Talk:Ecclesiastes

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Untitled[edit]

Can I add some information to this?

I've added information to this. ~apokryphos aka Francis G.

Status in Orthodox Judaism[edit]

I've removed the paragraph that states "According to Orthodox Judaism however, the holiness of Kohelet was never in doubt. The discussion was only if, because of the possibility that a superficial reading will lead to heretical beliefs it would be preferable to keep the book out of the hands of laymen. A similar discussion revolves around the book of Ezekial." The Artscroll Tanach Stone Edition (probably the best representative of mainstream orthodox views) states that "The Sages of the Talmud were so troubled by this blanket condemnation that - even though the author of the Book was King Solomon - they doubt that it should be included in the sacred works of Scripture." I believe that Artscroll also portrays the 'Tumas Yadaim' issue as a debate whether it was part of the canon/written with 'Ruach Hakodesh'. If you can find a significant source otherwise then put it in the article as an alternative view, with citations. --Rxtreme (talk) 19:50, 20 November 2007 (UTC)


See here:[1] "We can therefore understand that everyone agreed that Esther and Ecclesiastes were sacred books that were authoritative and binding on the Jewish people. That is why their verses could be used in halachic arguments. One cannot contradict an uncontested Mishna and, similarly, one cannot dispute a verse in the canonical book of Esther. However, there was a disagreement whether these books were also inspired. If they were, they would render the hands impure."

I will check the artscroll.Wolf2191 (talk) 23:02, 25 November 2007 (UTC)

Epicurian Heresy[edit]

Removed portion on Epicurian Heresy. There is reason the Canonicity of the book is questionable, but Epicurianism is not the reason. The theory was never truly strong enough to stand on its own. The similarities to the Epicurians stop with its insistence on simple pleasures and tranquility end before the important part of the heresy, the denial of the afterlife. None of the dogma present in Epicurianism is present in Ecclesiastes (see The International Critical Commentary of Ecclesiastes). Furthermore, the Epicurian Heresy is a development off of an ancient trend in Semite thinking, dating as far back as 2000 B.C.E., with a fragment of the Gilgamesh Epic. (Mitteilungen der Vorderasiatischen Gesellscaft, p.8, col. iii, l. 3). I left the fleeting reference to Epicurianism intact, as it was an important development in the study of Ecclesiastes. --Loki.x.freya 07:49, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

Qohelet - Catcher?[edit]

Could User:12.217.230.149 please add some reference for claim that possible translation of Qohelet might be "Catcher"? Never read of it (and I've read quite a bit about Qohelet)... -- mz 16:57, 7 Sep 2004 (UTC)

No response. I googled and found nothing. RV to previous version. Feel free to restore the information, if supported by scholarly reference. -- mz 21:09, 10 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Kohelet[edit]

Is there a need for Kohelet redirected to Ecclesiastes ? Gangleri 06:03, 2004 Sep 27 (UTC)

Probably. It's the standard spelling in German and at least an uncommon alternative in English. I'm just going to do it. Mpolo 07:02, Sep 27, 2004 (UTC)


Dates and "NPOV"[edit]

In an edit summary, User:Mz says the entry is "definitely not completely npov." Though the expression "npov" often means "not to my taste" at Wikipedia, perhaps we can have some more specific directions as to what we must do to satisfy in this case. It seems quite mainstream to an amateur like me. Not very obnoxious, at any rate. We have been waiting since 14 November 2004 for "at least 3-4 scholarly sources supporting this dating," which will certainly fill out the scanty References section. --Wetman 12:15, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Dominic Rudman. Determinism in the Book of Ecclesiastes. JSOTSup. 316; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001, p. 13 - cites 3 modern commentaries supporting this dating.
You can as well read an article here(although poorly transcribed): Dominic Rudman. "A Note on Dating of Ecclesiastes". Catholic Biblical Quarterly vol. 61 (1999) iss. 1, pp. 47-53 - a discussion with C. L. Seow, "Linguistic Evidence and the Dating of Qohelet." JBL vol. 115 (1996), pp. 653-54 - Seow supports 4th century dating.
Finally, I am pasting here footnote 5 from Rudman's article: "Most current commentators le.g., R. N. Whybray, Ecclesiastes [NCB Commentary; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1989] 4-12) argue for a mid-tolate-third-century date. Others, among them N. Lohfink (Kohelet [NEchtB; Wurzburg: Echter Verlag, 1980] 7) and C. E Whitley (Koheleth: His Language and Thought [BZAW 148; Berlin/ New York: de Gruyter, 1979] 132-46), have suggested an early- or mid-second-century background." --mz 16:16, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Good stuff. I hate to work your material into the text as if I had found it myself. Could you? --Wetman 22:36, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Trivial Comment[edit]

Ecclesiastes is frequently cited by atheists as their favourite book of the bible. Just wanted to add that here:)

--80.228.154.61 17:52, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

We covered it today in my History and Religion of Ancient Israel class; the take-home message was "Qohelet says Why does bad stuff happen under the sun? We'll never know! In the meantime, eat, drink, and be merry!" I can see why atheists would like it, the God of Qohelet is pretty...distant. -- stillnotelf has a talk page 22:35, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
It's not just that—the book makes some very down-to-earth statements that convey a message quite at odds with most modern religious traditions. Take, for example, "for that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity." (Eccl. 3:19, KJV). Or how about "for to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten." (9:4-5) and "whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest" (9:10); it's like he's reading a secular humanist manifesto...
Qohelet concludes that God, who knows all and sees all and has a plan for everything will make things right in the end, and that we have no clue what to make of it all. Atheists take it one step further and conclude that there isn't even a God to make anything right. 82.92.119.11 22:09, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
It's not a trivial comment, and I'm not sure why there is so little on the page concerning the book in relation to the rest of the Tanakh and Bible. I just read through the book, and it's amazing to me that it is in the Bible. I think it's wonderful, but I wonder how Jews and Christians justify it. Terry 04:14, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Christians know the approach taken by Qohelet. He is not addressing life as it is rather life as it would be without God. When man lives life apart from God all his efforts are futile and lead to nothing. When man seeks first the fear of God then God makes those efforts worthwhile eternally. Qohelet has come to that conclusion and makes his readers aware of his findings in life.

Qohelet therefore has seen existentialist messages within life, but he differs from later existentialists like Nietzsche and Satre by forcing a return to God by assuming that 'essence precedes existence' - for which life to live he must first have meaning in God. This was later rejected by the existentialists who propose that 'existence precedes essence' - which would render Qoheleth's views as flawed. Qoheleth, to existentialists, has indeed seen the truth of life, but his inherent weakness to the truth of purposeless-ness as a mortal man brings him to conclude that indeed, above all, God is everything. Ajani Mgo--165.21.155.113 (talk) 07:36, 17 February 2008 (UTC)
as I see it: verses of a "qohelet", of someone who is able to fill auditories, are *cited*. All his "super-wisdom" is cited and then it is shown, that he still feels bad. He had money, he had women ... and still he feels "vanity" in his life. Then, after a full cite of the mourning of that "wisdom-man", the author of the book (which is *not* Qohelet but another writer) says: "so you see guys - 'wisdom' and wealth alone doesn't do it - just keep on to be with g'd and you won't feel frustrated, the endless writing and reading books is simply tiresome". The story has some tweak because the citations ("these are original/true words of *one*(single) shepherd!") are associated to Salomo (which is agreeable if you read other verses of Salomo) and Salomo was disregarded by G'd later in his life (according to the bible) and just echoes his sepearatedness and his desparation that he cannot feel more than "vanity" in his life... That's all my impression - sorry.... --Gotti 18:07, 15 April 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Druseltal2005 (talkcontribs)
The idea that the book is not in the first person of Qoheleth has been considered by prominent scholars, such as Michael Fox. One idea is that the book is essentially a tale told from father to son about this man (Qoheleth) who acquired great wealth and wisdom and followed the law to the letter but still was not satisfied. In this interpretation, the first person pronouns in most of the story are not the narrator, but Qoheleth. Some interpretations even add a third character.
If this is the case, it is conceivable that Qoheleth could be Solomon (is that what you mean by "Salomo?"), but there is no evidence for this. In particular, the text appears to disagree with Solomon's take on God.
Moreover, this interpretation does not change the central message of the book. Ecclesiastes does not say much about following God's commandments until the final few verses. It does say not to be too righteous, and also that following God's law is ultimately vanity as well. He absolutely does not make any claim that we can pin down the purpose of everything to anything in particular, and instead suggests over and over again that "There is nothing better for [people] than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God's gift that they all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil." (3:12-13 NRSV) It also suggests that people are incapable of changing reality, as all goes in cycles and there is nothing new under the sun; in particular, we are incapable of making straight what God has made crooked. How then could he possibly conclude in 12:13b that keeping God's commandments is "the whole duty of everyone?" Truly, I think there is no reasonable interpretation of this verse that does NOT attribute it to a later addition, especially when it follows the concluding sentence "The end of the matter; all has been heard." (3:13a NRSV) Consider, for example, the footnotes from The New Oxford Annotated Bible:
"13: The end of the matter, these words originally ended the epilogue and, hence, the book. The words beyond this point are secondary. The call to fear God is found elsewhere in the book (3.14; 5.7; 8.12-13), but the call to obey God's commandments is not."
Eebster the Great (talk) 00:17, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Priority?[edit]

Whenever I look through any entry here on a book of the bible I always wonder why 80%+ of the article is devoted to technical background information while only a small portion covers the actual content of the book itself. Not to say that material doesn't belong, but shouldn't the "vanity" section be moved to the top and made the focus of the article? I just think most people come here to get some idea of what the book is about, not read up on the minutiae of scholarly debate on its origins.

I agree. I went ahead and put author, language, and date all under one heading, to try and allow people to get to the actual commentary on the book. I think there should be more done though. Terry 04:14, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

The actual text[edit]

Since it's not copyrighted I think it would be a good idea to include biblical texts within Wikipedia since talking about something is a bit futile when the text is not in front of you. Maybe it's too big an opening.

Large public domain documents can be found at WikiSource, as they should not clutter up Wikipedia articles. However, short verses from Ecclesiastes definitely merit inclusion where they can work into the text of the page. Eebster the Great (talk) 08:44, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Image:Ecclesiastes.png[edit]

Can someone explain who is depicted in Image:Ecclesiastes.png and why it is in the article? To me, it suggests that "Ecclesiastes" is a person. -- Gyrofrog (talk) 09:43, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

References[edit]

From the author section " This view has been abandoned by many modern critical scholars, who now assume that Qoheleth is a work in the pseudepigraphical tradition that borrowed weight for a new work by putting it in the mouth of a well-known sage. [..]

Yet many modern conservative scholars today also recognize that Solomon is an unlikely author."

Note the use of "many scholars". For credibility (WP:NPOV), there should be some names of people who have held this view and of some previous thinkers who have not.

Fred-Chess 01:31, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

Uh, shouldn't there be at least any sources for the authorship section? Those are pretty bold statements to make, and no one can follow up for more info. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.60.229.254 (talk) 03:28, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

Troublesome document[edit]

Ecclesiastes has been a very confusing and troublesome book in the bible. I'll look into some better info and see what I dig up. I do recall the Catholic church having problems with it and the asumption that Solomon was the author.

