Ecclesiastes authorship and dating
Interpreters of the book struggle with the issues it raises, leading some to question the orthodoxy of the author or whether the book even belongs in the Old Testament canon.The wisdom of Ecclesiastes comes from someone who is identified as “Qoheleth.” It’s not certain whether this is a personal name, some sort of pseudonym, or the title of an office.For a general idea about what’s going on in this text, imagine working in the tobacco industry for fifty years, building a fortune, and then giving a huge endowment to a lung cancer hospital, making it the most effective treatment center for patients suffering from the effects of a life spent smoking cigarettes.You might say that founding the lung cancer hospital using the money made from selling tobacco was done 'in vain'. Judging from the meaning of the related verb, it would seem that the word means “convener” or “assembler”—thus the common English translations “Teacher” (NIV) or “Preacher.” Traditionally Qoheleth has been identified as Solomon because of the information given in the first two verses of the book.It is argued that no one else was “son of David, king in Jerusalem.” Yet it must be admitted that the designation “son of David” could be used to refer to anyone in the line of David.The book of Ecclesiastes is about this kind of vanity. “Vanity” in our times connotes narcissism and superficial self-admiration, but the Biblical meaning has deeper roots in the word 'vanus', meaning 'empty'.
A famous line from this hauntingly existential text is that there is nothing new under the sun. One lesson to learn here is that any attempt to create something new, do something everlasting, or achieve something of substance (e.g, make a fortune and then do philanthropy) is to 'labor after the wind'. For seasons change, time passes, and we find that our thoughts about what's right and wrong, and the actions these justify, are deeply relative, subject to change, and thought in vain Epic of Gilgamesh, c.