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Durham e-Theses
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The current scholarly consensus places Ecclesiastes’ composition in the postexilic era, sometime between the late Persian and early Hellenistic periods, leaning towards the late fourth or early third centuries BCE. Premised on this consensus, this thesis proposes that the book of Ecclesiastes is making a case for posthumous divine judgement in order to rectify pre-mortem injustices. Specifically, this thesis contends that issues relating to death and injustice raised by Qohelet in the book of Ecclesiastes point to the necessity of post-mortem divine judgement. Judging from its implied social and historical context, the book of Ecclesiastes also may have served as perhaps a provocative voice for, or as a catalyst to, the emergence of apocalyptic eschatology and later sectarian conflicts within Judaism during the mid-Second Temple period.
Some people in postexilic Israelite society began to raise questions about traditional views of death, Sheol, and divine judgement at a time when retributive justice appears not to be assured or to be absent. One may well ask: what is the book of Ecclesiastes doing, if it appeared on the cusp of the Persian-Hellenistic transition period when the traditional idea of theodicy was perhaps becoming a serious issue in Israelite society, before full-blown apocalyptic eschatology surfaced?
The answer seems to be inseparable from questions of how best Ecclesiastes as a book is to be read. Contemporary approaches to reading the book as a unified whole are examined, and a “frame-narrative” reading is argued to be the best approach. The key to unravelling the book’s puzzle lies in realizing that the author probably intended the frame-narrator to have the last say. The role of this “third person” is pivotal for explaining the paradoxes within Qohelet’s monologue and its relationship to the epilogue and uncovering the book’s overall purpose.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Death, Divine Judgement, Ecclesiastes, Injustice, Qohelet, Sheol
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Jan 2016 10:08

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