Book of Isaiah: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hebrew Bible
Tanach.jpg
Judaism portal
Christianity portal

The Book of Isaiah (Hebrew: ספר ישעיה‎) is a book of the Bible traditionally attributed to the Prophet Isaiah, who lived in the second half of the 8th century BC.[1] In the first 39 chapters, Isaiah prophesies doom for a sinful Judah and for all the nations of the world that oppose God. The last 27 chapters prophesy the restoration of the nation of Israel. This section includes the Songs of the Suffering Servant, four separate passages that Christians believe prefigure the coming of Jesus Christ, and which are otherwise traditionally thought to refer to the nation of Israel. This second of the book's two major sections also includes prophecies of a new creation in God's glorious future kingdom.[2]

There is considerable debate about the dating of the text; one widely accepted critical hypothesis suggests that much if not most of the text was not written in the 8th century BC.[3] Tradition ascribes the Book of Isaiah to a single author, Isaiah himself. Modern scholarship suggests the text has two or three authors. This later author or authors, and their work or works, are known as Deutero- or Second Isaiah and Trito- or Third Isaiah respectively.[2][4]

Scroll of Book of Isaiah

Contents

Content

The Book of Isaiah

The 66 chapters of Isaiah consist primarily of prophecies of Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Syria, Israel (the northern kingdom), Ethiopia, Egypt, Arabia, and Phoenicia. The prophesies concerning them can be summarized as saying that God is the God of the whole earth, and that nations which think of themselves as secure in their own power might well be conquered by other nations, at God's command.

The first 39 chapters are thought to be authored by Isaiah, with the remaining chapters added later by one or more scribes working in Isaiah's tradition. See the discussion in the Authorship section below.

Advertisements

Isaiah 1-39

Chapters 1-5 and 28-29 prophesy judgment against Judah itself. Judah thinks itself safe because of its covenant relationship with God. However, God tells Judah (through Isaiah) that the covenant cannot protect them when they have broken it by idolatry, the worship of other gods, and by acts of injustice and cruelty, which oppose God's law.

Some exceptions to this overall foretelling of doom do occur, throughout the early chapters of the book. Chapter 6 describes Isaiah's call to be a prophet of God. Chapters 35-39 provide historical material about King Hezekiah and his triumph of faith in God.

Chapters 24-34, while too complex to characterize easily, are primarily concerned with prophecies of a "Messiah," a person anointed or given power by God, and of the Messiah's kingdom, where justice and righteousness will reign. This section is seen by Jews as describing an actual king, a descendant of their great king, David, who will make Judah a great kingdom and Jerusalem a truly holy city. It is traditionally seen by Christians as describing Jesus. A number of modern scholars believe that it describes, in somewhat idealized terms, King Hezekiah, who was a descendant of David, and who tried to make Jerusalem into a holy city.

Isaiah 40-66

The prophecy continues with what some have called “The Book of Comfort” which begins in chapter 40 and completes the writing. In the first eight chapters of this book of comfort, Isaiah prophesies the deliverance of the Jews from the hands of the Babylonians and restoration of Israel as a unified nation in the land promised to them by God. Isaiah reaffirms that the Jews are indeed the chosen people of God in chapter 44 and that Yahweh is the only God for the Jews (and the only God of the universe) as he will show his power over the mighty rulers of Babylon in due time in chapter 46. In chapter 45:1, the Persian ruler Cyrus is named as the person of power who will overthrow the Babylonians and allow the return of Israel to their original land.

The remaining chapters of the book contain prophecies of the future glory of Zion. A "suffering servant" is referred to (esp. ch. 53). Rabbinic Judaism understands this as a metaphor for Israel; Christians see it as referring to the Messiah.[5] Although there is still the mention of judgment of false worshippers and idolaters (65 & 66), the book ends with a message of hope of a righteous ruler who extends salvation to his righteous subjects living in the Lord’s kingdom on earth.

Supporters of two authors division use the term Deutero-Isaiah in reference to chapters 40-66, but to the supporters of three divisions in authorship this term usually refers to chapters 40-55 only.

A popular and well known extract from 40:6 is the quote "All flesh is grass".

Historical background

Isaiah lived in the late eighth century BC. He was part of the upper class but urged care of the downtrodden. At the end, he was loyal to King Hezekiah, but disagreed with the King's attempts to forge alliances with Egypt and Babylon in response to the Assyrian threat.

Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of four kings: Uzziah (also known as Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. According to tradition, he was martyred during the reign of Manasseh, who came to the throne in 687 BC, by being cut in two by a wooden saw. That he is described as having ready access to the kings would suggest an aristocratic origin.

This was the time of the divided kingdom, with Israel in the north and Judah in the south. There was prosperity for both the kingdoms during Isaiah’s youth with little foreign interference. Jeroboam II ruled in the north and Uzziah in the south. The small kingdoms of Palestine, as well as Syria, were under the influence of Egypt. However, in 745 BC, Tiglath-pileser III came to the throne of Assyria. He was interested in Assyrian expansionism, especially to the west; and 2 Kings 15:17-22 mentions that King Menahem of Israel paid tribute to him ("King Pul").

