Item description for Writing and Reading the Scroll of Isaiah: Studies of an Interpretive Tradition (Supplements to Vetus Testamentum, Formation and Interpretation of Old Testament Literature, Vol 70, Pt 1) by Craig C. Broyles & Craig A. Evans...
This volume combines current approaches that treat the formation and early interpretation of the final form of the book of Isaiah with the more conventional historical-critical methods that treat the use of traditions by Isaiah's authors and editors. Studies investigate: Isaiah's use of early sacred tradition; the editing and contextualization of oracles within the Isaianic tradition itself; and the interpretation of the book of Isaiah in later traditions.
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Studio: Brill Academic Publishers
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 6.75" Height: 10" Weight: 1.8 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 1997
Publisher Brill Academic Publishers
ISBN 9004110267 ISBN13 9789004110267
Availability 0 units.
More About Craig C. Broyles & Craig A. Evans
Craig C. Broyles (PhD, University of Sheffield) is associate professor of religious studies at Trinity Western University. He is the author of several books, including a commentary on the Psalms.
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ends and beginnings, PART 1 Apr 27, 2006
This collection of 36 essays provides a telling profile of the state of Isaiah studies following the breakdown of the paradigm constructed by B. Duhm and generations of his followers. This first volume of a twin set is divided by subject matter into two parts: `The Formation and Leitmotifs of the Book of Isaiah' and `Oracles and Passages'. When viewed as a snapshot of Isaiah studies at the end of the century just ended, however, the articles helpfully record clustering of a different nature. Most of them published here for the first time, these essays illuminate the methodological and sometimes ideological divergences which characterise both the speciality in question and biblical studies in general. Whether this represents a post-modern flourishing of variety which is to be celebrated or a fragmentation of the discipline which ought rather to be lamented will depend upon the perspective of the reader.
It is precisely the reader's perspective which comes under analysis in a first group of articles. A number of the essays emphasise the work of `configuring' which falls to the reader of biblical materials, not excluding the biblical scholar. The focus lies not upon excavating or reconstructing the mental, social, religious, and linguistic world of the personalities behind the scroll of Isaiah, but rather upon the book's reception by its readers. The volume's title announces its intention to explore this side of the conversation, a promise which its editors make good.
E.W. Conrad (`Reading Isaiah and the Twelve as Prophetic Books', 3-17), taking his nod from Philip Davies' historiographical work, sees these prophetic books `creating a prophetic past by piecing together existing materials available to its scribes.' Both Isaiah and the Twelve can be read (independently or intertextually) as a literary collage, which reading necessarily involves a `configuring' on the part of both ancient readers and those poised at the turn of our millennium.
R. Melugin (`The Book of Isaiah and the Construction of Meaning', 39-55) reviews several modern arguments for unity in Isaiah, arguing that each is a `construction' of its scholarly creator rather than a `discovery'. Though meanings for texts like Isaiah change, they need not be capricious, since some constructions `fit' the text better than others.
By holding onto some accessible measure of the correspondence between the artefact (the book of Isaiah) and its description by the scholar, Melugin occupies the more traditional wing of the self-consciously `post-modern' cadre of writers who contribute to this collection of essays. By contrast, R.P. Carroll (`Blindsight and the Vision Thing: Blindness and Insight in the Book of Isaiah', 79-93) appears rather to represent the `readers in search of mind-bending encounters with the text' which he describes, embracing the `reflective puzzlement' that its intertextuality offers to such (post-)modern ponderers. Carroll finds the book of Isaiah (`whatever the sign "Isaiah" stands for') to be about `seeing and perceiving, lacking understanding and being blind' from start to finish, though he assures us that his is just one of (infinitely?) many possible readings. Carrying out his thoroughly post-modern engagement of the text, Carroll twice justifies his own approach simply by acknowledging that `it suits my purpose.' Suggestively, the book of Isaiah styles itself a `vision' (1.1, 2.1). The blindness and insight topoi permeate the book with reference to many different subjects (e.g. YHWH, prophets, communities, the `servant'), all of which summons Carroll and readers like him to attempt `profoundly imaginative acts of reading'.
