Evil is a result of mankind's fall, not God cf. This is not the world God intended it to be!
God's ways cannot be known. Mankind can struggle for meaning in life, but it cannot be found without God! It doubts the easy orthodox views on the afterlife and doubts mankind's ability to know God, but still God is gracious and present. The world, as it is, is unfair and cruel; there must be something more, if God's promises are true!
Be content with life—it is from God. Enjoy it when and where you can ; , 13, 22; ; ; Simplistic answers that do not fit life experiences are "no" answers. We must face the reality of the meaninglessness of life if there is no God.
Its main purpose was to show the futility of human existence apart from God. It is a tract to convert self-sufficient materialists or intellectuals.
Carroll said that in the days of his infidelity, Ecclesiastes and Job exercised an unearthly power on him, expressing the emptiness of life and pointing toward God. Happiness and contentment are found in Eccl. This book is agnostic about God and the afterlife. It does not answer the questions of ultimate reality, but it does ask the questions of current reality:.
For Jews, it showed the error of simplistic overstatements made by traditional theologians "the two ways". Easy answers to life's questions are usually wrong. There is mystery even for faith! Revelation does not reveal all! This author is using natural revelation, not special revelation although he is familiar with Genesis, Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Proverbs , to examine life. As in all wisdom literature, the general name for God, Elohim , is used.
This book forms a balance to the neat maxims of Proverbs that offer success in life "the two ways," e. There is mystery in life, in nature, in humanity, and in God. The key is found in faith, not knowledge; in family, not possessions; and in God, not human wisdom or actions.
The simple pleasures of life: family, work, friends, food provide happiness in this life. The next life is veiled, but God is there! Each modern translation has divided and summarized the paragraphs. Every paragraph has one central topic, truth, or thought. Each version encapsulates that topic in its own distinct way.
As you read the text, ask yourself which translation fits your understanding of the subject and verse divisions.
In every chapter we must read the Bible first and try to identify its subjects paragraphs , then compare our understanding with the modern versions. Only when we understand the original author's intent by following his logic and presentation can we truly understand the Bible. Only the original author is inspired—readers have no right to change or modify the message.
Bible readers do have the responsibility of applying the inspired truth to their day and their lives. This is a study guide commentarywhich means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible.
Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator. Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects reading cycle 3.
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Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject. Ecclesiastes is a part of the literary genre known as "Wisdom Literature" see Introductory Articles. It is characterized by a practical orientation to daily life without reference to the historical acts of God or the cultus of Israel. I personally do not believe Solomon is the author see Introduction, Authorship , although I think he is used in Chapter 1 and 2 as a literary foil cf.
Leupold, Exposition of Ecclesiastes , pp. This is one book that must be taken as a whole.
View Cart. The parallel lines would be:. The theology of a fallen world is only hinted at in the phrase "under the sun," but the reality of a mysterious painful, yet pleasurable, world is characterized in "vanity of vanities, all is vanity. The Anchor Bible Commentary asserts that "king" should go with the first line i. Many have asserted that the original book concluded at Eccl. There is an interesting list concerning Qoheleth's understanding of God's actions in this fallen, temporal world i. Some of these essays were very profound, while others were a bit lack luster.
It is a sustained argument through chapter It must not be prooftexted or great theological contradictions occur. The key to interpreting the book is the phrase "under the sun. He is challenging traditional religious philosophy. The author uses natural revelation i. This is true of most Biblical wisdom books. This teacher does not provide answers so much as he asks the right questions, the tough questions about mankind's existence.
He is not afraid to challenge traditional thoughts and traditions. Chapters can be seen as a list of things that humans seek which they think will give them joy and contentment, but without God life cannot be full! All is vanity. This is a function more than a title. The best translation would be "professor" or "teacher" BDB I believe that an unknown wisdom teacher s used Solomon's wisdom, wealth, power, and position as a literary foil to critique life.
See Introduction, Authorship, C. The word means "vapor," "breath," or "mist" BDB I, cf. James Its emphasis is either 1 nothingness or 2 the transitoriness of human life. The context supports the latter cf. Leupold, Exposition of Ecclesiastes , p. This is a key term and recurrent phrase in this book cf.
The term is used sparingly in other wisdom books; Job, 5 times; Psalms, 9 times; and Proverbs, 3 times. For different theories about how it views the strong statements in this book, see Introduction, Authorship, H. I prefer option 1. This theological presupposition will be the grid through which I interpret the book. Therefore, it communicates the reality that life is full of unanswerable questions p.
The person knowledgeable in wisdom will know this, but will continue to trust God and keep His commandments.
This refers to the uncertain and unpredictable activities of life. These are a result of fallen humanity trying to live life in his own strength, independent from God. This is the condition left by the Fall cf. Genesis 3! The Hebrew term "all" BDB , often translated "everything," is a common word, but is used unusually often in Ecclesiastes cf. Qoheleth uses this inclusive language to express his theological emphasis on. So there is nothing new under the sun. We are the chance result of physical forces. There is no purpose, no meaning, no afterlife, no god, just the physical universe atheistic naturalism.
The form here is found only in Ecclesiastes cf. It is obviously a key term because it describes the goal of mankind's search! The Handbook on Ecclesiastes by UBS, suggests it refers to eternity or the afterlife, possibly "a lasting benefit" pp. The word "toil" BDB , used twice, has several connotations.