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Bible Old Testament wisdom literature (Job-Song of Songs)

An overview of Old Testament wisdom literature and lists of helpful references for further research and understanding. Prepared by Major Bill Garrett's Messengers of the Kingdom BS104 Class.

How did the Ecclesiastes come together? (David Kumar)

Ecclesiastes is a Wisdom Literature book, which is written in a poetic style. The person who is suspected to have wrote it is Solomon, and it is someone who has information, wisdom and something valuable to share. 

The author of Ecclesiastes is a hotly debated subject and has been for some time, specifically the last 3 to 4 centuries. (18th/19th)

It was written for us, so that we may see what really is of worth, which is God and our relationship with him. It is meant for us to go in the direction towards Christ rather than just our desires outside of Christ, which are meaningless. 

Outline of the Book (Shawn)

  1. Author (1:1)
  2. Theme: The meaninglessness of human efforts on earth apart from God (1:2)
  3. Introduction: The profitlessness of human toil to accumulate things in order to achieve happiness (1:3–11)
  4. Discourse, Part 1: In spite of life’s apparent enigmas and meaninglessness, it is to be enjoyed as a gift from God (1:12—11:6)
    1. Since human wisdom and endeavors are meaningless, people should enjoy their life and work and its fruits as gifts from God (1:12—6:9)
      1. Introduction (1:12–18)
        1. Human endeavors are meaningless (1:12–15)
        2. Pursuing human wisdom is meaningless (1:16–18)
      2. Seeking pleasure is meaningless (2:1–11)
      3. Human wisdom is meaningless (2:12–17)
      4. Toiling to accumulate things is meaningless (2:18—6:9)
        1. Because people must leave the fruits of their labor to others (2:18–26)
        2. Because all human efforts remain under the government of God’s sovereign appointments, which people cannot fully know and which all their toil cannot change (3:1—4:3)
        3. Because there are things better for people than the envy, greed and ambition that motivate such toil (4:4–16)
        4. Because the fruits of human labor can be lost, resulting in frustration (5:1—6:9)
    2. Since people cannot fully know what is best to do or what the future holds for them, they should enjoy now the life and work God has given them (6:10—11:6)
      1. Introduction: What is predetermined by God is inalterable, and people cannot fully know what is best or what the future holds (6:10–12)
      2. People cannot fully know what is best to do (chs. 7–8)
      3. People cannot fully know what the future holds (9:1—11:6)
  5. Discourse, Part 2: Since old age and death will soon come, people should enjoy life in their youth, remembering that God will judge (11:7—12:7)
    1. People should enjoy their life on earth because their future after death is mysterious, and in that sense is meaningless for their present life (11:7–8)
    2. People should enjoy the fleeting joys of youth, but remember that God will judge (11:9–10)
    3. People should remember their Creator (and his gifts) in their youth, before the deteriorations of old age and the dissolution of the body come (12:1–7)
  6. Theme Repeated (12:8)
  7. Conclusion: Reverently trust in and obey God (12:9–14)

Theme/Category of Ecclesiastes (David Kumar)

The main theme of Ecclesiastes is humanity's fruitless search for contentment. Solomon's sub-themes are that contentment cannot be found in human endeavors or material things, while wisdom and knowledge leave too many unanswered questions. This leads to a sense of hollowness. Meaning in life can be found only in a right relationship with God.

Online Reference (Nereus Mogaria)