Determinism in the Book of Ecclesiastes
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This thesis considers the evidence for current assertions that the book of Ecclesiastes is a deterministic work composed during the Hellenistic period. It reviews the linguistic and socioeconomic arguments for its dating either to Persian or Hellenistic times, and concludes in favour of the latter (Chapter 1). An examination of key terms occurring in passages thought to be deterministic follows. The contexts in which these terms are used support the thesis that Qohelet was a determinist, and that this concept is expressed in the catalogue of seasons in 3:1-8 (Chapter 2). Recently, Joseph Blenkinsopp has challenged deterministic readings of 3:1-8 on new grounds: this thesis provides a response to the specific criticisms raised by his article (Chapter 3). Thereafter, it goes on to discuss the question of whether "the work of God" and "the work which is done under the sun" are equivalent, providing fresh evidence is produced to demonstrate that this is indeed the case (Chapter 4), and offering a new explanation as to how Qohelet may have reconciled the concept of determinism with free will (Chapter 5). Thereafter, it considers the activity of God in the sphere of human emotions and concludes that the ultimate decision not just about what human beings do, but about what they feel, rests with God (Chapters 6, 7). Finally, this thesis views the determinism of Ecclesiastes against its Jewish background and possible Stoic sources : it reaches the conclusion that Qohelet's thought and manner of expression is fundamentally Hebraic but that he probably had some knowledge of Stoic determinism as well (Chapters 8, 9). The apparent connection with early Jewish deterministic texts and Stoicism supports the current consensus that the book of Ecclesiastes was composed in the period 250-225 B.C.E..
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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