Who was the author? The Holy Spirit inspired the book of Ecclesiastes through a wisdom teacher who is usually thought to be Solomon.
What is the book? The book appears to be a mature and seasoned wisdom teacher's reflections on life and its value only through faith in God (referred to as fear of the Lord).
Where was it written? If Solomon was truly the author, the book was most likely written in Jerusalem.
When was it written? Again, if Solomon was the author, the book was probably written near the end of his reign, or shortly before 930 A.D.
Why? Earthly wisdom has a certain lure and attraction, but in the end only taking things as they seem can leave one without the peace and contentment that comes from knowing what God reveals to us by His Holy Spirit working through the Word.
How? The "teacher" first assesses things as they appear to demonstrate the limits of earthly wisdom, and then he proceeds to discuss what God reveals about His ordering all things to His purposes. There are a number of literary devices used in the book, which includes some of the finest "literature" of the Old Testament.
For further reading on the book of Ecclesiastes:
- Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume VI: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, translated by M. G. Easton and published as three volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted August 1984. (There are some 263 pages on Ecclesiastes.)
- Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 17 pages on Ecclesiastes.)