When was Ecclesiastes written?

Traditionally the book of Ecclesiastes has been assumed to be written by King Solomon as a later reflection of his life as hw comes to a near end. This sounds good but the fact is that the content of Ecclesiastes sounds like Greek fatalistic speech in that the and its late arrival as in terms of other wisdom/poetry books as we have evidence of all others in some shape or form before the exile (The Rose Publishing Bible Overview says this about the date, “If it was a later author, most scholars believe it was written after God brought the Jews back from exile (after 539 BC)”. In fact I somewhat agree with the liberal view that Ecclesiastes was written post-exile and was attributed to Solomon, as it is done with the other chapters of the Song of Songs (it is assumed that Solomon wrote the first chapter but other’s are unique and just got added into one whole text over time). Richard S. Hess in his book “The Old Testament: A Historical, Theological, and Critical Introduction.” says this about Ecc.
“Although the issue of cannon was discussed at the beginning of this survey (see introduction), it becomes important for understanding this book due to the unusual dispute concerning the place of Ecclesiastes, more than that for most other books of the Bible. Its appearance among the scrolls of the separatist Qumran community as early as the mid-second century BC suggests an acceptance in the intertestamental Judaism. Questions arose due to some apparent contradictions in the book (cf. 2:2; 7:3; 8:15), a fatalistic view of life (1:3; 11:9), and the pessimistic nature of the work regarding belief in God.”
So, my question is this, if Ecclesiastes was written post exile, is it possible that it was influenced by Hellenistic cynic thinking of the time and made by a ground of Hellenistic Jews?

1 Like

I don’t know the date that I assume it was written. But I was always taught that it was wrote as a sort of fictitious reflection through the paradigm of solomon , and even as a perception of wisdoms voice collectively, but not by Solomon himself.

2 Likes

Although the writer assumes the personal of Solomon, scholars agree that this book wasn’t written by him. The language of the book is a late form of biblical Hebrew. As it contains Persian loan-words, it must date from after the release from exile in 539 B.C.E. Most date the book’s writing between 300 and 200 B.C.E.

(I got this information from the Harper Study Bible/Society of Biblical Literature)

1 Like

Just one question. Does the date or even the author affect anything?

I love the book for its freshness and pragmatism.

Richard

For me personally no. I love the book as the author takes a somewhat negative point of view of life and yet as the end the Preacher say, “The conclusion when all has been hears, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.” What I get is, regardless how you are feeling, know the Lord your God and obey His commands. Our devotion to God “should” transcend our emotions and our relationship with God isn’t dependent on our feeling. I always took Ecclesiastes as a rebuttal to Proverbs in how the writers had the idea of doing everything God’s way will lead to prosperity while both Ecclesiastes and Job show that bad things fall on all people regardless of who they are. As Jesus said in how the rain falls on both the righteous and unrighteous. The same should be seen with prosperity and calamity.

That’s a good point. I guess we could see that as further evidence that Solomon didn’t write them both, or wonder whether Proverbs is a young and optimistic Solomon while Ecclesiastes is a Solomon who’s been around the block a few times. But I agree that the authorship doesn’t really affect my view of it either.

That was the view I was given at my bible college but since then I see some of the early Proverbs to being from Solomon while Ecclesiastes being written by Jews who may or may not have been influenced by Hellenistic thinking in a way to make sense of suffering and as a rebuttal to Proverbs as I bet as many people thought in the similar vain as people think via prosperity theology take it as a to-do guide on how to get rich quick from God.

2 Likes

Several verses offer clues that Solomon didn’t write it. I think it’s important to know something about authorship and other details.

Details, please! I’m eager to learn about a portion of Scripture I’ve never heard preached from a pulpit.

Here you go! All information copied shamelessly from the Harper Study Bible by the Sociey of Biblical Literature. A wonderful resource!

*"Qoheleth" (Teacher), assumes the persona of King Solomon, and this literary association implicity identifies the book as legitimate Israelite wisdom and lends weight to its teaching.*

Scholars are agreed that Ecclesiastes was not written by Solomon, but by a later writer. The name Solomon does not appear in the book and Qoheleth’s claim to have wisdom “surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me” (1:16) does not fit Solomon, whose only predecessor was David. In later chapters, Qoheleth takes the viewpoint of a subject rather than a king (4:13; 8:2; 9:14-16; 10:16-17,20) noting conditions of oppression(4:13), injustice(4:8;5.8) and social upheaval (10:6-7).

The language of Ecclesiastes is a late form of biblical Hebrew, coming closest of any OT book to postbiblical Mishnaic Hebrew. The presence of Persian loan-words requires a date well after Israel’s release from exile in 539 B.C.E. Fragments of the book found among the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Qumran community date to the mid-second century B.C.E. Most scholars date the book’s composition between 300 and 200 B.C.E.

2 Likes

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.