exists for such theories if an alternative exposition could reconcile these sectionscoherently.Eaton attempted an approach that avoids the pitfalls of critical orthodoxy whichdownplayed the orthodox elements within Ecclesiastes and traditional orthodoxy which attimes has ignored or allegorized its pessimism. “What, then, is the purpose of Ecclesiastes? It is an essay in apologetics. It defends the life of faith in a generous God by pointing to the grimness of the alternative.”
He saw a heaven-earth dichotomy in which‘God is in heaven and you upon earth’ (5:2). The recurring expressions like ‘under thesun’, ‘under heaven’ and ‘on earth’ described the futility of a barren life withoutreference to faith in God.
Therefore, much of the book was blanketed by pessimism.When such terminologies fade away (2:24-26; 11:1-12:14), a more positive tone emergeswith references to the ‘hand of God’ (2:24), the joy of man (2:25, 3:12. 5:18, 20, 9:7,11:7-9), and the generosity of God (2:26, 3:13, 5:19). Qoheleth showed the inevitable bankruptcy of ‘secularism’ in order to drive us to God where life’s meaning can befulfilled. “It is only to one seeking satisfaction in disregard of God that the Preacher’smessage stops at ‘All is vanity’… When a perspective of faith is introduced ‘All isvanity’ is still true, but it is not the whole picture; ‘under the sun’ it is the whole truth.”
But what does the phrase ‘under the sun’ mean? We can find it in other ancient workssuch as the Babylonian
’s statement that: “Only the gods [live] forever
, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity,1983), page 45
This expression ("under the sun") seems to imply that the speaker thinks a distinction can be made between what happens in human experience ("under the sun") and what happens elsewhere.” Kathleen A.Farmer,
Who Knows What Is Good?
(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991), page 206
, page 57