...so what's my problem

...I have to take Isaiah apart. I'll be looking at the historical context of 53, its place in the OT canon and whether the Church's seeing its fulfilment in Christ is valid. No mean undertaking!

I have this pile of all these commentaries and all these people are arguing with each other. Some believe that God can do it, you know, he can gift us to see into the future...so Isaiah was some 8th century inspired chap, walking closely, if sometimes reluctantly with God, and predicting exile was on the cards. For others, he's definitely a sixth century dude, speaking into his own situation. The conservatives think one thing, the historical critics another, the rhetorical critics are interested in the persuasive dialogues: Isaiah's techniques, not caring quite so much which Isaiah they are talking about and the canonical critics, friendly with the higher critics and the redaction critics, are trying to hold a lot of things in tension and consider the big-picture Isaiah within the big picture of the entire Bible so that we don't accidentally lose the biblical message...and quite frankly, it's all driving me a bit crazy!! And that's just what I need to do for an introductory paragraph.

I also need to look at my servant song and then only a few lines of that and keep setting each smaller unit within its larger context.

So last night's reading was Isaiah 52:13- 53 - the end and today and tomorrow the children are in day-care so mummy can get a handle on all this and isn't amasing how inspired one suddenly feels to hoover up and food-shop instead ;-)

I am praying that I will start smiling at someone's commentary, that I'll get that warm and joyous feeling, that overwhelming desire to scribble notes in the margins and add exclamation marks (which is always dangerous when you're reading library books). This is what happens when I read Gordon Fee, why couldn't he have written on Isaiah?!*

It's not happening yet. I'm hopeful, I'm looking at Brueggeman. Goldingay, I get. But some of the other stuff is so turgid....and I've just noticed some very enticing piles of ironing...

....oh Lord!


Anonymous said...

Speaking of Goldingay on Isaiah, he has some of his resources on Isaiah 53 available on his Fuller faculty page. If nothing else, at least you wouldn't have to worry about scribbling or writing notes on them. I'd leave you a link for them but for some reason I can't paste into this comment box. I'm sure you should be able to find it through Google if you're interested.

Good luck!

El Bryan Libre

Peter O said...

Go through those commentaries, find Oswalt, read him and watch him hit the liberal commentators for 6. Trust me on this - I'm a priest!

Rachel Marszalek said...

emmm..yes, he's in front of me, Peter and I'm about to get stuck in but so far I've found the redaction thing pretty convincing and wondering what you would think of paragraphs like the following which I am drafting out:

With the rise of historical-criticism, the confidence that traditional critics had placed in a single eighth century author, Isaiah, son of Amoz (1:1), was understood to be a consequence of conservative presuppositions about biblical inerrancy and prophesy, which are largely unsupported by the biblical text itself.


It would seem that Isaiah is best studied as a redacted unity, rather than for a unity dependent on a particular date or author. To see God at work in the redactional process and be aware of our presuppositions, one of which is that we come with expectations about what biblical material should be like, Christians might come to see that our definitions about the 'truthfulness' of literature owe much more to inherited enlightenment thinking than to the biblical presentation of narratives.

Pass me the Oswalt, quick!!

Rachel Marszalek said...

Thanks for dropping by El Bryan Libre, I'll google!

Peter O said...

I think most conservatives have no problem with the idea that Isaiah is a redacted volume with 2 (or 3) principle authors. What commentators like Oswalt do though is demolish the idea that multiple redactions somehow reduce the divine inspiration and revelation of the text. For example, Oswalt gets rid of the multiple redaction theories of the likes of Kaiser on Isaiah 6 by reasserting the providence over the preservation of the original text by the same methodology used to destroy such certainty.

Does that make sense?

Rachel Marszalek said...

"is demolish the idea that multiple redactions somehow reduce the divine inspiration and revelation of the text" - great - I'll look for some quotes so that I might use him in support of what I am thinking - hopefully!

Anonymous said...

Rachel, you might look to have a look at Hugh Williamson's 'The Book called Isaiah' (CUP 1991), in which he argues that Deutero Isaiah consciously took up the writings of Isaiah of Jerusalem and redacted chs 2-39 to unfy with his own prophecy.

Anonymous said...

I would add that in any case, Jesus and first century Judaism had only one book Isaiah (chs 1-66) before them, so compositional theories are not the most important thing. The interesting question for Christology is that Jesus seems to be the first to identify the Suffering Servant with the Son of Man of Daniel 7.13 and the Messiah; I don't think there is any parallel in Judaism to this identification, not even in the Dead Sea Scrolls, though there was some discussion a few years ago on this.
Jesus on the Emmaus road gives the standard of 'retrospective Christology'.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Thanks Anon

If only theological college involved more of the 'sitting around and discussing stuff together thing' and less of the sitting on your own all day with a pile of books half your height' - oh well, better try to put thoughts into coherent sentences.

Thank you for your reflections.


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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions