The place enjoyment has in Ecclesiastes’ argument

I think one of the key things in your take on Ecclesiastes is exactly what place you think the “enjoy life” passages have:

  1. Is it just part of the ironic wisdom - the best one can hope for in a meaningless world? ‘Eat, drink for tomorrow we die’?

  2. Is it the ultimate outcome/solution: everything is transient, so we ought to fear God and so enjoy life in this transient world as his gift?

  3. Is it a parallel solution: everything is absurd therefore we ought to both fear God and enjoy life as his gift?

  4. Or is it a penultimate conclusion: we do well to enjoy life as a gift from God, rather than fixating on gain, while ultimately knowing that the solution comes in fearing God and looking to his coming judgement?

I favour Option 4, because it deals better with the fact that the book itself often gently subverts the ‘enjoy life’ advice: enjoying life is also ‘meaningless’, in the grave you can’t enjoy it, when you’re old you can’t enjoy it, even when you’re young it’s meaningless, some good people suffer and don’t get to enjoy life.

I also think Option 4 gels with the conclusion - which focuses on Fear God and the coming judgement.

Finally, whereas at the end of the first half of the book, we are told that enjoyment frees us from worrying about the days to come (5:20), whereas the second half of the book urges us even while we’re young to focus on fearing God and thinking of the days to come.

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