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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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CHAPTER 1: Preliminary Considerations and Introduction 1

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CHAPTER 1 Preliminary Considerations and Introduction Within the Hebrew canon, perhaps no book has eluded a consensus as to issues of origin, theology, interpretation, and genre more than Qohelet. 1 In the field of Old Testament scholarship, Qohelet has been examined through the various methods of biblical criticism as scholars strive to make sense of its apparent in-text contradictions and theological message. 2 Within popular circles, Qohelet is largely ignored by both clergy and laity as they struggle to find its central message and an appropriate approach that brings theological continuity to the text. 3 For many years, published works on Qohelet have lagged far behind the quantity and quality of works appropriated to other portions of the Old Testament. 4 In recent decades, however, a great surge of interest has occurred in the field of Qohelet studies, so much so that the interested reader will find no lack of material available on the subject. Nevertheless, what has become evident throughout this recent surge of published works is that there is still little scholarly consensus regarding how one should approach the book of Qohelet. While a comprehensive survey is not necessary in laying the foundation and providing rationale for the following monograph, it is prudent to begin our introduction by briefly summarizing the manner in which Qohelet has been approached both historically as well as in contemporary scholarship. 1 While this opening statement is rather sweeping in its claim, and is difficult to validate in a statistical manner, the following...

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