Order of Contents 40+
The Best Commentaries on Ecclesiastes
This wonderful little booklet encapsulates the teachings of Ecclesiastes in an engaging, pungent, and contemporary style.
Bridges, Charles – An Exposition of the Book of Ecclesiastes (1860)
*** – “After the manner of other works by this devout author, who is always worth consulting, though he gives us nothing very new.” – Spurgeon
‘A series of sermons on each verse. Deeply devotional, but manifesting a weakness in the exposition of the successive stages of the Biblical writer’s thought.’ – Cyril J. Barber
Buchanan, Robert – Ecclesiastes; its Meaning & its Lessons, Explained & illustrated (1859)
Buchanan was of the Free Church of Scotland.
*** – “Dr. Buchanan has endeavored in every instance to give the true meaning of the text. His explanations were composed for the pulpit and delivered there. The work is most important, but strikes us as lacking in liveliness of style.” – Spurgeon
Hamilton, James – The Royal Preacher; Lectures on Ecclesiastes (1851)
Hamilton was a prolific author and a minister in the Church of Scotland. Before the Disruption he was an assistant to Robert Candlish. After 1841 remained pastor of the National Scotch Church in London.
*** – “We have had a great treat in reading this prose poem. It is a charming production.” – Spurgeon
Kitto, John – 11th Week, Saturday – 12th Week, Friday in Daily Bible Illustrations: being Original Readings for a Year, on Subjects Relating to Sacred History, Biography, Geography, Antiquities & Theology (Job-Song), vol. 5, pp. 349-80
*** ‘Worthy of attentive reading’ ‘They are not exactly a commentary, but what marvelous expositions you have there! You have reading more interesting than any novel that was ever written, and as instructive as the heaviest theology. The matter is quite attractive and fascinating, and yet so weighty, that the man who shall study those eight volumes thoroughly, will not fail to read his Bible intelligently and with growing interest.’ – Spurgeon
Lange’s Commentary – Ecclesiastes by Otto Zockler
*** – ‘We cannot say that we admire Zockler’s interpretation of the Song of Solomon. The volume contains much that we do not like, but its value is considerable. It is a pity that the value of the volumes in this series varies so much.’ – Spurgeon
MacDonald was of Princeton, New Jersey.
*** – “Thoroughly exegetical, with excellent ‘scopes of argument’ following each division: to be purchased if it can be met with.” – Spurgeon
‘While supplying the text of both the AV and RV, the author gives a verse-by-verse commentary. Devotional.’ – Cyril J. Barber
Young, Loyal – A Commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes (1865) There are introductory notices by A.T. McGill and M.W. Jacobus, two prominent presbyterian ministers.
Young was an American Presbyterian minister in PA.
*** – “This American comment is highly spoken of by eminent judges, and appears to have been carefully executed. It is able and solid, and at the same time enlivened with originality of thought, vivacity of expression, and practical pungency.” – Spurgeon
Stuart, Moses – A Commentary on Ecclesiastes (1851)
*** – “Full and minute, with most instructive introductions. It is unnecessary to say that Moses Stuart is a great authority, though not all we could wish as to spirituality.” – Spurgeon
Wardlaw, Ralph – Lectures on the Book of Ecclesiastes (two volumes in one)
*** – “Wardlaw is always good, though not very brilliant. He may be relied upon, when not critical, and he generally excited thought.” – Spurgeon
Hengstenberg, E.W. – Commentary on Ecclesiastes (1860) 268 pp.
*** – “Scholarly of course, and also more vivacious than is usual with Hengstenberg.” – Spurgeon
‘A conservative exposition based upon a thorough study of the original text.’ – Cyril J. Barber
Keil & Delitzsch – Commentary on Ecclesiastes
Keil and Delitzsch are the best on academic, grammarian analysis, but are as spiritually satisfying as quenching your thirst on saltine crackers.
*** – Spurgeon
More Commentaries on Ecclesiastes
Luther, Martin – An Exposition of Solomon’s Book called Ecclesiastes, or ‘The Preacher’ Buy (d. 1546)
** – “Even the British Museum authorities have been unable to find this octavo for us, though it is mentioned in their catalogue.” – Spurgeon
Serranus, John – A Godly & Learned Commentary upon Ecclesiastes (1585)
* “Serranus [d. 1552] was a Protestant pastor at Nismes, of such moderate opinions, and such objectionable modes of stating them, that he was about equally abhorred by Romanists and Protestants. He is said to have been very inaccurate in his learning.” – Spurgeon
Reynolds, Edward – A Commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes (d. 1676)
** – “See [the] Westminster Assembly’s Annotations, for which Reynolds wrote this. He is always good.” – Spurgeon
Anonymous – Annotations on the Book of Ecclesiastes London, printed by Streater (1669) This book is the same as that by Edward Reynolds.