Last Two Verses[edit]

I removed the description of the last two verses from the main description. I feel that presenting this information here might draw unwarranted conclusions about what Ecclesiastes really says. A comment on the verses, and their veracity, is already included under the Vanity section. I think this quote could stay in the top if the top was a better, fuller description, but as it is I do not think it garners that importance. Terry 09:31, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

According to Judaism the last two verses are the purpose of the whole book. See below. The verses should accordingly be added to the header.

I understood that there is a suspected connection between Kohelet and Heraclitus (both pessimism) but I don't know the details. And in Judaism focused is placed on the "all is futile under the sun" but above the sun (i.e G-d, the afterlife) is not futile. This is emphasized in the second to last verse "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man", I don't remember the exact source. This should answer a commentor above and may be material to add.Wolf2191 22:16, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

"The canonicity of the book was, however, long doubtful " The Reform publication Jewish Encyclopedia is as usual incorrect in Talmudic matters. The canonity was not in doubt. Kohelet was agreed to be holy the question is only if the harm of false beliefs people might come to will out do the value. The overwhelming presence of Jewish Encyclopedia causes terrible POV problems weighing toward Reform POVWolf2191 22:23, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

I added the OJ POV one can stick in citation need since I can't remember exactly where I saw it. "It is clear from Isaiah that Aramaic or Persian was well known to rulers in the Jewish Kingdom" I'm to lazy to look this up, it's where Shavna begs the Assyrian emissary not to speak hebrew making clear that they knew other languages. Certainly King Solomon whose influenced extended the world and was "wisest of all men" would have been familiar with some form of Persian or Aramaic(aramaic is in the bible as well Yigar Sadusa). (I will try to check for my source again and clarify) Look at my article on The Amber Witch to see just how fallible ccholars are in this highly subjective branch of science.

I am afraid the Amber Witch example proves no such thing. It proves that a document historians believe was written at one time could very easily have been written at a later date. Comparing Kohelet to the Amber Witch only proves Kohelet could have been after 250 BCE. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:48, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

No, I'm saying that any work that researches do is highly doubtful. A book assumed to be ancient can be modern a book assumed to be modern can be ancient. It all depends on which sentences the researcher chooses to highlight and he will very often read the facts to fit a preconceived notion. That's what Meinhold waa trying to do as well. I think the argument I mentioned on the book of isaiah page applies here as well (Late redaction in hezekiah's time acc. to talmud can explain many philogical discrepancies) but I don't have a specific source.Wolf2191 16:27, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

Well, first of all, we don't put our own views in the article so it doesn't matter what you and i think: if Meinhold actually claimed that his forgery proved that the methods of source criticism are wrong and that the books of Moses were older than higher critics claimed, well, we can report that this is what he claimed. But do any scholars accept his argument? Personally (yes, this can be said only on the talk page, it can't go in the argument) if your description of what he did is accurate, I do not think Meinhold's argument holds any water. He proved that he could immitate oler styles of writing. Well, that doesn't require much of an argument, I am sure someone who really knows the Talmud well could easily produce a forged Talmudic passage that, based solely on its internal evidence (how it is written) could convince people it was written over 1500 years ago. But so what? Higher critics are not claiming that the five books of Moses were deliberately written to make it appear as if they were written earlier than they were (analogous to Meinhold's forgery). They are claiming that later readers mistakenly interpreted them to be written earlier than they actually were written (analogous to Meinhold's critique of his forgery). If anything, what Meinhold accomplished - I am sure unintentionally - supports the claims of higher criticism. Slrubenstein | Talk 11:53, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
Actually someone produced an entirely forged section of the Jerusalem Talmud and he was just barely caught. And to my knowledge higher critics do claim that the bible was forged and passages added in to the prophets to look as if the pentateuch was already created during their times.(see lopes cardezos essay linked on the DH page). Meinhold set out to prove the fallibility of the scientists. The top men in the field couldn't note any sign of a forgery until the forger himself told them. And even then he wasn't believed. It demonstrates how subjective the study is, the reasearcher sees what he expects to see. If he believs it to be medieval he will study it as such. I admire criticla methods but I think the gap between proof and conclusion is often quite large. Often the proof can be interpreted differently.Wolf2191 20:17, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
I read Wellhausen and Kaufman a long time ago but I do not recall either of them claiming that the books they were analyzed were forged, which requires intent. I do think that they view the Torah and other books as works of literature. No one would claim that Moby Dick was forged because the people and events it mentioned never literally happened (although it was arguably inspired by an actual case of a whale attacking a whale-ship). Moreover, most literary scholars consider it a great and truthful work of art. Indeed, there is a book by an historian on the actual case of the whale attack. I think most people, certainly most scholars, would agree that Moby Dick is the greater of the two books, not just for some aesthetic quality or "literary merit" but because Moby Dick has something to say about the possibilities and limits of being human that is far more insightful, profound, in short, truthful, than the history book on the whale-ship Essex. Similarly, to claim that someone like Kaufman (who was very critical of Wellhausen but who agreed on the broad countours of higher criticism, and its basic methods) was making the point that the Torah is a forgery utterly misses Kaufmann's point. Slrubenstein | Talk 11:41, 5 May 2007 (UTC)
Try this article. [2] I've never read Kaufmann so I can't comment. And I do agree with you that higher criticism is a useful tool, it's just overestimated. The Talmud and some of the Rabbis (ex. R' Herzog's essay on the discrepancies bet. Ezekiel and the Pentateuch or Hoffman's "against Weilhausen", Halevy's Dorot,etc.) have produced some very viable alternative ways to understand the textual difficulties, thus I don't understand why the DH is so widely accepted as an almost absolutes truth. If you like we can continue the discussion via email (thru the link off my userpage) or on discussion page as I dont think this is the proper forum if not we can "agree to disagree". ThanksWolf2191 01:32, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

Just looked at kaufman's wiki. His work sounds like that of Mordechai Breuer of blessed memory (he recently passed away). I think essentially we are in agreement. Meinhold's work wouldn't necessarily disprove Kaufman or Breuer but he would strike a blow to the critics of his day such as welhausen. Do you think The Amber Witch needs to be changed to reflect that? (read the article I mentioned anyway I think you might enjoy it). BestWolf2191 04:41, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

I do not know the Amber Witch. I think the issue is simply reporting on it accurately. Did Mienhold claim he was (1) criticizing higher criticism in its entiredy or (2) criticzing a specific set of scholars identified with HC or (3) criticizing very specific claims made by specific scholars? Whichever one it is, the article should just be precise and accurate. If Meinhold was criticizing a specific thing Wellhausen wrote, the article should say just that. But if Meinhold believed he was criticizing the entire enterprise of HC, the article should say that. You write, "I don't understand why the DH is so widely accepted as an almost absolutes truth." If by DH you mean specifically Wellhausen's argument, I do not think it is widely accepted today. If you mean the claim that the Torah is a composite of different oral traditions that have diverse origins, developed at different times, were written down at different times, and were edited together at a particular time but long, long after Moses - I think most non-Orthodox scholars do agree with this because it is parsimoneous and powerful. But I do not think there is any consensus as to who wrote what when. Slrubenstein | Talk 12:19, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

I'll try to find out if this Strauss that Meinhold was after belonged to the weilhausen school and make the change. I trust the article I mentioned gives a good idea why orthodox scholars think the DH a combination of good points and rather silly consclusions.Wolf2191 13:50, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

Translation[edit]

The article makes many quotes from modern English translations of the Bible. As Far as I know all modern translations are copyrighted and at lest require the translation to be cited. The only public domain translations are: King James Version (except in the United Kingdom), Geneva bible, Bishops' bible, American Standard version, English Revised version, Webster Bible, and Young Literal Translation. I Know that most of the quotes come from non of these.Zginder 23:46, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Recent Edits (Jan 2008)[edit]

Recent edits claim Qohelet is grammatically feminine, so the author is feminine, but the reasoning sounds flawed to me. E.g. in German, the word Mädchen is neuter, and other words in the sentence needs to use the neuter form, but it does not imply the `real object ' referenced by the word, i.e. a girl, is genderless. See Grammatical gender. Can someone back up recent claims of female authorship of the Ecc. by a published book ? Y.t. (talk) 03:25, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

I have completely extirpated all references to a female author. This is immediately contradicted both by traditional views and the grammatical male used in reference to Kohelet in the entire book. The additions had clearly been added as an afterthought - every section had a few lines defending "a female author", but no source was actually provided and the whole matter was riddled with weasel words ("a minority view, however, [...]", "some scholars") meant to obscure the fact that this was someone's original research. JFW | T@lk 09:11, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. Y.t. (talk) 21:00, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Ecclesiastes Edits continued.[edit]

I inserted most of the recent edits referred to in the above passage. It will be my intent to express the Literary Failures of Ecclesiastes. These failures are widely acknowledged and published by mainstream Christian authors. To date, I am continuing to refine my edits so that they will reflect the current research addressing the (lack of) Literary Integrity of Ecclesiastes. In answer to your question, there are several books that demonstrate the possibility of female authorship of Ecclesiastes. One interesting book, Ambiguity in Ecclesiastes (Brill Publishing) includes the following on pages 84 and 85: “Either mistakes have crept into the text, as is usually suggested, 'or this is another literary ploy to draw a veil of mystery over the main character of Ecclesiastes' ” Also, “ . . . thus the main speaker in Ecclesiastes could be a man or a woman. . .” While it is not uncommon to attack others who do not hold the same opinion as one's own (and I thought Wikipedia editors were to avoid that), I assure you that I have provided this particular editor with a sample of the citations that will support all of my edits, but they were not shared. You will soon see them because I do not believe that the Targum, as well as Christian biblical scholars and theologians James Strong (and his famous concordance), Joseph Thayer (and his great works) and also J. Crenshaw's published works (among others) are “weasels” Each researcher will speak speak for himself. Remember two great religions, the Christian and Jewish faiths, utilize Ecclesiastes. The current article relegates Christian research to a minority view and then excludes it almost entirely. This encyclopedia must reflect the fact that divergent mainstream opinions exist on both sides. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.94.39.123 (talk) 22:20, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Greek[edit]

Isn't the Greek translation of 1:2 something like the remarkably alliterative pantaiotes pantaiotatos, panta pantaiotes? Should it be mentioned? --Error (talk) 23:37, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

here's the LXX text of Qo 1:2:
Ματαιότης ματαιοτήτων, εἶπεν ὁ ᾿Εκκλησιαστής,
ματαιότης ματαιοτήτων, τὰ πάντα ματαιότης.
Dampinograaf (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 14:41, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. --Error (talk) 20:45, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Dating and Authorship[edit]

I am taking issue with the sections that seem to say all modern scholars discount Solomonic authorship and traditional dating for the book fo Ecclesiastes. It's true that many propoents of form criticism and other modern hermeneutical schools hold such a view, but you can't say that there aren't any modern commentators who agree with the traditional view. Could this be cleared up please? Kristamaranatha (talk) 18:18, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

Could you kindly indicate modern commentators who agree with the traditional view, if any?
Thank you. --Dampinograaf (talk) 10:28, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Longman (1998, p. 3) offers that "a small, but vocal, group of evangelical scholars still advocate this view." He cites as most notable among them W.C. Kaiser, Jr.
O Govinda (talk) 14:45, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
John MacArthur apparently thinks the author is unambiguously Solomon in his MacArthur Bible Commentary, but it is not clear if he is stating that it was literally written by him or that it is being attributed to him in the book. But I think he is saying the former. He provides no reasoning behind this except that several lines in Ecclesiastes (most notably the first) are in accordance with Solomon as the author and protagonist. Eebster the Great (talk) 08:34, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
Beyond commentators, you are likewise discounting the work of actual linguists. D.C. Frederick's groundbreaking study, for instance, demonstrated that the Hebrew used in earlier times was more in keeping with the grammar and lexical aspects of Solomon's time, rather than post-exilic Israel. BOTH sides should be presented...the article as presented, does NOT represent a "neutral" point of view! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Havensdad (talkcontribs) 22:47, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

Introduction[edit]

Quote: Ecclesiastes (...) is a book of the Hebrew Bible. The English name derives from the Greek translation of the Hebrew title.

