Ecclesiastes (//; Greek: Ἐκκλησιαστής, Ekklesiastes, Hebrew: קֹהֶלֶת, Qoheleth, Koheleth) is one of 24 books of the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible, where it is classified as one of the Ketuvim (or "Writings").
''In a way this cli-fi novel is a kind of Ecclesiastes for the layperson and the non-believer alike. It's a wake up call, reminding us that yes, what we do matters, what actions we take do mattter and how we live and how we die matters, too."
-- LITERARY CRITIC in the NEW YORKER magazine
It is among the canonical Wisdom Books in the Old Testament of most denominations of Christianity. The title Ecclesiastes is a Latin transliteration of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Koheleth (meaning "Gatherer", but traditionally translated as "Teacher" or "Preacher"), the pseudonym used by the author of the book.
The book is an anonymous treatise; critical study believes it was composed in the last part of the 3rd century BC. The author "Koheleth" uses a literary device to introduce himself as "son of David, king in Jerusalem" (i.e., Solomon), which dates the book itself to the 10th century BC. It proceeds to discuss the meaning of life and the best way of life. He proclaims all the actions of man to be inherently hevel, meaning "vain", "futile", "empty", "meaningless", "temporary", "transitory", "fleeting", or "mere breath," as the lives of both wise and foolish people end in death. While Koheleth clearly endorses wisdom as a means for a well-lived earthly life, he does not ascribe eternal meaning to it. In light of this senselessness, one should enjoy the simple pleasures of daily life, such as eating, drinking, and taking enjoyment in one's work, which are gifts from the hand of God. The book concludes with the injunction: "Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone" (12:13).
Ecclesiastes has had a deep influence on Western literature. It contains several phrases that have resonated in British and American culture, such as "nothing new under the sun," "a time to be born and a time to die," and "vanity of vanities; all is vanity." Abraham Lincoln quoted Ecclesiastes 1:4 in his address to the reconvening Congress on December 1, 1862 during the darkest hours of the American Civil War: "One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever....Our strife pertains to ourselves - to the passing generations of men; and it can without convulsion be hushed forever with the passing of one generation." American novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote: "[O]f all I have ever seen or learned, that book seems to me the noblest, the wisest, and the most powerful expression of man's life upon this earth—and also the highest flower of poetry, eloquence, and truth. I am not given to dogmatic judgments in the matter of literary creation, but if I had to make one I could say that Ecclesiastes is the greatest single piece of writing I have ever known, and the wisdom expressed in it the most lasting and profound."