Syro-Ephraimite War

Because of the threat from Tiglath-pileser III, Syria (or "Aram") and Israel (led now by Pekah) tried to force Judah to ally with them around 734 BC. Ahaz was on the throne of Judah then. He was advised by Isaiah to trust in the Lord, but, instead, he called to Assyria for help. Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Syria attacked Judah and inflicted damage on it before Assyria came to its aid, but there would be more serious religious consequences of Ahaz’s refusal to accept the Lord’s guidance through Isaiah.

Fall of Syria and Samaria

With Israel under King Pekah no longer loyal, Tiglath-pileser attacked in 733 BC. He took much of the land of Israel (2 Kings 15:29-30) leaving only the city of Samaria and its surroundings independent.[6] Judah, however, was not involved.

Damascus, capital of Syria, was taken by the Assyrians in 732. Tiglath–pileser died in 727 BC, raising false hopes for the Palestinian countries. Ahaz died a year later. Isaiah warned Philistia and the other countries not to revolt against Assyria. Hoshea, then king of Samaria, withheld tribute to Assyria. Consequently, Shalmaneser V, the new king of Assyria, laid siege to Samaria for 3 years, and his successor, Sargon II, took the city and deported 27,000 Israelites to northern parts of the Assyrian empire. This marked the end of the Northern Kingdom of Israel forever, as its population was taken into exile and dispersed amongst Assyrian provinces. It is as a result of this exile that reference is made to Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

There was peace in the area for 10 years, but then, Sargon returned in 711 BC to crush a coalition of Egypt and the Philistines. Judah had stayed out of this conflict, Hezekiah wisely listening to Isaiah’s advice.

Babylon

Merodach-Baladan took power in Babylon in 721 BC. Sargon took Babylon without a fight in 711 BC, but after Sargon’s death, Merodach-Baladan rebelled against Sargon's successor Sennacherib. Babylon was defeated this time but would revive in another century to defeat Assyria, subjugate the Jews and destroy Jerusalem.

Hezekiah and Sennacherib

Sennacherib came to the throne of Assyria in 705 BC. He had trouble immediately – with Ethiopian monarchs in Egypt (reference to Ethiopia here refers to present day north Sudan) and with the Babylonian leader, Merodach-Baladan. Despite Isaiah’s warnings, Hezekiah became involved as well. The Assyrians invaded the area, taking 46 towns before putting Jerusalem under siege. Isaiah persuaded Hezekiah to trust in the Lord and Jerusalem was spared.

Themes

Isaiah 2:4 is taken as an unofficial mission statement by the United Nations. (Isaiah Wall in Ralph Bunche Park, a New York City park near UN headquarters)
Peace, 1896 etching by William Strutt, based upon Isaiah 11:6,7

Isaiah is concerned with the connection between worship and ethical behavior. One of his major themes is Yahweh's refusal to accept the ritual worship of those who are treating others with cruelty and injustice.

Isaiah speaks also of idolatry, which was common at the time. The Canaanite worship, which involved fertility rites, including sexual practices forbidden by Jewish law, had become popular among the Jewish people. Isaiah picks up on a theme used by other prophets and tells Judah that the nation of Israel is like a wife who is committing adultery, having run away from her true husband, YHWH.

An important theme is that YHWH is the God of the whole earth. Many gods of the time were believed to be local gods or national gods who could participate in warfare and be defeated by each other. The concern of these gods was the protection of their own particular nations.

No one can defeat YHWH; if YHWH's people suffer defeat in battle, it is only because he permits it to happen. Furthermore, Yahweh is concerned with more than the Jewish people. He has called Judah and Israel his covenant people for the specific purpose of teaching the world about him.

A unifying theme found throughout the Book of Isaiah is the use of the expression of "the Holy One of Israel". Some Christians interpret this as a title for Christ. It is found 12 times in chapters 1-39 and 14 times in chapters 40-66. This expression appears only 6 times within the Old Testament outside the book of Isaiah[7].

A final thematic goal that Isaiah constantly leans toward throughout the writing is the establishment of Yahweh's kingdom on earth, with rulers and subjects who strive to live by his will.

Authorship

One of the most critically debated issues in Isaiah is the proposition that it may have been the work of more than a single author. Different proposals suggest that there have been two or three main authors, while alternative views suggest an additional number of minor authors or editors.[8]

A fragment of the Book of Isaiah found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

It is a matter of common agreement among scholars[9] that a division occurs at the end of chapter 39 and that subsequent portions were written by one or more additional authors. The typical objections to single authorship of the book of Isaiah are as follows:

