The thought of Qoheleth : its structure, its sequential unfolding, and its position in Israel's theology
This study analyses the theological thought of Qoheleth. In the Introduction, a survey of Qoheleth studies in the last hundred years has shown that the literary structure of the book of Qoheleth is still crucial to the understanding of the theological thought of Qoheleth. Thus, Chapter One of this thesis Is devoted to discussing various approaches, i.e. traditional critical, form critical, and modern literary approaches, which have been employed in the study of the structure of the book. Chapter Two analyses the structure of Qoheleth's theological thought, arguing that '7]T (the absurd) and fflri (joy) are the two concepts which make sense of Qoheleth's thought and also form the fundamental structure of his thought. Together with various secondary themes such as portion, profit, wisdom, wealth, death, remembrance and God, they form the total structure of Qoehleth's thought. This is followed by a reading of Qoheleth in Chapter Three, analysing the argument of the book as it develops. Chapter Four examines the position of Qoheleth's theological thought within Israel's theology. The relationships between Wisdom and Yahwism, and Wisdom and Creation are analysed, arguing that the idea that Wisdom theology is essentially Creation theology is not compatible with Qoheleth's thought. The theology of Qoheleth is to be determined by the book itself, and proves to reflect neither conservative Yahwism nor radical anti-Yahwism. The uniqueness of Qoheleth's thought leads to the identification of Qoheleth as a 'liminal intellectual' who may be going through a period of transition, in the process of adopting a new set of beliefs, social norms or status. Thus. Qoheleth's theological thought may be seen as a 'liminal' theology, with 'liminality' as its social setting.