As far as I can tell, this is all wrong. "Ecclesiastes" is a book in the Old Testament, the equivalent of which in the "Ketuvim" ("Scriptures") section of the Hebrew Bible ("Tanakh") is titled "Kohelet", which is Hebrew for "collector".

Could someone more competent than me please comment? Thanks, Maikel (talk) 08:07, 5 October 2008 (UTC)

The article has it right. In Hebrew the title is Kohelet (spelled various ways according to different schemes of transliteration), and the word is usually taken to derive from a root that means "to assemble" or "to gather." The Greek title "Ecclesiastes," essentially a translation of the word "Kohelet," first appeared in the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament). Jerome, the translator who gave us the Latin version of the Bible known as the Vulgate, kept the title. And the same title is still retained in English editions up till today.
O Govinda (talk) 19:23, 5 October 2008 (UTC)

Elements of Bias[edit]

There is some clear bias going on in some portions of this article, stemming from certain evangelical views. The idea that Ecclesiastes was always accepted as cannon, cited by reference to a non-scholarly work written over a hundred years ago, is directly refuted by the subsequent discussion of the chronology of its acceptance into Jewish canon. Furthermore, the statement that it "exactly agrees" with all other discussions of the same subject matter elsewhere in the Bible is highly reductionist and simply not the case. While it does contain many of the basic elements of Jewish and Christian theology, it is rather distinctive for its claims that people are not consistently rewarded based on how righteous or wise they are, and that everything, even being too good, is folly or vanity. Furthermore, the seeming implication that no one knows what will happen to them after they die, and indeed that there is no work or conscience in Sheol, seems very problematic to incorporate from a viewpoint that embraces the theology of an afterlife. At the very least, it is not in certain and exact agreement with all other Biblical texts on this matter. Finally, both the introductory section of this article and the sub-heading 'vanity' are concluded by quoting verse 12:13, which appears in contrast to Qoheleth's emphasis on the vanity of everything (even being too righteous), by saying that the 'whole duty of man' is to fear and obey God. The academic consensus at this point favors the view that this verse was inserted in by a later editor to make the book more orthodox--and that it is not thematically consistent with the remainder of the book. To again conclude the sections of the Wikipedia article with that verse seems to again undercut and distort one's understanding of Ecclesiastes. On the whole, I think there are many relevant and accurate comments on Ecclesiastes in this article, however I think it should be reviewed to instill more of an academic and non-biased rigor in its delivery. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 217.36.86.161 (talk) 07:41, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

This shouldn't be bias (which, as a rule, must be if possible eliminated from every page on this website, excepting as the bias in included in source texts and quotations, of course), but rather imperception of continuity. Taking, from a Christian standpoint, for instance, the verses in the New Testament concerning an actual afterlife (e.g., 1 Peter 3:18-20, focus on v.19; and 1 Peter 4:6) into consideration, this book contains some points which to some would be doctrinal inconsistencies and to others explainable. Can it not be considered that this book was written by one man (or woman, according to above arguments) and may or may not be 100% inspired scripture? 99.31.232.61 (talk) 03:52, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

Awkward Construction[edit]

Canonicity

Bible religious scholars often consider Ecclesiastes to be divinely inspired...

  • Why not just Bible scholars?
  • The sentence implies that sometimes the same scholars do not consider Ecclesiastes to be divinely inspired. That is, if you often do something, then you sometimes do not. The value of the assertion is how many scholars consider the book to be inspired, not the vicissitudes of one's thoughts. What not: many, some, or the majority of Bible scholars consider Ecclesiastes to be divinely inspired...?

I think we maybe could just delete that entire sentence. A 19th c. commentary is not the best source for this sort of thing. carl bunderson (talk) (contributions) 15:06, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

I agree. In fact, I think that who section could be deleted (or better) re-written. SAE (talk) 15:18, 8 August 2009 (UTC)
I'll see what I can do. I've already found at least one good source on gscholar. carl bunderson (talk) (contributions) 16:00, 8 August 2009 (UTC)
I've fixed it up a bit. That's as far as I can take it for now. If you want more, I'll go to the Anchor Bible; beyond that, I'm not sure. carl bunderson (talk) (contributions) 00:20, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

Contemporary Religious Book Series[edit]

The Contemporary Religious Book Series section was added recently and seems to be basically an advertisement. If no one offers justification for the inclusion of this section I am going to delete it. --CooliLowe (talk) 00:53, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

Citation Format[edit]

Is there a reason that when citing a biblical reference it is done directly after the proposition (such as in the Influences on other ancient writings section) rather than in footnote format as is generally standard in Wikipedia? --CooliLowe (talk) 02:26, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

Ecclesiastes: On the Afterlife[edit]

Since this is a book/scroll which shares a common relationship between two faiths, many times people try to seek out textual references that do not offend members on either side of the line. I enjoy trying to foster a multifaceted, multicultural understanding of the Supreme Being (YHWH, in this context), and as most people do not recognize many Scrolls/Old Testament scriptures as making any commentary about an afterlife, consider this. I will analyze:

Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 (New American Standard)

1 "Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them.

So, here we see that regardless of the position of a person in life, he or she will suffer.

2 "So I congratulated the dead who already dead more than the living who are still living.

This is a pivotal commentary made by the author. What would be the point in giving any due to a dead person if they could not receive it on some level? Would it not be as wasteful as giving worship to an idol?

3 "But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

The living may live now. The dead have lived, and whether or not they continue to live is issue to debate, for certain, but what is drawn to conclusion is that the ones with the most precious of gifts are those who have not yet lived.

Anyway, that's my thought on the subject. It's open to discussion. Just try to be scholarly about it. Laotzukrishna (talk) 19:05, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

    That is interesting, but it is unlikely you could add it to the article, since it is your original research. However, if you publish a work containing this commentary, or find another published work that contains it, you might be able to add it. However, I do disagree with your analysis of these lines, particularly 4:2, as I think it might be taking the meaning of "congratulate" a bit too literally. Qoheleth makes it clear that there is no happiness in Sheol, so I don't think he is saying the dead are better off because they have a better existence; rather, they are better off because they have escaped the lonely suffering that accompanies all existence. Better yet is to have never been born, and thus never suffered in the first place.
    Perhaps it is more useful to view Ecclesiastes as a whole here, rather than one verse at a time, although both approaches are ultimately necessary. Tracing Qoheleth's reasoning, we see him repeatedly attempt to create permanent meaning, through happiness, or wealth, or fame, or wisdom, or obedience to God. And each time he does so, he is left disappointed, finding that it is all futile, since none of it will survive his death. He sees life as tragic because God (who is quite impersonal, and arguably even allegorical) has granted us the ability to search for meaning and purpose, but not to find it. We have knowledge of past and future, but can never understand the full history of time. We have knowledge of good and evil, yet nobody is so good as to never sin. We have knowledge of happiness and suffering, but our fate is ultimately left to chance. And the only guarantee of permanence in our life is that of death, of oblivion, of nonexistence. Ultimately, he comes to the conclusion that while we cannot know everything, it is still better to be wise than foolish, as long as we are not too wise, and while we cannot avoid all sin, we should be good at least some of the time, as long as we are not always good, and while we cannot secure happiness for our future, we should at least enjoy that we have it now, for that is God's one gift to man. Thus Qoheleth comes to terms with his fear of meaninglessness by accepting the absence of ultimate purpose without sacrificing the temporary value life can bring.
    Put into this context, these lines become somewhat easier to interpret. 4:1 is complex, in that it might be describing one of several of things, but I'll have a try. The poor and oppressed suffer from their poverty and oppression, which makes us desire power and wealth. However, the wealthy and powerful suffer from the loneliness of this position, no happier than the poor they oppress. This does indeed imply that all will suffer, but more importantly, that acquisition wealth and power is all vanity, and will not bring satisfaction.
    4:2 and 4:3 are somewhat simpler. As I pointed out, the dead have escaped suffering, while the unborn have avoided it entirely. Qoheleth later specifically gives the example of a baby stillborn before birth, who managed to avoid the whole tragedy of life. He is, in fact, jealous of the baby. This is probably the most pessimistic part of Ecclesiastes, in that it describes life as universally negative not only in ultimate terms, but even in temporary terms. I think Qoheleth relents somewhat later in the book, when he acknowledges the reward and satisfaction of eating, drinking, and enjoying your labor and merriment equally, and above all, enjoying your relationships with others.
    I hope you find my musings interesting. Eebster the Great (talk) 08:26, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Considering, however, that the Preacher (Kohelet) is describing things as they are "under the sun" -- therefore according to human, mortal perception, which is limited by the five senses and the limited spiritual connection that the average person has (here we can substitute Kohelet, seeing as (s)he is writing from that point of view) --, consideration must be given that Kohelet's view may be accurate from a point of view, yet not absolutely true. Which makes sense that "the dead perceive nothing", since a corpse receives no input and processes nothing, but rather processes decay and outputs broken-down materials. There is no intelligence (perception, sentience) in a corpse, so to a mortal's point-of-view, is that the dead can do nothing. "... and the dust (physical body) returns to the earth as it came, and the spirit (life-force) to that God which gave it." sounds like the Preacher, though, is perceiving something no average mortal eye does: the observable existence of a spirit. To sum up, Kohelet is an interesting character who wrote interesting things. I sould very much like to meet him/her and discuss this one-on-one. 99.31.232.61 (talk) 04:04, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

Dubious[edit]

The article makes the claim "Ecclesiastes appears in harmony with other Scriptures where they treat exactly the same subjects." This seems patently false; Ecclesiastes departs radically from other scriptures in its rejection of dogmatism (Ecc. 3.11), rejection of the justice of God (7:15), rejection of holding obedience to commandments as the highest virtue (7:16-17), and most notably, rejection of an absolute meaning to life (the whole freaking book). The last two verses tacked on after what was clearly supposed to be a conclusion ("The end of the matter, all has been heard.") and written in a completely different style than the rest of the book do contradict some of these points, but they cannot be used to invalidate twelve chapters of disgust at religious orthodoxy.

Further, there are no citations provided for this claim, although I know they exist. Still, better scholarly sources will contradict it. See, for example, Understanding the Old Testament, by Bernhard Anderson, or Reading Ecclesiastes: Old Testament Exegesis and Hermeneutical Theory" by Craig Bartholomew. For these reasons, I suggest taking out the section until somebody qualified can rewrite it citing reliable sources. As it stands, it is WP:OR and WP:POV at best, and gives completely the wrong impression of the book at worst. Eebster the Great (talk) 08:03, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

date of composition of the text?[edit]

In the page on "hebrew bible" we read some remarks about the time of composition of the bible.

