- Was the Book of Isaiah (Bible) written by one person?
- Own answer
- There are two answers.
Hebrew (both Jewish and Christian, but not Samaritan) tradition says, yes, all of Isaiah was written by the prophet known by that name.
The other answer is, "no, differences of content and style indicate there were really two authors".
Exit common sense and enter a discussion on what parts of Isaiah are Isaiah and what parts are Deutero-Isaiah.
- Robert Edward Lewis,
- Relatively knowledgable about theology and Church history
- Written Fri · Upvoted by Will Fox
- Even the usually conservative/traditional Roman Catholic church has agreed with modern scholarship that there are several different persons responsible for the content of the book of Isaiah.
“The complete Book of Isaiah is an anthology of poems composed chiefly by the great prophet, but also by disciples, some of whom came many years after Isaiah. In 1–39 most of the oracles come from Isaiah and reflect the situation in eighth-century Judah. Sections such as the Apocalypse of Isaiah (24–27), the oracles against Babylon (13–14), and probably the poems of 34–35 were written by followers deeply influenced by the prophet, in some cases reusing earlier Isaianic material; cf., e.g., 27:2–8 with 5:1–7.
Chapters 40–55 (Second Isaiah, or Deutero-Isaiah) are generally attributed to an anonymous poet who prophesied toward the end of the Babylonian exile. From this section come the great oracles known as the Servant Songs, which are reflected in the New Testament understanding of the passion and glorification of Christ. Chapters 56–66 (Third Isaiah, or Trito-Isaiah) contain oracles from the postexilic period and were composed by writers imbued with the spirit of Isaiah who continued his work.”
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- You are linking to a page by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
They are NOT conservative.
- Will Fox
- Do you think it's at all possible that his disciples changed some of his writings minorly?
- Robert Edward Lewis
- The person believed to be 1 Isaiah lived about 400 years before his work was merged with other writings into what is currently known as the Book of Isaiah. Tradition and sayings and writing were handed down over centuries. Probably some things were changed. But the stuff commonly attributed to 2nd and 3rd Isaiah is very different from the first part.
It is like attributing to Abraham Lincoln an essay on why America should send a man to the moon. Is it possible that Abraham would have been interested in the moon? Yes. Would he have written about space exploration, years before the airplane was invented and a century before space flight became a real possibility? No.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- "But the stuff commonly attributed to 2nd and 3rd Isaiah is very different from the first part."
"It is like attributing to Abraham Lincoln an essay on why America should send a man to the moon."
"Is it possible that Abraham would have been interested in the moon? Yes."
Not a real parallel, since ....
"Would he have written about space exploration, years before the airplane was invented and a century before space flight became a real possibility? No."
The difference is, Isaiah was a prophet, Abraham Lincoln was not.
Can St John, on Patmos, have written about air planes or helicopters near two millennia before they were invented (for the former perhaps reinvented)? Well, it seems locusts with faces like men are a fairly visual description of choppers.
Can he have written about ASCII binary numeric values of letters, near two millennia before computers were invented? Well, ASCII fits Domitian very much better than either Greek or (as far as I knonw) Hebrew gematria.
DOMITIANE = 68+79+77 ...
Since Isaiah was a prophet, all of your argument boils down to prophecy not being a realistic option, to all prophecies being ex eventu.
- Robert Edward Lewis
- you totally misunderstand the role of a prophet in historic Judah/Israel. They are not future tellers, they are people who dream possibilities. No one knows the details of the future, not even God. But people with gifts and intuition can point to such things. Martin Luther King was a prophet. But did he talk abut iPhones and Tesla cars???… no. Neither did Isaiah 1 talk about the destruction of the Temple and its restoration, of exile and deliverance. That prophet talked about things that were happening in his world and the consequences of injustice.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- "They are not future tellers, they are people who dream possibilities."
For exactly one scenario, you are nearly right : if God foretells a conditional punishment and the prophet gives the culprits a chance of repentance. Even so, should they clearly not repent and should they not be punished in foretold way either, we would be dealing with a false prophet.
The Torah does say that prophets are foretelling things, since it gives an inerrant fulfilment of what the prophet foretells as one criterium for telling a true prophet from a false one.
"No one knows the details of the future, not even God."
False. God is not in time, therefore God knows the "future" (what is such or once was such to us) as we know the present which is before us here and now.