The irrepressible resonance of the `swords to plowshares' text in Isaiah 2 (Micah 4) is surveyed in J. Limburg's `Swords to Plowshares: Texts and Contexts' (279-293). Limburg identifies a core text which is subsequently modified and/or applied to a variety of contexts, from the editorial exhortation of Isa 2.5 (`Come! Let us walk ...') to the Micah setting and through to various novel contexts, ancient and recent. It is indicative of Limburg's approach that his final contexts are not found within the bounds of the Hebrew canon but rather in a modern Protestant lectionary and aboard a Greenpeace launch.
To judge by a second group of these essays, a more classical approach to the Isaiah text is still alive and well, even if its attentiveness to issues of rhetoric show it to be thoroughly conversant with some of the themes more commonly found in those articles which I have chosen to locate in the first section of this review article.
W. Brueggemann (`Planned People/Planned Book?', 19-37) surveys various notions of YHWH's `plan' in Isaiah, settling on the idea of `Yahweh's intention that will surely prevail'. The architecture of Isaiah emphases this plan over against that of all competitors, offering to Israel a `rhetoric' inside of which she finds life. Brueggemann's deliberations in search of the book's plan highlight the difficulty of finding a `centre' in so large a corpus, each competing candidate apparently marked by some inherent inadequacy.
Y. Gitay (`Why Metaphors? A Study of the Texture of Isaiah', 57-65) identifies the book's speeches as argumentative discourse whose images are used not only to denounce but also to persuade. Metaphor serves-sometimes daringly-to adjust the audience's positions to those of the speech-maker, accomplishing this end by presenting the argument as a fact of life, as self-evident as the images that are utilised.
J.K. Kuntz (`The Form, Location, and Function of Rhetorical Questions in Deutero-Isaiah', 121-141) uses the field of linguistic pragmatics as a lens through which to view questions in Deutero-Isaiah, noting that the versatility of the form makes for complex and polyvalent exchanges. Kuntz sides with those who consider rhetorical question such as those in the text at hand to be true questions which insist upon an information-bearing response, and lines up with Y. Gitay (cf. Prophecy and Persuasion and his essay in this volume) with regard to the rhetorical function such inquiries play.
Kuntz presents an illuminating view of interrogative form and function in Deutero-Isaiah, a poet whom he considers a master of the craft. It is difficult to imagine a scholar of biblical rhetoric or of Deutero-Isaiah who would not be well served by this careful treatment.
John T. Willis (`Isaiah 2:2-5 and the Psalms of Zion', 295-316) applies himself to the same text as Limburg in the essay which precedes his, but from a different angle. Willis explores the remarkable similarity between Isa 2.2-5 (= Micah 4.1-5) and the `Psalms of Zion'. Even if editorial considerations have required the title of Willis' essay to refer only to Isaiah among the prophets, students of Micah will also find this a study not to be overlooked.
Willis details nine correspondences which unite the prophetic and psalms texts in question, nodding respectfully in the direction of scholars who have preceded him along this path. His contribution is not so much to uncover unknown similarities as to place recognised ones and the scholars who have dedicated extensive studies to them in an ordered and accessible scheme, and then to do the same more briefly with scholarly reconstructions of the relationship between the Isaiah and Micah texts. The service is well rendered.
Following his own 1969 study (ZAW 81), Willis is on more innovative ground when he explores the structural similarity between the two prophetic texts, each in its own immediate context. After delineating the (at least) three-way web of relationships which unite Isa 2, Mal 4, and the Zion psalms, Willis sides with von Rad, Levenson, and others in favour of the antiquity of the theological concepts found in the three texts. The statement of the two prophetic texts, placed within the psalms, `would pass for one of the Songs of Zion, or at least for a prophetic oracle which borrowed heavily from such a song'. The prophetic texts take up the same Zion-exalting confession of the psalms in order to resist the `fundamental hindrance' which in time the prophets recognise in Judah's ethical declension. Willis' contribution is two-fold. Having already recognised the favour of `ordering' that he has paid us, one now mentions only the glimpse he has given us of the relocation of the Zion songs in prophetic texts. What was celebrated unconditionally in the Psalter is now reframed within the ethical conditionality to which Isaiah and Micah give passionate testimony.