[quote] According to traditional Jewish belief, the Hebrew Bible existed as an oral tradition for a long time before it was written, and it was forbidden to be documented in written form. According to that tradition, the date on which permission was given to write down the Bible is considered one of mourning. Contemporary conservative scholars date the origin of the Hebrew Bible between the tenth and seventh centuries BCE, while most contemporary secular biblical scholars date its finalization in the Persian period (539 to 334 BCE).

[/quote]

But this contradicts other information here in the article, that Ecclesiates (and Ijob, by another article) were written at about 250 BCE --Gotti 11:43, 11 April 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Druseltal2005 (talkcontribs)

That Hebrew Bible article has serious issues, and you will notice there is already a template there informing you that the section does not cover all viewpoints. Regardless, it clearly cannot be talking about the entire Hebrew Bible, since much of the Tanakh is describing events later than the given date. Rather, it is referring to the Torah. Instead, check out the article on Dating the Bible. Eebster the Great (talk) 01:30, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
Well, thanks for the answer. So I understand, that the two concurrent dates should coexist in that two articles, or rather: that it should be of no concern. For me personally, I don't like such inconsistencies, especially not if their existence are not even explicitely mentioned. But well, i'm not attached to wikipedia, and would never disregard the wealth of information collected here and also never the mass of enthusiasm which crystallized into the many helpful pages. So thanks again for your answer, Gottfried --Gotti 10:45, 14 April 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Druseltal2005 (talkcontribs)
No, you are right; that Hebrew Bible page needs fixing, and it does need to explain that it is dating the Torah specifically. I will add that reference, but I'm really not qualified to fix up most of the article. Eebster the Great (talk) 00:20, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

In Estonian the title of this book has been translated as the Gatherer or the Collector (Koguja). — Preceding unsigned comment added by 78.28.93.246 (talk) 09:01, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

Which Tom Wolfe?[edit]

There are two 20th-century novelists who could be called "Tom Wolfe": the author of "Look Homeward, Angel", and the author of "Bonfire of the Vanities". The quotation in the first paragraph is more likely to come from the 1st Tom Wolfe (who is usually referred to as Thomas Wolfe), but the link is to the 2nd Tom Wolfe. The reference given in the 1st paragraph leads to a link whose web page doesn't give any further disambiguation, but the linked web page does refer to the author as "Thomas Wolfe".

I think the quotation is good, but we need to make sure that the correct Tom/Thomas Wolfe is linked. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.208.3.32 (talk) 21:59, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

D'oh, ignore the above comment. It is from Tom Wolfe, author of "Bonfire of the Vanities". The link is correct. I should have been tipped off by the "Vanities" connection. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.208.3.32 (talk) 22:09, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

The quote is from the earlier Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938). It's in his book, "You Can't Go Home Again." Restfulme (talk) 20:28, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

Is this nonsense?[edit]

In the section "Name of God" the following text is given:

"The more conventional Tetragrammaton (YHWH: a Jewish name for God) is not used, though almost no modern scholars think that the book was written in Aramaic or Phoenician."

And a 1946 by Robert Gordis at http://www.jstor.org/pss/1452552 is cited.

What does Phoenician have to do with this issue? Does anyone suggest that Ecclesiastes was originally a Phoenician work? That would be quite astounding to me. Nevertheless, I did not see any mention of Phoenician in the Gordis piece. And Gordis does argue against Zimmerman that Ecclesiastes was originally Aramaic, but it does not seem to establish the claim that no modern scholars think that the book was written in Aramaic. Indeed, if Gordis is taken as "modern" then why wouldn't Zimmerman be so? Then Gordis would in fact contradict the claim, as the whole premise of his piece is that Zimmerman holds that Ecclesiastes was written in Aramaic. I don't feel comfortable definitively weighing in on these issues as I can't even read the Semitic texts, but perhaps someone can correct and astound me, or just correct the article.--Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 04:56, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

Original research[edit]

The 'final verses' section was tagged as original research recently. Given that there is a source given for the claims made, I'm not sure that the OR tag applies here. It may be poorly written and/or undue weight, but not OR. Any thoughts? carl bunderson (talk) (contributions) 23:26, 21 May 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps I added the wrong tag. Writing "These are to be the lasting lessons of the book" followed by a distinct list of imperious "lessons" about any book of the bible would be ill-advised, no? It's a fairly subjective topic and this is written in a wholly objective manner. Perhaps you could assist with the tagging? Thx! 38.109.88.154 (talk) 04:19, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
Er, the author of the book had some intention in writing, and while it can be argued precisely what it was, that doesn't make it a subjective topic. I made the opening sentence slightly less imperious, but didn't change the content. It has a reliable source, so I'm disinclined to remove it. If you want to argue about undue weight, I would be open to that. But I'll take a look at the source when I get a chance and see if I can fix it up some. carl bunderson (talk) (contributions) 16:49, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

Date - Daniel C. Fredericks[edit]

An editor recently added a large amount of material arguing that Solomon might be the author of Ecclesiastes. This was based on two sources, the first the bible.org website, the second a book by Daniel C. Fredericks, "Qoheleth's Language: Re-evaluating its Nature and Date." I have reverted this because the first source, bible.org, is not a reliable source according to our guidelines, and the second represents fringe view and it's inclusion would be undue weight. That it is a fringe view can be seen from the review in JSTOR, which says that it "goes against the consensus". Our task is to represent the consensus and any important minority views, but Fredericks' book was published in 1988, since when the consensus has remained intact (this can be checked by reading books published since 1988). In other words, Fredericks' book failed to overturn the consensus.PiCo (talk) 20:31, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

Going against consensus does not necessarily make Fredericks' work fringe. Being reviewed in the Journal of the American Oriental Society indicates that Fredericks is taken seriously by the academic community, and the review calls the book "important." How is this fringe? --Cerebellum (talk) 23:03, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
"Fringe" might be the wrong word - I meant that he's not representing the concensus. The consensus is summed up by Rudman's sourced views, given in the article (Rudman does say that this is the consensus, and Seow, Bartholomew and others say likewise). Mentioning Fredericks' views, now almost a quarter of a century old and much-discussed in the literature, is undue weight. Yes, I think I was wrong to say fringe. PiCo (talk) 00:11, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
But the Davila 1991 also says that the Fredericks 1988 is "an important book" (p. 821) and that "My own position on the language of Qoheleth is in many respects compatible with that of Fredericks [...] I am inclined to place Qoheleth sometime in the fifth century B.C.E." and "In sum, this is an exciting and groundbreaking book. It gathers and reviews nearly all relevant data regarding the date of Qoheleth. It shows conclusively that a putative late date cannot explain all the linguistic peculiarities of the document" (p. 824). And Enns, P., Ecclesiastes (Eerdmans, 2011), pp. 21 & 22 says, "Perhaps one of the more respected, and often cited (by both supporters and detractors), positions is that offered by Daniel C. Fredericks" and "...though Fredericks's arguments have not achieved a consensus, they should still be allowed to fall or stand on their own merits." Longman, T., The Book of Ecclesiastes (Eerdmans, 1998), p. 14 says, "Fredericks's study should give rise to a healthy skepticism concerning the linguistic arguments used to date the book late." Shields, M. A., The End of Wisdom (Eisenbrauns, 2006), p. 23 says that the Fredericks 1988 in part brings the consequence that the conclusion that "Ecclesiastes' language points to a post-exilic provenance for the work [...] is hardly certain." Estes, D.J., Handbook on the Wisdom Books and Psalms (Baker Academic, 2010), pp. 273-276 calls Fredericks' a "minority position amongst scholars", and concludes that "Even though many scholars have argued strenuously for settings ranging from the time of Solomon to the Hellenistic period, the nature of the evidence in inconclusive." To be clear, Fredericks 1988 does not argue that Solomon is the Ecclesiastes, but merely that Ecclesiastes is not post-exilic.
WP:Fringe_theories#Notability says "For a fringe theory to be considered notable it is not sufficient that it has been discussed, positively or negatively, by groups or individuals - even if those groups are notable enough for a Wikipedia article themselves. To be notable, at least one reliable secondary source must have commented on it, disparaged it, or discussed it." We have dozens of reliable sources discussing the Fredericks 1988, and many of them doing so favourably. I think there should be mention of Fredericks' position as an important minority view. Certainly not of the Sturgill, however. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 23:36, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
Atethnekos, you'll see in my response to Cerebellum above that I accept that "fringe" is the wrong word: I should have said it's undue weight.
I'm not sure what case you're arguing here - you use the arguments I would use to say that Frederick's idea IS fringe (i.e., well outside the consensus), and then say you conclude that it's NOT.
Let me explain what I mean by "fringe" in this context: simply that it's outside the concensus. Our article says that "the current consensus dates it to the early Hellenistic era, around 250 BCE." This is sourced from Rudman, who is RS, and similar statements can be found in Seow, Bartholomew, and others.
You cannot create "consensus" around a date, by lumping together several disagreeing viewpoints, and "averaging" them, the way that you (and Rudman) seem to be doing. I could just as easily create an artificial "consensus" date of 600 B.C.E. by averaging the fourth, fifth, and tenth century views. That is a ridiculous way to attain scholarly "consensus." Havensdad (talk) 01:28, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
The question therefore is, is Frederick's view notable enough to be mentioned at all? I can't find anyone at all who agrees with him. Bear in mind that his book was published in 1988, almost a quarter of a century ago. Since then his argument has been reviewed and assessed many times, and has found no support. Note what that argument is: the language of Ecclesiates dates it to the pre-Exilic period, possibly to the age of Solomon. Longman, who you cite as supporting Fredericks, actually says he believes the language of the book is not a "certain barometer" of date - this directly undercuts the basis of Frederick's conclusion. Schoors, writing in 1992, goes into some detail on Frederick's arguments and concludes that the language is Late Biblical Hebrew (contra Fredericks); Seow, in probably the most detailed recent work on the book's language, concludes that the Persian loanwords do date Ecclesiastes to the post-exilic period (contra Fredericks again); and Fox and Bartholomew likewise.
All in all, the evidence is that Frederick's position has no support from later scholars. Our aim in scholarly articles is to state the consensus, and that's what we have.PiCo (talk) 23:59, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
"Support" is a pejorative term. Longman III and Dillard, as late as 2006, list it as a possibility... one among many. They then note that the evidence for each view (including the view which you refer to as the "consensus" view") is lacking. Bartholomew (2009), while agreeing that the author is not Solomon, goes on to cast doubt on Seow's underlying reasoning for this, saying "in terms of a precise date, the arguments about language are not conclusive," and even Seow himself admits, "the language of the book does not represent the typical language of the post-exile period." Many of the "Persian loan words" and "Phoenician dialect" which has been claimed to prove a late date, have been discovered much earlier in Israel's history (see Gleason L. Archer, 1969). The evidence has shrunk on the late date view, down to just a couple of obscure Persian words....not exactly an overwhelming amount of evidence...Havensdad (talk) 01:30, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
(Havansdad: the best way to pursue your point on Wikipedia is to edit when you see something you think is needed, then, if it's reverted, take it to Talk - as you see, when I reverted your edit, I immediately opened a discussion. This avoids edit wars.PiCo (talk) 00:11, 2 January 2013 (UTC))
I don't claim Fredericks' position to be fringe or not fringe. My argument proceeded under the assumption that it is fringe. My argument cited the guideline that said that for a fringe view to be notable "at least one reliable secondary source must have commented on it, disparaged it, or discussed it." That is the only condition the guideline gives for this case. It doesn't say that the reliable source has to agree with it. I gave explicit reference down to the page number of five sources all published by established academic publishing houses from 1991 to 2011 and all written by scholars with positions at universities variously accredited in Australia, the UK, and the USA which discuss Fredericks 1988. I include Longman among these, but I don't cite Longman as supporting Fredericks. None of this implies that I think Havensdad's edit is proper (which it's not), just that a mention of Fredericks' position is.--Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 00:35, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
I've conceded your point - "fringe" was the wrong word to use. The right word would be "due weight" - the consensus is for a post-exilic date, with a preponderance towards the late 3rd century; I can't find any support for Frederick's argument in the recent books (Fox, Seow, Bartholomew). PiCo (talk) 01:43, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

I have added information regarding the traditional dating view. Originally, this page had such information, but someone has removed it. To contend, as this article has up until now, that "everyone believes" a "late date" is ludicrous. In fact, by sheer numbers, scholars in the field of Biblical studies support the early dating of Ecclesiastes moreso than any other view. To try to lump scholars who hold to a third,fourth, and fifth century viewpoint together into one "late view", group, and then claim that they are the majority view, is just preposterous. Each view (third century B.C.E., fourth century B.C.E., fifth century B.C.E., and tenth century B.C.E. views, respectively), has different arguments in its defense; three of them cannot just be lumped together to discount the fourth view as "fringe."

