Message of Ecclesiastes

ISBN: 0877842868
ISBN 13: 9780877842866
By: Derek Kidner

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About this book

What is life about? In the end, does it all amount to a wisp of vapor, a puff of wind, a mere breath---nothing you can get your hands on--the nearest thing to zero? So says the Preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes. But is this the whole message of Ecclesiastes? With imagination and clarity, Derek Kidner introduces this Old Testament book which speaks so powerfully to our generation. His love of Hebrew poetry and his understanding of biblical mind shine through in his careful passage-by-passage exposition. The full biblical text is included.

Reader's Thoughts

Joe Haack

Kidner communicates in one sentence what I could only say in one paragraph; one paragraph in what I could only say in one essay. He uses colorful language too; sadly rare for theological writers. I disagree with some of his baseline assumptions of Qoholeth's worldview - but this commentary helped me gather the "sense" of each section better than all I have read.

J. Alfred

This was great. It was short, accessable, and I think I understand Ecclesiastes mo better now. I would go ahead and call it entirely successful in its aims. Be brave! Be joyful! Be godly!Also, this marks the first time in which Goodreads itself has proved to be of use, rather than an add-on to my reading experiance, in that I saw Peter was reading these BST books and said "Peter's darn smart. Let's get smart too!" Good choices, Peter!



Matthew Mitchell

Ecclesiastes is, for me, one of the hardest books in the Bible to interpret. Our small group from church just finished a study of the book--and I learned the most outside of our discussion from reading Kidner's little volume.As usual, Kidner is concise, precise, and incisive. Though brief, this commentary covers all of the big things. He's careful with his statements but makes exegetical decisions. I can tell that the 1984 NIV Study Bible notes lean heavily on this book, too.I don't have all of my questions answered yet, but of all the things I've read on Ecclesiastes, this is the one I trust the most. Recommended.




I started reading this while preparing some Sunday school lessons in December, but I wasn't very consistent in reading it. I thought it was a very insightful commentary.I found especially illuminating his comments on chapter 3 ("there is a time for every purpose under heaven..."). Rather than interpreting that as a positive thing, he believes it is meant to represent the futility of life "under heaven". No matter what we do, things change, and often we have no control over it. That interpretation certainly fits better with the theme and feeling of Ecclesiastes, and is probably right.Ultimately, one of the key points of Ecclesiastes is the difference between "under heaven" and "with God". Apart from God, there is much to pursue but nothing that fulfills. With God, we can recognize purpose in this world, even if we do not understand it (cf. 3:11).


This is an outstanding, balanced exposition of the very relevant book of Ecclesiastes. Derek Kidner understands the perspective of Eccelesiastes and accurately captures the pathos of Qoheleth's instruction.This is a must read for any wanting to understand Ecclesiastes or searching for the meaning of life!

Douglas Wilson

Quite good.


Book was good, print was not so good. It seemed to change font style a lot.


The book of Ecclesiastes has always intrigued me. This is the first time I read a work done on it. Ecclesiastes starts with the statement that 'everything is in vain'. It leads to the question "what is life about?." It also talks about the futility of everything - (a) death (b) ups/downs of fortune and (c) fickleness of men (wisdom). If everything is ultimately in vain, then how should we conduct our lives? This book offers easy to follow commentary on Ecclesiastes. At the heart of it, what is the reason that we keep 'seeking' for 'something'? Is it because man seeks for eternity? (Ecc 3:11)? Some may view Ecclesiastes as full of defeatism, but I think they are just healthy dose of realism.


This is a very good commentary about a book of the Bible that is very difficult to understand.


I've loved Ecclesiastes for years, and I recently committed to reading through as many of the most popular and enduring commentaries and other books about it as I can find--not all right in a row, or in a very orderly or obsessive manner, but just as I can find the books, so that I can learn more and regularly immerse myself in Qoheleth's world. The first book I read on this journey was Michael A. Eaton's Ecclesiastes: An Introduction and Commentary (reviewed here). I found it very encouraging and enlightening. And now the second book I've read on Ecclesiastes is Derek Kidner's A Time to Mourn, and a Time to Dance.Kidner's commentary is regarded by many as a modern classic on the book of Ecclesiastes. Kidner is brief, simple, and direct, leading the reader on a guided tour through Qoheleth's logic and musings. There is occasional humor, and there are also challenges to apply Qoheleth's teachings to the reader's own living and thinking. Kidner doesn't devote a lot of space to discussing alternative viewpoints or the history of Ecclesiastes commentary and criticism, and that's all right with me. He employs the same "under the sun vs. under God's care" perspective as Eaton, which for me makes Ecclesiastes come alive (but also leaves ample ambiguity and space for reflection and mystery).The English translations Kidner references are of course from the previous generation of translations--this is pre-NIV, and pre- many other of the current favorites. But his default text is the RSV, which is almost identical to the ESV, my current preferred translation. Kidner doesn't share as much Hebrew word study as Eaton; I preferred Eaton's slightly more in-depth explanations of what particular words and phrases meant in the original, and the various ways they've been translated into English.

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