Isaiah 400 B. K. Baltzer: Historical Analysis Essay

Prevalent view, some critical scholars propose a different historical setting for chapter 40 and following. K. Baltzer argues for a later date of Isaiah 40-55, the period of Nehemiah (between 450 and 400 B. C. ) by observing the parallels between chapters 40-55 and the book of Nehemiah. 93 Watts allocates Isaiah 40-55 into several different historical contexts: 40:1-44:23 (550-539 B. C. ), 44:24-48:22 (539-522 B. C. ), 49:1-52:12 (522-486 B. C. ), 52:13-57:21 (485-465 B. C. ). 94 The lack of explicit markers for a geographical, social, chronological setting as well as for the ocation of the prophet’s ministry increases speculations about an exact historical context of Isaiah 40-55. 95 To get beyond the impasse resulting from the paucity of historical evidence within Isaiah 40-55, Childs provides the canonical (or theological) context of Isaiah 40-55 in relation to Isaiah 1-39.

He insists that there is an interpretive bridge between Isaiah 1-39 and Isaiah 40-55 with the recurrent theme of the “former and latter things” (41:21ff; 42:9; 43:9, 16-19; 44:6-8; 45:9-13; 45:20f. ; 46:9-11; 48:3). For Childs, the eighth-century prophet, Isaiah of Jerusalem proclaimed both the “old things” (prophecies of udgment in First Isaiah) and the “new things” (prophecies of 93Baltzer, Deutero-Isaiah, 30-32. He finds the parallels as follows: the building of the walls (49:16, 17-19; 54:11-14a; cf. Neh 2:11-4:17; 6:15-16), the association of the cities of Judah with Jerusalem (40:9-11; 44:26; cf. Neh 3; 11), the liberation of people enslaved because of debt (42:22; 44:5; 46:10; 49:8-9, 24-26; 51:10-11; 51:13-14; cf. Neh 5), etc.

Torrey regards the references to Cyrus and Babylon as interpolations and contends that the addressees are in their own land in Palestine, presumably in Jerusalem, near the end of the fifth century B. C. In Torrey, The Second Isaiah, 40-53. 94John D. W. Watts, Isaiah 1-33 (WBC 24; Waco: Word Books, 1985), I-li; idem, Isaiah 34-66 (WBC 25; Waco: Word Books, 1987), 73-75, 220-21. 95Cf. Richard J. Coggins, “Do We Still Need Deutero-Isaiah? ” JSOT 80 (1998): 72-92. Coggins argues that “to understand these chapters (Isaiah 40-55) as having a Babylonian exilic background owes more to ideological consideration that has commonly been recognized (geographical, social, and historical settings of Deutero-Isaiah’s ministry). ” o ” FOR 116 restoration in Second Isaiah) in the future. 6 In its canonical context Isaiah 40-55 was addressed to sinful Israel as a promise of God’s restoration, and those chapters function as a theological witness to confirm the message of Isaiah 1-39. 97 The canonical context of Isaiah 40-55 is further explained by the function of chapters 36-39, since these chapters provide a literary, historical, and theological bridge to the ensuing chapters.

First, Isaiah’s prophecy of Babylonian exile to Hezekiah in 39:6-7 sets the closest historical reference to a context of Isaiah 40-55. 98 Thus, chapters 36-39 function as a bridge from he Assyrian to the 96Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament, 329; idem, Isaiah, 296-97. Childs also claims, “Historically First Isaiah spoke mainly of judgment to pre-exilic Israel. Conversely, Second Isaiah’s message was predominantly one of forgiveness. But in their canonical context these historical distinctions have been frequently blurred in order to testify to a theology which was directed to subsequent generations of Israelites. ” Isaiah 1-39 proclaims judgment on sinful Israel and subsequent restoration whereas Isaiah 40-55 addresses the end of judgment and the beginning of restoration in Zion.

