The book of Isaiah's imagery sparkles as it inspires. It draws us in to meditate and extends our vision toward the future. But what should we make of this sprawling and puzzling book—so layered and complex in its composition—as a whole?
John Goldingay helps us make sense of this "book called Isaiah" as a tapestry of patterned collages, parts put together in an intentional whole. The Theology of the Book of Isaiah studies the prophecies, messages and theology of each section of the complex book, then unfurls its unifying themes—from Zion to David to the Holy One of Israel. Like a program guide to Handel's Messiah, Goldingay helps us see, hear and understand the grandeur of this prophetic masterpiece among the Prophets.
“Isaiah 53 is not a prophecy of the Messiah but a portrait of how Yahweh’s servant-prophet becomes the means of Israel’s being put right with God, of Israel’s personal renewal, and of the nations’ coming to acknowledge Yahweh.” (Page 72)
“The word for ‘hosts’ is the regular Hebrew word for armies, the word that appears on the back of Israeli military trucks. The expression looks as if it literally reads ‘Yahweh of Armies,’ which is an odd expression in Hebrew as in English, but one way or another it denotes the fact that Yahweh possesses or embodies all dynamic and forceful power, earthly and heavenly.” (Page 24)
“Isaiah puts before Ahaz a demandingly impractical expectation: that Israel should live its life in the world on the basis of trust in Yahweh rather than on the regular principles that nations and communities accept.” (Page 25)
“Isaiah is a collection of many prophecies that started off life as separate messages that were delivered on different occasions, and have subsequently been collected in this ‘book.’” (Pages 11–12)
“Darkness is a figure for a situation where one does not understand what is going on, for an experience of trouble, for deception and plotting, and for death itself (a tomb is a dark place). It thus suggests a realm from which Yahweh is absent or in which he is inactive. Light is a figure for a situation where one can see and understand, for a place where one doesn’t mind being seen, for an experience of deliverance and blessing, for a realm where Yahweh is present and active.” (Page 27)
Just the book for Bible readers who feel lost reading Isaiah! Goldingay proves an engaging, reliable guide, leading us through Isaiah's parts, showing its overall coherence and reviewing its treatment of key theological topics at the end. The result is a readable guidebook to the Isaiah masterpiece, and I'm pleased to recommend it.
—Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., professor emeritus of biblical literature, North Park Theological Seminary, Chicago
Based on decades of concentrated analysis of the details of this key prophetic work, John Goldingay's volume highlights those golden threads that wind their way throughout Isaiah, glistening in the light of illumination. The strength of this work is its sensitivity to the thematic emphases of the major sections of Isaiah as well as the book as a whole. It is a helpful guide for those seeking to discover order in the midst of the creative intricacies of the book of Isaiah, whether before they tackle a detailed study of the book or at the end of a period of patient exegesis.
—Mark J. Boda, McMaster Divinity College, McMaster University
With the dust beginning to settle on fresh efforts to read the book of Isaiah as a whole, Goldingay here provides a clear and engaging reintroduction to Isaiah and its theological testimony. Written with his customary wit and flair, and with sensitivity to the literary flow of this ambitious masterwork, The Theology of the Book of Isaiah will profit beginner and expert alike. An impressive accomplishment for a publication of this length and a tribute to Goldingay's clarity of purpose and Isaiah's vision both.
—Christopher Seitz, Toronto School of Theology, Wycliffe College
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