Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "OLD TESTAMENT
Return to Syllabus
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETIC BOOKS
ISAIAH: Expanded appendix
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
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
Coregent with Amaziah
790 - 739
Coregent with Uzziah
750 - 731
he seems to have overlapped both Uzziah and
Chronological Table of Chief Events of
||Uzziah made king by people.
||Isaiah born, sometime after 787.
||Uzziah frees Judah from vassalage to
||2 Chronicles 26:3
||Leprosy of Uzziah.
||2 Chronicles 26:16-21
||Regency of Jotham begins.
||Ahaz becomes coregent.
||2 Kings15:30; 17:1
||Death of Uzziah.
Jotham reigns alone.
Vision of Isaiah (6:1).
||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!
||Jotham dies, and the regent Ahaz reigns
||Shalmanezer IV succeeds Tiglath-pileser
|724 / 723
||Siege of Samaria begun by Shalmanezer IV
(727-22). The siege lasted three years , but Shalmanezer died before the
4th to 6th years of Hezekiah, 2 Kings18:9-10
||Shalmanezer was succeeded by Sargon
(722-705), who counted the victory over Samaria as his own, deporting 27,
|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
End of Kingdom of Israel.
||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
||Accession of Hezekiah.
|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
2 Kings18:14; Isaiah omits mention of the second invasion
||Sickness of Hezekiah.
||2 Kings20:6; 18:2, cp. 18:13
||Embassy of Merodoch-baladen to Hezekiah.
||Sargon dies and Sennacherib (705-680)
||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)
||Manasseh's regency begins.
||2 Kings20:21; 21:1
||Assassination of Sennacherib.
||Death of Isaiah, probably about this date.
- 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
- 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).
- THE CRITICAL PROBLEM: IS THE BOOK OF ISAIAH A MONOGRAPH?
- 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.
- What is the critical position on the book of Isaiah?
- Generally considered
- 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
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.
- 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.)
- The specific arguments
- The objections as stated representatively by Canon
- 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
"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."
- 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.
- The argument from the diversity of literary
A diversity does exist between the first section (1-39) and the second
(40-66). Driver argues for more than one author.
- The answers to these objections
- 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;
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!
- 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 argument from the diversity of literary
Two things could account for this diversity of style:
- 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 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
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!
- Later history of the critical view
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- 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
"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).
- Loose attitude toward inspiration
Gehman summarizes this new viewpoint toward inspiration on page 271 in
"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.
- Twelve reasons for our acceptance of the book as a
monograph (See III, B, 1, b.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- Jesus, son of Sirach, 200 BC, speaks of Isaiah, who
lived in the days of Hezekiah, as being the author of the entire book.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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