  • Supernaturalism → Passages of Isaiah 40-66 contain some events and details that did not occur in Isaiah's own lifetime, such as the rise of Babylon as the world power, destruction of Jerusalem, and the rise of the Cyrus the Great and his overthrow of Babylonian Empire. This is generally explained by either considering Isaiah to have been given such information by divine means, or by considering the later sections of the book to be, not written by Isaiah, but written by those who lived later than Isaiah himself. Those that reject the supernatural revelation of God's foreknowledge to Isaiah hold to the second explanation and the mainstream scholarly understanding. Those that accept divine revelation and God's foreknowledge point to Naturalism as an undergirding philosophy of much of higher criticism.[10] Naturalism is the rejection in principle of supernatural causes. According to scholar R. N. Whybray, the author of Deutero-Isaiah(chapters 40-55) was mistaken for he thought that Cyrus would destroy Babylon but he did not. Cyrus made it more splendid than ever. But he did allow the Jewish exiles to return home, though not in the triumphant manner which Deutero-Isaiah expected.[11]
  • Anonymity → That is to say that Isaiah’s name is suddenly not used from chapter 40-66.
  • Style → There is a sudden change in book after chapter 40 in the style and in the theology presented.[8] Numerous words and phrases found in one section are not found in the other.[12]
  • Historical Situation → The first portion of the book of Isaiah speaks of an impending judgement which will befall the wicked Israelites whereas the later portion of the book discusses God's mercy and restoration as though the exile were already a present reality. Isaiah 40-66 presupposes the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Babylonians in 587 BCE as an accomplished fact(44:26,28, 49:19, 51:17-20, 52:9, 60:10, 63:18, 64:10-11), yet this catastrophe is merely anticipated in chapters 1-39. Further, the fall of Babylon in 539 BCE is seen in the immediate future in chapters 40-55 and in the past in 56-66, yet Babylon was not even a threat much less an enemy to Judah in the 8th century BCE.[12]

Through chapter 39 most of the material is Isaiah's and is an accurate account of the situation in eighth-century Judah, even if chapters 13-14, 24-27, and 34-35 could be the work of his disciples and near contemporaries.[13]

Supporters of the three authors proposal see a further division at the end of chapter 55, and propose to divide the Book of Isaiah as follows:[14]

  • Chapters 1 to 39 (First Isaiah, Proto-Isaiah or Original Isaiah): preached between 740 and 687 BC. Isaiah is here a city person who insisted upon faith and was fearless in opposing leaders.[13]
  • Chapters 40 to 55 (Second Isaiah or Deutero-Isaiah): probably written by an anonymous poet near the end of the Babylonian captivity.[14]:418 Isaiah is here a master of sound and music with sweeping visions of mountains collapsing and valleys lifted up.[13]
  • Chapters 56 to 66 (Third Isaiah or Trito-Isaiah): written by anonymous disciples committed to continuing Isaiah's work in the years immediately after the return from Babylon.[14]:444 Isaiah is dreamed of new heavens and new earth.[13]

Scholars who disagree with the three author hypothesis suggest that the last ten chapters of the Book of Isaiah were written by Deutero-Isaiah at a later date.[15]

It has been suggested that the authorship of Isaiah took place over the span of as much as four centuries.[16]

Traditional View

Many scholars, especially (but not limited to) Jews and Christians, have understood the book to have one author, Isaiah himself. This belief is reinforced by the New Testament, which quotes passages from Isaiah 40-66, together with a specific identification of Isaiah as their author, no fewer than seven times (Matt. 3:3, 8:17, 12:18; John 1:23, 12:38-40; Rom. 10:16, 11:26). Specifically, John 12:38-40 quotes from Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 6 and ascribes each quotation to Isaiah. The ancient Jewish historian Josephus also attributes both sections of the book of Isaiah to a single author.

Among the Christian churches, the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Oriental Orthodox churches maintain a strong historical position that the book was written by Isaiah himself following the teachings of Saint Cyril of Alexandria and others. Sirach 48:22-28, of the Orthodox and Catholic Deuterocanon, implies that Isaiah prophesied the prophecy of Isaiah 44.

The Talmud (Bava Basra 15a) says that the book of Isaiah was written by King Hezekiah and his assistants, of whom Chaim Dov Rabinowitz (1909-2001) says, in the introduction to his Daat Soferim Isaiah, may have lived long after Isaiah. Rabbi Joseph H. Hertz (1872 - 1946) wrote that the question of the book's authorship doesn't affect Jewish understanding of the book.[17]

Servant Songs

Songs of the Suffering Servant (also called the Servant songs or Servant poems) were first identified by Bernhard Duhm in his 1892 commentary on Isaiah. The songs are four poems taken from the Book of Isaiah written about a certain "servant of YHWH." God calls the servant to lead the nations, but the servant is horribly abused. The servant sacrifices himself, accepting the punishment due others. In the end, he is rewarded. The traditional Jewish interpretation is that the Servant is a metaphor for the Jewish people,[18] an opinion shared by many contemporary scholars.[5] According to Duhm, the servant was some otherwise unknown individual, and the songs' author was a disciple. Various interpretations[citation needed] have followed: Zerubbabel, Jehoiachin, Moses, Cyrus the Great. Duhm proposed in his commentary that the songs were added by a poet with leprosy. Sigmund Mowinckel suggested that the songs referred to Isaiah himself but later abandoned that interpretation. Christians traditionally see the suffering servant as Jesus Christ.[5]

Some scholars (such as Barry Webb[19]) regard Isaiah 61:1-3 as a fifth servant song, although the word "servant" is not mentioned in the passage.

