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Posted April 27, 2006

Book: The Message of Isaiah 40-55: A Literary - Theological Commentary
Author: John Goldingay
T & Clark International, New York, 2005, pp.578

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

The Message of Isaiah 40 - 55 traces the argument of Isaiah 40-55 to show how the chapters bring a message of encouragement and challenge about God’s intention to restore the Judaean community, some of whose members are in exile in Babylon, others living in the city of Jerusalem that has lain devastated since it fell to the Babylonians in 587. The chapters hold before this community’s eyes a vision of the nature of its God as the powerful creator and the loving restorer. In the course of following the argument, the reader becomes aware that the chapters have to deal with their audience’ s mysterious resistance to their message. It cannot give God the kind of response the message needs and deserves, nor can it fulfill the role as God’ s servant that is designed for it. God nevertheless remains committed to it.

The prophet eventually becomes aware of a distinctive personal calling to embody that response, until the people are ready to do this (notwithstanding the suffering it brings) that embodies the kind of ministry that needs to be exercised to them so that they may be brought back to God and find a restoration of spirit, as well as physical restoration.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Listen, Obstinate Jaacob (48. 1-11)

“Listen to this, house of Jacob, people who called yourselves by the name Israel, who came out of the waters of Judah; who swear by the name Yhwh, who invoke the God of Israel – not in truth and not in rightness. So each of the subsections opens in a relatively positive way. Yet once again, to tell people to listen is inclined to presuppose a disinclination to pay heed to whatever will follow. This is more explicit if paradoxical when the command is addressed to the (perversely) strong-minded or the blind and deaf. Similar considerations apply to the singular exhortation to Jacob in 44.1; 48.12 and to Babylon in 47.8, the plural “listen to this” of 4816 (cf. Also v. 14?), the ‘give ear to this’ of 42.23 and ‘think about this’ of 46.8. the fact that the last ‘listen to this’ was the one addressed to Ms Babylon in particular (see 47.8) makes this a slightly worrying introduction. It hints that for the community the warning to Babylon is double-edged. It might suggest good news for them, but it might also bring their own warning. The confrontation that is already thus presaged is also hinted at in the usual initial address to them as ‘Jacob’, a title that points to the empirical community in its down-to-earth humanness, dispirited and depressed. They called themselves ‘Israel’ (the verb is niphal not pual), but were they entitled to do so?

Table of Contents

Part I Introduction
1. Introduction
2. Yhwh is returning to Jerusalem
3. Yhwh the Creator has Jacob-Israel’s destiny in hand

Part II Yhwh’s Vindication and Deliverance
4. Yhwh’s unique power and Yhwh’s commitment to servant Israel
5. Yhwh’s unique power and Yhwh’s achievement through the servant
6. Yhwh’s commitment to blind and deaf
7. Yhwh’s commitment to using Jacob-Israel as witness

Part III Yhwh’s Work with Cyrus
8. The triumph of Cyrus
9. The fall of Babylon’s Gods and their cities
10. The challenge of Jacob-Israel

Part IV The Servant and Zion
11. The servant’s testimony and its implications
12. Yhwh’s response to abandoned Zion
13. The awakening of Yhwh’s servant
14. The awakening of Yhwh and of Zion

Part V Yhwh’s Act of Restoration and Transformation
15. Yhwh’s act of restoration and transformation
16. The fruitfulness of the servant ministry
17. The renewing of the abandoned woman’s city
18. Conclusion: the broadening of the covenant commitment