The article needs balance in its section on dating. There are literally thousands of scholars in this field, who hold to the traditional view. To dismiss that without mention or citation for purely biased reasons, even though scholarly sources can be cited, absolutely violates Wikipedia's Neutral Point of View policy. Havensdad

Fallacy of the argument from authority and the argument from popularity. There are also thousands of scholars who hold to the traditional view that certain prophetic works in the Bible predate, rather than retroject, their prophecies, based solely on their personal belief that the future can be divinely revealed, but actual evidence of anachronisms trump unfalsifiable views based purely on faith. Linuxgal (talk) 00:40, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
You cannot claim a "majority" or "consensus" opinion among scholars, and then object when someone rebuts your argument. I was not arguing by sheer numbers. I was presenting an actual peer reviewed linguistic study, that is recognized as important even by those who hold a different view. The "Phoenician words" argument is tired, and was refuted by Gleason L. Archer half a century ago. I suggest for those who do not have a background in the field (I do), that you do some reading.. http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/12/12-3/12-3-pp167-181_JETS.pdf Havensdad —Preceding undated comment added 00:51, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

New section for easier editing[edit]

Pico asked for my comments. I've reverted Havensdad for a variety of reasons. Havensdad, this is your second go at editing an article. You were warned for violations of WP:NPOV the first time and you've done it again. But you are a very inexperienced editor so I wouldn't expect you to understand our policies yet. I've given you a welcome message with links.

So - your wording. That 'no longer' bit is pov as you are using a 1988 study to counter later ones. Fredericks work can of course be mentioned, but you should have looked further to see what others have said about it, eg Michael B Shepherd and Michael Fox.[3], the critical reviews cited here[4] and I'm sure more can be found. I don't understand why you don't seem to know about them as you say you have a background in the field - I don't have a background and found them in a minute. You devoted more room to him than to any of the other arguments, and that violates WP:UNDUE. You singling him out as a major study and your "no longer" wording also violate NPOV. You used a minor pastor, Aaron Sturgill, to claim "little reason to doubt this from the text of the book" - clearly not a reliable source by our criteria at WP:RS and even if he were the language is pov. You need to read WP:NPOV more closely as you clearly don't understand it. Please try to get consensus here on the talk page before you make any more major edits. Dougweller (talk) 06:48, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Minor point. Fredericks is clearly a reliable source as he is commented on in numerous other reliable sources. He isn't reliably published, however, as his publisher seems to be dubious. Dougweller (talk) 06:51, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
I strenuously object. First, the idea that "no longer" is not appropriate, is inaccurate. You don't seem to understand that this is a debate that has been raging for more than 100 years, and the first fifty years, scholars almost universally held to a late date...even so-called "conservative" scholars. There has been NO new serious research in this field,for at least 20 years, to my knowledge. The article, as written, is NOT NPOV, and it quotes numerous non-scholarly sources, or sources which do not relate to the footnote. For instance, footnote fourteen refers you to "The Old Testament, a Very Short Introduction" by Coogan, page 7, to support the comment that "the book cannot be written before 450 B.C.E." However, if you follow that footnote, the book DOES NOT say that. It says Ecclesiastes "probably was not written before the 4th century" and it says NOTHING about "Persian loan words." Further, it is NOT a scholarly source...it is a popularly written volume without footnotes or endnotes.
Further, other works are not serious works of scholarship, but non scholarly secondary sources, which are simply rehashing MUCH earlier research, that predate Fredericks. There is a footnote from a Bible Dictionary (Seow), in regards to fifty year old studies, for instance. If you follow the footnotes, Delitzch is used (1872), Lauha (1978) and Crenshaw (1987). ALL OF THESE predate Fredericks linguistic study, and ALL of them use information that has since been discredited (from the Amarna tablets, for instance). Fredericks, in terms of actual research, is later than anything being referred to...
Also, in reference to my use of Bible.org, Bible.org is not some junk website, that just prints anything. Bible.org is ran by professors of Dallas Theological Seminary, one of the most prestigious, well respected schools of religious scholarship in the country. The professors responsible for the site, are also the professors responsible for the NET Bible translation. The article was written in a scholarly manner, reviewed by the Professors at DTS, and unlike the rest of the sources listed on the page, it was actually well sourced and footnoted!
In conclusion, the article as written now is neither neutral, NOR is it in any way properly sourced. I believe my contribution was both merited, and neutral (I stated categorically that most scholars hold to a view other than Solomonic authorship...not sure how that isn't "neutral.") As I said, I don't care when it was written, but the information as it stands is inaccurate, misleading, and biased.98.142.50.105 (talk) 15:57, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Let me get this straight. Michael Coogan, "One of the leading biblical scholars in the United States" is not, according to you, a reliable source. But Pastor Sturgill, whoever he is, is a reliable source? I agree there's a problem with what Coogan is being used to source, and hopefully Pico will explain that, but Sturgill still doesn't meet our criteria at WP:RS and Coogan does. But at least this is a start. Except of course you don't seem to have replied to my saying that we can't just have Fredericks, we need to make it clear that other scholars (who are necessarily later) disagree with him. Dougweller (talk) 17:38, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
I am not saying you cannot quote Michael Coogan. What I am saying is that if you are going to quote Michael Coogan, it needs to be from one of his several peer-reviewed writings, or from one of his academic works. You should not create a quote from a popular-level, non sourced, non-footnoted work. Anyone can write a book and say something. It is bad practice to quote from such sources. Regardless, "probably" is distinctly different from "cannot." In regards to the Bible.org quote, articles on bible.org are commissioned, reviewed, and published by recognized professors, regardless who the individual is...Bible.org's articles are suitable for citation in academia (and they are cited frequently); not sure why they would not be suitable here.
In regards to your last comment, sure there are later scholars that disagree with him. There are also later scholars that agree with him, including Frederick's himself. Fredericks and Estes just recently published a commentary on Ecclesiastes. There view remains the same. Later scholars such as Longman have noted that support for all of the views are not conclusive (2006). The fact is, all of the actual research on the topic took place decades ago. Fredericks commentary, Seow, and Coogan, are simply rehashing the same material. No real advancement in linguistic and grammatical studies, regarding the date of Ecclesiastes have been made since the time of Frederick's original study. If you could locate an actual study that post-dates Frederick, I would be happy to include it. I have been unable to find anything. 98.142.50.105 (talk) 18:47, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Coogan's books meets our guidelines at WP:RS. He isn't 'anyone' and I don't think you'll get any support for your argument that because it's a popular non-footnoted work it isn't a reliable source, but you can ask as WP:RSN if you insist. And the comments on Fredericks shouldn't be excluded if we use Fredericks. Dougweller (talk) 07:21, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Just a reminder that we're meant to focus on what's actually in the article, and improve that. I'll break it into separated bullet points. The article makes four points about date/author:

  • 1. According to Rabbinic tradition he (the author) was Solomon in his old age...(|Brown|2011|p=11)
  • 2. but for various reasons critical scholars have long rejected this idea.(|Fox|2004|p=x)
  • 3. On linguistic grounds (the presence of Persian loan-words) the book cannot have been written before about 450 BCE,(|Coogan|2008|p=7) and the last possible date for its composition is 180 BCE, when another Jewish writer, Ben Sira, quotes from it.(sfn|Fox|2004|p=xiv})
  • 4. The current consensus dates it to the early Hellenistic era, around 250 BCE.(Rudman|2001|p=13)

Now I'll deal with each one on its own:

Ok, lets address each of these points. I will respond point by point. Havensdad (talk) 03:02, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • 1.Rabbinic tradition says the author was Solomon...

No editor seems to question this so I'll leave it.

No, I do not believe anyone questions this first point.Havensdad (talk) 03:02, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • 2....for various reasons critical scholars have long rejected this idea.

No one has questioned this either.

This should read, “for various reasons, MOST critical scholars” have rejected this idea, as by definition, at least a few have not. To make a blanket statement such as you have, is not NPOV. Havensdad (talk) 03:02, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
The article can't read "most critical scholars", because the source doesn't say that - it just says "critical scholars". The source is Fox, one of the leading Ecclesiastes specialists.PiCo (talk) 05:43, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Then, according to Wikipedia guidelines, you need to note that this is Fox's opinion in the sentence. I.E. "According to Fox..." Fox's credentials are not in doubt. But note that he disagrees with both Seow and Bartholomew (as well as Fredericks, and Estes..)Havensdad (talk) 06:32, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • 3.On linguistic grounds (the presence of Persian loan-words) the book cannot have been written before about 450 BCE,(|Coogan|2008|p=7)

Coogan says: "The Book of Ecclesiastes, although probably written no earlier than the 4th century BCE..." This is a wrong source - it came about because I was using the existing article, and an earlier editor had used an article in a book of which Coogan was the editor; the actual article is by Seow. So the source should say Seow 2007 p.944. (Click on the link). This is Seow's article "Ecclesiastes" in the New Oxford Annotated Bible. Seow says: "The date of the book is a matter of dispute, although most scholars argue on linguistic grounds that it should be dated to the post-exilic period. The presence of two indisputable Persian loan-words ... point to a date some time after 450 BCE...

First, you STILL incorrectly quote Seow. NOWHERE does Seow say “the book cannot have been written” before 450 B.C.E. “Pointing to” a time period, and “cannot be different than” are two completely different concepts. Seow himself notes, on the same page, that there are some scholars who hold to an earlier view. So, your categorical language is unjustified, even according to Seow himself!
On a technical note, the proper terminology is "latest/earliest" not "last." The term "last" is confusing.Havensdad (talk) 03:02, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
I'd be happy to rewrite it: "The presence of Persian loan-words points to a date after 450 BCE..."PiCo (talk) 05:43, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • 4.The current consensus dates it to the early Hellenistic era, around 250 BCE.(Rudman|2001|p=13)

I'm not sure this has actually been challenged. If so, I can produce half a dozen other sources saying the same thing. But if the anon user does want to dispute it, he has to do so by producing a reliable source which says the reverse, and it has to be as recent as Rudman (or else it wouldn't be a current consensus).

