Isaiah is one of the most difficult and yet rewarding of the major prophets. Barton looks at First Isaiah (chapters 1–39) as a composite work by many authors, but also as a work to be read through in a linear fashion like a literary work. These chapters are a complex assembly built of distinctive component parts, and Barton focuses on the words of Isaiah, son of Amoz as the core of this and the other Isaiah works. This book consists of six chapters: “The Prophet and the Book,” “Isaiah and Politics,” “Isaiah and Social Morality,” “Isaiah and the Future,” “After Isaiah,” and “Reading Isaiah.” While there are various approaches to this biblical material, including holistic reading and historical criticism, all the methods of analysis outlined in this book are intellectually serious, committed to careful engagement with the text, and produce rich insights. The author entreats the reader to give all literary and interpretive methods a fair hearing.
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John Barton is Oriel Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford.