Jennie Barbour

in The Story of Israel in the Book of Qohelet

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199657827
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744914 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs


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The conclusion asks how the specifically historical pessimism and scepticism about kings which this study has found in the book of Ecclesiastes fit within the two contexts of early Judaism and early Christianity. Qohelet’s deep roots in early Judaism have been stressed; within that, it is argued that the book belongs nearer to the centre of traditional concerns and nearer to the ‘deuteronomistic’ theological mainstream than is often supposed. The analysis of Sheppard is extended to suggest that Ecclesiastes, and not just its epilogue, is an example of wisdom reading Torah narratives. Turning to examine early Christianity, it is proposed that the Christian reading of Ecclesiastes as a negative preparatio evangelica (Longman, Shields) can be corrected by the positive reading of the early church fathers Jerome and Gregory of Nyssa. In particular, Gregory’s use of the incarnation as an analogy for Qohelet’s wisdom quest is a useful heuristic tool which illuminates both Qohelet’s empirical method and his compassionate engagement with the suffering he sees, and thus builds a typology which preserves continuity between the book and its later Christian appropriation.

Keywords: pessimism; early judaism; early christianity; jerome; gregory of nyssa; torah; typology; deuteronomistic; incarnation

Chapter.  7980 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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