Isaiah Introduction Index
Research Material

TITLE:

  • The title of the book of Isaiah in Hebrew manuscripts and in the LXX is "Isaiah." In (Luke 4:17) the book is called "the book of the prophet Esaias," and In (Acts 8:30), "the prophet Esaias." In Hebrew Bibles the book is found in the section called "Prophets," immediately preceded by the combined book of Kings and followed by Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and "The Twelve." (4BC 83)

AUTHORSHIP:

  • The prophet Isaiah was the author of the book called by his name. The son of Amoz and a scion [descendent] of the royal line, he was called to the prophetic office in his youth (5T 749), toward the close of the reign of Uzziah (Azariah, 790-739 B.C.), during the coregency of Jotham (PK 305).
    • This would place [his] call between the years 750 and 739 B.C.
    • His term of ministry continued for at least 60 years (PK 310), spanning the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and mentions Manasseh, whose sole reign began in 686 B.C., and that he was "one of the first to fall" in Manasseh's massacre of those who remained loyal to God (PK 382; 2 Kings 21:16)*****, [which] implies that his ministry terminated soon after the death of Hezekiah in 686 B.C.
    • If so, [his ministry] must have begun not later than about 745 B.C.
    • It is probable that the prophetic messages of Isaiah chapters 1 thru 5 were given between the years 745 and 739 B.C., probably during the last year of Uzziah's reign but prior to the vision of Isaiah chapter 6 (PK 306).
    • it was while Isaiah contemplated relinquishing his prophetic mission, in view of the resistance he knew he would encounter (Jeremiah 20:7-9), that he beheld this vision of divine glory (PK 307) and in it found encouragement and confirmation of the divine commission already entrusted to him. (4BC 83)
  • Isaiah was married and had two sons, Shear-jashub and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isaiah 7:3 and Isaiah 8:3).
    • In Jerusalem, the chief scene of his labors, he became the court preacher and exercised considerable influence. For many years he was both political and religious counselor to the nation. His prophetic ministry, together with that of Micah and possibly also the indirect influence of Hosea in the northern kingdom, contributed to the reforms of Hezekiah.
    • Manasseh, however, followed the evil policy of his grandfather Ahaz, abolished the reforms of his father Hezekiah, and took the lives of men who had encouraged the worship of the true God. According to the Babylonian d, Isaiah was slain by Manasseh (PK 382).Inspiration confirms the words of Hebrew 11:37, that some were "swan asunder," as descriptive of the fate of Isaiah. (4BC 83-84)
  • For some 25 centuries no questions arose concerning the authorship of the book of Isaiah.
    • During the 19th century, however, higher critics in Germany began to challenge its unity, at length, the view was almost universally accepted that the book had been written by at least two authors, a so-called first Isaiah, who wrote chapters 1-39 and who did his work at the close of the 8th century B.C., and a second Isaiah, or Deutero-Isaiah, who wrote chs. 40-66 toward the close of the Babylonian exile. There are many modifications of the above theory . . . . (4BC 84)
  • One of the chief arguments of these critics for a composite authorship of Isaiah is that chapters 40-66 appear to them to be written, not from the standpoint of an author living at the close of the 8th century B.C., but from that of one who lived near the close of the Babylonian captivity. The mention of Cyrus by name (Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1) is regarded by them as conclusive evidence that these chapters were written during the time of Cyrus, that is, in the second half of the 6th century B.C. This concept, of course, is based on the assumption that prophetic foreknowledge is impossible. (4BC 84)
  • The fact, however, that Isaiah mentions Cyrus is not an argument in favor of a late date for the book, but rather an evidence of the wisdom and foreknowledge of God. Throughout the book there are predictions concerning the future. among these are prophecies of the fall of the rulers of Israel and Syria (Isaiah 7:7; Isaiah 7:8; Isaiah 7:16), of the overthrow of Tyre (Isaiah 23), of the dismay of Assyria (Isaiah 14:25; Isaiah 31:8; Isaiah 37:6; Isaiah 37:7; Isaiah 37:29; Isaiah 37:33; Isaiah 37:34; Isaiah 37:35), of the humiliation of Babylon (Isaiah 14:4-23), of the folly of trusting in Egypt (Isaiah 30:1; Isaiah 30:2; Isaiah 30:3; Isaiah 31:1; Isaiah 31:2; Isaiah 31:3), and of the work of Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1-4). Indeed, Isaiah sets forth God's foreknowledge as eloquent testimony to His wisdom and power (Isaiah 41:21; Isaiah 41:22; Isaiah 41:23; Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 43:9; Isaiah 44:07; Isaiah 44:08; Isaiah 45:11; Isaiah 45:21; Isaiah 46:9; Isaiah 46:10; Isaiah 48:3; Isaiah 48:5-8). (4BC 84)