The first song

The first poem has God speaking of His selection of the Servant who will bring justice to earth. Here the Servant is described as God's agent of justice, a king that brings justice in both royal and prophetic roles, yet justice is established neither by proclamation nor by force. He does not ecstatically announce salvation in the marketplace as prophets were bound to do but instead moves quietly and confidently to establish right religion. Isaiah 42:1-9

The second song

The second poem, written from the Servant's point of view, is an account of his pre-natal calling by God to lead both Israel and the nations. The Servant is now portrayed as the prophet of the Lord equipped and called to restore the nation to God. Yet, anticipating the fourth song, he is without success. Taken with the picture of the Servant in the first song, his success will come not by political or military action, but by becoming a light to the Gentiles. Ultimately his victory is in God's hands. Isaiah 49:1-13

The third song

The third poem has a darker yet more confident tone than the others. Although the song gives a first-person description of how the Servant was beaten and abused, here the Servant is described both as teacher and learner who follows the path God places him on without pulling back. Echoing the first song's "a bruised reed he will not break," he sustains the weary with a word. His vindication is left in God's hands. Isaiah 50:4-9

The fourth song

The last, longest, and most famous Servant poem, is a speech by Jehovah announcing the destiny of the Servant. Isaiah 53 declares that the Servant intercedes for others, taking the punishments and afflictions of others. In the end, he is rewarded with an exalted position. Much of song makes reference to an unknown group. See the many references to "we" and "our" in the song Isaiah 53:1-11 Early on the evaluation of the Servant by the "we" is negative: "we" esteemed him not, many were appalled by him, nothing in him was attractive to "us". But at the Servant's death the attitude of the "we" changes after verse 4 where the servant bears "our" iniquities, "our" sickness, by the servant's wounds "we" are healed. Posthumously, then, the Servant is vindicated by God. Because of its references to the vicarious sufferings of the servant, many Christians believe this song to be among the Messianic prophecies of Jesus. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 In Judaism these verses are taken to represent Israel, its sufferings and its redemption by Yahweh.

New Testament Allusions and Quotations

In the Gospels: The first song is directly quoted in Gospel of Matthew 12:18-21 The fourth song's "He was numbered with the transgressors" Isaiah 53:12 is directly quoted in Luke 22:37. The fourth song's "Surely he bore our diseases" [3] is quoted in Matthew 8:17 "Suffer many things" in Mark 9:12 may refer to Isaiah 53:2-3 "Ransom for many" Isaiah 53:10 is alluded to in Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45 and 14:24. "Make many righteous" in Isaiah 53:11 may be referred to in 3:15 "Divide the spoil with the strong" Isaiah 53:12 may be referenced in Luke 11:22

In the Epistles: Paul reflects fourth song in the following: "He was delivered up for our trespasses" Romans 4:25 "Many will be made righteous" Romans 5:19 "in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh" Romans 8.3 "Christ dies for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures" 1 Corinthians 15:3 The Kenosis passage portrays Christ as "taking the form of a servant" Philippians 2:6-11 1 Peter contains a number of allusions to the fourth song in chapter 2: "Christ also suffered for you"; "He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth"; "When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten"; "He himself bore our sins in his body"; "By his wounds you have been healed"; "straying like sheep" 1 Peter 2.21-25

Some scholars contend that early Christian accounts of Jesus included details invented to show that Jesus had fulfilled prophecy and to explain why the Messiah would die a shameful death on a cross.[citation needed] They suggest scribes delved into scripture and found the Servant Songs, which they reinterpreted to be about Jesus.[citation needed] For example, the story of Joseph of Arimathea seems to fulfill a verse from the Servant Songs in which Jesus is to be buried with the rich. However, there is no textual variant evidence to suggest these are embellishments.[20]

Isaiah scroll

The 2,100-year old Isaiah Scroll is the only complete scroll in the cache of 220 biblical scrolls discovered in a cave in Qumran on the northwestern coast of the Dead Sea. Adolfo Roitman, curator of the Shrine of the Book where the Dead Sea scrolls are kept, says that Isaiah was the most popular prophet of the Second Temple period: 21 copies of the scroll were found in Qumran.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/982919.html
  2. ^ a b May, Herbert G. and Bruce M. Metzger. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. 1977.
  3. ^ Williamson, Hugh Godfrey Maturin The Book Called Isaiah, Oxford University Press 1994 ISBN 9780198263609 p.1 [1]
  4. ^ Kugel, pp. 558-562
  5. ^ a b c "Servant Songs." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  6. ^ Herrmann, Seigfried: A History of Israel in Old Testament Times
  7. ^ "Introduction to the book of Isaiah". Zondervan. http://www.ibsstl.org/niv/studybible/isaiah.php. Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  8. ^ a b Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (1982). The international standard Bible encyclopedia. pp. 895–895. ISBN 9780802837820. 
  9. ^ Creelman, Harlan (1917). An Introduction to the Old Testament. The Macmillan company. pp. 172. 
  10. ^ "The mention of Cyrus by name (chs. 44:28; 45:1) is regarded by them [critics] as conclusive evidence that these chapters were written during the time of Cyrus, that is, in the second half of the 6th century B. C." Francis Nicholl, Seventh-day Adventist Commentary: Isaiah-Malachi (Washington, D. C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association,1955), p. 84 [2]
  11. ^ Second Isaiah, R. N. Whybray
  12. ^ a b Mercer dictionary of the Bible
  13. ^ a b c d "Introduction to the Book of Isaiah". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. http://www.nccbuscc.org/nab/bible/isaiah/intro.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  14. ^ a b c Boadt, Lawrence (1984). Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction. ISBN 9780809126316. 
  15. ^ Kugel, p. 561
  16. ^ John T. Willis, "Isaiah" section in The Transforming Word: One-Volume Commentary on the Bible, ed. Mark W. Hamilton et al. (Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 2009): pp. 533-576 (quotation appears on p. 533), ISBN 978-0-89112-521-1. As indication of the fractious character of analysis of Isaiah authorship, no sooner was the print dry on Willis' statement before he was alleged to have "infidelic bias" (Wayne Jackson, "The ACU Commentary and the Unity of the Book of Isaiah" in Christian Courier, 2009 February 24 accessed 2009 August 29) by Christian Courier editor Wayne Jackson, fellow member with Willis in the Churches of Christ. In a commentary weighing almost 7 lb, extending to viii + 1127 pages, and containing numerous examples of analytical discussion influenced by contemporary scholarship (see Amazon.com site on Transforming Word), Willis' comment on the authorship of the book of Isaiah is the one point which Jackson chose to assay, even summoning to defense of the one-author position Gleason Archer and other fundamentalist commentators not necessarily compatible with either Willis or Jackson on other topics.
  17. ^ "This question can be considered dispassionately. It touches no dogma, or any religious principle in Judaism; and, moreover, does not materially affect the understanding of the prophecies, or of the human conditions of the Jewish people that they have in view." -Rabbi Joseph H. Hertz
  18. ^ Jews for Judaism, "Jews for Judaism FAQ," Accessed 2006-09-13. See also Ramban in his disputation.
  19. ^ Barry G. Webb, The Message of Zechariah: Your Kingdom Come, Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2004, series "The Bible Speaks Today", page 42.
  20. ^ A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Bruce Metzger
  • Childs, Brevard S. (2000-11). Isaiah (1st ed ed.). Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 555. ISBN 0664221432. 
  • Kugel, James L. (2008). How To Read the Bible. New York, NY: Free Press. pp. 538–568. ISBN 978-0-7432-3587-7. 

