This project is a revised and expanded version of my dissertation completed in 2016 at Brite Divinity School. At the completion of this book, I am deeply humbled by the help and support that I have received from numerous people. First and foremost, I want to recognize the contributions of my advisor Timothy J. Sandoval. His insights as a biblical scholar and experiences as an academic mentor indeed enabled me to produce the best possible version of my writing. He trained me to think further, to articulate my thought more clearly, and to argue more fully, but also to nuance my arguments subtly. This book is to a great degree indebted to his intellectual astuteness, to his exegetical intuition, to his tireless academic passion, and his patience. The other members of my dissertation committee also deserve my heartfelt gratitude. I am especially grateful for Ariel Feldman’s kind words of encouragement, but more importantly, his comments provided invaluable help in shaping this work on the dating of Ecclesiastes. I also owe a special thanks to Carleen Mandolfo. Though I have never met her in person, she gladly and very carefully read my work as a friend of my advisor and profoundly helped me better articulate my Bakhtinian exegesis of Ecclesiastes.
My sincerest gratitude also extends to my teachers, Leo Perdue and Toni Craven. Though I did not have a chance to have them as my advisors of this work because they retired before I started this project, their guidance through the coursework years exposed me to a variety of theological issues, which significantly shaped my scholarly identity. David Gunn at Texas Christian University should not go unnoticed. Because of his help, I was able to continue my PhD program in the absence of my former professors. I am also deeply grateful for Tim Lee, his family, and Namsoon Kang for their support of the Asian students at Brite. The Asian community at Brite, to which I felt a strong sense of belonging, could not have even formed without their persistent love, care, and guidance. Also deserving of special thanks is Carol Newsom at Emory University. My interests in the wisdom literature and the idea of using Bakhtin’s literary, philosophical insights in my interpretation of Ecclesiastes first began forming in my mind as I got to know her scholarship back in 2005 at Emory.
I must also acknowledge the contributions of my friends at Brite, especially in the dissertation room, who had helped me in a variety of ways: Baek Hee Kim, Cheongsoo Park, Dongsung Kim, Jaehee Lee, Joe McDonald, Kyeong Jung Kim, Ron Serino, Seungwoo Shim, and Yong Hyun Cho. We shared many things, like coffee, bad jokes, frustrations, and the pleasure of writing. Some of them were my tennis mates, Without the shedding of sweat with them, my body might have collapsed long ago. I can scarcely imagine my academic journey at Brite outside of these friends’ company.
Last but not least, I recognize the contributions of my family, particularly my parents, Youngsun Ko and Gunhwan Kim, and my parents-in-law, Shinhaeng Cho and Ihyun Ryu. Perhaps, “unconditional love” might be the only expression that can describe what they have done to me. No words can describe how thankful I am to my parents and parents-in-law. My appreciation is also due to my children Yru and Yiden, who have been patiently enduring the frequent absence of daddy in so many events ever since they were born. I love you.
But my greatest debt is to my wife, Sungok Cho. She has truly been the only person with whom I have shared everything in this long adventurous journey that often plunged me into great anxiety and agony. It would not have been possible to complete this project without her. It is only proper to say that this book is “our” accomplishment.