ISAIAH. By John Goldingay. NIBCOT 13. Pp. x + 397. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2001. Paper, $11.95.
John Goldingay, professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary Through its three schools, Theology, Psychology, Intercultural Studies, and the Horner Center for Lifelong Learning, the seminary offers university-style education leading to 13 different degrees accredited by the Association of Theological Schools and the Western , is well acquainted with the book of Isaiah Noun 1. Book of Isaiah - an Old Testament book consisting of Isaiah's prophecies
Old Testament - the collection of books comprising the sacred scripture of the Hebrews and recording their history as the chosen people; the first half of the Christian . He has also just published the International Critical Commentary volume on Isaiah 40-55 (with David Payne). This NIBC NIBC New India Bible College
NIBC New International Builder's Community commentary can be read as a digest of Goldingay's wider research into this complex but fascinating book. As the series title implies, this commentary is based on the New International Version, though Goldingay offers alternative translations where he feels the NIV NIV New International Version (of the Bible)
NIV Non-Immigrant Visa
NIV No Income Verification (loan)
NIV Non Invasive Ventilation
NIV No Innocent Victim (band) misses the sense of the original Hebrew. The commentary is especially suited for a lay, Christian audience, but there is also much here for the scholar. This volume is a fine example of the approach espoused by the editors of the commentary series, which they call "believing criticism." In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , the commentators use all the tools and skills of critical scholarship, while viewing the text as sacred Scripture that testifies to God's word and work within the believing community.
An example of Goldingay's "believing criticism" can be found in his approach to the book of Isaiah as a whole. Goldingay affirms that the book is divinely inspired and "that Yahweh's revelation comes through at least four human voices" (p. 3). Isaiah of Jerusalem is identified as the "Ambassador." Taking his lead from Isa 8:16, Goldingay identifies the "Disciple(s)" as the individual or group who edits and expands Isaiah's oracles-primarily in the form of prose sermons-perhaps during the reign of Josiah. Deutero-Isaiah is re-signified as the "Poet," and Trito-Isaiah as the "Preacher." The Poet preached on texts from the Ambassador, and the Preacher on texts from both the Ambassador and the Poet. Chapters 24-27 "arguably deserves to be thought of as a fifth voice" (p. 4).
Isaiah's 66 chapters are covered in fourty-seven sections. These are broken down further into their discrete form-critical units, each of which receives a paragraph or several paragraphs of comment. Concluding each section are "Additional Notes," which will particularly interest those familiar with the Hebrew text.
Goldingay offers many significant insights, but some points are made simply by assertion, not argument. Such a shortcoming, however, may be inevitable for so brief a commentary on such a long and complex biblical book. While he is certainly abreast of scholarly debate, he does not become enmeshed en·mesh also im·mesh
tr.v. en·meshed, en·mesh·ing, en·mesh·es
To entangle, involve, or catch in or as if in a mesh. See Synonyms at catch. in it. Goldingay strikes a reasonable balance in addressing the various factors that play in the composition and subsequent (re-)interpretation of prophetic oracles. His emphasis lies on the final, canonical text of the book, and so he respects its unity, though where helpful, he does give attention to historical background, later redaction, and ancient Near Eastern conventions. While he highlights the features that promote a unified reading of the book, he is prepared to bring surprising contrasts to light. For example, he notes how chapters 56-66 "discuss how to live with the Ambassador's [i.e., Isaiah's] challenges (you must do right) and the Poet's [i.e., Deutero-Isaiah's] promises (Yahweh will do right)" (p. 315). Yet he remarks that the Preacher's/Trito-Isaiah's definition of "maintaining justice and doing what is right" (Isa 56:1-8) would surprise both Isaiah and Deutero-Isaiah, namely observing Sabbath and welcoming eunuchs and foreigners. He also observes how this contrasts sharply with other passages within the biblical canon (e.g., Ezra-Nehemiah and Deut 23:1-8).
For the most part, Goldingay is not doctrinaire doc·tri·naire
A person inflexibly attached to a practice or theory without regard to its practicality.
Of, relating to, or characteristic of a person inflexibly attached to a practice or theory. See Synonyms at dictatorial. but true to the text. Regrettably, however, he does domesticate the harshness of Yahweh's commission to Isaiah in 6:9-10 (especially in the MT) by interpreting it merely as "a warning": the people "are closing their minds, and God will let that have its natural effect" (p. 61). His comment on Yahweh's imperative, "be ever hearing, but never understanding," is simply that "he [by which Goldingay means Isaiah, not Yahweh!] does not mean it" (p. 61).
Regarding the so-called "Servant Songs," Goldingay rejects Duhm's approach of reading them as linked blocks of texts that refer to the same figure throughout. His priority is to read each in its own immediate context. The "servant" whom Yahweh "upholds" and has "chosen" in 42:1-4 is the same "servant" in 41:8-10, whom Yahweh has "chosen" and "upholds" and identifies explicitly as Jacob-Israel. But he notes there is "a tension between the content of the person-description [i.e., 42:19] and the job-description [i.e., 42:1-4] and the identity of the servant" (p. 301). The "servant" in 49:1-6 and 50:4-9 is the prophet himself, whose voice is heard in 40:6-8. Here Goldingay mentions "a certain parallel between the experience of the servant prophet and that of the servant people" (p. 282). As for 52:13-53:12, Goldingay simply notes, "the openness of the pronouns and the vision left it open for audiences to find their place in it" (p. 303). So Jews tend to identify Israel as the servant, and Christians identify the servant as Jesus and also as a model for the church (citing Philippians 2; 1 Pet 2:21-23). He reads the passage as a vision of a job description of what Yahweh's servant could achieve. Goldingay's observations and arguments are always thoughtful and provocative, though not always convincing (or clear). At times his arguments rest more on modern analogies (e.g., 52:13-53:12 as "movie" and Yahweh as "director") than on parallels within the Bible itself or from ancient Near Eastern literature.
Goldingay's commentary is particularly helpful at pointing out intertextual in·ter·tex·tu·al
Relating to or deriving meaning from the interdependent ways in which texts stand in relation to each other.
in cues that shed light on the passage in question. He notes, for example, how the Rabshakeh, Sennacherib's representative who was sent to Jerusalem during the Assyrian invasion of Judah, ironically supports Isaiah's own earlier prophecies found especially in chapters 10 and 30-31. If one is looking for a commentary on Isaiah that is brief, readable, and affirms faith, Goldingay's is among the best, because he makes wise use of the critical, scholarly tools and tries to listen to the text on its own terms.
Craig C. Broyles
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