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The Quran, for example, emphasizes the similarity of heaven to the temporal world: “As for the righteous, they shall surely triumph.Theirs shall be gardens and vineyards, and high-bosomed maidens for companions: a truly overflowing cup.” Similarly, Christian scripture includes vivid descriptions of souls in the world to come, much of which were elaborated upon by Dante in his visual descriptions of heaven and hell, and which were captured in the grandiose paintings of Hieronymous Bosch.
The pyramids of ancient Egypt, which aimed to project the “star” of Pharaoh into the eternal sphere of the heavens, are evidence of this.
As opposed to the quest of Job, Solomon’s search for wisdom did not arise from a desire to make sense of either personal misfortune or national catastrophe.
Indeed, his was a life of unrepentant indulgence: he tempted himself with wine, entertained himself with male and female performers, and amassed untold treasures and hundreds of wives and concubines.
Already in the opening passages, Kohelet despairs over what he sees as the futility of life’s labors: Therefore I hated life, because the deeds that are done under the sun were depressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind. Whereas all the great emperors and kings of old strove to achieve eternal life by erecting grand monuments to themselves, Kohelet understands that such attempts are illusory.
Then I hated all my work, which I work at under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me—and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? He is therefore forced to pose the elementary question: f I die anyway, why does anything matter? For there are numerous passages in Ecclesiastes that move in the opposite direction.