"Martin Luther King was a prophet. But did he talk abut iPhones and Tesla cars???… no."
Martin Luther King was not a prophet.
He was an intellectual, he famously had a dream, but he was not a prophet.
"Neither did Isaiah 1 talk about the destruction of the Temple and its restoration, of exile and deliverance."
There was one Isaiah. Your reason for posing a II and a III possibly too, is denial of what prophecy means.
"That prophet talked about things that were happening in his world and the consequences of injustice."
He also talked about things that were GOING to happen, like Cyrus, and of future consequences of prolonged injustice.
- Part of Catholic Response
- The story of this controversy centres almost wholly round the pontificate of Pius X, in which its acute phases occurred, but its origins stretch far back into the nineteenth century. The rapid progress made by the natural sciences in that epoch,- together with a more critical study of ancient documents, had set in train many new speculations. There were those who proclaimed that the freshly acquired knowledge, both historical and scientific, had undermined the foundations of Christianity, if not of all religion ; others affirmed that the new knowledge was either not knowledge at all, or, if it was real knowledge, was reconcilable with orthodox religion. A third party asserted that, while the essentials of Christianity were untouched, modifications of Christian dogma had become imperative. This was a relatively easy position for a Protestant to take up, since the Protestant denominations disclaimed doctrinal infallibility. No Catholic could seriously maintain it. For a man who held that one Catholic dogma was untenable was as much outside the Church as another who said that all must be rejected.
Meeting the Higher Criticism By HUMPHREY J. T. JOHNSON
The Tablet of 29th May 1954, Page 11
[While Johnson accurately tells us why Catholics rejected Modernism, he doesn't quite stick to it.]
- Citing Pontifical Bible Commission 1908 with Explanations
- Regarding prophecy, it is one hallmark of modernist biblical interpretation that no prophecy is acknowledged to be truly supernatural in character: if Daniel predicts something that did in fact happen in the future, the only "rational" explanation is that Daniel must have been written after the fact to give the appearance of prophecy. This anti-supernaturalism is usually taken for granted and not explicitly stated. In Reply I, the PBC condemns the following proposition:
"That the predicitions read in the Book of Isaiah-and throughout the Scriptures-are not predictions properly so called, but either narrations put together after the event, or, if anything has to be acknowledged as foretold before the event, that the prophet foretold it not in accordance with a supernatural revelation of God who foreknows future events, but by conjectures formed...and shrewdly by natural sharpness of mind..."
Reply II upholds the eschatological and Messianic interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies against an over-exuberant preterism (the belief that prophecies were fulfilled not long after they were made and were always for the prophet's own time only and have no future fufilment). The following proposition in condemned:
"Isaiah and the other prophets did not put forth predicitions except about events that were to happen in the immediate future or after no long space of time..."
The remaining three replies all deal with the argument that Isaiah had multiple authors. This is a very common assumption nowadays, one even made by otherwise conservative and orthodox persons (although some still cast doubt on the multiple-authorship theory, as does Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., in his book Inside the Bible, where the multiple-authorship theory is mentioned but not endorsed). The main argument for the multiple authorship of Isaiah comes from the fact that chapters 40-66 seem to speak to post-Exilic Jews. Taking the presupposition that Isaiah could not have known or written about events two centuries in the future, it is presumed that another author wrote chapters 40-66. As evidence for this, modernists will point out that had Isaiah actually prophesied about these events so far in advance, his contemporaries would not have known what he was talking about!
Reply III condemns the idea that a prophet must be understood by his contemporaries. Reply IV condemns the idea that a philological or textual critique of Isaiah turns up any evidence of mutliple authorship. Reply V deals with the possibility that many of these arguments taken altogether could cast doubt on the single-authorship and lead us to believe that the book was attributed "not to Isaiah alone, but to two or even several authors." Like the previous assertions, this one is condemned as well. While the idea of multiple authorship itself is not condemned, the Replies condemnt the notion that there is any textual evidence of multiple-authorship. Thus, the PBC is saying, "If you believe in mutiple-authorship, know that there is no good reason to do so."
- Unam Sanctam Catholicam : Revisiting the Pontifical Biblical Commission (part 1)
[Blog owner is known as Boniface X, a Papal claimant, though not the one I support. As per 23.I.2017]