Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett

in The Bible: Authorized King James Version

Published in print February 1998 | ISBN: 9780192835253
Published online April 2009 |

Series: Oxford World's Classics


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The Book of Isaiah is described as ‘The vision of Isaiah’ (1: 1) and dated to the second half of the eighth century bce. While there are strands of material relating to visions (and their opposite, blindness) running through the book, including a specific vision in chapter 6, it is difficult to describe all the contents of this sixty-six-chapter book as being visionary. The focus seems to be on the city of Jerusalem, though there are also elements featuring hopes for new heavens and new earth (65: 17; 66: 22), and it is impossible to describe the Book of Isaiah adequately without enumerating the contents of all the individual poems. Not least among the problems of interpreting the prophetic books is that they are made up of numerous discrete poems only loosely linked together by occasional moments of commentary or editorial information. The contents of Isaiah seem to include the different periods of Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian domination of Jerusalem (eighth-sixth centuries), and therefore to reflect the work of more authors than just Isaiah of Jerusalem. Traditional pre-Enlightenment readings of the prophets simply assigned all such material to the dogma of the inspiration of scripture and therefore bolstered belief in the undoubted ability of the prophets to predict the future. Modern readings of Isaiah have tended to work with the hypothesis of a number of Isaiahs: First Isaiah (much of 1–39), Second Isaiah (40–55), and Third Isaiah (56–66). More recent study has moved away from this dubious precision to a reading of the book as an aesthetic unity, if not a unity of authorship.65 2: 2–4 and ch. 66 focus on the temple, so that the book is framed by an interest in the Jerusalem temple. To this then has been added chapter 1 as a kind of fly sheet of oracles summarizing and anticipating much of the contents of the book and/or providing yet another potted history of the people by way of introduction and warning to the readers/hearers (cf. Jer. 2).

Chapter.  704 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; Biblical Studies

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