- The Book of Ecclesiastes (New International Commentary on the Old Testament) © 1998
- 306 pages
This book reminded me of Goldilocks. It wasn’t too big: it doesn’t bog you down with too much theological minutiae. It wasn’t too small: it didn’t leave you wondering how he reached his conclusions. It was just right. This is the best conservative-yet-intelligent commentary I’ve found on Ecclesiastes.
Longman has established himself as the authority on this book, and his encyclopedic knowledge of the subject shows on every page. I meant encyclopedic literally, too. I read this book while preaching it to my congregation. I discovered that the study notes for Ecclesiastes in my Spiritual Reformation Study Bible were written by Longman. When I went to my Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings to clarify a topic, I found that Longman (along with Enns) edited the Dictionary, with Longman himself contributing a number of the articles related to Ecclesiastes.
Longman’s approach to Ecclesiastes is direct: he lets the Qohelet have his say. Longman strenuously avoids forcing orthodox interpretations onto difficult passages. He also admitted that there is no one view the Qohelet takes. Instead of explaining away discrepancies in viewpoints, he paints a picture of a sage that vacillated in his opinions as he searched out life “under the sun”.
The interaction between Longman and other interpreters is grace-filled and direct. He respects other people’s opinions, but has clearly formed his own on the book. In particular, his constant reference to Fox’s volume on Ecclesiastes demonstrates his attention to other works.
I highly recommend this volume of NICOT for anyone who wants to understand what that old sage was trying to say!