In this pair of commentaries, distinguished Old Testament scholar William L. Holladay examines the major prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah. The editor of the widely-used A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, Holladay pierces through the complex and sometimes opaque message of these massive books of poetic prophecy. Throughout these works, Holladay emphasizes the theological unity and diverse voices within Jeremiah and Isaiah, explaining exegetical and critical issues in rigorous but readable analysis.
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To the average reader, the book of Isaiah can be rather confusing. It sometimes seems to be composed of poems and narratives combined haphazardly not by one, but by several authors. Even scholars disagree on its authorship, dating, structure, and meaning. William L. Holladay offers this book as a study guide for lay people and students that addresses the perplexing questions raised by reading Isaiah.
Throughout the book, Professor Holladay affirms the theological unity within Isaiah, while discerning and emphasizing the variety of voices found there. Although there were several “Isaiahs,” each writing with his specific world situation in mind, the total picture is of a prophetic tradition which recognizes that God was king of Israel.
It is not only an interesting and reliable guide to understanding the book of Isaiah, but a fine introduction to many aspects of the religion of ancient Israel and the theology of the Old Testament.
—James M. Ward, professor emeritus of history of Christianity, Southern Methodist University
In this careful reconstruction of the prophet Jeremiah’s life and work, William L. Holladay attempts to sort out Jeremiah’s utterances chronologically, and to hear them as closely as possible within the context of the events of their time.
Holladay presents Jeremiah as a model for us to understand the prophets of the Old Testament. But more than that, Holladay argues Jeremiah alone of the prophets saw his relationship with God as a problem to be grappled with rather than an obligation to be taken for granted. The prophet’s willingness to question and to doubt was unique and may put him more in step with our time than his own. For while many of us are willing to undertake a life of faith lived under God’s guidance, few of us do not at some point question God’s ways.