Ecclesiastes Commentary Scavenger Hunt

Commentaries are a major tool for Biblical Studies. Rarely is it the case that one reads a commentary word-by-word straight through. Usually we use them as a reference tool with a specific passage or question in mind. Rather than asking you to simply read the commentaries I have arranged a scavenger hunt designed to guide you through various skills in using biblical commentaries. Try to answer or address the numbered questions and instructions. Here are scans of three good ones.

Identifying a Good Commentary

There are several criteria one would want to notice when picking a commentary.

  1. Who wrote the Anchor Bible Commentary on Ecclesiastes? (you’ll need the Internet to answer this)
  2. Skim through Krüger’s footnotes and try to identify the name of an additional scholar that keeps coming up.


Commentaries follow predictable structures. Here are some essential parts and how to use them.

  1. Roughly how many pages of introductory essays do each of the three commentaries have?
  2. What two words do some manuscripts add to the first verse?

Addressing Questions of Interpretation in a Given Verse

Commentaries can be read to survey details others have noticed, or they can be read to address specific questions arising from reading a verse.

  1. Who is Qoheleth? (1:1)
  2. How else might the phrase translated by the NAB as “vanity of vanities” (1:2) be translated? What is the physical image evoked?
  3. What are two ways “under the sun” (1:3) could be understood?
  4. What one verb in Hebrew has the senses of “die,” “blow,” and “flow” in 1:4-7?
  5. How else might the phrase translated by the NAB as “nothing is new” (1:9) be translated? Which is more consistent with the argument of the book?
  6. What is the implication of “fixed spikes” in 12:11?
  7. Who is the “one shepherd” in 12:11?
  8. How many additions to the end of the book are there and where do they begin?