External links

Preceded by
Kings in the Tanakh
Song of Songs in the Protestant OT
Sirach in the R. Catholic & Eastern OT
Books of the Bible Succeeded by
Jeremiah

Hebrew Bible
File:Tanach.jpg
Judaism portal
Christianity portal

The Book of Isaiah (Hebrew: ספר ישעיה‎) is one of the Prophetic books of the Bible. In the first 39 chapters Isaiah prophesies doom for a sinful Judah and for all the nations of the world that oppose God. The last 27 chapters prophesy the restoration of the nation of Israel and prophecies of a new creation in God's glorious future kingdom.[1] This section includes the Songs of the Suffering Servant, four separate passages understood by Jews and modern scholars to refer to the nation of Israel, but interpreted by Christians as prefiguring the coming of Jesus Christ.[2]

Tradition ascribes the book to Isaiah himself, but for over a hundred years scholars have divided it into three parts: Proto-Isaiah (chapters 1-39), the work of the 8th century prophet; Deutero-Isaiah (chapters 40-55), a 6th century work by an author who wrote under the Babylonian captivity; and Trito-Isaiah (chapters 56-66), composed in the Persian period shortly after the exile had ended.[3][4][1][5]

Contents

Texts and manuscripts

The oldest surviving manuscript of Isaiah was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls: dating from about a century before the time of Christ, it is substantially identical with the Masoretic version which forms the basis of most modern English-language versions of the book.[6] (Isaiah was the most popular prophet among the Dead Sea collection: 21 copies of the scroll were found in Qumran.)[2]

Composition

.]]

Jewish and Christian tradition held that the entire book is by the 8th century prophet Isaiah, but scholars have been aware since the late 19th century that it cannot be by a single author.[7] The observations which have led to this conclusion are as follows:[8]

  • Anachronisms → Passages of Isaiah 40-66 refer to events that did not occur in Isaiah's own lifetime, such as the rise of Babylon as the world power, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the rise of Cyrus the Great. (R. N. Whybray notes that Deutero-Isaiah's prediction that Cyrus would destroy Babylon - in fact he made it more splendid than ever - further pinpoints the time in which the author wrote.)[9]
  • Anonymity → Isaiah’s name suddenly stops being used after chapters 1-39.
  • Style → There is a sudden change in style and theology after chapter 40;[10] numerous key words and phrases found in one section are not found in the other.[11]
  • Historical Situation → The historical situation goes through three stages: in chapters 1-39 the prophet speaks of a judgment which will befall the wicked Israelites; in chapters 40-55 the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (587 BCE) is treated as an accomplished fact and the fall of Babylon as an imminent threat; and in chapters 56-66 the fall of Babylon is already in the past.[11]

Many scholars therefore divide the book into three parts:[12]

  • Chapters 1 to 39 (First Isaiah, Proto-Isaiah or Original Isaiah): the work of the original prophet Isaiah, who worked in Jerusalem between 740 and 687 BCE.[13]
  • Chapters 40 to 55 (Second Isaiah or Deutero-Isaiah): by an anonymous author who lived in Babylon near the end of the Babylonian captivity.[12]:418
  • Chapters 56 to 66 (Third Isaiah or Trito-Isaiah): the work of anonymous disciples committed to continuing Isaiah's work in the years immediately after the return from Babylon.[12]:444 This section includes visions of new heavens and new earth.[13] (Other scholars suggest that chapters 55-66 were written by Deutero-Isaiah after the fall of Babylon.)[14]