The juxtaposition of the Limburg and Willis essays produces a fine photograph of divergent, though hardly contradictory, tendencies in Isaiah studies. While Limburg touches upon similar OT passages on his way to NT and modern contexts for the same phraseology, Willis remains within OT literature to produce a more detailed sketch of the relationship among the voices which are there to be heard.
A third series of contributions, not sharply to be distinguished from those I have surveyed in section two, take up the matter of `unity' which has kept Isaiah scholars busy in the past two decades. These studies illuminate issues of structural, compositional, and thematic unity from a remarkable number of angles. Often `unity' is a subtext which never quite fades from view as an author goes about some different task.
J. Barton (`Ethics in the Book of Isaiah', 67-77) observes that not since Duhm have the scroll's Proto-, Deutero-, and Trito- components endured such subordination to constructions of its unity. Barton sketches the essential quietism of the prophet's ethics, as well as his concern with the `attitudinal' issues of pride, folly and a kind of noblesse oblige which counteracts these. Finally, Isaiah's ethics are thoroughly theological, deriving from a fixed order which Yahweh's pre-eminence justifies and sustains. Barton queries whether this coherent system of ethics extends into chapters 40-55, concluding that most of it does. The ideas which comprise Deutero-Isaiah's `ethical monotheism' are strikingly `present in embryo' in Isaiah of Jerusalem, though Barton would not push these commonalities to the point of denying the books `obvious dislocations and signs of complex growth'.
Suggestively, Barton suggests a parallel to recognisable deuteronomic/deuteronomistic `flavour' in the equally acquirable ability to discern `Isaianic' seasoning. Thus, from a thematic angle, Barton fills out the picture provided by Williamson (Book Called Isaiah), whom he admires.
J.J. Schmitt (`The City as Woman in Isaiah 1-39', 95-119) justifies at the outset the workmanlike pace of his selection when he announces his purpose to `simply study, in the book's sequence, those passages where the city appears as a woman'. He does no less, availing us of a neat survey of Isaiah texts on `a subject that comes up more readily today' than in, say, von Rad's time, when an extended study of the Zion traditions could get away with not engaging the city's feminine imagery. Grammar requires that the city be talked about as feminine, but Schmitt's interest lies in those texts where `the prophet goes beyond ... (grammatical) gender .. into a depiction of the city as a woman'.
In dialogue with feminist Isaiah scholarship but focusing persistently on his chosen texts, Schmitt shows that the city-as-woman motif was important for both Isaiah and his editor(s). Indeed, the book's redactor is at pains to develop this imagery, which makes plain its importance for both prophet and tradition. Schmitt concludes, arguably with more caution than his evidence requires, that `we perhaps do not need to attribute to Isaiah anti-feminine feelings'.
J. Blenkinsopp (`The Servant and the Servants in Isaiah and the Formation of the Book', 155-175) takes up a topic he has treated elsewhere, this time to see what light it can shed on the scroll's composition in the `unsettled climate' following Bernhard Duhm's dethronement. If the classical tripartite division of Isaiah no longer commands assent as an explication of the book's evolutionary stages, it at least serves the more modest purpose of identifying empirical `points of departure' at the literary level. From that point forward, however, scholarly reconstructions of the book's compositional process occupy a level playing field, since conventional fixed points like the break between chs 55 and 56 no longer qualify as `assured results'.
Blenkinsopp raises the issue of an equally defensible unit comprising chs 40-48. He is less keen to argue in favour of one arrangement of the text at the expense of another than he is to establish the point that `different emphases, perceptions and concerns have been embodied sequentially in different literary structures laid down in successive layers throughout the editorial lifespan of the book, with the result that no one solution can adequately account for the arrangement of the book as we have it.'
