Understanding The Bible
STUDY REFERENCE
Clarence E. Mason's "OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETIC BOOKS"
ISAIAH
Expanded Appendix

 

Return to Syllabus

Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
1970

OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETIC BOOKS
ISAIAH: Expanded appendix

INTRODUCTION
Isaiah prophesied in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah,  Kings of Judah. Some feel his ministry extended into the reign of Manasseh (see II, B, below). Sketch 2  Kings 15-20 and 2 Chronicles 26-32. Prophesied to both kingdoms, but mainly to Judah, from about 739 to 690(?) BC (Whitcomb).

Isaiah is one of the three great (i.e., large) prophecies, the others being Jeremiah and Ezekiel. These three correspond very remarkably to the Divine Tri-unity. In Jeremiah we see the Father-heart of God, grieving over a sinful people. Isaiah wonderfully portrays Emmanuel-Jesus, whereas the emphasis of Ezekiel is upon the Holy Spirit.

Thus, just as in the great benediction of 2 Corinthians 13:14, it is as though God the Father is standing in the center of the trio, with arms outstretched in invitation, His right hand pointing to the Son of His right hand (Ps. 80:17; Heb. 1:3) and His left hand pointing to His Holy Spirit, as illustrated below:

(facing us)

ISAIAH JEREMIAH EZEKIEL
Son Father Spirit

 

I. THE MESSAGE OF THE BOOK OF ISAIAH

The book of Isaiah brings us both a message of judgment upon sin and of salvation for repenting sinners, made possible through sacrificial death of Messiah, as prophesied in chapter 53.

Isaiah is called the evangelical prophet, because more than any other Old Testament prophet he sets forth in graphic language the coming, the work, and the death of Christ (1 Peter 1:10-12).

The book opens with the old heavens and earth (1:2) and closes with the new heavens and earth (66:22).

The section (40-66) is, beyond all gainsaying, the sublimest and richest portion of OT revelation. It is sublime in its language and wonderful in its comprehensive range, anticipating, as one has said, "The whole order of the NT." It begins where the NT begins with one crying in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord" (40:3) and ends, as already noted, with "a new heavens and earth" (60:22; 65:17-20).

Isaiah is quoted over 90 times in the NT, prior to Revelation, which constantly quotes and alludes to Isaiah. Eight of these quotations are from Isaiah 53. It is the Romans of the Old Testament. The typology of the OT is the alphabet in which the doctrine of the NT is written.

Alike with the other great prophets, he emphasizes the folly of idolatry; the unity and preeminence of Jehovah, the living, only-true God; the necessity of judgment upon persistent sinners; nevertheless His mercy and future purpose for His elect people through the sacrificial and sovereign work of Messiah, who--though "concerning the flesh" is of Israel--is nevertheless "over all. God-blessed, forever!" (Romans 9:5; Isaiah 9:6)
 

 

II. LIFE AND TIMES OF ISAIAH  [Isaiah's Life 770-680(?)]

A.  Summary of historical facts of importance

The  Kings of Judah in Isaiah's Time

Uzziah
Coregent with Amaziah
52 years
33 years
790 - 739
Jotham
Coregent with
Uzziah
16 years
11 years
750 - 731
Ahaz
he seems to have overlapped both Uzziah and
Jotham
16 years 735-715
Hezekiah 29 years 715-686
Manasseh 55 years 695-642

 

Chronological Table of Chief Events of Isaiah's Time

790 Uzziah made king by people. 2 Kings14:21-22
c. 770 Isaiah born, sometime after 787.  
764 Uzziah frees Judah from vassalage to Israel. 2 Chronicles 26:3
750 Leprosy of Uzziah. 2 Chronicles 26:16-21
750 Regency of Jotham begins. 2 Kings15:5,32
741 (?) Ahaz becomes coregent. 2 Kings15:30; 17:1
739 Death of Uzziah.
Jotham reigns alone.
Vision of Isaiah (6:1).
2 Kings15:5-7
733-32 Tiglath-pileser III, (Pul of 2 Kings15:19) again invades Palestine, fulfilling Isaiah 7:16. He overthrew Damascus (which his predecessors had been trying to do for a century) and overthrew Pekah of Israel, deporting numerous Israelites. Judah was not destroyed in this invasion because Ahaz went to Damascus with tribute for Tiglath-pileser III. He returned with a copy of a heathen altar for the temple at Jerusalem! 2 Kings15:29-30
2 Kings16:10
 
