Marvin A. Sweeney

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

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The book of Isaiah is the first of the major prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible, although rabbinic tradition sometimes places it third, following Jeremiah and Ezekiel, because of its thematic content (b. Baba Batra 14b–15a). It presents the vision of the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz, who lived in Jerusalem during the late 8th century bce in the reigns of the Judean kings Uzziah (r. 783–742 bce), Jotham (r. 742–735 bce), Ahaz (r. 735–715 bce), and Hezekiah (r. 715–687/6 bce), a period of Assyrian aggression. Isaiah interpreted the theological significance of the contemporary Assyrian invasions of Israel and Judah as an act of YHWH to bring divine judgment upon the two biblical kingdoms, although he also anticipated the restoration of Judah and Israel once the punishment was complete. Modern scholarship identifies Isaiah 40–55 as the work of an anonymous prophet (or prophetic school), known simply as Second or Deutero-Isaiah, who spoke at the close of the Babylonian exile concerning the restoration of the exiles of Judah to Jerusalem when King Cyrus of Persia ascended to the throne of Babylon (c. 545–539 bce). (Expansions from Second Isaiah and the Isaiah school may also be present in Isaiah 1–39.) Isaiah 56–66 is generally identified as the work of anonymous prophets, known collectively as Third or Trito-Isaiah, from the early Persian period of Judean restoration (c. 520–400 bce). The book of Isaiah plays an important role in both Judaism and Christianity. In Judaism, Isaiah is the most widely read book among the Haftarot, the synagogue lectionary cycle of prophetic texts that are read following the Torah portions of the Jewish worship service. In Christianity, Isaiah is one of the most widely quoted books in the New Testament, where it plays an important role in defining Christian views of Jesus as the Messiah. The scholarship dictates that sources on this subject be separated into commentaries, textual studies, and critical/theological studies; certain sections of Isaiah are represented under two or three of these categories.

Article.  11812 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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