John H. Choi, «The Doctrine of the Golden Mean in Qoh 7,15-18: A Universal Human Pursuit», Vol. 83 (2002) 358-374
Two issues surrounding the doctrine of the golden mean in Qoh 7,15-18 are addressed. First, a review and critique of previous research demonstrates that the passage indeed supports the golden mean, and does not present a theological problem to the reader. Secondly, the view that the golden mean is a Hellenistic product is challenged by considering: (1) the dating and (2) nature of cultural exchange between Greece and the Near East; (3) linguistic data indicating an early date of composition for Qoheleth; and (4) the presence of Near Eastern and Eastern ideas of the golden mean. These four factors demonstrate that the golden mean in Qoheleth likely is not of Greek origin from the time of Alexander the Great, but is likely a universal phenomenon.
Qoh 7, 15-18 1 presents Qoheleth’s statement of the golden mean, an ideology, with varying manifestations, in which a course of moderation is prescribed as the ideal. The "ideal", of course, depends largely on the perspective of the one who defines the mean. Though some earlier views of the passage saw a call for moderation2, recent analyses may be split into two biases. The first states that the passage does not support the golden mean, often viewed as an "immoral doctrine"3. The other bias affirms the golden mean, but sees it as a product of the Hellenistic age, presumably because the golden mean became popular under Aristotelian or Stoic influences 4. The first bias may be a reaction against the Hellenistic bent of the second, as many who reject the golden mean do so because of its purported Hellenistic origin. The aim of this investigation is to respond to the two biases, firstly, by demonstrating that the passage does support the golden mean, and secondly, by demonstrating that the golden mean is not the result of Hellenic influence, but a universal phenomenon.
I. The Presence of the Golden Mean in Qoheleth
In order to respond to the first bias regarding the presence of the golden mean in the passage, some questionable textual interpretations