731 Jotham dies, and the regent Ahaz reigns alone. 2 Kings16:1
727 Shalmanezer IV succeeds Tiglath-pileser III.  
724 / 723 Siege of Samaria begun by Shalmanezer IV (727-22). The siege lasted three years , but Shalmanezer died before the city fell. 2 Kings17:5;
4th to 6th years of Hezekiah, 2 Kings18:9-10
722 Shalmanezer was succeeded by Sargon (722-705), who counted the victory over Samaria as his own, deporting 27, 290 people.  
722 / 721 Fall of Samaria in the first year of Sargon (whether 722 or 721 depends upon what part of the year Sargon began to reign).
End of Kingdom of Israel.
 
720 Palestine invaded by Sargon; Ashdod taken. Sargon is mentioned only in Isaiah 20:1 and no mention in any other literature until Botta dug up his palace in 1845. So, characteristically, the critics either denied his existence or regarded the event with suspicion. Isaiah 20:1
715 Accession of Hezekiah. 2 Kings18:1
c. 713 - 711 Sargon, in putting down a rebellion of Palestinian  Kings supported by Pharaoh, chastises Judah for sharing in refusal to pay tribute. He was evidently accompanied by his son Sennacherib, as general and possibly also as regent, this being the first of two recorded invasions by Sennacherib . For second invasion, see below, 701 BC. As result, Hezekiah hastened to pay tribute. 2 Kings18:13-16; Isaiah 36:1
Isaiah 36:2-37:7
2 Kings18:14; Isaiah omits mention of the second invasion
712 Sickness of Hezekiah. 2 Kings20:6; 18:2, cp. 18:13
711 Embassy of Merodoch-baladen to Hezekiah. Isaiah 39:1
705 Sargon dies and Sennacherib (705-680) secedes.  
701 Sennacherib's second invasion and siege, of Jerusalem.  In connection with the second invasion he made a campaign against Egypt. The result was his disastrous rout in the destruction of his army by The Angel of the LORD. Isaiah 36:2-37:38; 2 Kings18:17-19:36; 2 Chronicles 33:1-4,30,5-23 (siege of Jerusalem)

Isaiah 37:36
695 Manasseh's regency begins. 2 Kings20:21; 21:1
681 Assassination of Sennacherib. Isaiah 37:38
680 Death of Isaiah, probably about this date.  
  1. What we know of Isaiah himself

    Little is known of his personal history, except as the book itself speaks of him, and he writes practically nothing of himself. It is a message to us to studiously avoid overemphasis on the first person.

    His name means "Jehovah my salvation, " and he himself says that he and his sons were given as signs and wonders to Israel (8:18; 7:3; 12:2).

    He was the son of Amotz, and his ministry extended in whole or in part over the reigns of four or five  Kings (Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh). Tradition tells us that he was martyred in the first part of the reign of the wicked Manasseh, being "sawn asunder" (Heb. 11:37). If this is true, he lived about 90 years, probably 770-680 BC.

    Tradition says he was of the seed royal, but that would seem to make him too old (2 Kings14:1). However, most certainly he belonged to a very influential family in Jerusalem, where he lived most of his life. He was a close friend of Uzziah, Jotham, and later Hezekiah.

    In all situations and circumstances he was princely. During a long and busy life he proclaimed the unity and majesty of the true God, while vigorously denouncing idolatry. Hosea and Micah were contemporaneous with some part of his ministry.
     
  2. The times in which he lived
    Israel under Joash and his son, Jeroboam II, and Judah under Uzziah and his son, Jotham, attained to a measure of outward prosperity and display beyond any time previously in their history (as separate kingdoms). The unsurpassed prosperity and magnificence in these kingdoms led to luxury and moral decay in their social life, and hypocrisy and vanity in their religious life.

    This testing period with subsequent decline is quite similar to our day in America. On man's side, as in Uzziah's reign, there is great prosperity. But material prosperity for sinful man always means decline. The trail is. always: luxury- -license- -lust- -godlessness, with a hollow religiosity.

