The End All
Christopher B. Harbin
What is the point of life? What gives it real meaning, structure, and purpose? Throughout history, many have attempted to offer answers to this question. They have often answered that the purpose of life is in seeking wealth, knowledge, power, or pleasure, but these purposes do not seem to fill a void, as people never seem to arrive at a place where these rewards offer fulfillment and ease. How do we answer the question in a way that is truly satisfying?
The book of Ecclesiastes is a strange book in many ways. It was written from the supposed perspective of Solomon, who reigned after David in Israel. Solomon was reported to have been the all wise king of Israel, the one who built the greatly acclaimed Temple to Yahweh in Jerusalem. The book begins with the claim of being authored by this same king, yet we can rather easily recognize that some other unknown person did the actual writing. It is what we call pseudo-epigraphic, written under the name of a public figure by someone else.
We have no record that Solomon never repented of forsaking Yahweh in his activities of kingdom expansion and establishing treaties with other nations through intermarriage with the daughters of rulers from around the world. Rather than remain faithful to Yahweh throughout his reign, Solomon began building temples to the gods served by his many wives, even as he publicly declared his allegiance to Yahweh in construction of the Jerusalem Temple. This is a far cry from the message of the book before us. It is pseudo epigraphic-written under Solomon's name, but by a completely different author.
Is that reason to call the book a lie or to rip it out of our Bibles? No, of course it isn't. It is simply a literary strategy to help us think through issues that are visible in the life of a well-known character on the stage of Israel. It is not part of the Bible because of the identity of its human author, but becaus ...
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