Isaiah is perhaps one of the most cited books of the Old Testament. Sections from chapter 40 and all of chapter 53 are familiar to most. It is known as the Gospel of the O.T. because of its prophecy concerning Christ.
Desptie all this many aren’t familiar with the book of Isaiah. In this post I’m going to talk a little bit about the author of this prophetic book, when it was written, and why.
The author of Isaiah
As the title implies, the author of this book of the Bible is Isaiah. As is the case with many other books of the Bible the traditional view for the author of Isaiah has come into question in the past two centuries. Liberal scholars have argued that Isaiah authored chapters 1-39 and someone else wrote 40-66. Sometimes they add a third author for chapters 56-66.
There are three reasons why as conservative evangelicals we believe that Isaiah was the author of the entire book that goes by his name:
- While there are some differences between the two sections of the book the themes and vocabulary remain extremely similar.
- Other prophets, Jeremiah, Nahum, and Zephaniah, are dependent on Isaiah and thus make the second part preexilic.
- The New Testament cites both parts of Isaiah as belonging to the titular prophet.
Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of King Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. He lets us know (6:1) that he began in the year that King Uzziah died which is dated to 740 B.C.
While Isaiah is the sole author of this book it is helpful when looking for a purpose to divide the book into three parts. In chapters 1-39 Isaiah is addressing the fact that the people of Judah have not been trusting God for security against foreign invaders. They do occasionally (ch. 37) trust in Him and He delivers them but mostly they look to other nations for deliverance.
Chapters 40-55 are prophecies for when Judah will be exiled to Babylon. They were recorded to encourage the exiles to remain faithful and devoted to Yahweh.
Chapters 56-66 are for when the Jews return from captivity. They give hope to the people that their nation will once again be glorious (ch. 60). The prophecy found in this part of Isaiah extend to the end of the age (65:17).
That’s it for the introduction to the book of Isaiah. I must admit it’s been awhile since I’ve read this book besides a few sections here and there. This little study reminds me why it’s one of my favorite books of the O.T.
As always I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.