But while Qohelet's question resonates with readers today, his answer is shocking. "Meaningless," says Qohelet, "everything is meaningless." How does this pessimistic perspective fit into the rest of biblical revelation? In this commentary Tremper Longman III addresses this question by taking a canonical-Christocentric approach to the meaning of Ecclesiastes.
Longman first provides an extensive introduction to Ecclesiastes, exploring such background matters as authorship, language, genre, structure, literary style, and the book's theological message. He argues that the author of Ecclesiastes is not Solomon, as has been traditionally thought, but a writer who adopts a Solomonic persona. In the verse-by-verse commentary that follows, Longman helps clarify the confusing, sometimes contradictory message of Ecclesiastes by showing that the book should be divided into three sections -- a prologue (1:1-11), Qohelet's autobiographical speech (1:12-12:7), and an epilogue (12:8-14) -- and that the frame narrative provided by prologue and epilogue is the key to understanding the message of the book as a whole.
The present volume gives an up-to-date, readable commentary on the book of Ecclesiastes. The commentary covers critical issues section by section while emphasizing the larger theological and literary issues in Ecclesiastes and illustrating its relevance for modern readers.
"The unique book of Ecclesiastes requires a unique kind of commentary, one that probes its ancient wisdom with critical deference, appreciates its frustrating ambiguity, and extends its insights in ways that are profoundly relevant for contemporary readers. Julie Duncan’s treatment succeeds in every respect. Elegantly written, her commentary explores the book’s ancient Near Eastern context in fresh ways and engages Qohelet’s wisdom with some of the most pressing questions of our day, demonstrating that there may be “nothing new under the sun” after all. Highly recommended for both student and scholar." - William P. Brown, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary
"While the literary and historical context and the exegetical analysis are first-rate, the theological/existential reflections are simply superb." - Gerald Janzen, MacAllister-Petticrew emeritus Professor of Old Testament, Christian Theological Seminary
"The beauty of Ecclesiastes is a subtle and mysterious one, simultaneously profound and poetic, reticent and reluctant to yield everything too quickly or easily; it repays only the most ardent admirers. We are particularly fortunate, then, to have this commentary from Julie Duncan, whose insights into the book are equally compelling, insightful, and beautifully poetic. This is theological-existential commentary at its best, a true interpretation of (not simply observations about) the text, an elegant treatment where one encounters Qoheleth in conversation with everything from Gilgamesh and Ahiqar to Shakespeare, Camus, Tolstoy, and T. S. Eliot to William James, Woody Allen, and Etty Hillesum. This is a beautiful commentary--one to be savored." - Brent A. Strawn, Professor of Old Testament, Emory University
"Julie Duncan has gifted us with a beautifully written, truly empathetic reading of Ecclesiastes. Her artful treatment breathes grace and pathos even into Qohelet's most maddening conundrums, making Ecclesiastes more compelling than ever. Duncan's solid scholarship will rightfully stake a place in the landscape of Ecclesiastes commentaries, yet her teacher's voice remains accessible to students. By accenting her careful exegesis with insightful epigraphs and illustrations, she ushers our dialogue with Qohelet out of the past and into our own imaginations. Hurry, everyone! Organize your Ecclesiastes class now, because the perfect text has finally arrived!" - Lisa M. Wolfe, Professor, Endowed Chair of Hebrew Bible, Oklahoma City University
“Julie Duncan’s in-depth analysis of Ecclesiastes provides provocative insights into the text’s literary and theological settings, thus averting the misunderstandings that have marred the history of this book’s interpretation. With exquisite taste in words and metaphors, and with references to ancient and modern literature and contemporary life, the author takes the reader into the ancient writer’s search for meaning, making this book a must for those who have always loved Ecclesiastes but aren’t sure why.” —Osvaldo D. Vena, professor of New Testament interpretation, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL
The Old Testament Library provides fresh and authoritative treatments of important aspects of Old Testament study through commentaries and general surveys. The contributors are scholars of international standing.
Grogan follows with a full discussion of the Psalter's theological themes, highlighting the implications of its fivefold arrangement. He considers the massive contribution of the Psalter to biblical theology, including the way the psalms were used and interpreted by Jesus and the New Testament writers. The volume closes with an analysis of the contemporary relevance of the Psalms and a step-by-step guide to preparing a Psalms sermon, based on Psalm 8.
Introductory articles describe the challenges of reading the Old Testament in ancient and contemporary contexts, relating the biblical theme of “the people of God” to our complex, multicultural world, and reading the Old Testament as Christian Scripture, followed by a survey of “Introduction to Wisdom and Worship: Themes and Perspectives in the Poetic Writings.” Each chapter (Job through Song of Songs) includes an introduction and commentary on the text through the lenses of three critical questions:
The Text in Its Ancient Context. What did the text probably mean in its original historical and cultural context?
The Text in the Interpretive Tradition. How have centuries of reading and interpreting shaped our understanding of the text?
The Text in Contemporary Discussion. What are the unique challenges and interpretive questions that arise for readers and hearers of the text today?
Wisdom, Worship, and Poetry introduces fresh perspectives and draws students, as well as preachers and interested readers, into the challenging work of interpretation.