A Time to Tear Down & A Time to Build Up | Michael V. Fox

A Time to Tear Down & A Time to Build Up

The contradictions in the book of Qohelet are real and intended. We must interpret them, not eliminate them (3).

With these words, Fox jumps into the deep. He understands the mind of the torn and at times self-contradictory Qohelet—and admires him.

Fox has a masterful command of the ancient Hebrew language. He is a professor of Jewish studies at the University of Wisconsin, and has written for the Jewish Publication Society. Let’s just say that he knows his stuff.

This book is approximately half introduction and half commentary. The essays in the introduction cover a broad variety of topics critical to understanding the Qohelet such as Wisdom, Toil, Justice, and (most importantly) Hebel—Meaningless. These chapters are an excellent resource to turn to when you want to brush up on the various topics.

This is a difficult book to read, especially for those (like myself) with a tenuous grasp on Ancient Hebrew. However, a slow thoughtful reading will benefit anyone with basic theological training. At times I felt like I was struggling to keep my head above the water when following his arguments, but in the end the effort was well worth it. This book will have more to offer on subsequent re-readings, I’m sure.

In sum: this is a scholarly, Jewish, post-modern interpretation of one of the most neglected books in the canon. If you have time to devote, this book rewards richly.

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