    There are two kinds of decline, sudden and gradual. A horse suddenly falling in the street and expiring is quite different from an electric fan being turned off. It is a flash of gold and then, when the switch is turned off, it comes very gradually to a halt, long after power has been removed. This is what has happened in the USA. We are running on the momentum of previous days, morally and spiritually, with ever decreasing speed. We are living upon the inheritances of the past. The moral and spiritual power of the past is fast losing its hold upon us as a nation. Yet, as always under such circumstances, religiosity is increasing, although on all sides we see moral decline, as was the case in Isaiah's day.

    Isaiah watched the Northern Kingdom first fall under tribute to Tiglath-Pileser, the Assyrian monarch. He then watched its conquest by Shalmaneser and Sargon, and finally its captivity to Assyria by Sennacherib. He saw the same causes working toward the same results in Judah. He cried out his warning, but was forewarned by God that his cry would not be heeded (6:11-13). Compare our ministry today (2 Pet. 3:3-7).
     

 

  1. THE CRITICAL PROBLEM: IS THE BOOK OF ISAIAH A MONOGRAPH?
    1. The need for knowing the critical position
      Some people have no sympathy with the idea of looking into a critical question concerning the historicity of the text and like subjects.

      How foolish they are! It is like an owner of an orchard who, when exhorted to take steps to guard his trees against insect pests, exclaims with an indifferent or irritated wave of the hand:  "I am not interested in pests. All I am interested in is fruit!" Yes, but if one does not guard against the pests, he will have no fruit!

      The fact of the matter is that the bulk of the educational world is committed to the critical position on the book of Isaiah and other books. Probably no one in this class has ever been (or,' we trust, as result of these notes will ever be) disturbed by questions raised by the critical position on this book, but we shall sometime, somewhere, contact people, probably college or seminary students or graduates, who have either rejected the traditional view or who are assailed by intellectual difficulties, and who, against their desire, have doubts concerning the traditional view.

      These paragraphs may seem needless or tedious now, but some day we shall be mighty glad for them when we do run across some cynically unbelieving, or honestly disturbed, person or persons.
       
    2. What is the critical position on the book of Isaiah?
      1. Generally considered
        1. The theory and its history (See III, C.)
          Critics declare that the book is like an ingenious patchwork quilt, made of many parts into a unified book, yet not the work of Isaiah alone.

          There is variance, but most reject the Isaianic authorship of the following portions:

          First and foremost, the entire second section, chapters 40-66; also, 13:1-14:23; 21:1-10; 23:24-27; 34; 35. Others add chapters 36-39 because of 2  Kings 18:13-20 and 2  Kings 19.

          History of theory: The beginning of it has probably been rightly assigned to Aben Ezra, a 12th century rabbi of skeptical views. Koppe was first to express doubt of the second section, doubting chapter 50 as being Isaianic; Dorlin doubted the whole of the second part. However, it has been only in the last 100 years that the theory was raised to the level of a science by such scholarly men as Ichhorn, Paulos, Berthol, Gesenius, Hitzig, and Ewald. The theory was popularized in English-speaking countries by the readable works of two writers. Canon Samuel R. Driver and George Adam Smith.
           
        2. The answer--generally

          The question may be asked: "Why do we object to more than one writer being assigned to Isaiah? We are not disturbed by the composite authorship of such books as Psalms and Proverbs. Why should we be disturbed about more than one writer for the book of Isaiah, if the Holy Spirit is the author?"

          Our answer is this: We are not alarmed at the idea of two or more writers, if the motive of those who urge a composite authorship were not blasphemously unscriptural. Why do these men urge another writer? Simply to avoid, under the guise of scholarship, a recognition of the supernatural prophetic inspiration of the Holy Spirit! The second section (40-66) is assigned to a much later, but unknown, writer to avoid the prophecies concerning Judah's captivity in and return from Babylon, thus making prophecy seem to be history cast in prophetic form for artistic effect.

          This implication alone and the motive back of it slay the theory for any believer in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Admit supernatural inspiration and the whole problem (?) is solved.

          Further, the Holy Spirit nowhere in the whole Bible records any other name than Isaiah's as the instrument He used in the writing of this great prophetic book. (See III, D.)
           
      2. The specific arguments
        1. The objections as stated representatively by Canon Driver:
          1. The argument from internal evidence
            The critics say that the internal evidence supplied by the prophecy itself points to the period of the Babylonian captivity as that in which many portions of the book were written. The book alludes repeatedly to the destruction of Jerusalem and then to the prospect of their return, which the prophet speaks of as being imminent. Judged by the analogy of prophecy, this constitutes the strongest possible assumption that the author actually lived in the period thus described and, therefore, wrote it as history. The author of these descriptions could not, therefore, be Isaiah.