As Blenkinsopp shows, current Isaiah scholars do not find the flight from the `assured results' of the tripartite structure and the concerns about unity which frequently accompany this to be a march towards simplicity. Rather, this movement often includes the implicit criticism that well-worn models-far from being too abstruse-are too simplistic to account for the scroll's dizzying complexity.
The reader would be mistaken were he to conclude that Blenkinsopp's introductory critique was setting the stage for an abandonment of compositional concerns in favour of an angle more in line with the first group of essays mentioned in this review. To the contrary, Blenkinsopp's approach is stubbornly historical. He insists upon engaging the old questions, though from a fresh angle and without undue reverence for the classical solutions. Blenkinsopp notices that the use of db[ language varies as one moves, respectively, from chs 40-48 to 49-55 and then on to 56-66. In the first section, the `servant' is the entire Jacob community. In the second, the term is used with an individual, prophetic referent, in keeping with Deuteronomistic theory and perhaps referring to Jeremiah. In the third, the reference is again plural, though now referring to a minority, even sectarian group within the community of the Return. Blenkinsopp explains the relationship between chs 49-55 and 56-66 along master-disciple lines, pressing the literary evidence into the service of social-historical reconstruction. In his words, the sectarian thinking present in the last section `draws an invisible line through the community as a whole, and yet is intelligible only when we postulate a social coordinate in the form of an actual group apt to generate such ideas.' For Blenkinsopp, the evidence encourages us to envisage a relationship between text and history whereby the work of a prophetic figure (the db[ of chs 49-55) produced an eschatologically-oriented, sectarian community (the ?ydb[ of chs 56-66) at odds with the people's official leadership.
Apart from the considerable force of Blenkinsopp's particular argument, the value of this essay lies in the methodology it exemplifies. Having sketched out the almost impenetrable density of the text, Blenkinsopp might well have stressed the text's final form or its effect upon readers as the only accessible `datum'. He does not. Rather, he engages vigorously in old-fashioned literary analysis and then hustles on to the even more speculative terrain that historical reconstruction necessarily inhabits. The self-evident quality of this piece is, unfortunately, blemished by typographical errors in the Hebrew quotations.
J.N. Oswalt's particular reach for unity (`Righteousness in Isaiah: A Study of The Function of Chapters 55-66 [sic] in the Present Structure of the Book', 177-191) is argued upon `logical' rather than `historic' grounds. One might just as well substitute `biblical-theological" for Oswalt's preferred adjective, for he explains the scroll's tripartite structure in terms of its nuanced theological dialectic. The focus is upon the qdx word-group and the well-worn observation that it is used differently in chs 40-55 than in 1-39. According to Oswalt, but against J. Scullion's 1971 study, the word is used differently yet again in 56-66. It is a commonplace that `righteousness' in the early chapters refers to the people's moral conduct, whereas the referent in chs 40-55 is the covenant-keeping and faithful deliverance which YHWH achieves on behalf of his errant ones.
Oswalt's proposal identifies the concept of righteousness in chs 56-66 as the reconciling notion which sets righteousness as described in the preceding sections in its proper and non-self-contradictory context. Without these final chapters, the book would present an election (40-55) and an obedience (1-39) that are mutually exclusive. Indeed, qdx in 56-66 is the `synthesizing element' which brings both concerns together in ways which neither of the first two sections on its own can do. With respect to the implications for the scroll's composition, Oswalt teases rather than informs-he has been explicit elsewhere-but his silence on the issue is compensated for by what is a rich, theologically-inclined treatment. If he ultimately charges a single concept with too large an explanatory task, this can be welcomed as a challenge to complement this particular study with others which trace the same kinds of conceptual development within the Isaiah scroll.
Oswalt's synthetic reading inhabits the opposite end of the spectrum from the speculative reconstruction of P. Hanson, who appears as Oswalt's foil in two footnotes. Yet his departure is not in a direction which requires the modern reader completely to configure form and meaning. Rather, Oswalt clearly believes meaning is `there' in the text, though not adequately exposed by the kind of historicist interpretation he deplores. References to `chapters 55-66' in an essay and volume of this calibre (even in the article's title!) are unfortunate and avoidable.
