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The figure of Qoheleth draws upon the historical figure of King Solomon. Though traditionally dated to that time, linguistic clues within Ecclesiastes have led scholars to consider the work a later composition. The purpose of the fictionalized royal setting of the work is then to concretize effectively its central idea: the futility of wealth, power, and wisdom in the face of the arbitrariness of death. Qoheleth is notable within his literary milieu for exercising independent judgment based on his observed environment. This central feature of the work has led scholars to explore parallels between Ecclesiastes and other ancient philosophical and sapiential literature, though no conclusive evidence of direct influence has been found. The dissonance between Qoheleth’s numerous conservative statements and skeptical observations contradicting traditional beliefs is the most characteristic theme of the work.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Wisdom and the Bible
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780190661267
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Cultural context
  • Dissonance
  • Dogma
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Futility
  • Literary unity
  • Qoheleth
  • Royal fiction
  • Skepticism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (all)


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