Cedars of Lebanon: The Wisdom of Koheleth
IF RENAN is to be believed, the Book of Ecclesiastes is the most charming book ever written by a Jew. For twenty centuries it has exerted a profound fascination upon readers. This, in spite of the fact that virtually every aspect of the book-date of composition, authorship, interpretation-has been the subject of wide differences of opinion.
Perhaps the chief difficulty has been the apparent contradictions in which the book abounds, the cool skepticism of one passage, followed by unimpeachable orthodox sentiments in the next. Was Koheleth (under which name the author hid his identity) talking with tongue in cheek, or writing a Socratic dialogue? Or perhaps, that last resort of the troubled reader, there was no Koheleth at all, as there was no Homer: a dozen uninspired scribes had each written a few verses, the sum total making up the Book of Ecclesiastes.
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