INTRODUCTIONLong and intense have been debates over the unifying theme and purpose of theQoheleth on the desk of modern scholars; though sadly, none of their attempts can fullygive satisfactory answer yet. In fact, J. S. Wright is correct when he calls the book as “theblack sheep” of the Bible.
In general, there are two major camps of argument concerningthe issue. The group, known as critics, insisting to the said redaction theory, believes thepresent form of the Ecclesiastes to be final result of ongoing composition of small literarysegments throughout centuries
at least is a composition of fragmented works of sagestherefore “many authors” behind the text. If then, very less possible is to find a
unifying theme and central purpose of the book.
On another ground, traditional view strongly defenses the authenticity of the book strictly basing on Solomonic authorship; hence, the unity of the book is confirmed on theone hand and the unifying theme of the book becomes possible to find on the other hand.However, as pointed out by Longman, there are some problems to strict traditional view,such as internal ambiguity of such nickname “Qoheleth” and literary difficulties, such asapparent multi-genres within the book, distinct linguistic employment, and differenthistorical reflections as observed by scholars.
J. Stafford Wright, “The Interpretation of Ecclesiastes,”
18(January 1946): 18-34.
Concerning its composition, Crenshaw has further outlined four arguments that
maintain the unity of the book: one, the original author’s work with later editorialglosses; two, author’s single response to different traditional sayings; three, author’s
dialogue with interlocutors; and, four, author’s gradual change of view over the years, J. L. Crenshaw,
(OTL; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:Westminster Press, 1987), 34-5.
For detail, please, read T. Longman III,
The Book of Ecclesiastes
(NICOT; GrandRapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1998), 4-8.1