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Under the Sun: Ecclesiastes & the Expositor's Bible Commentary

“Vanity of vanities...all is vanity!”

These words of the ancient philosopher, Qoheleth, begin a book that is unique among the books of the Hebrew Scriptures. Read by some as a cynical commentary on the uselessness of life, and by others as a pragmatic embrace of God's sovereignty, the Book of Ecclesiastes offers a richly nuanced meditation on what gives our lives meaning (or what fails to give our lives meaning, as the case may be).

In this study group we will be journeying through Ecclesiastes with the aid of a classic commentary on the book from the Expositor's Bible, written by Samuel Cox, a 19th century English nonconformist minister. The Commentary on Ecclesiastes from the Expositor's Bible can be read here on CCEL.. This quote from Cox's commentary serves as a jumping off point for our discussion: "Those who raise the question, 'Is life worth living?' answer it by—living on...But if any man lift the question into a more sincere and noble form by asking, 'How may life be made worth living, or best worth living?'—in other words, 'What is the true ideal, and what the chief good, of man?'—he will find no nobler answer to it, and none more convincingly and persuasively put, than that contained in this Scripture..."

Using Samuel Cox as our guide, we will work our way through Ecclesiastes carefully and thoroughly, following these guidelines:

  • Always approach other group members' ideas with respect. We may disagree on what a particular passage means, or we may have different ideas of how the passage speaks to us, but we all have something to contribute.
  • Feel free to let yourself be challenged by Qoheleth and by Cox's commentary. If your first reaction to reading a passage is merely to confirm your opinions, consider how the passage may get you to look at things from a different perspective.
  • Think before you post. Always remember, at the other end of all those wires is a living, breathing human being.

As we begin the discussion, please introduce yourself. Give us a little of “you in a nutshell,” and perhaps share why you joined and/or what you hope to learn.

If you have questions about the group, or need help figuring out how or what to post, please contact Cory Howell at Welcome to the discussion!