Nov 6, 2011

The Author of Ecclesiastes

I was recently introducing the Book of Ecclesiastes and discussing the issue of authorship. During such discussions I state that I hold to Solomonic authorship but take care in my presentations to note that there are other viable options. After a bit of back-and-forth, one person asked whether it made any difference whether Solomon was the author or not. What a great question. My response was that there were two possible advantages to Solomonic authorship. First, since it is likely that Solomon was a believer then we might be able to assume that Solomon wrote the book as a believer and if that were so, then it might help to better understand the difficult content of the book. Second, if Solomon were the author, then the claims of great wisdom (1:16), wealth (2:8), and number of women (2:8), etc. could be understood as statements of fact rather than hyperbole (cf. 1 Kgs 3–11). The author would be no poseur and this would add credibility to the authors claim that even an abundance of wisdom, wealth, and women would still be hebel. I realize that these perceived advantages could be challenged both in their assumptions (e.g., that Solomon was a believer) and in their implications (e.g., hyperbolic statements are necessarily less credible), but I still think that there at least potential advantages if Solomon were the author of Ecclesiastes.

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