I most certainly do dispute that there is ANY consensus on the date of Ecclesiastes. Rudman himself notes, on the previous page from what you quoted, that scholars opinions on the date of Ecclesiastes, “varies widely.” Seow himself, who you tout as top of his field, HIMSELF disagrees with Rudman as you have quoted him, denying any such “consensus” and putting the dating of Ecclesiastes between 330 and 450 B.C.E….far outside Rudman’s “consensus” date. Bartholomew, likewise, cites the fourth century, and then in pages 53-54, states plainly that, “the language of the book is not a certain barometer of date,” and then we, “simply cannot be sure who wrote the book.” No consensus, according to some of the leading scholars in the field. Havensdad (talk) 03:02, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
If you dispute this, then your argument is with Rudman, not with me. You need to find a reliable source who says something different.PiCo (talk) 05:43, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Further, recent articles in some of the most respected peer reviewed journals on theology and biblical studies, have continued to suggest the possibility of Solomonic authorship, and an early date. In Bibliotheca Sacra 169 (April-June 2012): 159-71, “The Special Relevance of Ecclesiastes for Contemporary Culture,” Johnson notes not only the possibility of the author being Solomon, but in fact develops his entire article on the exegesis of the book, around that fact! Likewise Greg Parsons in an April 2003 article of Bibliotecha entitled, “Guidelines for understanding and proclaiming Ecclesiastes,” supports the traditional view.Havensdad (talk) 03:02, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
That's cherry-picking - you need a source who talks about the consensus. PiCo (talk) 05:43, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
It is not "cherry picking" to note that articles published in very recent peer reviewed publications still support an early date of authorship. In fact, according to Wikipedia guidelines, it would seem that would place the view soundly out of the "fringe" category. As I already noted, both Seow and Bartholomew deny a consensus. The fact that one person claims a consensus, when all others explicitly deny it (lets add Longman, 2006 to the pile. In his An introduction to the Old Testament, Revised and updated 2006, he not only expresses a lack of consensus, but notes the importance of Frederick's study : pp. 280-281)Havensdad (talk) 06:42, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Just a note on sources in general: As our anon contributor has stated that Fredericks' study is the most recent that has been published on the subject of the dating of Ecclesiastes by its language, it's worth pointing out that this is not so. Seow has published a much more recent study. In addition, Fredericks' book was reviewed by the profession in the years after it came out (in 1988). Schoors (1992) examined his arguments in depth and concluded that he was wrong, the language of Ecclesiastes is Late Biblical Hebrew (i.e., from after the exile); Seow likewise reviewed the debate and concluded that Fredericks was wrong. You'll find an overview in Bartholomew (click the link), who shows how Fredericks' conclusions have been rejected. (Seow is probably the leading contemporary authority on the language of Ecclesiastes).

So in conclusion: adding material citing Fredericks, or his argument, would be undue weight.PiCo (talk) 22:35, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

As far as the “more recent” study by Seow, I would appreciate you pointing us to that. I checked, even on Seow’s own page at Princeton, and he seemed to be unaware of such a study. Further, the link you provided does indeed have Bartholomew disagreeing with Fredericks. However, he cites the same linguistics to disagree with your so-called “consensus view” (in agreement with Fredericks AND Seow, CONTRA Rudman), stating that “Fredricks is correct in his observation that there are more discontinuities than continuities between the language of Ecclesiastes and that of Mishnaic Hebrew.” Fredericks actually addresses many of Schoors criticisms in his original study. In addition, in his latest work (Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs, 2010)he reexamines the study, and answers the numerous objections.Havensdad (talk) 03:02, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Seow's study is contained in his Commentary on Ecclesiastes. It's recognised in the literature as the (currently) authoritative study of the book's language.PiCo (talk) 05:43, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
So, to conclude, to censor out ANY of the various view, or to make it appear as if every scholar agrees on a date, or even a RANGE of dates, is intellectually dishonest and biased, as well as being academic censorship of the worst kind. It does NOT reflect the neutral POV, but rather presents one of several views as “the” view, contrary to the evidence.Havensdad (talk) 03:02, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Our purpose, as an encyclopedia, is to reflect scholarly opinion, not argue cases. The four points in the article's paragraph on date and author do this. Frederick's argument (that the language points to a pre-Exilic date) has not achieved widespread acceptance. I refer you to Batholomew and the other books cited in the bibliography.PiCo (talk) 05:43, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
No view has gained dominance. Fredricks and Estes early view, Seow's & Bartholomew's mid date view, and Rudman's late view all have vastly different arguments and evidence. NONE of these views have gained a majority of scholarly support, so each view should be presented. I have presented ample evidence of fairly widespread support, including the very scholars you are citing, stating that the views are varied. You seem to have an obvious bias in this area. The page needs to be edited to remove this bias, and the erroneous citations. You have stated things that are demonstrably false (such as Seow's "later study"...a claim that is denied by Seow himself.) Havensdad (talk) 06:24, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
You say no one view has gained dominance, but you produce no sources to back that statement up. You need a source, your own word isn't enough. Nor's mine.
But I have. Seow and Bartholomew both deny a consensus view of 250. That is, in fact, ridiculous. You understand for a particular view to have "consensus" in scholarly circles, that means that nearly everyone agrees, and those outside that consensus are deemed fringe views. By claiming a "consensus" of 250, you are not only labeling Fredericks, Estes, and Longman as having a "fringe" view, you are in fact making the same claim of those who hold to an authorship during the Persian period, namely, Seow himself!Havensdad (talk) 07:01, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Rudman says there's a consensus for a late 3rd century date. I can give you quotes from other sources saying the same. You've produced no source saying otherwise.
Yes, I have, including Seow and Bartholomew, as well as Longman.Havensdad (talk) 07:01, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
You say you've produced sources "stating that the views are varied." Indeed they are - but the variation is only between the Persian or the Hellenistic periods, absolutely none of those say a pre-exilic date is likely.
You are contradicting yourself. So now, you admit that there is no "consensus view" of 250 B.C.E. This is becoming patently absurd. I have given you numerous scholars supporting an early view. You cannot group two vastly different view together, and claim they have dominance over a third view. It would be correct to state that the majority of critical scholars date the book after 450 B.C.E. It is NOT correct to claim consensus. Fredrick's and Estes (2010), agree with Seow regarding the lack of Hellenistic linguistics in Ecclesiastes. Those of the Hellenistic Period view, agree with Seow regarding Persian loan words. All of this goes to demonstrate the LACK of consensus.Havensdad (talk) 07:01, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
I have no idea what you mean by saying that Seow denies he has made a later study (later than Fredericks, I assume). He has - his 1997 Translation and Commentary on Ecclesiastes (unfortunately not available on google books). PiCo (talk) 06:35, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
My good man. There is a VAST difference between writing a commentary, and publishing a STUDY. Nothing in Seow's commentary, was new information. What is your field? Do you mind me asking?

I don't think this discussion is making any progress. If you genuinely feel that the article is distorted, you should take it to one of the dispute resolution forums. PiCo (talk) 08:25, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Its not just distorted. It seems to be deliberately biased. You claimed to be able to provide other scholars that agree with Rudman's 250 B.C.E. "consensus" date. If you are unable or unwilling to do so, I will edit the page to conform to Wikipedia standards. One person making such a sweeping statement has no place in a neutral article, particularly when most of the sources quoted in that same article (e.g. Seow) disagree with it. Further, there seems to be consensus on this page, among all of the editors except for you, that Frederick's work is not a "fringe" view, and can be included on the page.Havensdad (talk) 14:59, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Fredericks[edit]

As the discussion is getting hard to follow, I'm suggesting we have a different section for each contentious point. The issue here is whether to use Fredericks (I think we should but only because other reliable sources mention him and thus we can consider his view significant within the meaning of WP:NPOV) and how. I believe we should briefly, in no more than two sentences, describe his ideas on the subject, and also briefly and attributed what other reliable sources have said. Dougweller (talk) 16:16, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

I don't want to blow up the page with huge amounts of technical material. Simply listing the three views, and noting Fredericks study and its critical reception, is sufficient.Havensdad (talk) 16:25, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
So, I believe reading through the comments, we have consensus on changing some of the wording, adding a mention of Fredricks (with its critical reception), and adding more information about Seow's persian view. Let me attempt a NPOV edit we can all be happy with... Havensdad (talk) 16:45, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • No,we do not have consensus on changing the wording.
  • Fredericks' view is that Ecclesiastes can be dated, on the basis of language, to the pre-Exilic period. This has been rejected by all major commentators - Longman, Seow, etc etc. We should not have either Fredericks or his view in the article.
You have a clear bias. Each of the commentators you mention, interact and even ACCEPT much of Fredericks study. Seow notes the importance of the work, though he disagrees with his conclusion. For you to suggest such censorship, when the very sources you quote from thought it worthy of note, is bias. In fact, I have been going over the edits you have been making in earlier edits, and your bias is actually quite glaring. Havensdad (talk) 22:19, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • The current wording is fully sourced and shows the view overwhelming majority of contemporary scholars, i.e., Ecclesiastes is to be dated to the post-Exilic period, possibly Persian but probably Hellenistic. No other sourced views have been put forward by Havensdad except Fredericks, whose arguments have been rejected by the scholarly community.
Rejected by SOME of the scholarly community (I would even concede, most). However that could be said of any of the views in isolation. As far as the wording, you yourself have admitted to some mis-wording, and have agreed to at least a couple of the changes. Wikipedia policy does not permit EVEN a scholarly source to be cited as blanket statements, unless it is a well proven fact. You yourself have admitted that Fredricks opinion is not "fringe" and Fredricks recent published work, by a respected academic publisher (IVP, 2010,) makes your assertion absolutely absurd.Havensdad (talk) 22:19, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • This discussion is not showing any signs of making progress. If Havensdad has nothing new to add, he should take it to dispute resolution. PiCo (talk) 21:42, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
My friend, YOU are the only one in disagreement here. All the other editors here have agreed that noting Fredicks is appropriate and warranted. This is true, not only of the editors opinions here, including an admin, but the very sources which you quote. Havensdad (talk) 22:19, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
I would request Third Opinion, but I have already gotten third, fourth, and fifth opinion, and they all agre with me on this compromise! Havensdad (talk) 22:23, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Then take it to dispute resolution. PiCo (talk) 22:44, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
I sent you a notice (I think). Your edits on this page are making me question your neutrality. Since you have ignored the other editors, I felt it was not appropriate to go to Third party. I invite the other editors to take part.

