Hardback or cased
Mark J. Boda, Tremper Longman III, Cristian Rata
Published 19 Mar 2013
List Price £45.95

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“Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless.” The word “meaningless” (hebel) appears more than 40 times in the book of Ecclesiastes and raises the question why a book that appears to deny meaning or purpose is included in the Bible. Many questions of interpretation as well as relevance surround the book of Ecclesiastes, including indeed the proper translation and understanding of the word hebel. If, after all, the book does examine the question of the meaning of life, what could be more important?

The present volume explores Ecclesiastes/Qohelet on many different levels: linguistic, text-critical, theological, historical, and literary. The contributors, chosen from many of the leading and emerging experts on the book, present both the state of the field and their own assessment of the varied interpretive issues of Ecclesiastes. They include scholars, preachers, and philosophers. It should be helpful not only to scholars but also to all who want to study this book seriously.

The first section of this volume deals with the history of interpretation. The second section is concerned with issues of history, form, and rhetoric. Section three is about key concepts and passages. The fourth section focuses on the language and grammar of Qohelet. The last section engages practical issues of interpretation. The volume is designed to provide exposure to a variety of readers who seek to engage Qohelet in fresh ways in the twenty-first century—from historians of interpretation to biblical exegetes to linguists to theological students.


Part 1: Early History of Interpretation

Ecclesiastes in Premodern Reading: Before 1500 C.E.

Eric S. Christianson

Qohelet and the Rabbis

Ruth Sandberg

Ecclesiastes and the Reformers

Al Wolters

Sweet and Lawful Delights: Puritan Interpretations of Ecclesiastes

Cristian G. Rata

Part 2: History, Form, and Rhetoric

Determining the Historical Context of Ecclesiastes

Tremper Longman III

The Book of Qohelet “Has the Smell of the Tomb about It”:

Mortality in Qohelet and Hellenistic Skepticism

Leo G. Perdue

Qohelet and Royal Autobiography

Martin A. Shields

Framed! Structure in Ecclesiastes

David J. H. Beldman

The Poetry of Qohelet

John F. Hobbins

Part 3: Key Concepts and Passages

Epistemology in Ecclesiastes:

Remembering What It Means to Be Human

Ryan P. O’Dowd

“Riddled with Ambiguity”: Ecclesiastes 7:23–8:1 as an Example

Doug Ingram

The Meaning of hebel in Qohelet: An Intertextual Suggestion

Russell L. Meek

Speaking into the Silence: The Epilogue of Ecclesiastes

Mark J. Boda

Part 4: Language and Grammar

The Grammar of -? and ??? in Qohelet

Robert Holmstedt

The Verb in Qohelet

John Cook

“Aramaisms” in Qohelet: Methodological Problems in Identification and Interpretation

Eva Mroczek

Part 5: Interpreting Qohelet

The Theology of Ecclesiastes

Craig G. Bartholomew

Ecclesiastes and the Canon

Stephen G. Dempster

Fresh Perspectives on Ecclesiastes: “Qohelet for Today”

Iain Provan

Preaching Qohelet

Daniel C. Fredericks

Solomon’s Sexual Wisdom: Qohelet and the Song of Songs in the Postmodern Condition

Peter J. Leithart

Works Cited