This implied sequence of pre-exilic, exilic and post-exilic material is somewhat misleading, as significant editing has clearly taken place in all three parts.[15] There is some uncertainty as to how Deutero-Isaiah and Trito-Isaiah came to be attached to the original Isaiah: the two competing theories are either that Deutero-Isaiah was written as a continuation of Proto-Isaiah, or that it was written separately and became attached to the famous Isaiah later.[16]

Proto-Isaiah (Isaiah 1-39)

Isaiah 1 at Bible Gateway

Authorship and historical background

Isaiah's career is framed by the beginning of Judah's vassalage to Assyria and its subsequent rebellion. The dominant regional power in the late 8th century was the Assyrian empire. Isaiah's first significant acts as a prophet occurred when Judah, under king Ahaz, faced invasion from Israel and Aram Damascus (Syria) after refusing to join them in a revolt against Assyria. Ahaz, against Isaiah's advice, invited the Assyrians to protect him, turning Judah into an Assyrian vassal. Isaiah records the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians. Ahaz died c.715 BCE and was followed by his son Hezekiah. The new king followed a policy which Isaiah saw as dangerous, waging war on the Philistine cities and on Edom even though territory now under direct Assyrian control (i.e., the former kingdom of Israel) now come to within a few miles of Jerusalem. Isaiah warned that the consequence would be the same fate that Israel had met, but was ignored. Eventually Hezekiah revolted against Assyria, and the result was as Isaiah had predicted: the country was ravaged by Assyrian armies. Hezekiah then took Isaiah's advice, and Jerusalem was saved.[17]

Content and structure

Proto-Isaiah is divided between verse and prose passages: a currently popular theory is that the verse passages represent the prophecies of the original Isaiah, while the prose sections are "sermons" on his texts composed at the court of Josiah, at the end of the 7th century.[18] Chapters 7, 21, and 36-39 appear also in 2nd Kings: it is not known whether the author of Isaiah borrowed them from Kings, or vice-versa.[19] Chapters 24-27, known as the "Isaiah Apocalypse",[20][21] are usually thought to be the work of an author who lived long after Isaiah.[22]

Chapters 1-5 and 28-29 prophesy judgment against Judah. Judah thinks itself safe because of its covenant relationship with God. However, God tells Judah (through Isaiah) that the covenant cannot protect them when they have broken it by the worship of other gods and by acts of injustice and cruelty, which oppose God's law. Chapter 6 describes Isaiah's call to be a prophet of God, and chapters 7-23 contain prophecies against Judah's enemies. Chapters 24-34, while too complex to characterize easily, are primarily concerned with prophecies of a "Messiah", a person anointed or given power by God, and of the Messiah's kingdom, where justice and righteousness will reign. Chapters 36-39 concern Hezekiah's triumph over the Assyrians and his faith in God. It ends with a visit to Hezekiah by envoys from a rebel prince of Babylon, and Isaiah's words prophesying the Babylonian exile.

Deutero-Isaiah (Isaiah 40-55)

Isaiah 40 at Bible Gateway

Authorship and historical background

Two crises occurred between Proto-Isaiah and Deutero-Isaiah. The first was the reform of official Judean religion under king Josiah, who banned many elements of the the old polytheistic cult from the Temple; the second was the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians, who conquered Jerusalem in 586 and carried the royal court, the priests and other members of the ruling elite into captivity. It is widely believed that Deutero-Isaiah delivered his prophesies to this group, which was actually quite small - the majority of the population stayed in Judah.

By the middle of the century the king of Babylon was Nabonidus. He alienated the powerful priests of Marduk, the official god of Babylon, by taking up the worship of Sin, the god of Harran (a city in northern Mesopotamia) and absenting himself for long periods from the city and neglecting crucial ceremonies. He also neglected the rise of powerful new enemies, first the Medes, then the Persians under the king Cyrus the Great. In 550 BCE Cyrus defeated the Medes, and in 539 he conquered Babylon, helped by the priests of Marduk. These events date Deutero-Isaiah's earlier prophecies. Chapters 49-55 probably come from a slightly later period, when the return to Jerusalem became a real possibility.[23]

Content and structure

Deutero-Isaiah prophesies the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Babylonians and their restoration in the land promised to them by God. It affirms that the Jews are indeed the chosen people of God and Yahweh is both their God and the God of the universe (chapter 46). Cyrus is named as the Messiah who will overthrow Babylon and allow the return of Israel (chapter 45:1). The remaining chapters are a vision of the future glory of Zion. A "suffering servant" is referred to (esp. ch. 53) - probably a metaphor for Israel, Christians have traditionally interpreted it as a prophecy of Jesus as the Christ (i.e., messiah).[24]

Chapters 40-55 fall into two parts, with 40-48 dealing with the rise of Cyrus, while 49-55 are focused on Zion as the wife whom God has renounced and then taken back. The Cyrus chapters are similar in style and theme to the Cyrus cylinder, and it is possible that Deutero-Isaiah was influenced by the propaganda of Cyrus and his supporters, who claimed that the god Marduk had chosen Cyrus to liberate Babylon.[25]

Trito-Isaiah (Isaiah 56-66)

Isaiah 56 at Bible Gateway

Authorship and historical background

Cyrus the Great, the Persian king, conquered Babylon in 539 BCE. One of his first acts was to allow peoples exiled by the Babylonians (the policy had affected more people than just the Jews) to return to their homes. The Jews, or at least some of them, returned to Jerusalem, and by 515 BCE had rebuilt the Temple. The return, however, was not without problems of its own: the returnees found themselves in conflict with those Jews who had remained in the country and who now owned the land, and there was further conflicts over the form of government that should be set up. This was the background to Trito-Isaiah, who was probably not a single author but a group under the influence of Deutero-Isaiah and his followers.

