Ecclesiastes . Known as the “Book of the Preacher”, it is a book of the Old Testament of the Bible , and also of the Tanach , belonging to the group of so-called Wisdom Books, or teachings. This book gives Christians the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of a person who, although very wise, is trying to find the meaning of life in human and temporal things.
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- 1 General
- 1 Title
- 2 Author
- 3 Argument
- 4 Purpose
- 2 Practical application
- 3 Sources
Ecclesiastes is the shortest of the wisdom writings. It has a markedly existential tone. The main conclusion of Ecclesiastes reflects the well-known precept of the carpe diem: enjoy the day, enjoy the moment, take advantage of what life offers you. More than a speech delivered before an assembly, this book seems like a soliloquy. It is a kind of internal discussion of the author with himself, in which he frequently considers opposite realities: life and death, wisdom and foolishness, wealth and poverty. In this contrast of concepts, the negative aspects of reality are underlined and as tinged with a deep tone of pessimism. However, at no time does Ecclesiastes go to the point of belittling or denying how valuable life is; never fails to recognize the positive aspects that are part of the existence and experience of the human being; work, pleasure, family, finances or wisdom (2.11, 13). But they have a relative value, so that none of them (not each one of them, nor all together) can satisfy the deepest longings of the heart. The Preacher is questioned about the meaning of life. With absolute sincerity he asks himself the question that worries him the most and that he reduces to concrete terms by asking himself: “What profit does a man get from all the work he works under the sun ?” (1.3). Which is equivalent to: What must the human being know, know and do to live fully satisfactorily? Ecclesiastes tries to decipher the riddle of existence and to penetrate the meaning of things, relying only on his personal experience and on his own reasoning.
Ecclesiastes is the title that the book called Qohelet receives in the Septuagint in the Hebrew text of the Bible. Both words, Greek and Hebrew, mean practically the same thing: “preacher”, “orator”, “person in charge of calling an audience and speaking to them”.
Its author was probably a Jewish sage from Palestine of the period when Hellenistic culture was in the process of expanding throughout the Near East . His efforts were presided over by his love for the truth and by communicating it in an ideal way, with the most appropriate words (12.9–10). He was an original and critical thinker, who was not satisfied with repeating other people’s ideas or accepting without examination the postulates that tradition considered irrefutable. Without expressly naming Solomon , the author refers to him when he refers to the “son of David, king in Jerusalem»(1.1, 12) and when he enumerates (in the first person) his works and riches (2.4–9). Such allusions undoubtedly contributed to giving Ecclesiastes a letter of authority and to being attributed to Solomon, the wise king par excellence. However, the characteristic Hebrew of its writing, as well as the ideas expressed in it, correspond to a later time.
The dominant tone of Ecclesiastes is rather gloomy and pessimistic. In it, the reflections and attitudes of a man are exposed from his personal experience. That experience has made him discover the expiration of life and the apparent uselessness of all things, leading him to a bitter conviction, tirelessly repeated throughout the Book: “Vanity, pure vanity! Nothing but vanity! What profit? does man take from all the effort he makes in the sun? “(1. 2-3).
Ecclesiastes is a perspective book. The narrative of “the Preacher”, or “the Master” reveals the depression that inevitably results from seeking happiness in the things of the world. Most of the worldly pleasures are explored by the Preacher, and none give meaningful meaning to life.
In the end, the Preacher comes to accept that faith in God is the only way to find personal meaning. He decides to accept the fact that life is short and ultimately useless without God. The Preacher advises the reader to focus on an eternal God, rather than on temporal pleasure.
Ecclesiastes offers the Christian an opportunity to understand the emptiness and despair with which those who do not know God struggle . Those who do not have saving faith in Christ are faced with a life that will ultimately end and become irrelevant. If there is no salvation, and there is no God, then not only does life have no case, but there is also no purpose or direction for it. The world “under the sun ,” apart from God, is frustrating, cruel, unfair, brief, and “meaningless.” But with Christ, life is but a shadow of the glories to come in a heaven that is only accessible through Him.