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Indeed, in Isaiah 40 no hint is given that a new chapter begins and that it is a different prophet who is speaking from that point; and there is no evidence of a loss of any superscription or introduction. This problem is related to the question, Which text had been read immediately before ch. One argument for the presence of a clear beginning in ch. This would appear to be true if ch. But many scholars believe that these chapters had been inserted much later into the book of Isaiah, probably as 'one of the latest steps to 5.

See the chart in Steck But if it is ch. The close relationship of ch. For Clements the argument is reversed: Not the difference, but the similarity between the end of First Isaiah now ch. Here again chs. Ackroyd has convincingly shown a number of interrelations between these chapters and chs. And these sections 'alone in the book provide a full contextual setting for the activity and message of Isaiah' From ch. God's word of judgement over Israel's sins, declared in the Assyrian period by Isaiah, is to be fulfilled in the Babylonian period.

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At the same time, the reader is prepared for the words of comfort that appear in Isaiah 40ff. In the meantime the connections between chs. For some scholars the starting point still is the more or less unquestioned existence 6. With regard to chs. Other scholars are developing a different approach reading the texts within chs. The latter reading, which I am sympathetic with, does not imply a denial of diachronic questions but a change—and perhaps a reversal—of scholarly priorities. The first and main question is no longer, What was the 'original' meaning of this text?

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This does not exclude the first two questions to be asked for additional information and clarification. But the priority is now clearly given to the interpretation of the text in its given context. This changed approach in the book of Isaiah has its first and most fundamental influence on the reading of chs. Most scholars would agree that 'Isaiah is an extremely complex collection of material' Seitz Up to now most scholars would try to find out the original words of Isaiah, or the texts that formed the first, original collection of words by Isaiah, and then continue to define the stages of redaction through what other texts had been added to it.

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But if one reads chs. Chapters will then be understood as a meaningful composition in itself comprising materials of different types and from different times depicting Isaiah as a prophet of judgment and salvation Ackroyd The diachronic question is not at all to be excluded but can help in understanding the interrelations between some of the texts that are now part of this composition. Another example of results of a changing view is the understanding of the oracles against other nations in chs. Particularly important is the fact that this composition begins with an oracle against Babylon in chs.

This shows that Yahweh's words of judgment spoken in times of the Assyrian rule will be realised by the Babylonians. Thereby, already at this point the borders from the times of First Isaiah to that of Second Isaiah are crossed cf. Seitz Then the transition from ch. And even the further step from exile to return—that is, from the Babylonian to the Persian era—has now been prepared. Actually, this reading of the book of Isaiah as embracing a long period of time with changing political events and experiences begins in the first chapters of the book.

It has long been observed that ch. This chapter contains elements that—at least by later readers—can be understood as speaking from a point after the divine judgment had come on Israel. Verse 1. It is now a question of approach as to whether this 'reading back' is taken as a late addition or as an integral element of the canonical presentation of the prophet. The same holds for the word on Jerusalem's fate in 1.

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Ackroyd summarizes his reading of 1. These kinds of observations and reflections must necessarily lead to a new definition of 'First Isaiah'. In this context it has to be taken into account that the person of the prophet appears rather rarely and not before ch. Compared with a number of other prophetic books, such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel, but also Amos and Hosea, the person of the prophet Isaiah remains elusive, as 'Second Isaiah' and 'Third Isaiah' do as well cf. The consequences of this peculiarity of th book of Isaiah have to be reflected, together with the other aspects mentioned before.

IV The impact the changing approach has on interpreting Isa. At first glance, there seems to be no influence from chs. Yet already the beginning of 'Second Isaiah' in Iff. The opening of this chapter without any introduction or superscription, and with the call for comfort referring back to Jerusalem's 'service' and her sins, obviously addresses readers that know something of what had been said in the preceding part of the book.

In addition, the well-known parallels between Isa.


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Albertz is mainly interested in the adoption and continuation of Isaianic motifs in Deutero-Isaiah, and he recalls the idea of an 'Isaiah-school' as it had been raised earlier by Mowinckel and others. Other scholars reflect the possibility of a reciprocal influence on the level of composition or redaction Rendtorff, Seitz. In any case, the opening verses of chs. The same is true for other texts and motifs.

