A Time for Everything

July 27, 2014


Sun beams


Ecclesiastes is an unusual book of the Bible. It covers everything in life with bluntness, humor, and questioning. If you are an individual of doubt, then you could read this book. Here is some background information from the NRSV Harper Collins Study Bible (c1989, 986-988).  Ecclesiastes stems from the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew title, Qoheleth, the “Teacher,” who assumes the persona of King Solomon, Israel’s archetypal sage. Such literary association implicitly identified the book as legitimate Israelite wisdom and lent weight to its teaching.

Scholars have agreed that Ecclesiastes was not written by Solomon, but by a later writer. The name Solomon does not appear in the book, and the Teacher’s claim to have wisdom “surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me” does not fit Solomon, whose only predecessor was David. The teacher takes the viewpoint of a subject rather than king, noting conditions of oppression, injustice, and social upheaval.

Fragments of the book found among the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Qumran community date to the mid-second century BCE. Most scholars date the book’s composition between 300 and 200 BCE.  The book sets a variety of wisdom forms (proverbs, parables, admonitions) in the loose context of the Teacher’s first-person address to the readers.

Bible References

  • Ecclesiastes 3:1 - 8