The theological pattern (judgment and restoration) of Isaiah 1-39 is integrally connected with Isaiah 40-55. 97lbid. , 329-30. The intertextual references to the earlier corpus of the prophecy are the strongest pieces of evidence for the continuity of chapters 40-55 with chapters 1-39. There are many examples that support this relationship, for example, Israel’s blindness and deafness (6:9-10; 29:18; 35:5; 42:18-19; 43:8; 44:18), the desolate city (1:1- 23; 5:1-30; 6:11; 48:8-26; 51:1-3, 17-23; 54:1-3), the centrality of glorified Zion (2:1-4; 42:4; 45:14-23; 49:8-23; 51:1-11; 2:1-10; 54:11-17), the arrogance of Babylon against God (13:1-14:23; 46:1-13; 47:1-15), the light and darkness (2:5; 8:16-9:6; 42:1-13), etc.

For more information on thematic and linguistic linkage between the two sections, see Cf. Williamson, The Book Called Isaiah, 116-239; idem, Variations on a Theme; Clements, “Beyond Tradition-History: Deutero-Isaianic Development of First Isaiah’s Themes,” JSOT (1985): 95-113; M. A. Sweeney, “The Book of Isaiah in Recent Research,” CRBS 1 (1993): 141-62; B. Gosse, Isaie 13,1-14,23 dans la tradition litteraire du livre d’Isaie et dans la tradition des oracles contre es nations (OBO 78; Freiburg: Universitatsverlag; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1988). 98We should not refute historical context; rather, textually informed historical context plays a significant role in the process of interpretation.

Even Luther and Calvin noticed that chapters 40-55 are designed for the exilic communities. One must admit that chapters 40-55 are unusually suited to the specific historical context in the future. See John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of The Prophet Isaiah, vol. 3 (trans. William Pringle; 117 Babylonian context. Second, chapters 36-39 intentionally resent the typological pattern between Hezekiah’s faithfulness and Ahaz’s faithlessness in order to idealize Hezekiah as an example of trust in the Babylonian exile. 99 Third, the divine concern for Zion’s deliverance in chapters 36-39 sets the theological context for the restoration of Zion and its final destiny in Isaiah 40 and following.

100 Especially chapters 49-55 demonstrate the burning issue of Zion’s defeat and restoration. Keeping the canonical context of the text in mind, we will discuss the literary context of the passage. The last aspect of the communicative situation of 54:11-17 is the immediate literary ontext in which the author embodied necessary contextual clues for the reader. The Edinburgh: Constable, 1850), 197-201; Martin Luther, Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 40-66 (ed. Hilton C. Oswald; Saint Louis: Concordia, 1972), 3. There are many textual evidences that support the Babylonian context of the audience such as 44:24-45:7; 48:20; 52:11-12. Melugin, Formation of Isaiah 40-55, 177.

Emphasizing the significance of the literary relationships of Isaiah 1-39 and 40-55, Melugin maintains that “chapter 39 connects the events in the time of Hezekiah to the calamity of the exile. ” 99Peter R. Ackroyd, Studies in the Religious Tradition of the Old Testament (London: SCM, 1987), 152-92; idem, “Isaiah 36-39: Structure and Function. ” Pages 3-21 in Von Kanaan bis Kerala: Festschrift fur Prof. Mag. Dr. Dr. J. P. M. van der Ploeg O. P. (ed. W. C. Delsman et al. ; Kevelaer: Butzon & Bercker; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchner Verlag, 1982), 3-21; Sweeney, Isaiah 1-4 and the Post-Exilic Understanding of the Isaiah Tradition, 12-17; Conrad, Reading Isaiah, 34-51. Laato claims, “Typology compares the new historical situation with the older analogous historical situation from the perspective of future hope.

God’s actions in the past are a paradigm which will come to fulfillment in the new historical situation. ” In Antti Laato, “About Zion I Will Not Be Silent”: The Book of Isaiah as an Ideological Unity (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1998), 61. 100Seitz, Zion’s Final Destiny, 119-48; Childs, Isaiah, 259-87. Seitz argues that “These chapters play a pivotal role in the extension of Isaiah tradition, as the deliverance of 701 was later overshadowed by the overrunning of Zion in 597-587 B. C. E. That role is understood in part as exercising an exegetical influence over the composition of chapters 40- 55”.