Building House To House (Isaiah 5:8): Theological Reflection On Land Development And Creation Care -- By: Heath A. Thomas

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 21:2 (NA 2011)
Article: Building House To House (Isaiah 5:8): Theological Reflection On Land Development And Creation Care
Author: Heath A. Thomas


Building House To House (Isaiah 5:8):
Theological Reflection On Land Development And Creation Care

Heath A. Thomas

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary And Paideia Centre For Public Theology

Land development is the point of theological critique set within the context of Isaiah’s “Song of the Vineyard.” God’s good land (the vineyard) was marred by a number of sins, one of them being “building” house to house (land development). Within the horizons of the OT in general and Isaiah in particular, the substance of the critique may be understood theologically within the strictures of OT law regarding land allotment. But pressing toward new horizons in biblical theology, how might the substance of the critique be carried forward? This article will reflect on land development and creation care within the horizons of Isa 5:8 and OT law and then move toward a reflection of the same set within the fields of biblical theology and theological interpretation of Scripture.

Key Words: creation care, Isaiah, Synoptic Gospels, parables, biblical theology, theological interpretation, hermeneutics, application

Author’s note: An earlier version of this essay was read at the Institute for Biblical Research Creation Care Section / Society of Biblical Literature North American Congress in New Orleans on 21 November 2009. Thanks to Kenneth Cuffey for the formal response and to the participants for the stimulating discussion.

Introduction

The title of this article is something of a misnomer. Two verbals are employed in Isa 5:8a, neither of which derive from בנה, “to build.” Rather, the terms here used are נגע, “to touch/add,” and קרב, “to draw near/conjoin.” So why include “building” as part of the title? The rationale behind it lies in the theological criticism outlined in 5:8-10, which carries on from the logic of Isaiah’s “Song of the Vineyard” (Isa 5:1-7). The prophet critiques those who are adding “house to house” and conjoining “field to field” (5:8a) at a grave cost—they construct many large and splendid homes (v. 9) at the

expense of the land and those who (formerly) live on it. As a result, the land will wither and the finely constructed homes will lie desolate (v. 10). In short, the logic of Isa 5:8-10 may be summarized in te...

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