The list author says: "Just who is this Â“serious laypersonÂ” you ask? It is the man or woman who is not a religious professional (e.g., not a pastor or seminary professor) but nevertheless wants to be transformed by the renewing of his or her mind.
We are fortunate to have an abundance of excellent commentaries on this mysterious, profound book. Every commentary on the list is worth reading by the serious layperson and is not over his or her head. Below I have listed the top nine. I have also included an excellent meditation on Ecclesiastes and an evangelistic commentary."
"Bartholomew's interpretation of Ecclesiastes is fabulous and his theological implications are insightful. He is theological, philosophical, scholarly, and practical. I think this and Seow (listed next) are the top two commentaries on Ecclesiastes. Click on the link immediately above to see my review of Bartholomew on Amazon."
"Seow's commentary is aimed at scholars but still accessible to the serious layperson. Seow's excellent interpretation, sound theology, and profound insights make this a superb commentary on Ecclesiastes."
"The late Fr. Murphy was one of greatest scholars on the Wisdom Books and his commentary on Ecclesiastes is superb. Murphy correctly keeps the tension between the joy and frustration of Qohelet intact."
"This is somewhat of a concise version of the above book, but it includes more traditional Jewish reflection on Qohelet. Note that the JPS series commentaries go from the back of the book to the front (like the Hebrew Scriptures, which are included), something that I find disconcerting and difficult to get accustomed to."
"This is a brief (137 pp.) but excellent commentary. Like all Interpretation volumes, this is not a verse-by-verse technical study but rather a theological exposition. Williams writes, Â“Yet even in QohelethÂ’s topsy-turvy world, rife with contradiction, the sage refuses to let go of his faith in holy reverence. The godly can robustly, even defiantly, go forth in a world fraught with moral absurdity."
"Written by David A. Hubbard, this is excellent for understanding the message of Ecclesiastes and one of the best in the Preacher's Commentary series. This can also be found in the Communicator's Commentary series and the Mastering the Old Testament series."
"This is a highly regarded commentary that nevertheless is not the most accurate guide to Ecclesiastes because Longman sees Ecclesiastes as disjointed and interprets Qohelet too negatively. That said, Longman is one of the best Old Testament scholars and you can always learn from him. His commentaries on Proverbs (BCOT) and Song of Songs (NICOT) are superb."
"Not strictly a commentary, this is "a meditation on Ecclesiastes" by a brilliant French professor emeritus of law. This study comes from his 50 years of reading, studying, and thinking about Ecclesiastes. This book will change the way you see Ecclesiastes."
"IÂ’ve included this book because it is straightforward and evangelistic. Over a decade ago, on his road to belief in Christ, this book was given to a young, non-believing drug addict, and God used this book to profoundly impact his life. This man is now giving this book to others."