In his characteristically fine prose, W.L. Holladay asks, `Was Trito-Isaiah Deutero-Isaiah After All?' (193-217) and then argues on the basis of a stylistic `signature' that the two are indeed just one. In the wake of the breakdown of certainty about the division between chs 40-55 and 56-66, numerous proposals for explaining the relationship have emerged. Holladay reviews these, suggesting in the end that what differences there are reflect two stages in the career of a single prophet, one Babylonian, the other Jerusalemite.
The burden of Holladay's article is to prove the singular authorship of the two sections (plus ch. 35) by way of a `signature' which anyone-even a prophet's disciples-would have found difficult to reproduce. Defensible methodology demands that such a signature be suitably obscure or complex. For Holladay, that the `creative expansion of short sequences of poetry in Jeremiah' occurs in both 40-55 and 56-66 is evidence enough, especially in the light of the intricacy of such developmental borrowing.
The mere use of similar language by both texts would, of course, fall short of the goal. It is, rather, a pattern of re-use of Jeremiah material by Isaiah 40-66 that constitutes Holladay's proof. This not only occurs in a variety of genres, but the adaptation sometimes transfers phraseology from an `original' use in one genre in Jeremiah and employs it in a fresh genre in Isaiah. For example, Jer 2.32 is a disputation text that is used in Isa 49.14-18 to dispute `Israel's assertion of dereliction by YHWH and continues with a proclamation of salvation.' Holladay provides several more examples which are straight-forward enough not to depend on reconstruction of texts from either corpus, each calculated to demonstrate re-use of Jeremiah material in novel ways, even as a `witty reversal' of a traditional expression (of Jer 2.25 in Isa 57.10).
In these and in his supplementary examples, where extraneous considerations would not produce proof of literary relationship if these cases were not bolstered by less ambiguous ones elsewhere, Holladay attempts to demonstrate that `the diction of Jeremiah ... entered deeply into the phraseology of Deutero-Isaiah'. Again, each pair of prophetic texts relates in some `inimitable' way, once in an uncanny `raggedness of style' which takes one form in Jeremiah's idol-parody and a slightly different one in Deutero-Isaiah's.
Holladay finds these modes of `creative expansion' scattered throughout Isaiah 40-55 and 56-66 and again in ch. 35, a passage which he joins Torrey, Scott, McKenzie, and Ackroyd in relating very closely to Deutero-Isaiah. Importantly, he finds them nowhere else in the Isaianic corpus, nor does he find any other antecedent material which is similarly re-shaped in the latter two sections of Isaiah. This creative dependency, typically by way of complex expansion, is thus understood as Deutero-Isaiah's signature. Presumably, for Holladay, the prophet reshaped earlier preached material-largely to be found in chs 40-55-in order to respond to the changing circumstances of exile and restoration. This latter block, 56-66 and perhaps 35, is now `brought into the orbit of Deutero-Isaiah'.
Holladay's study, marred only by an absent scheva on p.206 and an unfortunate typo in the dates in his concluding statement on p. 217, stands out in this volume. This is not only because linguistic and literary skills mesh without flaw, but also because Holladay performs, with a self-effacing lack of comment, the kind of intertextual work urged in other of this volume's contributions. Holladay's work, however, is historically focused, representing a current within Isaiah studies that embraces the break-up of the conventional paradigms whilst holding onto confidence that carefully argued historical judgements remain possible and worthwhile.
From a fresh angle, Holladay has reaffirmed that there is a pattern of correspondences between Deutero-Isaiah and Jeremiah. That the line of dependence runs from Deutero-Isaiah directly back to Jeremiah rather than through a populated prophetic neighbourhood is assumed by Holladay, where perhaps it might have been briefly argued. If so compelling a rhetorician as Deutero-Isaiah could evade historical notice, it may be possible that others who expressed themselves similarly to Jeremiah achieved the same, even if by accident. Deutero-Isaiah might then have applied his considerable skill by developing the stock-in-trade of a prophetic guild rather than that of just one individual. However, Holladay's assumptions about dependence upon Jeremiah are, beyond doubt, the economical ones given the available date. To insist would be to quibble and to ask Holladay to re-state what he has worked out previously.