            Or, to quote Gehman, in the Westminster Dictionary of the Bible (p. 270):

            "A number of allusions in chapters 40 to 66 clearly indicate that the writer's apparent position is in the period of the Exile, and it seems reasonable to assume that such was also his actual position. Predictive prophecy must be admitted on various occasions, but a prophet to be understood must address himself to his contemporaries in the first instance. If Isaiah wrote these chapters, he transported himself about 200 years, or at the least 160 years, into the future, gathered around himself all the elements of a definite and complex historical situation, and forecast from it a future still more distant. If Isaiah is the author of this section, he ignored his contemporaries and alluded to circumstances of which they were not cognizant. The interpretation is simplified and seems more reasonable if a later authorship for these chapters is accepted."
             
          2. The argument from the mention of Cyrus's name
            Driver says it is contrary to prophetic analogy that a man's name be mentioned before his existence. Hence, a man living in Cyrus's day wrote this section.
             
          3. The argument from the diversity of literary style
            A diversity does exist between the first section (1-39) and the second (40-66). Driver argues for more than one author.
        2. The answers to these objections
          1. The argument from internal evidence
            Here the argument is from analogy, which form of argument cannot prove anything conclusively, but only gives a possibility or at best a probability, but never a certainty. For example, an airplane has wings; a bird has wings; but an airplane is not by that analogy demonstrated to be a bird. One thousand men may testify that a man cannot rise from the dead according to the analogy of nature, but one eyewitness of our Lord in His resurrection body outweighs ten thousand times all the so-called analogical inferences that our Lord did not and could not rise from the dead.

            Further, it is not true, as the critics would have us suppose, that there is a distinct cleavage between the first and second sections of the book as to the scene about which the author writes, the first section being confined to current history as in 38 and 39. In the following passages in the first section, the writer dips into the future quite as fully as in any part of the second section, e.g., 13:1-14:23; 24-27; 34-35.

            The great scholar, Franz Delitzsch admirably states the matter thus:
            "The references of Isaiah to the future exiles are from one who threw himself forward to an ideal standpoint and lives among the exiles, not in such tangible reality as Ezekiel, but as though he were a spirit without visible form... In several instances the prophet seems to directly address the people of that future generation (e.g., 13:2,6; 14:3-4; 35:3-4)."

            Another quote from Delitzsch is very interesting (Biblical Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah, Vol. II, Third Edition):

            "We have admitted that, throughout the whole of the 27 prophecies, the author of chapters 40-66 has the captivity as his fixed standpoint, or at any rate as a standpoint that is only so far a fluctuating one, as the eventual deliverance approaches nearer and nearer, and that without ever betraying the difference between the real and this ideal one; so that as the prophetic vision of the future has its roots in every other instance in the soil of the prophet's own time, and springs out of that soil, to all appearance he is an exile himself. But notwithstanding this, the following arguments may be adduced in support of Isaiah's authorship. " (p. 132)

            "On the frontier of the two halves, the prediction of 39:5, 7 stands like a signpost, with the inscription, 'To Babylon.' There, viz., in Babylon, is henceforth Isaiah's spiritual home. " (p. 135)

            "And in relation to this, if we only allow the prophet really was a prophet, it is no essential consequence to what age he belonged."

            ".. .the author is entirely carried away from his own times, and leads a pneumatic life among the exiles. The fleshly body of speech has been changed into, the glorified body; and we hear, as it were, spiritual voices from the world beyond, or the world of glory." (p. 138)

            This is just what one would expect (and the way one would describe a display) of the supernatural prophetic gift.

            What do the critics make of this fact? Instead of acknowledging it as the only reasonable explanation of these passages (buried in the warp and woof of a connected discourse primarily concerned with current history), they improperly assert that such portions must have been written by another hand than Isaiah's!
             