Content and structure

Trito-Isaiah is not a unity: the majority of scholars regard it as an anthology of about twelve passages, differing in date and/or purpose,[26] and it may include material from the First Temple period.[27]

The contents are correspondingly varied: a confession of sin and a plea to God not to maintain his anger forever (ch.63:7-64:11); a poem on the theme that God has no need of a temple because Heaven is his throne and Earth his footstool(Isaiah 66:1-2); verses setting out conditions for admission to the community; complaints of sin, incompetence and paganism; and distinctions between the "righteous" and the "sinners", foreshadowing the categories used in much later Judaism and early Christianity.[28]

Themes

. (Isaiah Wall in Ralph Bunche Park, a New York City park near UN headquarters)]]

Ethical behaviour

Isaiah is concerned with the connection between worship and ethical behavior. One of his major themes is Yahweh's refusal to accept the ritual worship of those who are treating others with cruelty and injustice.

Idolatry

Isaiah speaks also of idolatry, which was common at the time. The Canaanite worship, which involved fertility rites, including sexual practices forbidden by Jewish law, had become popular among the Jewish people. Isaiah picks up on a theme used by other prophets and tells Judah that the nation of Israel is like a wife who is committing adultery, having run away from her true husband, YHWH.

The nature of God

An important theme is that YHWH is the God of the whole earth. Many gods of the time were believed to be local gods or national gods who could participate in warfare and be defeated by each other. The concern of these gods was the protection of their own particular nations.

No one can defeat YHWH; if YHWH's people suffer defeat in battle, it is only because he permits it to happen. Furthermore, Yahweh is concerned with more than the Jewish people. He has called Judah and Israel his covenant people for the specific purpose of teaching the world about him.

"Holy One of Israel"

A unifying theme found throughout the Book of Isaiah is the use of the expression of "the Holy One of Israel". It is found 12 times in chapters 1-39 and 14 times in chapters 40-66. This expression appears only 6 times within the Old Testament outside the book of Isaiah[29].

Kingdom of Yahweh

A final thematic goal that Isaiah constantly leans toward throughout the writing is the establishment of Yahweh's kingdom on earth, with rulers and subjects who strive to live by his will.

Influence on Christianity

, based upon Isaiah 11:6,7]]

Virgin birth of Jesus

The authors of the New Testament delved into the Hebrew scripture for passages which they reinterpreted to be about Jesus.[30] One of the best-known of these is Isaiah 7:14. The prophet is assuring king Ahaz that God will save Judah from the invading armies of Israel and Syria: the sign that will prove this is the forthcoming birth of a child called Emmanuel ("God With Us"); the oracle is widely thought to refer to the birth of Hezekiah, Ahaz's son and eventual heir,[31] and it is clear from the grammar of the Hebrew that the "young woman" is already pregnant and hence not a virgin.[32] The Greek translation of Isaiah used by early Christian communities, however, translated the Hebrew word almah with a word meaning "virgin" and changed the tense to the future, and the Greek-speaking 1st century CE author of Matthew 1:23 used it in this form as foretelling the virgin birth of Jesus.

"A way in the wilderness"

Isaiah 40:3-5 imagines the exiled Israel proceeding home to Jerusalem on a newly-constructed road, led by the victorious Yahweh who has conquered the gods of Babylon. The vision was was taken up by all four Gospels and applied to John the Baptist and Jesus, leading God's people out of exile.[33]

Jesus the Suffering Servant

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is the fourth of the "Suffering Servant Songs". The original "servant" of Proto-Isaiah was probably Hezekiah in his ritual role as royal High Priest on the Day of Atonement, offering his own blood to heal the land, bringing judgment on his enemies and rescuing his people from the Assyrians. Deutero-Isaiah interpreted the servant as the people of Israel, and Trito-Isaiah saw himself in the role. The earliest Christians saw the Servant a prophecy of the death and exaltation of Jesus, a role which Jesus himself seems to have accepted (Luke 4:17-21).[34]

