Old Testament 102: Kidner on Von Rad on Protest, Biblical Theology, and Wisdom

In his commentary on Ecclesiastes, Kidner addresses the opening salvo in Ecclesiastes (1:1-11), and particularly the statement “there is nothing new under the sun” and the idea that everything repeats itself (1:8-9), suggesting that it presents a new attitude in Israel – a weariness of doing much, and getting nowhere…

Von Rad, in his Old Testament Theology, thought at this point the author of Ecclesiastes, and thus the Wisdom Literature:

“lost its last contact with Israel’s old way of thinking in terms of saving history, and quite consistently fell back on the cyclical way of thinking common to the East,… only… in an utterly secular form.”

Kidner suggests that might be a fair assessment of the outlook, but that this is an outlook adopted by Qoheleth to expose the views of worldly man, in order to create a hunger for something better.

Von Rad’s views only work because he gets rid of the “Fear of the Lord” bits because he thinks they get in the way of the real message of the book.

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