New International Version Ecclesiastes 7 starts with first-person perspective without quotation marks:

26 I find more bitter than death
the woman who is a snare,
whose heart is a trap
and whose hands are chains.
The man who pleases God will escape her,
but the sinner she will ensnare.
27 “Look,” says the Teacher,

Then it is switched to 3rd person perspective.

“this is what I have discovered: “Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things—

Now it is 1st person perspective with quotation marks.

Why the switch from 1st person to 3rd then back to 1st?

What is this switching from 3rd to 1st person perspective within one sentence in verse 27? Does this mean that the writer and the speaker were different people?

Why does NIV use quotation marks in verse 27 and not in verse 26?

  • Well that's a quote, so of course it's 1st person. You really should be asking about comparing it with verse 15 & 23.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 5:56
  • Good point. I added. Thanks :)
    – user35953
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 13:44

1 Answer 1


I think the key question here is whether the teacher being described here in verse 27 is the same teacher who is writing the bulk of the book. The texts that have been preserved for us are clear. The main teacher is a man, this teacher is a woman - the 'says' is feminine - and so we are dealing with two teachers. It is only really confusing in English, to the first audience it would be like a self-proclaimed actor quoting an unnamed actress in his treatise. Now one can point out that it is an easy transcription error to make - the addition of one letter - but making it a transcription error creates a difficulty, it doesn't help any.

So why does is the second teacher spoken of in third person? Because she is a different person. Why are they in quotation marks in verse 27, and not 26? Because verse 27 quotes the second teacher and verse 26 does not.

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