An Interpretation of EcclesiastesA Gentle Cynic. Being the Book of Ecclesiastes. Morris Jastrow, Jr
The American Journal of Theology
This is an interesting, instructive book by a competent scholar who handles his materials in a large way, presenting in a clear, living fashion the outline of Hebrew literature as a preparation for the statement of the problems connected with the Book of Ecclesiastes. One hundred and ninety-five pages of this volume are devoted to (i) the nature of Hebrew literature and the course of its development, (2) the place of Ecclesiastes in the literature, various considerations showing its lateness,
... ing its lateness, and (3) an exposition of "The Gentle Cynic's" philosophy of life, or, in other words, a systematic examination of the teaching in these parts that our author regards as original. In the remaining pages of the book we have a translation of this "Original Koheleth," and this is followed by an appendix containing the various commentaries: (i) "The Pious," (2) "The Maxim," and (3) "The Miscellaneous" interpolations. The real question that remains in connection with Ecclesiastes is that of its integrity, for by all who follow modern critical methods its date and place in Hebrew literature are settled by its language, its literary characters, and its philosophic style. In 1895 Dr. E. J. Dillon (The Sceptics of the Old Testament) published a rearrangement and translation, following Bickell's suggestion that the original leaves of the book had been mixed (see Jastrow, p. 125). Wildeboer and others, rejecting Dr. P. Haupt's radical reconstruction, have still found an underlying unity. Siegfried, with K', K2, K3, K4 (Pessimist, Sadducee, Pharisee, Proverbialist), and other interpolations and editors carried analysis to an extreme. McNeille and Barton have not gone to any such lengths, but have felt themselves compelled to accept the position that the only way to solve the contradictions and harsh transitions is to accept the principle that in order that the book might gain an entrance to the sacred canon it had to submit to radical revision. Dr Jastrow takes his stand on this position and gives a genial sympathetic exposition of a writer whom, like Renan, 'A Gentle Cynic. Being the Book of Ecclesiastes.