References

  1. ^ a b May, Herbert G. and Bruce M. Metzger. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. 1977.
  2. ^ a b http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/982919.html
  3. ^ Williamson, Hugh Godfrey Maturin, "The Book Called Isaiah" (Oxford University Press, 1994: ISBN 978-0-19-826360-9)pp.1-3
  4. ^ Lemche, Niels Peter, The Old Testament between theology and history: a critical survey, Westminster John Knox Press, 2008, p.96 [1]
  5. ^ Kugel, pp. 558-562
  6. ^ Goldingay, John, "Isaiah" (Hendrickson Publishers, 2001) pp.22-23
  7. ^ Sweeney, Marvin Alan, "Isaiah 1-4 and the post-exilic understanding of the Isaianic tradition" (De Gruyter) p.1
  8. ^ Creelman, Harlan (1917). An Introduction to the Old Testament. The Macmillan company. pp. 172. 
  9. ^ Second Isaiah, R. N. Whybray
  10. ^ Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (1982). The international standard Bible encyclopedia. pp. 895–895. ISBN 9780802837820. 
  11. ^ a b Mercer dictionary of the Bible
  12. ^ a b c Boadt, Lawrence (1984). Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction. ISBN 9780809126316. 
  13. ^ a b "Introduction to the Book of Isaiah". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. http://www.nccbuscc.org/nab/bible/isaiah/intro.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  14. ^ Kugel, p. 561
  15. ^ Blenkinsopp, Joseph, "A history of prophecy in Israel" (Westminster John Knox, 1996)p.183
  16. ^ Petersen, David L., "The prophetic literature: an introduction" (Westminster John Knox, 2002) p.48
  17. ^ Blenkinsopp, Joseph, "A history of prophecy in Israel" (Westminster John Knox, 1996)pp.100-107
  18. ^ Goldingay, John, "Isaiah" (Hendrickson Publishers, 2001) pp.22-23p.4
  19. ^ Goldingay, John, "Isaiah" (Hendrickson Publishers, 2001) pp.22-23p.3
  20. ^ pages 432-433, Michael D. Coogan, The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, Second Edition, 2011. ISBN 978-0-19-537840-5. Chapter 26.
  21. ^ But to the contrary, "a growing consensus that this designation is misleading and should be abandoned", page 346 in Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 1-39: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, volume 19, The Anchor Bible, New York: Doubleday, 2000, ISBN 0-385-49716-4.
  22. ^ Goldingay, John, "Isaiah" (Hendrickson Publishers, 2001) pp.22-23p.4
  23. ^ Dunn, James D. G., and Rogerson, John William (eds) "Eerdmans commentary on the Bible" (Eerdmans, 2003)p.524
  24. ^ "Servant Songs." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  25. ^ Dunn, James D. G., and Rogerson, John William (eds) "Eerdmans commentary on the Bible" (Eerdmans, 2003)p.524
  26. ^ Soggin, J.A., "Introduction to the Old Testament" (Westminster John Knox, 1987)p.394
  27. ^ Blenkinsopp, Joseph, "A history of prophecy in Israel" (Westminster John Knox, 1996)p.183
  28. ^ Soggin, J.A., "Introduction to the Old Testament" (Westminster John Knox, 1987)pp.394-5
  29. ^ "Introduction to the book of Isaiah". Zondervan. http://www.ibsstl.org/niv/studybible/isaiah.php. Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  30. ^ A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Bruce Metzger
  31. ^ Blenkinsopp, Joseph, "A history of prophecy in Israel" (Westminster John Knox, 1996)p.101
  32. ^ The Second Jewish Book Of Why by Alfred Kolatch 1985
  33. ^ Brueggemann p.174
  34. ^ Dunn, James D. G., and Rogerson, John William (eds) "Eerdmans commentary on the Bible" (Eerdmans, 2003)pp.534-5
  • Childs, Brevard S. (2000-11). Isaiah (1st ed ed.). Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 555. ISBN 0664221432. 
  • Kugel, James L. (2008). How To Read the Bible. New York, NY: Free Press. pp. 538–568. ISBN 978-0-7432-3587-7. 

External links

Translations

Works on Isaiah

General works

Websites

Preceded by
Kings in the Tanakh
Song of Songs in the Protestant OT
Sirach in the R. Catholic & Eastern OT
Books of the Bible Succeeded by
Jeremiah


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Books of the Bible
Old Testament
Protestant,
Roman Catholic, and
Eastern Orthodox
Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Judges
Ruth
1 Samuel
2 Samuel
1 Kings
2 Kings
1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles
Ezra
Nehemiah
Esther
Job
Psalms
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes
Song of Solomon
Isaiah
Jeremiah
Lamentations
Ezekiel
Daniel
Hosea
Joel
Amos
Obadiah
Jonah
Micah
Nahum
Habakkuk
Zephaniah
Haggai
Zechariah
Malachi
Roman Catholic and
Eastern Orthodox
Tobit
Judith
1 Maccabees
2 Maccabees
Wisdom
Sirach
Baruch
Eastern Orthodox
1 Esdras
3 Maccabees
4 Maccabees
Odes
Letter of Jeremiah
Russian and
Ethiopian Orthodox
2 Esdras

Introduction

* The article from the Jewish Encyclopedia, it should be noted, takes strong liberties to state opinions of some critics as fact. Though it mentions once that speculation is engaged upon, it fails to acknowledge additional points of speculation. As an example, the heading in Isa 1:1 is claimed to be the work of later editors but is not established on any basis. This is a speculative point and deserved to be acknowledged as such. Inconsistency is exhibited when later it is stated that Isaiah Chapter 6 is indeed authentic to Isaiah with no basis given. Such are the arbitrary statements you will find in this source.

Text


Simple English

Old Testament (Tanakh)

Old Testament Books of the Old Agreement common to all Christians and Jews)

Additional Books (common to Catholics and Orthodox)

Greek & Slavonic Orthodox

Georgian Orthodox



The Book of Isaiah (Hebrew: Sefer Y'sha'yah ספר ישעיה) is a book of the Bible thought to be written by the Prophet Isaiah, who lived in the second half of the 8th century BC. The Book of Isaiah contains many prophecies about ancient Israel, its people, and its enemies. Tradition says that all 66 chapters of the book were written by Isaiah, but other theories say that some chapters were written by one or more other people.


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message