Ecclesiastes - Revised Standard Version (1966)
The title Ecclesiastes given to this book is the Greek translation of the Hebrew name Qoheleth meaning, perhaps, "one who convokes an assembly." The book, however, does not consist of public addresses, but is a treatise, more or less logically developed, on the vanity of all things. Reflections in prose and aphorisms in verse are intermingled in Ecclesiastes, which contains, besides, an introduction and an epilogue. The book is concerned with the purpose and value of human life. While admitting the existence of a divine plan, it considers such a plan to be hidden from man, who seeks happiness without ever finding it here below (Eccl 3:11; 8:7, 17). Ecclesiastes applies his "Vanity of vanities" to everything "under the sun," even to that wisdom which seeks to find at last a semblence of good in the things of the world. Merit does not yield happiness for it is often tried by suffering. Riches and pleasures do not avail. Existence is monotonous, enjoyment fleeting and vain; darkness quickly follows. Life, then, is an enigma beyond human ability to solve.
While Ecclesiastes concedes that there is an advantage for man in the enjoyment of certain legitimate pleasures lest he lapse into pessimism and despair, he nevertheless considers this indulgence also vanity unless man returns due thanks to the Creator who has given him all. Under this aspect, earthly wisdom would rise to the higher level of true spiritual wisdom. This true wisdom is not found "under the sun" but is perceived only by the light of faith, inasmuch as it rests with God, who is the final Judge of the good and the bad, and whose reign endures forever. The Epilogue gives the clue to this thought (Eccl 12:13, 14). The moral teaching of the book is imperfect, like the Old Testament itself (Hebrews 7:19), yet it marks an advance in the development of the doctrine of divine retribution. While rejecting the older solution of earthly rewards and punishments, Ecclesiastes looks forward to a more lasting one. The clear answer to the problem was to come with the light of Christ's teaching concerning future life. The author of the book was a teacher of popular wisdom (Eccl 12:9). Qoheleth was obviously only his literary name. Because he is called "David's son, king in Jerusalem," it was commonly thought that he was King Solomon. Such personation, however, was but a literary device to lend greater dignity and authority to the book-a circumstance which does not in any way impugn its inspired character. The Epilogue seems to have been written by an editor, probably a disciple of Qoheleth. The entire work differs considerably in language and style from earlier books of the Old Testament. It reflects a late period of Hebrew, and was probably written about three centuries before Christ. - (NAB)

Headings



Book of


ECCLESIASTES


1 Reflections of a Royal Philosopher
The Futility of Seeking Wisdom
2 The Futility of Self-Indulgence
Wisdom and Joy Given to One Who Pleases God
3 Everything Has Its Time
The God-Given Task
Judgment and the Future Belong to God
4 The Value of a Friend
5 Reverence, Humility, and Contentment
6 The Frustration of Desires
7 A Disillusioned View of Life
The Riddles of Life
8 Obey the King and Enjoy Yourself
God's Ways Are Inscrutable
9 Take Life as It Comes
Wisdom Superior to Folly
10 Miscellaneous Observations
11 The Value of Diligence
Youth and Old Age
12 Epilogue

Version
Nova Vulgata - Latin
Biblia del Pueblo di Dio (BPD) - Spanish
Vulgata - Stuttgart 1969 - Latin
BÝblia Sagrada Ave-Maria (1957) - Portuguese
La Sainte Bible (Crampon 1904) - French
CEI (1974) - Italian
Einheits▄bersetzung der Heiligen Sc - German