* “By no means remarkable, except for some extreme rarity.” – Spurgeon
Broughton, Hugh – A Commentary upon Coheleth, or Ecclesiastes (1605)
Broughton was a reformed Anglican.
* – “Broughton was a far-famed and rather pretentious Hebraist whom Dr. Gill quoted as an authority. His work is nearly obsolete, but its loss is not a severe one.” – Spurgeon
Cotton (†1652) was a New England puritan.
** – “By a great linguist and sound divine. Ecclesiastes is not a book to be expounded verse by verse; but Cotton does it as well as anyone.” – Spurgeon
Granger, Thomas – A Familiar Exposition, or Commentary, on Ecclesiastes, wherein the World’s Vanity & the True Felicity are Plainly Deciphered (1621) 344 pp.
** – ” Very antique, containing many obsolete and coarse phrases; but pithy and quaint.” – Spurgeon
Jackson, Arthur – Annotations upon Job, the Psalms, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes & the Song of Solomon (1658)
“In 1653, Arthur Jackson, Preacher of God’s Word in Wood Street, London, issued four volumes upon the Old Testament, which appear to have been the result of his pulpit expositions to his people. Valuable his works would be if there were no better, but they are not comparable to others already and afterwards mentioned. You can do without him, but he is a reputable author.” – Spurgeon
Jermin, Michael – A Commentary upon the Whole Book of Ecclesiastes, or The Preacher (1659)
Jermin (1590-1659) was a Reformed Anglican.
** – “The school to which Jermin belonged delighted to display their learning, of which they had no small share; they excelled in wise sayings, but not in unction. the fruit is ripe, but lacks flavor.” – Spurgeon
** ‘Good, brief notes. Antique, but still prized.’ – Spurgeon
Nisbet, Alexander – An Exposition with Practical Observations upon the Book of Ecclesiastes (†1669)
** – ‘One of those solid works which learned Scotch divines of the seventeenth century have left us in considerable numbers. In our judgment it is as heavy as it is weighty.’ – Surgeon
Pemble, William – Salomon’s Recantation & Repentance, or the Book of Ecclesiastes Briefly and Fully Explained in Works, pp. 281-344 (†1623)
Pemble was a Reformed puritan.
** – “Anthony a Wood calls Pemble ‘a famous preacher, a skillful linguist, a good orator, and an ornament to society.’ Moreover, he was a learned Calvinistic divine. This ‘Recantation’ is a minor production. The style is scholastic, with arrangements of the subjects such as render it hard to read. We confess we are disappointed with it.” – Spurgeon
Sikes, George – An Exposition of Ecclesiastes, or, The Preacher (1680)
Mylne, G.W. – Ecclesiastes; or, Lessons for the Christian’s Daily Walk (1859)
** “The author in this little publication does not comment upon the whole Book; but the passages he touches are ably explained.” – Spurgeon
Anonymous – Choheleth, or The Royal Preacher, a Poem (1769)
* – “This is the work of which Mr. Wesley wrote: ‘Monday, Feb. 8, 1768. I met with a surprising poem, entitled Choheleth, or the Preacher: it is a paraphrase in tolerable verse on the Book of Ecclesiastes. I really think the author of it (a Turkey merchant) understands both the difficult expressions and the connection of the whole, better than any other, either ancient or modern, writer whom I have seen.” We defer to Mr. Wesley’s opinion, but it would not have occurred to us to commend so warmly.” – Spurgeon
Coleman, John – Ecclesiastes, a New Translation, with Notes, Explanatory, Illustrative & Critical (1867)
** “A scholarly translation with important observations.” – Spurgeon
Cox, Samuel – The Quest for the Chief Good: Expository Lectures on the Book of Ecclesiastes (1868)
** “We should find it hard to subscribe to Mr. Cox’s views of Ecclesiastes, for, to begin with, we cannot admit that its author was not Solomon, but some unnamed Rabbi: nevertheless, ‘The Quest for the Chief Good’ is full of valuable matter, and abundantly repays perusal.” – Spurgeon
‘A learned treatment by the former editor of The Expositor.’ – Cyril J. Barber
Holden, George – An Attempt to Illustrate the Book of Ecclesiastes (1822) 317 pp. A paraphrase of Ecclesiastes follows the Introductory material. The commentary begins on p. 53 of the work. More technical observations are kept to the footnotes.
Holden (1783-1865) was an orthodox Anglican.