          2. The argument from the mention of Cyrus's name
            This is not a critical question at all. It is a matter of plain unadulterated unbelief; a disbelief in the supernatural prophetic endowment! (cp. Isaiah 41:22-23)

            Other men have been named before birth, e.g., Isaac; Isaiah's own son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz (chapters 7 and 8); John the Baptist;
            Josiah; and even our Lord Himself. Consider where this objection leads. No prediction in all Scripture is more detailed and full than that of Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Shall we then accept the prophetic analogy and say that this passage was written after the crucifixion? If the name of Cyrus proves a second Isaiah who wrote after Cyrus, then does not Isaiah 53 prove a third Isaiah who wrote after the cross?
             
          3. The argument from the diversity of literary style
            Two things could account for this diversity of style:
            1. The long period over which Isaiah prophesied could bring its corresponding change of style. Isaiah probably lived for 90 years, prophesying over a period of 50 to 63 years. Is it not likely that the style of the old man would be different from that of the youth?
               
            2. The difference of theme would account for this diversity. The first section is concerning the judgment of Israel for their sins. Would he likely use the same style to describe the judgment of his beloved people as he would use to describe the future glory of those people (40-66)?

              Alexander McClure tells of. being on board a steamer when, at sunset, he made the following suggestive discovery: As he looked toward the sun, every wavelet was tipped with fire (representing the glorious and comforting message of the old man); as he looked away from the sun, every wave was tipped with shadow (representing the solemn message of judgment of the young man).

              The change in style is no more remarkable than the change in theme!

              For instance, apply this test to the standard works of any great author. Contrast Sir Walter Scott's style in "Lady of the Lake" with "Old Mortality," or with some of his paraphrases of the Psalms. Compare Dickens's "Old Curiosity Shop" with his "Tale of Two Cities."

              But why go to the classics? Compare your own or your friends' writings on various occasions. Also, compare the classic test of Drs. James Orr and Denny in their English religious magazine. In one issue, their articles were unsigned and readers were invited to identify them. The result: utter confusion!
               
    3. Later history of the critical view
      1. As to number of authors
        Following the Canon Driver - George Adam Smith period, the trend was to go from two writers to three or four "Isaiahs." This trend was dominant for a number of years. At the present time there is a strong tendency on the part of many to return to the two Isaiah theory as refined by C. C. Torrey (1928). Torrey argues that 40-66 is by one author, except 36-39. He calls them a collection of psalms and deletes some portions (e.g., 36-39) as interpolations.
      2. Loose attitude toward inspiration
        It is now argued by some that no attack is made on inspiration by plural authorship; that it really does not matter whether there are one or four authors. It is all inspired and there is a basic unity. Thus the whole issue is made fuzzy and confused by men believing the critical theory and yet calling themselves conservatives.
      3. As an expansion of the two points above, a few quotes are in order from a revision of the old Davis Bible Dictionary (John D. Davis, 1898) by a later successor at Princeton Seminary, Henry Snyder Gehman. This revision, called Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, clearly gives details of the new trends:
         

        1. Number of authors
          While some writers like C. C. Torrey (1928) still favor the theory of Canon S. R. Driver that chapters 40-66 form a unit of work which they assign to the Second (Deutero-) Isaiah, yet Gehman reports that some scholars profess to find two writers in 40-55 (40-48 and 49-55 respectively), in addition to the Trito-Isaiah (56-66). This would make four Isaiahs: 1-39 (the historical Isaiah); 40-48 (the Deutero-Isaiah); 49-55 (the Fourth Isaiah); 56-66 (the Trito-Isaiah). He reports the Trito-Isaiah position as follows (pp.270-271):

          "Even though there is a trend among critics to find a unity of authorship in chapters 40-55, the problem in Trito-Isaiah (chapters 56-66) is more complicated. While these scholars recognize the dependence of these latter chapters upon chapters 40-55, the question is whether they all hail from Trito-Isaiah or from several writers. It seems that chapters 60-62; 57:14-19; 66:6-16 show such a strong relationship that they must come from one poet, Trito-Isaiah. The problem, however, seems different in chapters 56:1-8; 58; 65; 66:5,17-24; and likewise chapters 56:9-57:13 are regarded as not belonging to the imitator of Deutero-Isaiah; the same is asserted to be the case in chapters 59; 63:1-64:11; 66:1-4.

