Ecclesiastes

Craig G. Bartholomew

Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes

Book Information

In this addition to the Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms series, Craig Bartholomew, coauthor of the well-received Drama of Scripture and a leading voice in the call for a renewal of theological biblical interpretation, combines a careful exegetical reading of the book of Ecclesiastes with keen theological insights. Along with helpful translation and commentary, Ecclesiastes considers the theological implications of the text and its literary, historical, and grammatical dimensions. Footnotes deal with many of the technical matters, allowing readers of varying levels of interest and training to read and profit from the commentary and to engage the biblical text at an appropriate level. All serious students of the Bible will find here an accessible commentary that will serve as an excellent resource for their study.

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Craig Bartholomew begins his discussion of the message of Ecclesiastes with the claim that “Ecclesiastes is not first a kerygmatic book, but rather one that calls the reader to engage with Qohelet’s journey and to enter into the dialogue he evokes” (93). Accordingly, he seeks to lead the reader with him into the often confusing world of Qoheleth and then to make sense of it. Bartholomew’s prior work on Ecclesiastes (Reading Ecclesiastes: Old Testament Exegesis and Hermeneutical Theory [AnBib 139; Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1998]), as well as his role as founder-convener of the decade-long Scripture and Hermeneutics Project, has prepared him to read this enigmatic book in a fresh way. The lengthy introduction (making up more than a fifth of the text) covers the usual topics: title; canonicity; authorship and date; social setting; text; and structure. For the most part, Bartholomew does not depart from conventional critical viewpoints: the book “was regarded as authoritative well before the time of Christ” (19–20); internal and external evidence points to a postexilic origin; the book reflects the influence of various schools of Greek thought wedded to the biblical tradition; and its structure consists of a wide-ranging exploration (1:12–12:7) framed by two narratives (1:1–11 and 12:8–14). [Full Review]

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