Bible Review 6:5, October 1990

Odd Book In

Characterized by futility and cynicism, it stands alone

By James L. Crenshaw

One book of the Hebrew Bible stands out like a sore thumb—Ecclesiastes. It is truly an alien amid the other books. It denies human access to revelatory insights. It presents the deity as indifferent to human conduct, dispensing rewards and punishments regardless of merit. It questions everything regardless of its source. It gives credence to nothing but what the author’s eyes saw and his ears heard.

The author—we don’t know his name; he chose to write under the name Qoheleth—is for us an unknown radical thinker.

The book at first seems like a hodgepodge of narrative genres—royal experiment, anecdote, autobiographical narrative, poetic metaphor and allegory, malediction and benediction, sayings, existential observations, reflections and dispute.

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