Reanimating Qohelet’s Contradictory Voices

Studies of Open-Ended Discourse on Wisdom in Ecclesiastes


Ecclesiastes, also known as Qohelet, is a fascinating text filled with intriguing contradictions, such as wisdom’s beneficial consequences, God’s justice, and wisdom’s superiority over pleasure. Under the paradigm of modernism, the contradictions in the book have been regarded as problems to be harmonized or explained away. In Reanimating Qohelet’s Contradictory Voices, Jimyung Kim, drawing on Mikhail Bakhtin’s insights, offers an alternative reading that embraces the contradictions as they stand. For Kim, Qohelet’s or the protagonist’s contradictory consciousness is dialogically constructed by his contact with a complex web of discourses. Instead of harmonizing them or explaining them away, Kim identifies various dialogic voices available to Qohelet and demonstrates how those voices constitute Qohelet’s contradictory utterances and construct his unfinalizable identity.

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Jimyung Kim received his Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. He taught at Brite and Central Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently an adjunct professor of the Hebrew Bible at Yonsei University in Korea.

Intorduction: The Contradictions in Ecclesiastes and Nonmonologic Unity

1 Modernist Approaches to Ecclesiastes and Beyond
 1 Separating the Contradictions as Topical Units and Editorial Processes
 2 Harmonizing the Contradictions or Explaining Them Away
 3 Deconstructing the Modernist Approaches
 4 The Progress

2 Bakhtinian Hermeneutics and Ecclesiastes
 1 Mikhail Mikhaĭlovich Bakhtin
 2 Dialogue
 3 Unfinalizability
 4 Genre
 5 Bakhtinian Reading of Qohelet’s Contradictions

3 The Historical Scope of Qohelet’s Dialogic Utterances
 1 A Conventional Linguistic Delimitation of the Context of Ecclesiastes
 2 Bakhtinian Reevaluation of the Language of Ecclesiastes
 3 Bakhtinian Reevaluation of the Possibility of the Third Century BCE

4 A Larger Discursive Background of Qohelet’s Utterances
 1 Discursive Background Rather than Textual Sources
 2 International Discourses
 3 Domestic Environment
 4 The Complexity of Qohelet’s Dialogic Contact

5 The Voices in the Formation of Qohelet’s Consciousness
 1 The Voices in the Formation of Qohelet’s Concept of Wisdom
 2 The Voices in the Construction of Qohelet’s Perspective on Social Justice
 3 Qohelet’s Dialogized Interior Monologue

6 Qohelet’s Dialogized Interior Monologue on Wisdom
 1 Can Wisdom Bring Beneficial Consequences?
 2 Is Wisdom Superior to Folly in an Absurd World?
 3 Is Wisdom Better than Pleasure?
 4 Qohelet’s Contradictory Discourse of Wisdom’s Accessibility
 5 Concluding Remarks

Closing Without Finalizing

All concerned with the contradictions in Ecclesiastes, especially theological students and scholars who seek new meanings of the text for our era through new methods and perspectives.
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