          "The language is poetical, and it is difficult to determine a date from internal evidence. Eissfeldt names two periods: the middle of the 5th century, the time of Malachi; or the last third of the 6th century, the time of Haggai and Zechariah; he gives decided preference to the latter period. Yet he doubts whether all the poems can be dated from that era. Thus he says that chapters 63:7-64:11 may be decades older and have been composed shortly after 587; chapter 57:7-13 may be older than 587, and likewise chapter 57:1-6. On the other hand, since foreign cults were practiced by the population remaining in Palestine, the latter passage may be later. Eissfeldt concludes that the passages of chapters 60-62; 57:14-19; 66:6-16, which were written by an imitator of Deutero-Isaiah, i.e., Trito-Isaiah, fit especially well into the time of Haggai and Zechariah and give us the background for their Messianic hopes. Critics have to admit, however, that their views are only possibilities (underlining mine), and they cannot answer how the poems in the collection of chapters 56-66 were combined. Those who argue for the unity of chapters 56-66 also have difficulties both in chronology and in the order of the contents. So critics find refuge in a redactor without being able to discover his principle of order. Driver, however, maintains that chapters 40-66 form a continuous prophecy dealing throughout with a common theme: Israel's restoration from exile in Babylon.

          "The question may be raised how these sections, chapters 40-55 and chapters 56-66, were appended to the work of Isaiah. One may propose a mechanical theory, that the anonymous sections were written on the same roll with Isaiah and thus finally joined to Isaiah. According to the Babylonian Talmud (Baba Bathra, 14b) this was the order of the prophets: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, the Twelve; and this may favor such a mechanical theory. On the other hand, it is more probable that chapters 40-55 were joined to chapters 1-35 (39), and that chapters 56-66 were joined to chapters 40-55; the similarity of style and subject matter would facilitate ascription to one author. Chapters 1-39 and chapters 40-66 have in common the experience of a heroic faith in God and, in consequence, a similarity of language (cp. The Holy One of Israel, chs. 1:4; 5:19, etc., with ch. 41:14,16,20, etc.). It has been assumed by some that Deutero-Isaiah (chapters 40-55) and the parts of chapters 56-66 which are based on his work were issued as a pseudepigraph under Isaiah's name, but this is all conjecture" (underlining mine).
           
        2. Loose attitude toward inspiration
          Gehman summarizes this new viewpoint toward inspiration on page 271 in this way:

          "If anyone favors the views of a Deutero-Isaiah and a Trito-Isaiah, he can hold that opinion without lowering his conception of Scripture. The ancient Hebrews did not make very much of authorship. The name Isaiah may be applied to the whole book in a general sense without implying that Isaiah is the author of all. The point that is most important is not who wrote all the parts of the book, but what are its contents? Does it have spiritual values? Does it reveal God's dealings with man? It should also be borne in mind that Deutero-Isaiah and Trito-Isaiah may have been divinely inspired just as much as Isaiah. The later writers in the book may have been pupils of Isaiah's thought and therefore have been identified ideally and spiritually with Isaiah. At any rate, there is a unity in the book of Isaiah which cannot be overlooked."

          Our comment on the above is: In the days of the earlier critics, our Bible-believing fathers clearly saw the attack on the book as an attempt to avoid the supernatural prophetic function. If a man cannot describe, as though an eyewitness, a day yet future; if he must live at that time to describe it and address that generation, then there is no such thing as predictive prophecy. Hence inspiration becomes meaningless. We now have men like Gehman, who have not been able to .satisfactorily answer the critical view, who accept it and expand it (at least to a Trito-Isaiah), and yet wish to call the book "inspired" and remain in the camp of conservatives. Such a position confuses the whole issue by saying there is no issue, offering a fuzzy view of inspiration. Having found no heart satisfaction in Modernism, a marriage of convenience has been made by the Neo-Orthodox Movement between the critical viewpoints of the old criticism and the satisfying assurance of the old orthodox position, producing a hybrid, a most non-satisfying and futile hoax, namely, that it makes no difference whether the book is the product of the historical Isaiah alone or of him and two or three others, for a unity is nonetheless there. This is ultimate confusion caused by a callous ignoring of all proper distinctions.
           
    4. Twelve reasons for our acceptance of the book as a monograph (See III, B, 1, b.)
      1. The objections of the critics to a monograph may sound plausible, but they can be easily answered, as witness III, B, 2, a and b.
         
