The Book of Ecclesiastes translated by m. G. Easton introduction



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(C.) The Epilogue — 12:9-14

In an unexpected manner there now follows a postscript. Since the book closes with the epiphonema 12:8 as having reached the intended goal, the supposition that what follows 12:8 is from another hand is more natural than the contrary. Of the question of genuineness there cannot be here properly anything said, for only that which is not what it professes to be and ought to be, is spurious; the postscript is certainly according to tradition an integral pat of the Book of Koheleth (Bullock), but not as an original organic formal part of it, and still less does it expressly bear self-evidence of this. At the least, those who regard Solomon as the author of the book ought to contend against the recognition in 12:9ff. of an appendix by a later hand. Hahn, however, regards the same Solomon who speaks in v. 8 as continuing to speak in v. 9, for he interpretsאמר , which, however, only means inquit, as perf., looking back to the completed book, and regards this retrospect as continued in v. 9ff., without being hindered by the interchange of the I and of the following historical he, which is contained in “saith Koheleth.” Dale even ventures the assertion, that the Book of Koheleth could have closed with the unsatisfying pure negative, v. 8, as little as the Gospel of Mark with “and they were afraid” (Mar. 16:8). As if v. 13f. expressed postulates not already contained in the book itself! The epilogue has certainly manifestly the object of recommending the author of the book, Koheleth-Solomon, and of sealing the contents of the book. If Solomon himself were the author, the epilogue would stand in the same relation to the book as Joh. 21:24f. to the fourth Gospel, of the Johannean origin of which a voice from the apostolic church there bears witness.159


It is a serious anachronism when modern interpreters of Scripture occupy the standpoint of the old, who take the name of the man after whom the book is entitled, without more ado, as the name of its author from first to last.160 To what childish puerilities a bigotry so uncritical descends is seen in the case of Christ. Fried. Bauer (1732). In this section, vv. 9-12, he says Solomon turns especially to his son Rehoboam, and delivers to him this Solennel -discourse or sermon as an instruction for his future life. He recommends it [the sermon] at once on account of the author, v. 9, and of its contents, v. 10, which accord, v. 11, with his other writings, and from which altogether Rehoboam could find sufficient information, so that to write to him several books would be unnecessary. After this apostrophe to his son the preacher turns round to the entire auditorio, and addresses them inהַכֹל נשְׁמַע . But we are all permitted to hear what is the final aim and intention of this sermon: Fear thou God, and keep His commandments; for such ought every man to be, etc.
A rationalism not less fruitful in wonderful conceits appeared over against this dreamy irrationalism. Döderlein (1784) says of Koheleth: “As it appears, so the author feigned, that this was a lecture or treatise which Solomon delivered before his literary academy; for this academy I am inclined to understand under the name ‘Koheleth.’ “The epilogue appears to him as an appendage by another hand. Such is the opinion also of J. E. Ch. Schmidt (1794), Bertholdt (in his Einleit. 1812ff.), Umbreit (1818, 20), and Knobel (1836), who maintain that this appendage is aimless, in form as in doctrine, out of harmony with the book, revealing by the “endless book-making” a more recent time, and thus is an addition by a later author. This negative critical result Grätz (1871) has sought, following Krochmal (in his More nebuche hazeman, 1851, 54), to raise to a positive result. Vv. 9-11 are to him as an apology of the Book of Koheleth, and vv. 12-14 as a clause defining the collection of the Hagiographa, which is completed by the reception into it of the Book of Koheleth; and this bipartite epilogue as an addition belonging to the period of the Synod of Jabneh, about A.D. 90 (vid., above, p. 636).
If, nevertheless, we regard this epilogue as a postscript by the author of the book himself, we have not only Herzfeld on our side, who has given his verdict against all Knobel’s arguments, but also Hitzig. who (Hilgenfeld’s Zeitsch. 1872, p. 566) has rejected Grätz’ Herod-hypothesis, as well as also his introduction of the epilogue into the history of the canon, or, as Geiger (Jüd. Zeitsch. 1872, p. 123) has expressed himself, has dealt with it according to its merit. Also in Bloch’s monograph on the Book of Koheleth (1872) there are many striking arguments against placing the authorship of the book in the Herod-Mishn. period, although the view of this critic, that the book contains notes of Solomon’s with interpolations, and an epilogue by the collector, who sought to soften the impression of the gloomy pessimism of these notes, is neither cold nor hot.
We have already (p. 648) shown that the epilogue is written quite in the same style as the book itself; its language is like that of the chronicler; it approaches the idiom of the Mishna, but, with reference to it, is yet somewhat older. That the first part of the epilogue, vv. 9-11, serves an important end, is also proved (p. 648), — it establishes the book as a production of the Chokma, which had Solomon as its pattern; and the second part, vv. 12-14, bears on it the stamp of this Chokma, for it places all the teaching of the book under the double watchword: “Fear God,” and “There is a judgment” (Job. 28:28; 19:29; cf. Ecc. 5:6; 11:9). In the book, Koheleth-Solomon speaks, whose mask the author puts on; here, he speaks, letting the mask fall off, of Koheleth. That in his time (the Persian) too much was done in the way of making books, we may well believe. In addition to authors by profession, there have always been amateurs; the habit of much writing is old, although in the course of time it has always assumed greater dimensions. A complain in reference to this sounds strange, at least from the mouth of an author who has contented himself with leaving to posterity a work so small, though important. We nowhere encounter any necessity for regarding the author of the book and of the epilogue as different persons. The spirit and tone of the book and of the epilogue are one. The epilogue seals only the distinction between the pessimism of the book and the modern pessimism, which is without God and without a future.
[[@Bible:Ecclesiastes 12:9]]


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