The Book of Ecclesiastes
This book appears in the following featured collections.
- John Piper's OT Commentary Recommendations by Desiring God Ministries (John Piper)
- Recommended OT Commentaries by Denver Seminary Journal
- Favorite Advanced Commentaries (OT) by Jeremy Pierce (parableman)
- Best Advanced OT Commentaries by Jason Gile
- Essential Commentaries for a Preacher's Library - OT by Derek Thomas
- Old Testament Advanced Commentaries by Moore College Journal: Societas
- Building a Commentary Library - Old Testament by Invitation to Biblical Interpretation
Longman's book is thorough and can be helpful in certain specifics, but I have major disagreements with Longman's overall pessimistic interpretation of Ecclesiastes. While I might consult this book for a confusing verse or passage, I wouldn't use it to shape my overall direction.
The logic of arguing Solomon could not have wrote it because he said "don't curse the king" is totally absurd and illogical. Then why does proverbs, written by Solomon, also talks about king as spoken in 3rd person's perspective? I guess the world really listen to nonsense with such pleasure.
Having spent some time preaching on Ecclesiastes for the first time, I found this to be a solid, reliable, though unsurprising. I'm not sure why other commentators make the criticisms they do, since Longman doesn't venture into wild speculation, and stays well within common, sound interpretive conclusions. It's the best commentary available from a specifically evangelical scholar, and arguably only bested by Roland Murphy.
Many regard this commentary with some caution, but it may still worth be consulting in parts if not in the whole. Keith Mathison says, “Like many, Longman argues that the monologue by Qohelet (the main speaker in the book) is framed by the words of a narrator. According to Longman, however, Qohelet is a skeptic with no hope. Longman argues that the narrator uses Qohelet’s monologue to teach his son about the dangers of such skepticism. The positive teaching of the book, then, is found in the words of the narrator. Not all will agree with his interpretation, but it is worth examining.” [Full Review]
Longman's approach to Ecclesiastes differs from that of Eaton somewhat. Like many, Longman argues that the monologue by Qohelet (the main speaker in the book) is framed by the words of a narrator. According to Longman, however, Qohelet is a skeptic with no hope. Longman argues that the narrator uses Qohelet's monologue to teach his son about the dangers of such skepticism. The positive teaching of the book, then, is found in the words of the narrator. Not all will agree with his interpretation, but it is worth examining. [Full Review]
Takes Qohelet as 'a type of pseudonym.' Maintains two speakers 1) Qohelet (1:12-12:7) and 2) an unnamed individual (1:1-11 and 12:8-14). Interesting but too idiosyncratic.
Ecclesiastes is a rarely used and often misunderstood book of the OT. Longman offers a helpful guide to understanding the book. He takes the "framework" approach, meaning the majority of the book is a foil for the editor, who speaks in 1:1-11 and 12:8-14. This allows Longman to read the seemingly unorthodox and contradictory statements in the book as exactly that, which are corrected by the final (orthodox) statements of the editor (in Longman's view). Whether or not you agree with Longman's assessment, this is a helpful commentary. I've found it profitable to use it along side Garrett's commentary in the NAC series.
With great linguistic and literary skill, this Evangelical study demonstrates the argument of Ecclesiastes as a warning against negative, skeptical conclusions about God and human existence. [Full Review]
Tremper Longman's commentary on Ecclesiastes is a welcome addition to the NICOT Series and a solid contribution to the elusive field of wisdom in ancient Israel. Longman exhibits his literary and theological sensitivities in a very accessible style. The commentary represents well the standards of the series: "scholarship of the highest quality"; the fruit of "wide reading and careful, mature reflection" an eclectic and politically sensitive approach; methodological innovation; and an irenic spirit (pp. xi, xii). Longman interacts throughout with the principal Ecclesiastes commentators of modern times. In the first forty pages he succinctly introduces the issues surrounding title, authorship, date, and language; literary structure, genre, and style; text, canon, and theology. He brings his own original research to bear on the genre of the book, citing parallels explored earlier in his Fictional Akkadian Autobiographies. NICOT is intentionally evangelical; the Bible is understood to be God's Word, spoken through gifted human authors. Therefore, criticism of the text is balanced with respect, giving attention to theological themes and their contemporary implications (p. xii). Longman's evangelical commitments are explicit in the introductory sections on theology and the brief "Final Word" on the last page. The work as a whole is "conservative" in that there is respect for the historical value and original meaning of the text, and a preference for the MT except where there is substantial cause to alter it. It is also conservative, according to the editor's definition, by being willing to "conserve" insights gleaned from a broad spectrum of writers. Longman refers frequently to the paraphrase of Ecclesiastes by Gregory Thaumaturgos, a third-century disciple of Origen. [Full Review]