Intertextuality, Canon, And “Undecidability” Understanding Isaiah’s “New Heavens And New Earth” (Isaiah 65:17-25) -- By: Richard L. Schultz

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 20:1 (NA 2010)
Article: Intertextuality, Canon, And “Undecidability” Understanding Isaiah’s “New Heavens And New Earth” (Isaiah 65:17-25)
Author: Richard L. Schultz

Intertextuality, Canon, And “Undecidability”
Understanding Isaiah’s “New Heavens And New Earth” (Isaiah 65:17-25)

Richard L. Schultz

Wheaton College

As developed by M. Bakhtin, J. Kristeva, R. Barthes, and T. K. Beal, intertextual approaches have largely replaced the examination of inner-biblical quotation or allusion and literary influence studies in analyzing the relationships between texts and contexts. These studies, however, can involve the endless tracing of intertextual relations, undermining the possibility of determinate meaning. By deriving several key interpretive emphases and procedures from the intertextual theory of Michael Riffaterre, a Columbia University professor of French Literature, one can “redeem” intertextuality. This kind of modified approach to intertextuality, which is better suited to canonical Scripture, is illustrated by a detailed analysis of Isa 65:17-25. Reading Isa 65 in light of its primary intertexts results in a richer reading that directs the interpreter’s attention to neglected textual features as well as latent emphases and associations.

Key Words: intertextuality, Michael Riffaterre, Isa 65, Isa 11, lion and lamb

Author’s note: This article is a revision of a paper delivered at the conference “Hermeneutics at the Crossroads: The Disciplines of Text Interpretation” held May 15-17, 2003, at the Prince Conference Center at Calvin College. It is based on research begun during a Calvin College seminar in Christian scholarship by the same name, directed by Kevin J. Vanhoozer, which was held June 24–July 26, 2002, with the sponsorship of Fieldstead and Company. I wish to express my gratitude to each of these contributing parties for the intellectual stimulation and enrichment of the seminar and follow-up conference, which they made possible, as well as to my OT colleagues at Wheaton College Daniel Block and Andrew Hill for their helpful comments on the completed article.


Isaiah 65:17-25

“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” Thus begins an Isaianic portrait of the future (Isa 65:17-25) that is one of the most glorious and yet one of the most puzzling for interpreters, for it combines a wide variety of disparate images drawn from Israel’s sacred traditions, in some

cases rev...

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