Havensdad (talk) 00:15, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

Yes, I got the notice thanks. I made a brief response on the NPOV noticeboard and will give a fuller one when I have more time - within 24 hours I promise.
As for other editors, the only one who's made a suggestion is Dougweller. I should say why I disagree with him: Doug says we should mention Fredericks in about 2 lines because he's important. But (my objection) he's no more important than dozens of others, and to single him out for mention would be undue weight. Even to mention his conclusion - a pre-Exilic date - would be undue weight, as the overwhelming consensus among current scholars is for a post-exilic date. PiCo (talk) 00:57, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
That is not at all the case. Other editors have disagreed with you. Atethnekos, says above, "We have dozens of reliable sources discussing the Fredericks 1988, and many of them doing so favorably. I think there should be mention of Fredericks' position as an important minority view." Likewise Cerebellum expresses that he disagreed with you, as well.
Further, there is not another major study that is as important as Fredericks', at least if one goes by the published sources. Can you quote another recent study that has not only been critiqued by the biggest names in the field, but has even had it noted by those that disagree that the work is "important"? For that matter, has there been another that has been commissioned by a major academic publisher (IVP) to publish a recent work (2010)? I think you are minimizing this view too much. It is a minor view, but not a fringe view. Peer reviewed publications are still publishing works which take this view...
Also, I am not just disputing Fredricks. I am disputing the quote you have from Rudman. It is an opinion that the other sources on the page do not share...it should either be edited to reflect opinion, or removed.Havensdad (talk) 01:52, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
If Fredericks really is important, then put the two lines in the Wikipedia article about Fredericks. Otherwise, put the Fredericks source for the dating of Ecclesiates in the reference list and done. Linuxgal (talk) 01:16, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

Here's what I put on the NPOV page - putting it here as well in the interests of widest possible discussion:


First, I don't quite agree with Havensdad's description of the dispute - I don't think it's a POV dispute but rather one about due weight. He wants to include the views of Fredericks, at some length, and I regard that as undue. But let that pass.

I do believe it is a POV issue. Some scholars, and I believe this includes you, want a stranglehold on a particular position that they hold, and use force/power to exclude all dissenting opinions. I believe this is what you are doing. Further, you refused compromise, when all of the other editors agreed (an administrator, Cerebellum, Athnekos) that because of Fredrick's wide sourcing and use, he should be mentioned. You deleted even a two sentence mention of the view, which noted that it was rejected by most scholars. That's definitely a NPOV issue Havensdad (talk) 17:06, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

Havensdad says there are three views on the date of the book of Ecclesiastes. This is not so: there's only one, really, which is that was composed some time between about 450 and 180 BCE. Havensdad divides this range into two parts, which is sort of ok, as it's true that some scholars say the earlier end of the range (the Persian period) and others the later (the Hellenistic period. Anyway, we have sourced sentences in the article saying this: "On linguistic grounds (the presence of Persian loan-words) the book cannot have been written before about 450 BCE,( sourced from Seow|2007|p=944) and the last possible date for its composition is 180 BCE, when another Jewish writer, Ben Sira, quotes from it.(sourced from Fox|2004|p=xiv). Seow actually says that most modern scholars say the post-450 date is right. Seow and Fox are important modern scholars, and I gather that Havensdad doesn't dispute what they say.

This is not reflected in academic literature. Longman notes, actually, MORE than three views, including his own which is unique. Further, Seow DOES NOT say that "most scholars" hold an earlier view. After saying the book COULD NOT have been written later than 330 B.C.E., he notes that "many" scholars hold to a later view.Havensdad (talk) 17:06, 4 January 2013 (UTC)


So it comes down to whether the idea that the book could have been written before about 450 (the exilic/pre-exilic period) has enough supporters to warrant inclusion in our article. Havensdad refers to a scholar named Fredericks, who examined the language of the book (it's written in Hebrew) and decided on that basis that it could be, and probably was, exilic or pre-exilic. That was in 1988, almost a quarter of a century ago. Not surprisingly, scholarship has examined his ideas in the interim. The overwhelming conclusion is that he's wrong. I can cite:

  • In a recent (2009) scholarly commentary on Ecclesiastes, Craig Batholomew notes Fredericks' argument but then goes on to list all the other important works that have addressed the question since Fredericks' book. He notes (and I don't want to bore you with names, but these are all important scholars) Lohfink, Seow, and Schoors, the three reaching different conclusions about the date, but all putting it after 450 BC.
  • Seow (1997) published an important study of Ecclesiastes which is regarded as the standard work on the book's language. Seow reviewed Fredericks and the entire debate, and concluded that it should be dated to the post-exilic era and no earlier than the 5th century (i.e., he accepts the 450 BC date as the earliest possible, roughly speaking).
  • Longman (1998) concluded that "the language of the book is not a certain barometer of date". Batholomew comments that Longman's judgement "remains valid." Note thatt directly contradicts Fredericks, who based his entire argument on the idea that the language of Ecclesiastes could be used to date it - all his argument is based on the language.

In my research for this section of the article I did not come across a single modern scholar (writing in the last 10 years) who would put the book before about 450 BC. On that basis, to mention that date as one supported by modern scholars, even a significant minority, is without evidence; and to mention Fredericks by name, when it seems no modern scholar supports him, is undue weight.

We should also look at what contemporary scholars do actually say about the date:

And they go on and on. Many, many scholars saying postexilic, none saying pre-exilic or exilic. Clearly, Fredericks does not represent a significant body of scholarly opinion, and the inclusion of his name would be undue weight. PiCo (talk) 11:43, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

You assessment is simply wrong. You are cherry picking quotes. Seow doesn't just say that it can't be earlier than the fifth century...he also says it can't be LATER than the 4th century. He puts an OUTSIDE late date, as do all who hold to the Persian view, at around 330 B.C.E., while Rudman and others, hold to a date NO EARLIER than the 3rd century (200's). In other words, according to those holding to a Hellenistic view, the date range is 180-299, while those holding to a Persian view, date the book 330-450. These are two different views.
Additionally, I have noted Fredricks recent publication in IVP Academics Apollos Bible Commetnary (2010), where he addresses the objections to his original study). IVP academic is a prestigious publishing company, used by Seminaries and Universities around the world. When I was working on my Master's Degree in Biblical Studies (with concentrations in Hebrew and Greek, by the way), five of our textbooks were produced by IVP academic. Finally, I have noted that this gentleman's assessment that no other scholar's consider this view possible, is incorrect. Longman notes that Frederick's could be right, though it is unlikely. Other scholars have actually taken Fredrick's view, and I have noted those in our discussion (one from the April 2012 issue of Bibliotecha Sacra, one of THE most prestigious peer reviewed journals in the world of Biblical Studies). Havensdad (talk) 17:06, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
As we have 5 out of six editors here agreeing to this compromise, I think it is appropriate to leave DougWeller's final edit, until the conflict is resolved. According to Wikipedia standard's, consensus does not mean agreement from all parties, but a general consensus among editors. We have that. Havensdad (talk) 17:20, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
I can acept most of the new wording. I've removed the reference to Rudman and a 250 BCE concensus in the interests of compromise; I've removed the reference to Fredericks and a pre-exilic date as a non-notable opinion, as no recent book supports it. PiCo (talk) 23:01, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
I and the other editors disagree. Fredericks is notable, he has just recently been published by a major academic source, and is noteworthy enough to be engaged, and even in part agreed with, by nearly all of the scholars listed on the page. Notable scholars are still publishing works in peer reviewed journals, who hold this position. I can attest, as well, that he is noted in classes dealing with this subject matter, as an important work. The reason I asked you your field, is that you are treating linguistics studies as if they are physics. Linguistics is not an exact science. It is highly subjective. That is why, when you read a commentary, they will almost always mention this view. That is also why you hear all of the works you are quoting, speaking in terms of probability, and generality. "Probably" "points to" etc. Its because they cannot know with absolute certainty. Each view needs to be represented, because any of the views could, in actuality, be right. Yes, I believe personally that it was probably written in the 4th to 5th century, with some later redactions...but this is all very subjective. Regarding your edit: In my opinion, I liked the other wording better, but I can compromise if we mention Fredricks as a minority opinion. Seow, Schoors, Bartholomew, and Longman all thought he was important enough to engage with (and even, in part, agree with). Havensdad (talk) 23:53, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
By the way, did you see this? Published extremely recently. This is not just an "article." This is a scholarly commentary, published by one of the largest and most prestigious academic publishers... This commentary is used by Universities and Seminaries...endorsed by the Midwestern Journal of Theology, a very important peer reviewed journal. This is not some fringe view. http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/review/code=2515 (still haven't gotten the coding down...) Havensdad (talk) 00:19, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for alerting me to the Fredericks commentary on Ecclesiastes and the Song.
The point is not whether Fredericks is notable in himself, as a scholar - of course he is - but whether this particular view regarding the date of Ecclesiastes is notable. And it isn't - I can't find a single major modern commentator who accepts it. Enn, Seow, Fox, Longman, none of them. The aim of a popular encyclopedia like this is to inform the reader of what scholars in the field are currently thinking. They're simply not agreeing with Fredericks. Please tell me, why are you so insistent on mentioning his name, especially considering we mention no other names? PiCo (talk) 01:52, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
Now, that is a different question. I would be fine with mentioning the view, and providing a reference to his most recent work in the reference list. My primary concern is academic integrity. I am a firm believer in presenting evidence and resources, and allowing people to decide for themselves, rather than censoring out information that we do not agree with... Havensdad (talk) 05:08, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
I've revised the paragraph, streamlining it slightly, and leaving the reference to the pre-exilic date. I've removed Fredericks' name because we don't name any other scholar (nor do we need to in my opinion - anyone wanting to read further has plenty of books in the bibliography). I'm not sure that Bartholomew actually does say what he's now credited with sating in the last sentence of the paragraph and will check later - in fact it wouldn't hurt to check all the references. Feel free to add that Fredericks book you mention to the bibliography.PiCo (talk) 00:01, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
O.K., I think we have come to a good compromise, and truthfully, I think the article is the better for it (until some knucklehead changes it tomorrow! :) ). I changed "minority" to "evangelical." I think it is more accurate to classify the dissenting view by category, rather than number. All of the dissenting scholars are evangelical, so this seems appropriate. I also included Eaton's statement about the uncertainty of the date. I think that is important, as I don't want to leave people with the impression that this is certain (like, say, the theory of gravity). Havensdad (talk) 03:24, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

Citation style[edit]

Now I hate short form citations and would love it if someone were to change all of them as I find them harder to work with, but that's what the article uses and new sources should use the same style, which can be found at WP:SFN. Dougweller (talk) 16:18, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Neutrality of this article[edit]

This article has serious POV/neutrality issues. The section under "canonicity" for instance, expresses almost nothing BUT opinion, and does not actually address, in full, the section topic. A section labeled "Canonicity" should provide the reader with the current consensus position among Jewish and Christian sects, regarding its canonicity. I plan to add this (something like, "The Book of Ecclesiastes is universally held to be canonical by nearly every Christian and Jewish sect today).

Further, whether or not the book of Ecclesiastes being in the Canon is a "puzzle," is a completely subjective statement that has no place in a factual Encyclopaedic work. Perhaps some consider it such, but others have waxed long about its beauty, and logical place in the Canon.

