The eighth-century BCE Isaiah of Jerusalem, the so-called First Isaiah, is one of the most important theological voices in the Bible. J.J.M. Roberts takes a classical historical-critical approach to his interpretation of this material, making good use of his broad comparative knowledge of ancient Near Eastern historical and religious sources. In light of Isaiah’s very long prophetic ministry of at least thirty-eight years, and perhaps as long as fifty-three years, Roberts also suggests Isaiah often reedited older oracles from early in his ministry to address new, though somewhat analogous situations, albeit with different players, later in his ministry, without erasing telltale signs of the material’s earlier origin. In many cases, this suggestion provides a better explanation for glaring inconsistencies in an apparently connected text than the common fragmentation of the text that attributes such inconsistencies to later editors who either misunderstood or intentionally altered Isaiah’s message for their own purposes.
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There is simply no better historical-critical commentary on Isaiah. Roberts offers a remarkably rich interpretation of this important prophet, with original insights drawn from ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian texts and inconography. Learned, yet accessible, this will be among the very best volumes in the Hermaneia series.
—Choon-Leong Seow, distinuished professor of Hebrew Bible, Vanferbilt University
J.J.M. Roberts, one of the foremost authorities on First Isaiah, offers his most holistic interpretation of the eighth-century prophet from jerusalem in this long anticipated Hermaneia volume. All the hallmarks of Roberts‘ uncomprimising historical-critical mode of reading biblical texts—patient siftiung of textual witnesses, philological rigor, high esteem for the role of the interpretor, unparalleled knowledge of the history, literature and material realia of the ancient Near East—are marshaled here characteristically to an incisive and illuminating account of the words of Isaiah ben Amoz and the world in which he lived. A stunning achievement that fittingly caps Roberts‘ career-long study of this prophet.
—F.W. Dobbs-Allsop, professor of Old Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary
Out of his lifelong study of the book of Isaiah, Roberts has given us the definitive historical-critical commentary on First Isaiah. Few commentaries on ths biblical book give such meticulous attention to the details of the text as is provided here. While textual, historical, and literary matters are at the center of attention, Roberts does not shirk from addressing significant theological issues and the resonance of Isaiah‘s message with the New testament.
—Patrick D. Miller, professor emeritus of Old Testament theology, Princeton theological Seminary
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J.J.M. Roberts is the William Henry Green Professor of Old Testament Literature Emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is the author or coauthor of The Hand of the Lord: A Reassessment of the “Ark Narrative” of 1 Samuel, Commentary on Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, The Bible and the Ancient Near East, and Hebrew Inscriptions.