Joseph Spencer discusses current trends in Isaiah scholarship.

Dec 2, 2020
Joseph M. Spencer

"Three Big Controversies Surrounding the Book of Isaiah," Search Isaiah, September 6, 2018, accessed August 4, 2022

Search Isaiah
Darryl Adler, Joseph M. Spencer
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

There are scholars who have literally deposited a seven or eight-century long process of that taking shape and hundreds of hands involved and so on. There’s a point at which where you have to raise your eyebrows a bit and kind of say from the text alone, you’re reconstructing. That seems a bit fishy, but that’s a major field in Isaiah scholarship. Redaction history has replaced the kind of, can we nail down what’s authentically Isaiah in the eighth century?

The other major development is that there’s been an emergence of interest in what we would probably just call literary readings of Isaiah. And the idea there is to say, can we find themes that run through the whole book that joined the book together, most scholars working on this don’t assume single authorship, but they nonetheless assume that the book as we have it, is a kind of unified whole. So rather than trying to say, oh, there’s first Isaiah and he’s got his project, and second Isaiah is a completely different thing they say, now these are related, and the book is trying to tell us something by the way it’s structured and organized. So yeah, it’s the primary conversation, and Isaiah scholarship has nothing to do with first, second and third Isaiah, or has nothing to do with this debate about whether there is a single author. Almost everyone assumes there are multiple authors.

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