      2. The critics are hopelessly divided as to the parts of the book which are to be ascribed to others than Isaiah and as to the number of authors. Many now urge not two, but three or four writers, while one critic urges 37(!) as the correct number. Because they are divided we feel that the whole thing is only a theory and should be treated as such. When facts are presented we will carefully examine them. We are not afraid of facts, but we are afraid of misleading theories parading in the guise of facts, for they often mislead the unstable.
         
      3. We hold that it is impossible that this masterwork, begun so wonderfully in the first part, was continued by an unknown writer (or writers), and yet their compilations all reach the same greatness of thought, have such unity of progress in thought, and bear the same marks of genius as that of Isaiah. Margoliouth, who was professor in Oxford in Arabic and Semitic languages, has pointed out that according to Aristotle's theory of what constitutes a work of art, the taking away of any part destroys the unity of the whole. So to bisect Isaiah at chapter 39, not to mention the numerous other thefts from the first section, is to destroy utterly its superb unity.
         
      4. Further, to ask that we believe that this (or these) great author(s) remained unknown to the Jews is too great a tax on our credulity.
         
      5. Margoliouth points out further that certain words are used by the supposed second Isaiah which were known only to the first Isaiah, the meaning of which was lost by Jeremiah's time, which, of course, is previous to the time the second Isaiah is supposed to have written.
         
      6. Cyrus's decree in Ezra 1:2 is proof that the second part of Isaiah was written before the captivity, for Josephus relates that it was because of the fact that Cyrus was shown the prophecy concerning himself in the book of Isaiah (44:27-28; 45:1-3) that he made the decree at all. There must have been plenty of evidence to show that it was written many years before, else Cyrus would have certainly considered this a hoax or ruse to trick him into permitting the Jews to return. But according to Josephus he gave his permission because he was greatly impressed by the evidence of supernatural foresight which put his name in a book so long before. Obviously, if the age of the document had not been well authenticated and well known, it would have carried no weight with him.
         
      7. The LXX (250-150 BC) assigns the entire contents to Isaiah, son of Amotz, although in the book of Psalms (then, as now, popularly ascribed to David) it is very careful to distinguish the writers. Had there been more than one Isaiah, undoubtedly the LXX would have distinguished them.
         
      8. Jesus, son of Sirach, 200 BC, speaks of Isaiah, who lived in the days of Hezekiah, as being the author of the entire book.
         
      9. In 170 BC, a roll of the prophets was to be found in every synagogue; it was read on sabbaths, feasts, etc. This roll was called the Haftarahs. Sixteen of the lessons to be read were taken from the book of Isaiah and thirteen of these were taken from the disputed chapters!
         
      10. The New Testament gives clear and conclusive testimony. According to Westcott and Hort, Isaiah is quoted or alluded to more than 200 times in the NT; chapters 40-66, more than 100 times. Only seven of the twenty-seven books seem to have no reference to Isaiah. The NT recognizes no other hand save Isaiah! For instance, Matthew 12:17-18 declares the writer of Isaiah 42 was Isaiah; Acts 8:28 declares the same of Isaiah 53 and 61. The NT names Isaiah author of the first part in ten passages, while eleven passages name Isaiah author of the second part.
         
      11. The testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord four times names Isaiah as author: of the first part of the book, Mt. 13:14; 15:7; Mk. 7:6; of the second part, Mt. 12:17. This is conclusive for the Christian.
         
      12. The witness of tradition and history. No one disputes that for eighteen centuries no Jewish or Christian tradition existed which called in question Isaiah's authorship of the entire book. We have already referred to the LXX, Jesus son of Sirach, the Haftarahs, NT, and other witnesses. No serious question of the book being a monograph was raised until about 100 years ago. How is it that those living nearest to Isaiah, and his supposedly fraudulent successor(s), are the very ones who know nothing about a composite authorship? Therefore without full and detailed proof to the contrary, we shall not, and should not, consider the possibility of. any other author.

 

Return to Syllabus

 

"Mason's Notes"


(formerly Philadelphia Biblical University, Philadelphia College of Bible.)
Copyright 2012 to present,
All rights reserved.

Cairn University

200 Manor Avenue
Langhorne, PA 19047
United States of America
"Mason's Notes" Study materials on this website are made available here free, through the generosity of Cairn University, and may be copied for use in Bible study groups, in limited numbers, providing that no charge is made for them.  No further distribution or use of these materials is allowable under U.S. or International Copyright Law without the express permission of Cairn University.

20160408