Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ecclesiaste Commentaries

Recommendations on Ecclesiastes Commentaries

My starting point is the organization of the book, because without a good understanding of how the book fits together, you're almost certain to go wrong at some point. The book is notoriously difficult to outline, however. For this, I would recommend the chapter on Ecclesiastes in David Dorsey's The Literary Structure of the Old Testament. He might not have solved all the problems, but he has certainly solved most.

Then, for good, but brief treatments that can help give you a good feel for the book, I recommend Michael Eaton's commentary in the Tyndale OT series, as well as Derek Kidner's contribution to the The Bible Speaks Today Series, titled A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance.

For dealing with more technical questions of grammar and syntax, and for critical views, I would recommend Roland Murphy in the Word Biblical Commentary series.

For sermonic helps and good theological understanding, I recommend Charles Bridges, a nineteenth century commentator reprinted in the Banner of Truth Geneva Commentary series..

One further note. I see the book as entirely unified in message and purpose. (In addition I have no trouble with Solomonic authorship, because I don't find the linguistic arguments against it compelling, and those are the only arguments against Solomonic authorship that have much substance.) Since I see the book as a unity, I have real problems with those interpreters who see the book as harboring essential contradictions. Hence, I find such commentators as Tremper Longman, Michael Fox, and Roland Murphy to be unreliable guides. I think Murphy to be not quite as unreliable as the other two. There is in these interpreters an unhealthy skepticism toward the Biblical text that is not only inherently dangerous, but it fails properly to understand the book itself.

P.S. The decision of the NIV to translate hebel (vanity) as "meaningless" has done more to contribute to the common misunderstanding of Ecclesiastes than any other single thing.

1 comment:

Mr. Baggins said...

Dr. Shaw, what do you think of Longman and Seow?