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My understanding is that the ‘traditional’ view holds Solomon to be the author of the book who frames his own monologue by referring to himself in the third person in the prologue (1:1–11) and epilogue (12:8–14). I recently asked another question about whether Solomon was likely the author. My impression after that Q&A is that it was more likely written much later.

Now I am wondering whether the book itself indicates that Qohelet and the author are the same person. As brought up in a prior Q&A about Ecclesiastes 7:27, there is an abrupt interruption of the first person monologue midway through the book.*

Ecclesiastes 7:27 (BHS | ESV)

רְאֵה֙ זֶ֣ה מָצָ֔אתִי אָמְרָ֖ה קֹהֶ֑לֶת אַחַ֥ת לְאַחַ֖ת לִמְצֹ֥א חֶשְׁבּֽוֹן׃

Behold, this is what I found, says the Preacher, while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things

After this it returns to the first person up until the epilogue.

  • Is there a precedent, among contemporary writings, to narrate a book like this, the author referring to himself in the third person in a prologue/epilogue that frames his own first person monologue?
  • Is 7:27 problematic in that regard?
  • Does the text indicate that Qohelet is the author?

* This seems to be mostly unrelated to the question addressed there regarding the odd use of a feminine verb אָמְרָ֖ה in the MT, except for the fact that gender is marked only because it’s third person (in contrast to the first person ‘common’ gender verbs referring to the speaker in 1:12 - 12:7).

You decide. :-)

  • Leaving aside the question of contemporaneity, it is commonplace for Greek historical authors to refer to themselves in the third person singular right at the beginning of their book. For example: Θουκυδίδης Ἀθηναῖος ξυνέγραψε τὸν πόλεμον τῶν Πελοποννησίων καὶ Ἀθηναίων… “Thucydides the Athenian wrote about the war of the Peloponnesians and Athenians…” – fdb May 15 '15 at 13:19
  • NRSV commentary: "Apart from the superscription and 1.12-2.11, however, the author never speaks as king. The epilogue portrays the author as a teacher, rather than as king (12.9-14). Morever, the perspective in most of the book is that of an outsider to the royal court (3.16; 4.13-16; 8.1-6; 10.16-20)." – user2910 May 15 '15 at 16:46
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    Sorry, you're right. (I should also specify, this is the New Oxford Annotated commentary that uses the NRSV. My attribution above was incomplete.) The comments overall context suggests that the author was indeed Qohelet himself, writing sometime in the Persian period (citing, as mentioned, two Persian loanwords, extensive Aramaisms, but no Greek). This would then make the book pseudepigraphical since the author / Qohelet frames himself as King Solomon. – user2910 May 15 '15 at 22:34
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    I did answer the exact question posed by Susan ("Is there a precedent, among contemporary writings, to narrate a book like this..."). Do not quite see why my answer was downgraded to a comment. – fdb May 17 '15 at 14:52
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    If I had to guess, it may be because your answer / comment only mentions a feature of 'Greek historical authors'. You didn't actually explain how that's relevant to Ecclesiastes. (i.e. Are you suggesting the author of Ecclesiastes was influenced by them? Were those Greek texts written sufficiently early enough that they could have influenced Ecclesiastes? Does the differences of genre have any bearing here?) You answered a small part of Susan's question, but you didn't answer the overarching question: Does Ecclesiastes portray Qohelet as the author? – user2910 May 18 '15 at 15:58
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The Masoretic Text appears to imply (Eccl 1:1) that the author is the son of David, the King of Jerusalem. Based in the wider genre of the Ketuvim (or Writings), the reader would then infer the son of David to be Solomon, the author. In this regard, Jewish tradition reflects the same.

For example, the Targum Qohelet makes explicit mention that Solomon was the author. The Targumim were amplified Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Bible, and the translation of the Writings appeared between the Fifth and Ninth Century (Flesher and Chilton, 2011). As such, the Targum Qohelet, like many others, incorporates oral Jewish tradition as was understood at the time of the translation into Aramaic. Please click on the image below to enlarge the first and part of the second verse of Qohelet in Late Jewish Literary Aramaic.

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Also, in the same light of oral Jewish tradition, the Babylonian Talmud also has at least two references to Solomon as the author of Qohelet:

  1. Compare Erubin [Folio 21B] (see translated lines 33-37)
  2. Compare Sanhedrin [Folio 20B] (see translated lines 38-40)

In summary, Jewish oral tradition had understood Solomon to be Qohelet. As discussed in another post, the Babylonian Talmud points to Hezekiah as the redactor and editor of the Book of Qohelet, which may help to understand the apparent "late" nature of the Biblical Hebrew in that text.

Reference:
Flesher, P. V. M., & Chilton, B. (2011). The Targums: A Critical Introduction. Waco: Baylor University Press, 230-231.

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