Ecclesiastes (//; Greek: Ἐκκλησιαστής, Ekklēsiastēs, Hebrew: קֹהֶלֶת, qōheleṯ) is one of 24 books of the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible, where it is classified as one of the Ketuvim (or "Writings"). Originally written c. 450–200 BCE, it is also 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 Kohelet, the pseudonym used by the author of the book.
In traditional Jewish texts, King Solomon is named as the author, although modern scholars reject this. Textually, the book is the musings of a King of Jerusalem as he relates his experiences and draws lessons from them, often self-critical. The author, who is not named anywhere in the book, or in the whole of the Bible, introduces a "teacher" whom he identifies as the son of David (1:1). The author does not use his own "voice" throughout the book again until the final verses (12:9–14), where he gives his own thoughts and summarises what "the teacher" has spoken.
The teacher discusses the meaning of life and the best way to live. He proclaims all the actions of man to be inherently hevel, meaning "vain" or "futile", ("mere breath"), as both the wise and the foolish end their lives in death. Kohelet clearly endorses wisdom as a means for a well-lived earthly life. 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, and was quoted by Abraham Lincoln addressing Congress in 1862. 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."