Seeing what Qohelet saw: the structure of Ecclesiastes as alternating panels of observation and wisdom
While the suggestions on a structure of Ecclesiastes are myriad, where this solution differs is that it both follows the contours of others as well as forging new ground. Combining the suggestions of panelling or alternation with the search for keywords, the proposal in this thesis is that the structure of Ecclesiastes is one of alternating panels of first-person observation and collected wisdom, with the keyword of ראה (to see) giving structure to the observation panels. This thesis begins with an historical review of the attempts to find a structure of the centuries and the converging of those attempts into the current one. The second chapter investigates the use of ראה to give structure to the observation panels as a whole, but also the individual units of each panel. The third chapter looks at the wisdom collections which alternate with the observation panels and considers their relationship to the narration with which they alternate. The fourth and final chapter investigates the bookends and shows how they foreshadow and conclude the type of structure of the body of the book which is proposed in this structure. The goals of this thesis are to present a convincing structure of Ecclesiastes which will enable people to read the book according to the alternating genres of observation and wisdom and also to provide a common footing and even a common structural language for examining the other questions which dominate Ecclesiastes research today.
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