The reception of Qoheleth in a selection of rabbinic, patristic and nonconformist texts
The purpose of this thesis is to examine the reception of the text of Qoheleth in a selection of rabbinic, patristic and nonconformist literature. The differences in the act of reading, reception and response to this text in discrete Judaic and Christian locations is examined. The source texts that are considered are Qoheleth Rabbah, Targum Qoheleth, Gregory of Nyssa's homilies and Matthew Henry's exposition on Ecclesiastes. The thesis further investigates historical and theological experiential influences on the reception of Qoheleth as portrayed by the source texts. The text of Qoheleth and its history of interpretation, and the value of examining the reception of the text by specific readers from a variety of contexts are discussed in the first chapter. In the consecutive chapters the reception of Qoheleth by each source text is examined individually. The historical and theological contexts of each source text are described, including literary traditions and exegetical principles. In the detailed examination of the source texts, the textual structural challenges that Qoheleth poses and how and why they are responded to by the author(s) of the source texts are analysed. The final chapter compares and contrasts the main issues raised by the differing readings of Qoheleth, including the identity of Solomon and the view of God, and also, the differing contextual perspectives in which the reception process took place. Finally, a brief examination of a modem reader's (Michael V Fox') reception of Qoheleth is contrasted with that of earlier readers of the text. The manner in which the potential effects of Qoheleth are actualised and the process of meaning production varies between readers, being conditioned by their historical horizon.