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An Analysis of the Inter-Dependency of the Prominent Motifs Within the Book of Qohelet

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Richard Alan Jr. Fuhr

The key to a balanced and accurate understanding of the book of Ecclesiastes lies in the inter-dependent relationships between the prominent motifs within the book. An Analysis of the Inter-Dependency of the Prominent Motifs Within the Book of Qohelet explores this dynamic. The final outcome of such an approach is a wisdom-based paradigm for living «under the sun», a wise man’s approach to living in a fallen world. Qohelet’s conclusions are two-fold and balanced. First, in light of the fact that life is fleeting, death is inevitable, and one’s future lies outside of the realm of human control, the wise will enjoy life as a gift from God, recognizing that joy is ultimately a responsibility and a mandate placed upon them. Second, in light of the fact that life is fleeting, death is inevitable, and God’s enigmatic ways on earth are sure to be followed by an equitable future judgment, the wise will fear God and keep his commandments. Therefore, the wise man or woman will enjoy life but not enjoy sin, living each day to its fullest but in sobriety, knowing that for all our actions there is a coming judgment. This is the wisdom of Ecclesiastes.

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PREFACE xiii

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PREFACE This monograph analyzes and evaluates the seven most prominent motifs in the book of Qohelet with a view towards demonstrating the inter-dependency between these motifs. As each motif is evaluated in light of its relationship to other prominent motifs, a balanced approach to Qohelet is reached. Chapter one presents an introduction to the background issues vital to Qohelet studies, along with a survey of current approaches and the presuppositions from which my own analysis of Qohelet will be taken. Chapter 2 begins the evaluation of motifs, focusing on the problem, or “dilemma” of lbh, and Qohelet’s quest to find a “solution,” or !wrty, which may in some way provide an answer to the “dilemma.” Chapter 3 serves as an excursus of sorts, dealing with the theological context and perspective from which Qohelet writes, namely, the “under the sun” perspective. Chapters 4 through 6 continue the analysis of the other prominent motifs observable within Qohelet, including the role of wisdom, divine determinacy and mortal limitations, and finally, the inevitability of death. The analysis conducted in each of these chapters explores the nature of each motif along with primary issues relevant to a proper exegetical understanding of each. Chapters 7 and 8 continue to explore the details regarding an understanding of prominent motifs, although the focus now shifts to the concluding motifs of the “enjoyment of life” and the “fear of God.” The enjoyment of life and the fear of God are presented as wisdom based imperatives that bring Qohelet’s quest...

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