The Isaiah Controversy -- By: C. Caverno

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 052:206 (Apr 1895)
Article: The Isaiah Controversy
Author: C. Caverno


The Isaiah Controversy

C. Caverno

Boulder, Colo.

If we are permitted to strike out “Cyrus” as a proper name, and insert, in lieu thereof, “K’ur’ush” or “Koresh” as a general term like Pharaoh, Tzar, or König, it would seem that the’ main argument for the plural theory of the authorship of Isaiah is removed.

But so to treat the term “Cyrus” is only to do what has already been done with “Tartan” and “Rabshakeh.” They are not proper names, but designations of offices. The Revised Version so treats these names, and lays the foundation for similar treatment of “Cyrus” by its marginal reading “Koresh.” Of course this argument cuts both ways. It not only overturns a main pillar of the hypothesis of discrete origin, but it gives the coup de main to the old argument for inspiration from the fact (asserted) that an individual Cyrus was called by name, by the prophet Isaiah, generations before he was born. But that was an inherently unworthy argument, since it put inspiration in the attitude of playing a game of historic bo-peep. Cyrus was not such a providential man, either generally or specifically, so far as the Jews were concerned, that he should be singled out as the solitary, or even the leading, instance of this sort of vaticination. On the face of the case Darius was as worthy of premonition as Cyrus.

If chapter 39. of Isaiah is good for anything as history, then, in the lifetime of the first Isaiah, Merodach-baladan, king of Babylon, made an alliance with Hezekiah, king of Judah. Sayce is authority for saying that at that time Merodach-baladan was in alliance with powers beyond the Tigris—(Kurushes?). Grant that the first Isaiah knew anything about the political combinations of his time, and you have a foundation laid for all that is said about a “Koresh.” In his exultation in God, Isaiah cries oat: “He saith of the deep, Be dry!” “He saith of a Koresh, You are my shepherd.” The philosophy is— “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity” —a Koresh from beyond the Tigris can “perform all my pleasure.” Out of general conditions special agencies will be found.

This treatment of the term “Cyrus” reduces the section 40-76 to harmony with itself, for Cyrus is the solitary proper name in the whole section. Generalize this name, and you have taken away the force of the argument for a second Isaiah derived from the fact that the author seems personally acquainted with the historic Cyrus.

It is only necessary to suppose that Isaiah of Jerusalem, as Matthew Arnold calls him, knew what was going on about him to lay a foundation for this re...

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