In this volume on Isaiah, John Goldingay explores the first of the great prophetic books. Isaiah is a compilation of the prophetic messages of several prophets. Their messages to the people of Judah and Jerusalem included a call for injustice to be recognized, a message of liberation and hope from the oppressors of the people, and a message of the coming day of judgment. These separate messages are held together by the promise of a new age of redemption and peace that lies beyond the crisis of judgment.
“The most distinctive link between the parts is the description of God as ‘the holy one of Israel.’ That title, or a variant, comes twenty-eight times in Isaiah (only six times in the whole of the rest of the Old Testament), half in chapters 1–39 and half in chapters 40–66. The whole of the book called Isaiah is a message about the holy one of Israel.” (Page 4)
“Isaiah 1 is a collection of Isaiah’s messages from different contexts, brought together to introduce his ministry as a whole. The trouble that the first main paragraph describes didn’t come at the beginning of this ministry but near the end; the description here serves to introduce the account of his ministry as a whole. You want to know where Isaiah’s ministry led, how the story ends? Well, here’s the answer. Then the second main paragraph takes you back to look at why it ended that way.” (Page 8)
“Isaiah is the first of the great prophetic books, though Isaiah was not the first of the great prophets. The first to have a book named after him was Amos. Neither did prophets such as Amos and Isaiah fulfill their ministries by writing books. Prophets fulfilled their ministry by showing up in a public place such as the temple courtyards in Jerusalem and declaiming to anyone who would listen and also to the people who didn’t wish to listen.” (Page 3)
“The fact that the material in a book such as Isaiah goes back to prophetic preaching explains the way the book doesn’t unfold in a systematic way like a normal book. It’s a collection of separate messages that have been strung together. Often the same themes recur, as they do in Jesus’ parables, because the same themes recurred in the prophet’s preaching. There’s a story about a Christian preacher whose people accused him of always repeating the same message; when they took notice of that one, he responded, he would preach another.” (Page 3)