Childs emphasizes that the 'former things' in Deutero-Isaiah in the context of the book as a whole 'can now only refer to the prophecies of First Isaiah' ; cf. But then the question arises as to what this expression might have pointed to in an earlier stage when chs. Would the 'former things' then have meant anything different from earlier prophecies of judgment?

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And if not, which prophecies had they referred to? So the question remains as to whether there could or should be assumed in chs. This question is also dealt with by Clements who mentions several topics by which he wants 'to show that the evidence that the prophecies of "Second Isaiah" reveal a conscious dependence on earlier sayings of Isaiah of Jerusalem is firm and reliable' Finally, in the course of looking at the book of Isaiah as a whole the interrelations between 'Second' and 'Third Isaiah' are re-examined under different aspects. The most decisive step has been taken by Steck who, in the context of broad methodological reflections, denie the existence of a prophet or author 'Trito-Isaiah' and sees chs.

The question of the juxtaposition of chs. The existence of an independent 'Trito-Isaiah' is also denied by Vermeylen [ ], though his concept of the history of chs.

Beuken's approach is different. He is also interested in Third Isaiah's relations to First and Second Isaiah which he describes as 'Isaianic legacy' But he sees in Trito-Isaiah 'a literary and theological personality in his own right' 64 , who is the successor of DeuteroIsaiah and, in a certain sense, also of Proto-Isaiah, and who 'has used the prophecies of F[irst]I[saiah] and S[econd]I[saiah] for his particular message, in a situation that was quite different' ibid.

Beuken's conviction of the unity and originality of Trito-Isaiah finds its specific expression in the developing of 'The Main-Theme of Trito-Isaiah', that of 'the servants of Yahweh', that he finds as a 'theme' throughout the whole of chs. These two approaches differ in two respects: 1 the unity of chs.


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Beuken's position with regard to the book as a whole is only touched on in his articles, while for Steck this is one of his main concerns. Steck's own answer is mainly oriented towards a growth of the book of Isaiah as a whole. The later stages of redaction in chs. Here a new and interesting debate is beginning, and we expect further work in this field.

With regard to the book of Isaiah as a whole, of particular interest would be the question of how developments in chs. For example, certain interrelations between chs. And could it be possible that 'those responsible for the last forming of the third part also contributed to the composition of the final shape of the book'? Rendtorff My own first article in this area tried to show a number of topics and themes that are characteristic of the book of Isaiah and at the same time appear in all—or at least in more than one—of the different parts of the book.

My approach was basically influenced by Melugin and Ackroyd, and many of the observations and questions of that article have been absorbed in the following discussions. My more recent article discusses the different meanings of the word fdaqdin the context of the book of Isaiah as a whole, including chs. Another contribution to be named here is that of Anderson.

He approaches the book of Isaiah as a whole, but writes that 'Instead of reading the Isaiah tradition forward from the standpoint of the seminal preaching of Isaiah of Jerusalem! This brings texts from all parts of the book in relation to each other in a new and often surprising way. Anderson keeps the diachronic aspects in mind so that his essay easily and fruitfully can be related to questions of the redactional or compositorial history of the texts. In general, I believe that a changing view on the book of Isaiah should allow, and even require, studies on topics, themes, expressions, and even ideas characteristic of the book as a whole or considerable parts of it, without at the same time discussing questions of redaction or composition.

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A synchronic reading, if carried out with the necessary sophistication, should have its own rightful place. VI In sum, the discussion of the last decade has revealed the unity of the book of Isaiah. Of course, it is not a simple unity but a highly complex one. Yet scholars have now begun to realize the complexity of this unity and to interpret it.

But it seemed to me to be remarkable 7. See, for example, Carr In my view, one such crucial point is the question of an independent book or collection of 'First Isaiah', containing major parts of chs. The scholarly discussion shows that there is broad agreement on the 'secondary' character of elements like chs.

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This makes it nearly impossible to read the 'original' parts in whatever sense of chs. Nevertheless, some scholars continue to speak of a 'First Isaiah' thereby including some of the 'secondary' elements. The first mentioned position is led by a consistently diachronic interest. Many of these scholars try to define a number of redactional stages, some of which are to be dated before the combination of chs.

In my view, many of these stages, and in particular their datings, are highly hypothetical. In addition, these scholars have to assume a number of anonymous redactors, editors and so on whose intentions they try to understand.