Commentaries on Ecclesiastes

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Order of Contents  40+

Best  12
More
.      1500’s  2
.      1600’s  10
.      Devotional  1
.      Intermediate  8
.      Advanced  4
Early Church  2
Jewish  2
By Subject
Chapters of
In Latin

 

 

The Best Commentaries on Ecclesiastes

Devotional

Ferguson, Sinclair – The Pundit’s Folly  Buy  1995  Banner of Truth

This wonderful little booklet encapsulates the teachings of Ecclesiastes in an engaging, pungent, and contemporary style.

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Intermediate, 1800’s

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 and its Lessons, explained and 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 – Daily Bible Illustrations: being Original Readings for a Year, on subjects relating to Sacred History, Biography, Geography, Antiquities and Theology, vol. 5 (Job-Song) pp. 349-380

***  ‘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 – Ecclessiastes  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, James – The Book of Ecclesiastes Explained  1856  Buy

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

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Advanced

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 Ecclessiastes

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

1500’s

Luther, Martin – An Exposition of Solomon’s book called Ecclesiastes, or the preacher  ToC  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 and Learned Commentary upon Ecclesiastes  ToC  1585  d. 1552

*  “Serranus 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

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1600’s

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, John – A Brief Exposition with Practical Observations upon the Whole Book of Ecclesiastes  †1652  Cotton was the 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 and 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, and 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

Leigh, Edward – Annotations on Five Poetical Books of the Old Testament: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles  1657

**  ‘Good, brief notes.  Antique, but still prized.’ – Spurgeon

Nisbet, Alexander – An Exposition with Practical Observations upon the Book of Ecclesiastes  ToC  Pod  †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 and 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

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Devotional

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

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Intermediate

1700’s

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

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1800’s

Coleman, John – Ecclesiastes, a New Translation, with Notes, Explanatory, Illustrative and 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

Noyes, George R. – A New Translation of the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Canticles, with Introductions and Notes, chiefly Explanatory  1846

**  “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 and 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

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1900’s

Leupold, H.C. – An Exposition of Ecclesiastes  Buy

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, Benjamin – Commentary on Ecclesiastes  

This work has been slated for publication by the Banner of Truth as of 2016.  Shaw is a professor of Hebrew and the Old Testament at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

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Advanced

1700’s

Durell, David – Critical Remarks on the Books of Job, Proverbs, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles  1772

Durell (1728–1775) was an Anglican O.T. scholar.

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1800’s

Ginsburg, Christian – Coheleth, commonly called The Book of Ecclesiastes, translated and with a Commentary Historical and 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 and a Latin version of the Book of Solomon called Ecclesiastes, with Original Notes, Philological and Exegetical, and 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, and with Notes, Critical and Explanatory  Buy  1874

**  “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

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The Early Church on Ecclesiastes

Compilation

ed. Wright, J. Robert – Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon  Buy

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Early Church Father

Gregory Thaumaturgus – A Metaphrase on the Book of Ecclesiastes  8 pp. in Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 6, pp. 9-17

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Jewish

Ginsberg, Harold Lewis – Studies in Koheleth  1950

Ginsberg

Gordis, Robert – Koheleth: the Man and his World  Buy  1955

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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 and Plain Paraphrase upon the Song of Songs  1609

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Ecclesiastes 1-5

Gifford, George – Eight Sermons, upon the First Four Chapters, and part of the Fifth, of Ecclesiastes  1589

Gifford (1547-1600) was a Reformed puritan.

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Ecclesiastes  12

Smith, John – King Solomon’s Portraiture of Old Age, wherein is contained a Sacred Anatomy both of Soul and Body, with an account of all these Mystical and Enigmatical Symptoms, expressed in the six former verses of Eccl. 12, made plain and 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

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Commentaries on Ecclesiastes in Latin

Beza, Theodore – Ecclesiastes: Solomon’s Sermon to the People about Life thus set forth, so that they may achieve True and Eternal Happiness, in Paraphrase and Opened by Theodore Beza  1588  88 pp.

** – “Sure to be weighty and instructive.  It is exceedingly rare.” – Spurgeon, on the English translation

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Ecclesiastes in Poetry

See the subsection on Ecclesiastes on our Bible in Poetry page.

 

 

 

Related Pages

Whole Bible Commentaries

Old Testament Commentaries

New Testament Commentaries