Read carefully the following verses in Ecclesiastes - 1:2,14; 2:10-11,17-20; 3:19-20; 4:2-3; 8:14; 9:9-12. At first glance this sounds more like something Nietzsche or Madelyn Murray-O'Hair might say rather than the Bible. These statements appear to have more in common with an existentialist philosopher like Jean Paul Sartre than Solomon. The rabbis who lived in the age of the OT often wrestled with such texts. They debated whether or not Ecclesiastes "defiled the hands," i.e., whether or not it was an inspired and canonical book which conveyed holiness when handled. The question is still being asked today. J. Stafford Wright asks quite pointedly,
"ought the book . . . to remain in the Bible? Would it not be better to admit straight away that the contradictions and unorthodox statements that have delighted skeptics and puzzled devout minds would have been far better employed in writing for the Rationalist Press Association than for the Library of the Holy Spirit. It is a question that must be faced. If there is not satisfactory interpretation of the book --- satisfactory, that is, from the Christian standpoint --- there is no logical reason for retaining it in the Bible" (133).
Many who have argued on behalf of E have proposed differing ways of dealing with its difficult statements. Older Jewish expositors simply put a question mark after those statements which seemed to advocate a life of mindless pleasure. The refrain, "there is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink," was made to read, "is there nothing better . . ." Others suggested that Solomon wrote the book in a state of depression and sinful rebellion, having been driven from his throne in Israel because of disobedience.
I do not believe we need to