Qoheleth presents a special challenge not only for professional commentators but also for ‘normal’ readers of the Hebrew text (or a modern translation). Most people in modern Western industrial societies can relate without great difficulty to the reflections of the book of Qoheleth on work and rest or on behavior vis-á-vis those in power, and they can understand these reflections in terms of their own experiences. Nonetheless, the way in which these and other themes are handled in Qoheleth is a little puzzling. The fact that the book reveals no clear organization and no overall progression of ideas may be accepted as a literary peculiarity and perhaps even strike one as interesting. Yet when one finds on various themes many statements that are highly contradictory in both the broad and the narrow context, one begins to ask what could be the point of this book and what is the purpose expressed in it. The present commentary seeks to help answer these questions.
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Thomas Krüger is professor of Old Testament at the University of Basel, Switzerland. He is the author of Geschichtskonzepte im Ezechielbuch and Kritische Weisheit: Studien zur weisheitlichen Traditionskritik im Alten Testament.