Much about this OT book is mysterious—who wrote it and when; what its message is. Not once is it quoted in the NT; and in the 1st cent. CE the rabbinic school of Shammai questioned whether it should be regarded as part of holy scripture, though the more liberal Hillel did accept it. (One practical effect of this was that the liberal school felt obliged to wash after touching it, since touching a book that belongs to the canon renders the hands unclean.)
In Hebrew the title of the book is Qoheleth (and the Greek title may be an attempted interpretation of this) which has come to be translated ‘the Preacher’; the late form of the book's Hebrew indicates that King Solomon could not have been the author (cf. Eccles. 1:12), and its links with Hebrew wisdom literature suggest a date for it of about 200 BCE. Is the pursuit of pleasure or riches or work or womanizing the way of wisdom (Eccles. 2:3 ff.)? Not so: all end in death. Time and again the author dismisses what passes for human existence as fleeting, futile, and ‘vanity’; and there are strict limits to understanding any guiding purposes. Life's ambiguities had best be accepted and that which is satisfying should be enjoyed while it lasts (Eccles. 8:14–15) for good things will surely come to an end (Eccles. 12:1–2). It is not true that God rewards the just; it is all a matter of time and chance (Eccles. 9:11–12): but it is advisable to keep on good terms with God, and not hurt oneself by useless resentment of what inevitably happens (Eccles. 3:1–8).
Modern scholarship has felt that the combination of scepticism and conventional moral advice was evidence that the book as we have it was the work of more than one author. Possibly a basically sceptical book was worked over by an editor to make it acceptable to more orthodox readers. An alternative hypothesis of the composition of Ecclesiastes was put forward by form critics [[➝ Form Criticism]]: a miscellaneous collection of independent proverbs which had been in circulation orally was collected into an anthology without regard to their theological compatibility. These two views about the book are to some extent brought together by Redaction Critics [[➝ Redaction Criticism]] who suggest that advice to enjoy life while the opportunity lasts (as in 11:9 ff.) has been put by a redactor into a religious context: we are to enjoy what God gives and to remember that he is the judge at the hour of death (12:1a). The original pessimistic scepticism of the Preacher is no longer the last word of Ecclesiastes. Certainly that is how generations of readers who have approached it with Christian presuppositions have seen it.

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  • Ecclesiastes — • The name given to the book of Holy Scripture which usually follows the Proverbs; the Hebrew Qoheleth probably has the same meaning Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Ecclesiastes     Ecclesiastes …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Ecclesiastes — 1 Ecclesiastes 2 Ecclesiastes 3 Ecclesiastes 4 Ecclesiastes 5 Ecclesiastes 6 Ecclesiastes 7 Ecclesiastes 8 Ecclesiastes 9 Ecclesiastes 10 Ecclesiastes 11 …   The King James version of the Bible

  • ECCLESIASTES — (Heb. קּוֹהֶלֶת ,הַקּוֹהֶלֶת), one of the group of minor writings of the Hagiographa known as the Five Scrolls (Megillot). The name Ecclesiastes is Greek and probably means member of the assembly. It renders the Hebrew word kohelet (qohelet, or… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Ecclesiastes — Ec*cle si*as tes, n. [L., fr. Gr. ? a preacher. See {Ecclesiastic}, a.] One of the canonical books of the Old Testament. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ecclesiastes — Ecclesiastes, griechischer Name des Prediger Salomonis …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Ecclesiastes — Ecclesiastes, lat. Schreibung für Ekklesiastes (s.d.), Ecclesiastĭcus, für Ekklesiastikus (s.d.) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • ECCLESIASTES — Liber Canonicus S. Scripturae, Hebr. Coheleth: A Salomone in senio scriptus, Hieron. in. c. 1. Eccl. August. in Psalm. 126. et Philastrius, c. 132. etc. In Ecclesiasten exstant: Abini Comm. Basil. An. 1521. Agathius. Alcuinus. Arboreus. Beda.… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Ecclesiastes — c.1300, name given to one of the O.T. books, traditionally ascribed to Solomon, from Gk. ekklesiastes (see ECCLESIASTIC (Cf. ecclesiastic)), to render Heb. qoheleth one who addresses an assembly, from qahal assembly. The title is technically the… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Ecclesiastes — [e klē΄zē as′tēz΄, iklē΄zē as′tēz΄] n. [LL(Ec) < Gr ekklēsiastēs, member of an ecclesia (see ECCLESIA): used in LXX for Heb kohelet, he who calls together an assembly < kahal, assembly] Bible a book of teachings, written as if by Solomon:… …   English World dictionary

  • Ecclesiastes — For other uses, see Ecclesiastes (disambiguation). Hebrew Bible …   Wikipedia

  • Ecclesiastes — Das Buch Kohelet (hebräisch קהלת, auch Prediger Salomo oder Ekklesiastes genannt (Ἐκκλησιαστής in der Septuaginta, und Liber Ecclesiastes in der Vulgata[1]) ist eine Schrift der Bibel. Im Tanach wird der Text unter den Ketuvim („Schriften“)… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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