ECCLESIASTES. One of the books of the Old Testament. The title in the Greek Bible, transliterated in the Latin and some modern versions, is a rendering of the Hebrew Qoheleth. Plato ('Gorgias,' 452 E) and Aristotle ((Poli tics,' iii, 1) use the term for "a member of the assembly.' The Hebrew word is a feminine participle in the simple stem of a denominative verb derived from qahal, It occurs nowhere else than in this book, and in the present text is clearly a designation of Solomon, probably invented by the author on the basis of 1 Kings viii, 1ff, where the king assembles the elders of Israel and addresses them (accord ing to 2 Chronicles vi, 13 from a specially con structed brazen scaffold), to describe the wise monarch on whose lips he places his diatribe as the orator par excellence. Luther's translation "Der Prediger" and the English alternate title "The Preacher* have a somewhat different con notation. Less probable are the views that the word indicates 'collector of wisdom, theoreti cal and practical' (Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ibn Ghiyyat, Tanchum), or "collector of the opinions of the wise' (Grotius), or "gatherer of an assembly of sages' (Jepheth ben Ali, Delitzsch) ; or that "wisdom" is understood as the speaker (Grzcus Venetus, Baruch ibn Baruch, Ewald, Hitzig, Kleinert, Derenbourg) ; or that the title means "popular sayings," or "words in tended for public use' (Kamenetzky).
In the Hebrew manuscripts and printed edi tions Ecclesiastes is one of the five megilloth, or "rolls,' and is placed between Lamentations and Esther. This position is probably not much older than the 12th century when it apparently began to be read at the feast of tabernacles. In the Talmud 'Baba bathra' 14b, 15a, the five rolls are not put together, and in the Greek Bible the book follows Proverbs and precedes Can ticles, an order that has been adhered to in the later versions. When it was first read in the synagogue as "Scripture' is not known. That it was quoted as such by Simon ben Shetach in the reign of Alexander Jannmus, by Baba ben Buta in the time of Herod, and by Gamaliel I is vouched for only by late and scarcely re liable testimony (Pal. Talmud 'Berakoth' vii, 2; Bab. Talmud 'Baba bathra' 4a). Questions as to its canonicity arose in connection with the Pharisaic innovation of washing the hands after contact with sacred books. The school of Shammai held that it did not defile the hands, consequently was uncanonical, while the school of Hillel maintained that it did. The council of Jamnia, c. 90 A.D., was in doubt, but the majority seems to have admitted its canonicity ; vet a cen tury later Jehuda ha-nasi• declared: °Qoheleth is disputed '° (Mishna 'Yadaim' iii, 1; (Edu yoth' v, 3).
The critical apparatus by which it is gen erally possible to restore, at least tentatively, the original text of a biblical book is, in the case of Ecclesiastes, regrettably limited. It has been seriously questioned whether a Greek trans lation existed before the 2d century A.D. Following a suggestion of Freudenthal, Gratz reached the conclusion that the version in our manuscripts was made by Aquila, and this view was accepted by Renan and Kiinig. Dillmann maintained that the original Greek text had only been worked over by the aid of Aquila's, and this was also the opinion of Klostermann. But McNeile has convincingly shown the im probability of this theory. Since Jerome refers to two editions of Aquila's version, he assumes that the text in our manuscripts is the first of these and that Origen inserted it in the column devoted to the so called Septuagint, because the Alexandrian version did not contain this book, while the second edition was placed in the Aquila column. These conclusions have been adopted by Barton. Swete ((Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek,' 1900) and Reider assign the present text to "the school of Aquila.' Since the Syro-Hexaplaric version represents our Greek text, there can be no doubt that it essentially goes back to Origen, and the problem is how this critic, who must have recognized the school" as quickly as the master, could have substituted it for the Alexandrian version, if one was known to him, or in any case how he could have been silent about the matter. An earlier version might conceivably have been lost, as has that on which Theodotion's recension is supposed by many scholars to be based. If the author of Wisdom of Solomon ii, 1-9, whether he lived in the 1st century B.C.• or at the
time of Caligula, really undertook to cor rect certain sayings of Ecclesiastes or misinter pretations of their trend, as appears probable, it is likely that he had before him a Greek translation, and it is not inconceivable that Aquila may have used it to some extent in his first edition, before he began to apply his prin ciples more rigorously. Unfortunately, there are no quotations of the book in Philo, Jose phus or the New Testament, and few in early patristic literature. It is thought that the frag ments from the Aquila column represent Aki ba's recension of the Hebrew text, while the first edition of Aquila may have preserved readings of a pre-Akiban text. Among the early versions, the Syriac Peshita and the Latin Vulgate are derived directly from the Hebrew; the Old Latin, Sahidic, Arabic, Armenian, and Slavonic are translations of the Greek text. In the Sahidic, ix, 4—x, 3 is lacking, probably because this section did not harmonize with the prevailing ascetic sentiment among Coptic Chris tians. Of the Syriac version, made from the Greek by Paul of Tella, a photolithographic re production was published by Ceriani in 1874. The integrity of the book was not questioned by those who in earlier times were struck by its apparent contradictions and conflicting senti ments, Pope Gregory I and many mediaeval writers assumed that thoughts not approved by the author were given expression only to be corrected, so that the work had something, of the nature of a dialogue. This interpretation was naturally favored by scholars who under stood the title as designating a °collector." When the difficulty of ascribing the book to Solomon began to be realized, speculation in creased as to the origin of the sentiments in troduced to be corrected. If already Jerome, Gregory I, and Bar Hebrmus had suggested a similarity to Epicurus, Empedocles, Aris tippus, and the Cyrenaic philosophers, Luther thought of actual extracts from writers in the library of Ptolemy III Euergetes in Alexan dria : Grotius apparently had Oriental philoso phers in mind; Yeard supposed the book to be a dialogue between a sensual worldling and a God-fearing Jew; Herder heard two voices in it, one of a somewhat audacious seeker, and another of a teacher who sets him right; Bergst found in it a dialogue between a modern Qoheleth who had become a Greek sophist and an orthodox teacher represented by Solomon; and Bertholdt adopted a similar view. This tendency inevitably led to a denial of the unity of the book. Van Limburg-Bouwer believed that two different works were united by an editor who interpolated the original with long excerpts from another document written by a sceptic. In addition to the idea of dislocations, already put forth by Van der Palm in 1784, Bickell and Haupt also accepted the theory of interpolations on a large scale, but supposed the sceptic to be the original author. Bickell's no tion of dislocated leaves has been shown to be archzologically untenable, and although Haupt's view is not subject to the same objec tions and the book of Ecclesiasticus reveals the possibility of such dislocations, it is not easy for even the most ingeniously and tastefully arranged anthology to win recognition as a reliable reconstruction of a lost original. Sieg fried supposed that the original book was inter polated by an Epicurean Sadducee, a pious Chasid, a wisdom-teacher, and at least three others. While Dillon and Lauer have adopted this analysis, it has been modified by McNeile who assumes that the book was edited by an admirer employing the guise of Solomon, and interpolated by the annotations and criticisms of two contemporary thinkers, one adding more or less isolated apophthegms bearing on life and nature, another a pious Jew following the calm and untroubled path convic tion, and substantially the same position has been taken by Barton, though he somewhat re duces the number of interpolations. On the other hand, Kuiper found it unnecessary to re move gnomic sayings that did not contradict the thought of the original author. Proceed ing on the assumption that the bulk of the book constitutes the commentary of a later writer on a collection of popular proverbs, Kamenetzky tentatively sought to restore this collection, in cluding i-iii and single verses in the later chap ters.