  • There are many evidences of unity of thought and expression between the first and last parts of the book. For instance, one characteristic of Isaiah is his use of the term "the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 1:4) as a tile for God. This expression occurs 25 times in Isaiah and only 6 times elsewhere in the Old Testament. It is not exclusive, however, to any part of Isaiah, but is found 12 times in Isaiah 1-29 and 13 times in Isaiah 40-66. The title "the mighty One of Israel [or, "of Jacob"]" appears only in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 1:24; Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 60:16). Similarities of style and language between the first and second parts of Isaiah are far more impressive than its supposed diversities. (4BC 84)
  • Though the subject matter and literary style of Isaiah 40-66 differ considerably from those of Isaiah 1-39, one basic theme runs through both sections - that of deliverance from political and spiritual foes, and from their oppression of body and soul. In the first section of the book, Isaiah, whose name means "the Lord is help." or "the Lord is salvation," presents deliverance from sin, Syria, Assyria, and other enemies through repentance, reformation and faith in God. The second section deals with deliverance from Babylon, and eventually from the dominion of sin through faith in the coming Deliverer. A fundamental unity of thought and purpose thus pervades the entire book, despite the apparent difference in subject matter. (4BC 84-85)
  • The first section of the book reaches a climax in deliverance from the armies of Assyria under Sennacherib. In the last section, prophetic vision looks forward to deliverance from Babylonian captivity. A similar transition occurs in the book of Ezekiel, with the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., from anticipation of, to restoration from, captivity. Furthermore, the early chapters of Isaiah record messages borne by Isaiah during his youth. The latter chapters of the book reflect a maturity of prophetic insight and literary style characteristic of age, and as a result constitute a masterpiece surpassing in depth of thought and majesty of expression even the fine passages of the earlier part of the book. (4BC 85)
  • The earlier chapters of Isaiah are concerned with the Assyrian invasion of Judah, the latter chapters look forward to deliverance from Babylon. Isaiah's mission was to hold the kingdom of Judah steady as the northern kingdom vanished into Assyrian captivity. Through Isaiah the leaders were given an opportunity to understand the nature and significance of contemporary events. It as the divine purpose that Judah should profit from the sad fate of the northern kingdom, and as a result turn to God in sincere repentance. The tide of Assyrain invasion eventually all but submerged the little kingdom of Judah, and the might of Assyria was turned back only at the gates of Jerusalem by a signal acto of God. But the men of Judah failed to heed the implied warning of history and the more explicit warnings of Jeremiah, that a similar fate waited them unless they should amend their evil ways. (4BC 85)
  • Accordingly, beginning with Isaiah 40, Isaiah anticipates captivity in Babylon, but with the assurance that eventually deliverance from Babylon is as certain as that recently experienced from Assyria. Furthermore, deliverance from national enemies becomes, for those who trust God, a promise of ultimate deliverance from the dominion of sin. All differences between the two sections of the book bay be fully accounted for on the basis of the background of changing historical events, the resulting change in the subject matter of prophecy, and a possible change in Isaiah's literary style with the passing years. (4BC 85)
  • Although certain critics have assigned a considerable portion of the book of Isaiah to the Maccabean period, there is evidence that at that time the entire book existed as a single unit. Writing about 180 B.C., the author of the book of Ecclesiasticus, Jesus ben Sirach, credited various sections of the book of Isaiah to the prophet whose name it bears. (4BC 85)
  • The most impressive evidence, however, that the book of Isaiah was regarded as a single unit centuries before Christ, comes from ancient Bible manuscripts dating from that period and found in 1947 in a cave near the Dead Sea. Among these are two scrolls of the book of Isaiah.... There is no evidence whatever that Isaiah chapters 1-39 ever existed by themselves as an independent document apart from Isaiah chapters 40-66; all evidence is to the contrary. There is every reason to believer that Isaiah the prophet was the author of the entire book that bears his name. (4BC 85)
  • The New Testament frequently cites the book of Isaiah . . . . The more extensive passages from Isaiah cited in the New Testament are as follows:
Reference in Isaiah: New Testament Citation:
Isaiah 1:9 Romans 9:29
Isaiah 6:9; Isaiah 6:10 Matthew 13:14; Matthew 13:15
Isaiah 6:9; Isaiah 6:10 John 12:40; John 12:41
Isaiah 6:9; Isaiah 6:10 Acts 28:25; Acts 28:26; Acts 28:27
Isaiah 9:1; Isaiah 9:2 Matthew 4:14; Matthew 4:15; Matthew 4:16
Isaiah 10:22; Isaiah 10:23 Romans 9:27; Romans 9:28
Isaiah 11:10 Romans 15:12