint and the Vulgate but not in the Hebrew Bible. The book opens with an exhortation to seek wisdom, followed by a statement on worldly attitudes.
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).

Bibliography

See J. L. Crenshaw, Ecclesiastes (1987); R. Alter, The Wisdom Books (2010). See also bibliography for Old TestamentOld Testament,
Christian name for the Hebrew Bible, which serves as the first division of the Christian Bible (see New Testament). The designations "Old" and "New" seem to have been adopted after c.A.D.
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.

References in periodicals archive ?
More than a text, Koheleth is, to most Jews, an impenetrable puzzle.
Frequently, Koheleth is seen--and dismissed--as a book of simple hedonism, urging us to enjoy all the pleasures of life.
How do we reconcile the philosophical skepticism of Koheleth (Ecclesiastes) with the orthodox beliefs in Proverbs, or the eroticism of The Song of Songs with the grieving of Lamentations, or the different views of Solomon in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles?
A Gentle Cynic, Being a Translation of the Book of Koheleth (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1919) p.
Franz Delitzsch, Hoheslied und Koheleth (BKAT4; Leipzig: Dorffling & Franke, 1875) p.
Anderson, "The Problematics of the Sitz im Leben of Koheleth.
Wright, The Book of Koheleth (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1888) p.
In early wisdom, wealth and acquired goods were the sign of one's pious [heilvoll] actions whereas Koheleth emphasizes that after the death of the possessor laboriously acquired goods fall into the hands of one who has not worked for them, nor does one know whether that person will be wise or foolish (2:18-19).
Jastrow, A Gentle Cynic, Being a Translation of the Book of Koheleth, Commonly Known as Ecclesiastes, Stripped of Later Additions, also its Origin, Growth, and Interpretation (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1919) p.
On the other side, I see Koheleth (like Ruth) as a work written during the threat of forced assimilation to the Hellenistic culture under the Seleucid rule.
In other words: Faust represents the endeavor to get more and Koheleth the endeavor to be more.
We will discover that Faust and Koheleth have many traits in common, sharing perhaps a basic human relationship.