H.G.M. Williamson in 1994 described O.H. Steck as `grappling seriously with the kind of questions which Duhm and his successors left unanswered'. He might have been writing a preface to Steck's lengthy contribution to this volume (`Autor Und/Oder Redaktor in Jesaja 56-66', 219-259), for Steck's essay is peppered with both questions and exclamation marks. The former relentlessly press the case for his brand of empiricist text observation. The latter register ironic surprise at the persistence of the `herrk?mmliche Vorverst?ndnisse' to which he finds recent scholars returning time and again as though by force of habit.
Steck labels his own 1985 monograph on the composition of Isaiah a `radikaler Vorschlag'. Indeed he has little patience for more timid approaches which fail fully to reckon with the calamitous, post-Duhmian `Zussamenbruch aller Gewi?heiten' in research on the prophets, Trito-Isaiah before all others. Steck's appraisal of the current situation is that `nichts von alledem ist klar', a circumstance that pleads for `Gegebene' in place of what Steck will label, in turn, `Abstraktionsprodukte', `herk?mmlichen Erwartungen', `Vormeinungen', `Vorentscheidungen', `Grundvoraussetzungen', `fraglose Pr?misse', `Dekret', `textferne Spekulationene' and `Vorurteil'. All of these refer to the habits of scholars who, in Steck's view, enter the text of Trito-Isaiah knowing already what forms, boundaries, and compositional processes are there to be found.
A frequent object of his ire is the notion of small, isolated textual units that derive from a speaking prophet and which were later developed into larger, though still often isolated, textual units. Wolfgang Lau's Schriftgelehrte Prophetie in Jes 56-66 is singled out for special attention as a classic example of inquiry into the books' composition which from the outset knows too much. Steck savages Lau's notion of small, independent units which are built upon by later redactors as the product of the `disastrous presupposition' that we know what authors and redactors in the transmission of prophetic texts were and did. Steck is adamant that we do not, though at points his own reconstruction suggests that he does. He is especially unsettled by Lau's failure to read chs 65-66 as a coherent piece which both closes the book that existed as chs 1-64 and represents God's answer to the prayer of chs 63-64.
Apart from his own detailed explanation of the compositional process, Steck thinks that very little can yet be known about the process behind the text. He argues for an `historische Synchronlesung' of the entire work that takes the book's final form in the early second century BCE as its starting point and reads all sixty-six chapters as a coherently worked-out `sinntragendes Buchganze'.
With regard to the state of Isaiah studies, it is instructive that Steck-who is not averse to using polarising language to separate himself from traditional scholars-marches in a direction far removed from that of others of the guild's `rebels'. For him, the problem with conventional Isaiah scholarship is not that it holds to an obsolete historicist paradigm, but that it is not historical enough. His intention is not to understand `wie man Jesaja in sp?teren Zeiten bis hin zu heute gar anhand neuer literaturwissenschaftlicher Methoden verstehen kann, sondern wie das Jesajabuch in Finalformation zu seiner Zeit verstanden werden will und verstanden worden ist.' In the light of Steck's wider essay and other writings, it would be difficult to overestimate the confidence which the final clause of this sentence represents. The question to be engaged by current scholarship is `eine historische Frage' that can only be answered with suitably historical methods.
In spite of Steck's sharp distinctions between his own well-documented `Vorschlag' and the work of both older critical and more recent scholars, it would be wrong to see him as an anomaly on the current scene. However reluctantly, he claims common cause with current scholars who trace the indications of conscious and intelligent unity in the long and diverse book called Isaiah. The final form of Isaiah is the product of a professional, scribal `Tradentenmilieu' whose creative textual custodians produced a coherent extension of Isaianic insights to the different periods of the book's compilation, from the eight to the second centuries. Indeed, the Isaiah scroll is not alone in this regard and must be studied together with other prophetic works which have undergone similar treatment. For example, Steck wonders whether the prayer of chs 63-64 was not formulated specifically to close off a penultimate form of a `Jesajabuch', in rough parallel with the role of Lamentations (esp. ch. 5) with Jeremiah.