I plan on some serious revisions on this section in the coming week. If you would like to add your input/suggestions, please do so here. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Havensdad (talkcontribs) 18:07, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

section Canonicity[edit]

I've reverted the new version of the section Canonicity. This is the proposed new wording:

  • Today, the book of Ecclesiastes is held to be canonical by nearly every Jewish and Christian sect.Nevertheless, its canonicity has been disputed by some throughout history, starting in the first century C.E.(sfn|Smith|1996|s="Canonicity") The problem most likely began at the Council of Jamnia in the 1st century CE. One argument advanced then was that the name of Solomon carried enough authority to ensure its inclusion. The book's opponents, though, noted that other works which appeared with Solomon's name were excluded despite being 'more orthodox' than Ecclesiastes. Another argument put forward for the books inclusion in the canon, was that the words of the epilogue (in which the reader is told to fear God and keep his commands) made it orthodox. Some questioned the validity of this explanation, as well. A modern suggestion has been to treat the book as a dialogue in which different statements belong to different voices, with Qoheleth himself answering and refuting unorthodox opinions, but there are no explicit markers for this in the book, as there are, for example in the Book of Job. Yet another suggestion is that Ecclesiastes is simply the most extreme example of a tradition of skepticism. Scholars who doubt this explanation, though claim that none of the proposed examples match Ecclesiastes for a sustained denial of faith and doubt in the goodness of God. For example, one such scholar notes "In short, we do not know why or how this book found its way into such esteemed company".(sfn|Shields|2006|p=1-5)

and this is the old wording that I reverted back to:

  • The presence of Ecclesiastes in the bible is something of a puzzle, as the common themes of the Hebrew canon - a God who reveals and redeems, who elects and cares for a chosen people - are absent from it. The problem has been apparent from the earliest recorded discussions (the Council of Jamnia in the 1st century CE). One argument advanced then was that the name of Solomon carried enough authority to ensure its inclusion, but other works which appeared with Solomon's name were excluded despite being more orthodox than Ecclesiastes. Another was that the words of the epilogue, in which the reader is told to fear God and keep his commands, made it orthodox; but all later attempts to find anything in the rest of the book which would reflect this orthodoxy have failed. A modern suggestion has been to treat the book as a dialogue in which different statements belong to different voices, with Qoheleth himself answering and refuting unorthodox opinions, but there are no explicit markers for this in the book, as there are, for example in the Book of Job. Yet another suggestion is that Ecclesiastes is simply the most extreme example of a tradition of skepticism, but none of the proposed examples match Ecclesiastes for a sustained denial of faith and doubt in the goodness of God. "In short, we do not know why or how this book found its way into such esteemed company".(sfn|Shields|2006|p=1-5)

These are the problems with the proposed new wording:

  1. Sourcing: The older wording was sourced from Shields (all of it); the new wording keeps Shields' name at the bottom but no longer reflects what he says. Sourcing has to be accurate.
  2. Line 1 of the new wording says that "today, the book of Ecclesiastes is held to be canonical by nearly every Jewish and Christian sect." This is such a truism it doesn't seem to me to be worth mentioning - the only people I can think of off-hand who wouldn't recognise it might be the Samaritans, although there may be others.
I do not believe this is a "truism." Many people with limited contact to the Bible, would not know this information. There are some books which are disputed by some groups. This is not one of them. In a section on "Canonicity", whether or not the book is Canonical or not should certainly be answered!Havensdad (talk) 23:50, 10 January 2013 (UTC)


  1. More serious is lines 2/3: "Nevertheless, its canonicity has been disputed by some throughout history, starting in the first century C.E. The problem most likely began at the Council of Jamnia in the 1st century CE." This is a reference to the Council of Jamnia, but Jamnia wasn't about canonicity - at that time there was no canon, and the rabbis weren't gathered to establish one. What they were doing was deciding which books "defiled the hands" - somewhat counter-intuitively, it was holy books that "defiled the hands", and there was debate as to whether Ecclesiastes was such a book. Jamnia, however, was only a stage in the journey towards a Jewish canon, neither the first nor the last. Shields is a rather better source.
First of all, the mere existence of any such "Council of Jamnia" is disputed. Nearly two thirds of the books in my very extensive library, deny its existence altogether. The "Council of Jamnia" is an unproved hypothesis, that is viewed differently, depending upon the person doing the writing. The information which I sourced from Smith, was cited from a reputable commentary. Also, I disagree that there "was no canon"...the canon of the Old Testament was well established by the time of Christ.Havensdad (talk) 23:50, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  1. "The problem most likely began at the Council of Jamnia in the 1st century CE. One argument advanced then was that the name of Solomon carried enough authority to ensure its inclusion. The book's opponents, though, noted that other works which appeared with Solomon's name were excluded despite being 'more orthodox' than Ecclesiastes." The book's opponents did no such thing, not at Jamnia.
That, of course, is not at all true. There were two groups, possibly represented at Jamnia (though we don't know for sure...), Hillel and Shammai. The source which I cited, included a discussion of the (largely theoretical) division between Hillel and Shammai regarding the book.Havensdad (talk) 23:50, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  1. "Another argument put forward for the books inclusion in the canon, was that the words of the epilogue (in which the reader is told to fear God and keep his commands) made it orthodox." This gives the impression that we're still talking about Jamnia, but as I noted above, Jamnia wasn't about establishing a canon.
Again, Jamnia is largely theoretical, but the source I cited did actually state that Jamnia was about recognizing canonicity.Havensdad (talk) 23:50, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  1. "Yet another suggestion is that Ecclesiastes is simply the most extreme example of a tradition of skepticism. Scholars who doubt this explanation, though claim that none of the proposed examples match Ecclesiastes for a sustained denial of faith and doubt in the goodness of God." This isn't a claim, it's an objective fact.
No, it is not. It is opinion. Again, I can give a list of scholars and Church Fathers a mile long that would disagree. I, in fact, would disagree. There is no "denial of faith" in the book of Ecclesiastes. That is a subjective opinion.Havensdad (talk) 23:50, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  1. "For example, one such scholar notes "In short, we do not know why or how this book found its way into such esteemed company"." This isn't a "for example" by "one such scholar", it's a statement of the consensus - the inclusion of Ecclesiates in the canon really is something of a mystery, and I don't know of any scholar who thinks it's not. PiCo (talk) 22:30, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
I can list thousands, including Church Fathers and modern scholars. Where would you like me to start? Again, this is opinion, and has nothing to do with fact. The article needs to convey information.Havensdad (talk) 23:50, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

I don't mind re-writes, but they need to be well sourced, and they need to avoid basic distortions like the idea that Jamnia was where the Jewish canon was decided.PiCo (talk) 22:31, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Jamnia is a largely theoretical gathering. What exactly happened there, is subject to whatever scholar you are quoting. From the Anchor Bible Dictionary...

"The concept of the Council of Jamnia is an hypothesis to explain the canonization of the Writings (the third division of the Hebrew Bible) resulting in the closing of the Hebrew canon. ... These ongoing debates suggest the paucity of evidence on which the hypothesis of the Council of Jamnia rests and raise the question whether it has not served its usefulness and should be relegated to the limbo of unestablished hypotheses. It should not be allowed to be considered a consensus established by mere repetition of assertion." Havensdad (talk) 23:50, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Concerning bias in the summary[edit]

Whether or not the book of Ecclesiastes promotes a deterministic or fatalistic worldview is a matter of debate and interpretation. Therefore to summarize 3:10-22 as "God controls all" is a matter of opinion. Not even the linked commentary used as a source says such a thing. What it does point out is that this section deals with the relationship between time and man and God and "time indefinite." — Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.161.85.53 (talk) 20:26, 14 April 2013 (UTC)

Can you point out that passage in the commentary? Page no and a quote? PiCo (talk) 00:49, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
Sure, Seow p 947, 948, footnotes for 3:1-8, 11, and 14. Note that the summary's subheading says "The determination of events," yet read how these are determined: by instances both within the grasp of ones control (i.g cultivation) and events beyond human influence (birth, death). vs 11 explicitly is about how God makes man subject to time "Humans must live with this paradox of knowing the reality that transcends the moment ("eternity"), but being able to cope with only the moment." Followed by commentary of vs 14 where God's eternal being is in "stark contrast" to that of man and that "Human activity is always "in its time", whereas God's activity is not bound by time" Comparing these comments with what the scriptures actually say in a literal sense (especially in comparing a verse like chapter 9 verse 11, where events are depicted as having an unpredictable nature (and, I would advocate checking a variety of translations to see how the phrases are rendered), words in the summary such as "man's fate" need not be taken as a fatalistic interpretation. Rather, if one simply summed up the comparison of events with man's nature and God's eternity, no such interpretation need be added at all, yet the reader judge for oneself.
Personally, I do believe that a correct interpretation of Ecclesiastes would allow for man's nature to include a limited freedom of the will, however, that is an admitted interpretation, even if supported by the text. Likewise however, smuggling in an interpretation of God as "controlling" everything is also an interpretation, since the verses actually are about time and the nature of man and God, not explicitly about some derivative doctrine of determinism or free will. JasPow (talk) 19:47, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
I hope you understand my reason for asking you to refer to Seow rather than directly to Ecclesiastes - it's because Ecc. is our primary text, and we need to avoid interpreting it ourselves (which would be original research); so we refer to Seow's interpretation, as he's a reliable source. Other scholars are also reliable sources, of course.
Anyway, Seow, pp.947-8, fn.for 3:1-8, says: "God is the one who determines time and timing" (meaning that's his gloss on those verses). For v.11 he says: "The same God who made everything suitable for its time ... puts a sense of past and future (eternity) into human consciousness" - he then comments that humans must live with the paradox of knowing eternity but being able to cope only with the moment. For v.14 he says: "In light of the author's insistence that there is nothing better for humanity than to enjoy, ... everything thought by mortals to be goods are only relatively so."
So Seow is saying (as I read it), that Ecclesiastes says here that "God determines time and timing" (implying that these are outside human control), and that man is aware of eternity (the realm of God?) but is forced to live in the moment. V.14 doesn't seem (to me) to be connected directly with that train of thought, and can't see that Seow draws a connection either - maybe I've missed something. All in all, I can't see that this really has a bearing on the question of free will. I think your summary up above is correct: "this section deals with the relationship between time and man and God and "time indefinite" (though I'm not sure what you mean by "time indefinite"). I've forgotten now what passage in the article we're relating this too - can you remind me and suggest a reworking? PiCo (talk) 03:33, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
I certainly understand (and agree with) why you asked for reference. I am not trying to add my own research or opinion to the article.
The Hebrew word olam means of a far distance, temporally. It can mean "hidden-time", "distant time", "indefinitely lasting" and so on, and while context can suggest it can mean "forever" or "eternity", it doesn't in itself possess that sense. A separate word, adh means everlastingness, eternity, etc, and this term is often paired with "olam". I'm not trying to suggest that "time indefinite" or something should be substituted in the article, I am merely answering you as to why I used the term here in the talk page.
But, in accord with the referred work by Seow, I would suggest that something to the effect of "God determines that events occur in time, and that man is consciously subject to living in time, in contrast to God's eternal nature" I am not particularly tied to any special wording, but I think that some sort of phrasing would be true to Seow's commentary and directly reflect his wording and interpretation.
I feel that it is important to include in the summary something that at least touches upon the curious verse of 3:11- the time consciousness of humans in paradox with the confinement of living in the moment as expressed in that particular scripture played a major role in famous thinkers such as Martin Luther, Blaise Pascal, Soren Kierkegaard, and Martin Heidegger. Again, not trying to include any private opinion or personal research, but just trying to emphasize why it may be important to reflect those aspects which are also noted in Seow's commentary, which is already linked to this article. JasPow (talk) 19:14, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
I think you should make the change to the article yourself. I trust your knowledge of the subject and your objectivity. PiCo (talk) 00:52, 17 April 2013 (UTC)