** – “Bridges says that Holden ‘stands foremost for accuracy of critical exegesis,’ and Ginsburg considers his commentary to be the best in our language. We may therefore be wrong in setting so little store by it as we do, but we are not convinced.” – Spurgeon
** “Of Noyes upon Ecclesiastes, Dr. Hamilton says: ‘This interpretation is clear and straightforward, but the American professor gives to the book an air of theological tenuity and mere worldly wisdom which carries neither our conviction nor our sympathy.’ Noyes is a good literary expositor, but his theological views render him a very poverty-stricken commentator from a spiritual point of view.” – Spurgeon
Weiss, Benjamin – A New Translation & Exposition of the Book of Ecclesiastes, with Critical Notes on the Hebrew Text (1856)
** “It is pleasing to find a converted Jew engaged upon this book. Mr. Weiss says many good things, but frequently his interpretations and remarks are more singular than wise.” – Spurgeon
Leupold (b. 1891) was an orthodox Lutheran and a professor of the Old Testament.
‘An exceptional treatment based upon a careful exegesis of the text and revealing the emptiness of formalism and the discontent with life which follows attempts to solve its problems outside implicit faith and trust in God’s providence.’ – Cyril J. Barber
Shaw was a professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Durell, David – Critical Remarks on the Books of Job, Proverbs, Psalms, Ecclesiastes & Canticles (1772)
Durell (1728–1775) was an Anglican O.T. scholar.
Ginsburg, Christian – Coheleth, Commonly Called, The Book of Ecclesiastes, translated & with a Commentary Historical & Critical (1857)
Ginsburg (1831-1914) was a leading Christian Hebraicist of his day.
** – “The author does not believe that Solomon wrote the book, and his view of its design is not the usual, nor, as we think, the right one. His outline of the literature of the book is very complete.” – Spurgeon
Preston, Theodore – The Hebrew Text & a Latin version of the Book of Solomon called Ecclesiastes, with Original Notes, Philological & Exegetical, & a Translation of the Commentary of Mendelssohn from the Rabbinic Hebrew (1845) The commentary begins on p. 130
Mendelssohn was a German, Jewish, Enlightenment philosopher.
** “A book more prized by linguists than by preachers. We might with propriety have named this Mendelssohn’s Commentary, for so it is.” – Spurgeon
Lloyd, J. – An Analysis of Ecclesiastes, with Reference to the Hebrew Grammar of Gesenius, & with Notes, Critical & Explanatory Buy (London: Samule Bagster, 1874) 205 pp. no ToC
Lloyd was an Anglican rector.
** “This will be esteemed by men who have some knowledge of the Hebrew. The repeated references to Gesenius would render the book tedious to the ordinary reader, but they make it all the more valuable to one who aspires to be a Hebraist.” – Spurgeon
The Early Church on Ecclesiastes
ed. Wright, J. Robert – Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon Buy
Early Church Father
Gregory Thaumaturgus – A Metaphrase on the Book of Ecclesiastes 8 pp. in Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 6, pp. 9-17
Ginsberg (1903 – 1990) was a professor of rabbinic literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City.
Gordis, Robert – Koheleth: the Man & his World: a Study of Ecclesiastes Buy (NY: Schocken Books, 1955) 425 pp. ToC
Ecclesiastes Arranged by Subject with a Commentary
Hall, Joseph – Salomon’s Divine Arts, of: 1. Ethics, 2. Politics, 3. Economics that is; the Government of: 1. Behavior, 2. Commonwealth, 3. Family. Drawn into method, out of his Proverbs & Ecclesiastes. With an Open & Plain Paraphrase upon the Song of Songs (1609)
On Chapters in Ecclesiastes
Gifford, George – Eight Sermons, upon the First Four Chapters & Part of the Fifth, of Ecclesiastes (1589)
Gifford (1547-1600) was a Reformed puritan.
Harris, Robert – On Eccl. 1 in Several Sermons of Robert Harris Ref (1654)
Smith, John – King Solomon’s Portraiture of Old Age, wherein is Contained a Sacred Anatomy Both of Soul & Body, with an Account of All these Mystical & Enigmatical Symptoms, Expressed in the Six Former Verses of Eccl. 12, made Plain & Easy (1666)
** – “A curious book by a physician, who brings his anatomical knoweldge to bear upon the 12th chapter of Ecclesiastes, and tries to show that Solomon understood the circulation of the blood, etc. Matthew Poole introduced the substance of this treatise into his Synopsis, and in that huge compilation he speaks eulogistically of the author, with whom he resided. We mention it because of its singularity.” – Spurgeon
** – “Sure to be weighty and instructive. It is exceedingly rare.” – Spurgeon, on the English translation
Ecclesiastes in Poetry
See the subsection on Ecclesiastes on our Bible in Poetry page.