Steck is concerned to demonstrate that the classical critical distinction between author(s) and redactor(s) does not emerge from the evidence which the text yields up. Rather, `Verfasserschaft und Redaktion von Anfang an ineinander ?bergehen.' Alluding to his earlier work, Steck argues once more against the notion of authored text units which are then redacted by compilers. In place of this model, he suggests that the scribal practice of `productive relecture/Weitergabe' is capable of composing large literary pieces (Isaiah 35, for example) with the self-conscious purpose of joining and expanding upon existing (prophetic) works which are also large and heretofore self-standing.
Steck's essay may-like those approaches which he critiques-be too sure of itself. Yet it is a welcome addition to the snapshot of Isaiah scholarship which this volume presents. To his credit, Steck is able to press towards the fuller consequences of the bell which tolls over Duhm and his disciples. If he occasionally fails the discipline of methodological agnosticism that he proposes, his programme nonetheless has a purifying effect on a field of study which is wont to fall back upon premises that it has officially discarded.
Having noted the attention Steck gives to chs 65-66 and his criticism of Lau, it is appropriate here to jump ahead to the last essay of this volume, M.A. Sweeney's `Prophetic Exegesis in Isaiah 65-66' (pp. 455-474). As the author of a definitive study of the Isaiah scroll's beginning, Sweeney is the obvious candidate to write the `full study of Isaiah 65-66 ... that demonstrates the role of these chapters as the conclusion to the book of Isaiah', a task which Sweeney believes has been heretofore neglected. Accepting with Lau that these chapters represent `scribal prophecy', Sweeney identifies their purpose as `to announce the creation of a new world order centered around Zion, to define the character of those who will be a part of the new world order, and to exhort the audience to join in the new creation.' These final chapters gather up previous citations from the scroll in an effort to exhort readers to become the `seed' which shall possess such a future, thus functioning as the conclusion to the book as a whole rather than to any particular component piece, an over-arching purpose which Lau's study fails adequately to appreciate. Indeed, `the authors of Isaiah 56-66, and many who preceded them, treated the earlier Isaianic writings as a source of revelation that stood at the basis of the creation of new prophecy in the final form of the book.'
Sweeney's tone echoes that of many of this volume's contributors, for he seeks and locates intelligence and purpose across larger units of Isaiah, an approach which characterises the reach for unity which vigorously presents itself in these essays. More particularly, he affirms the principle of `scribal prophecy' which Lau, among others, advances, though without embracing the more atomistic elements of Lau's presentation.
Starting at the other end, H.G.M. Williamson (`Relocating Isaiah 1:2-9', 263-277) takes `traditional source-and-redaction analysis' onto admittedly speculative terrain. Williamson observes that ch. 1 of Isaiah is unsatisfactorily understood as a summary, since it actually quite selective of the themes scattered throughout the book which it takes up. It reads better as a summons to active and responsive reading. However, scholars arrived at the `summary' conclusion precisely because it is in some sense representative of a book which has its own proper introduction at the beginning of chapter two.
Williamson justifies his reconstruction of the sources of chapter one by noting a tension in the developing scholarly consensus regarding the nature of ch. 1. On the one hand, the introduction was likely compiled and placed in its current location at a late date, rendering it unlikely that it ever existed as an independent piece. On the other, most or all of the material in ch. 1 derives from Isaiah himself.
From this consensual and unremarkable point of departure, Williamson leads his reader down a far less familiar path. The argument which animates this journey is that the editor of ch. 1 used the rest of the book as his source, carefully choosing those elements which usefully contributed to his hortatory introduction of the book. Three separate units (vv. 2b-3, 4, and 5-9) are identified and a search is then undertaken in Proto-Isaiah material for contexts which might have made these words available to the editor of ch. 1.
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