Qoheleth: An Anti-apocalyptic Genre for a Message of Joy

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Dissertations (2009 -)

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https://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations_mu/104; https://epublications.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1103&context=dissertations_mu
Douglas, Jerome
Apocalyptic literature -- History and criticism; Literary form -- History -- To 500; 4QInstruction; Wisdom literature -- Criticism; interpretation; etc; Theology -- Dissertations Apocalyptic; Ecclesiastes; Genre; Qoheleth; Sapiential; Wisdom; Religion
thesis / dissertation description
How is the interpreter to approach Ecclesiastes? What is the message of the author? What is the genre of the book? Many scholars have posited varying interpretations concerning the message of Ecclesiastes and have observed the number of statements that appear to be conflicting or, at least, in tension with one another. Discussions about the argument and genre label(s) of/ or in Ecclesiastes have not fully considered the author's polemics against the apocalyptic beliefs of his day, 200 B.C.E. This dissertation will propose that the author of Ecclesiastes utilizes a hybrid genre in his work. He, in part, employs an "anti-apocalyptic genre" in Ecclesiastes, and the presence of this genre serves to further the author's message of joy. Recognizing the presence of an anti-apocalyptic genre within the tapestry of Ecclesiastes will assist the interpreter in understanding the author's message. This dissertation asserts three fundamental features of genre. Genre is flexible, anchored to authorial will, and centered on setting and function. There are Second Temple period texts that demonstrate how apocalyptic and sapiential meld/ clash. This dissertation examines passages (7:1-10, 3:10-15, 3:16-22, 9:1-10) in Ecclesiastes that demonstrate the clash between the author and the contemporary apocalyptic thought; these passages demonstrate the anti- apocalyptic genre in Ecclesiastes. This dissertation also shows how the author's use of the anti-apocalyptic genre impacts the book's message of joy. To this end, this work shows the author's five-pronged rhetorical strategy: rhetorical questions, ethos, destabilization, the anti-apocalyptic genre usage, and re-stabilization.