The Literary Character of Isaiah 40-55 Part 1: Survey of a Century of Studies on Isaiah 40-55 -- By: Eugene H. Merrill
BSac 144:573 (Jan 87) p. 24
The Literary Character of Isaiah 40-55
Survey of a Century of Studies on Isaiah 40-55
Professor of Semitics and Old Testament Studies
Dallas Theological Seminary
The past century has given rise to many new approaches to the language and literature of the Old Testament, none of which has been more important and helpful than the development of form criticism and its later outgrowth, rhetorical criticism. This has not been an unmixed blessing by any means, for as is the case with any method, it has been abused and has occasionally been destructive of traditional orthodox views of the origins and development of Old Testament literature. This cannot justify its wholesale abandonment by evangelicals, however, unless one is willing at the same time to sacrifice the insights into biblical meaning to be gleaned by sensitive, positive literary criticism.
The purpose of these two articles is to trace the history of the application of traditional critical methods as well as form criticism and rhetorical criticism to a limited corpus of Old Testament literature, namely, Isaiah 40–55. This unit is especially amenable to this analysis because it is largely self-contained, it is of manageable length, and it represents a variety of literary genres. Even so, it is impossible, in light of the vast scholarly literature, to do more here than take a sample of the formal and thematic analyses that have been proposed for this section of Isaiah.
BSac 144:573 (Jan 87) p. 25
Characteristics of Form/Structure/Style—Traditional Views
In an article in 1882 entitled “The Integrity of the Book of Isaiah” Cobb, primarily in opposition to the commentary by Cheyne published in 1880–81, made an exhaustive study of the vocabulary of Isaiah 40–66 in light of the vocabulary in chapters 1–30 and in Ezekiel.1 His conclusion was that the Book of Isaiah is a unit, based on the words common to its two parts as opposed to the differences between Isaiah 40–66 and Ezekiel.2 Since Cobb’s article was an attempt to show statistically certain common features within the vocabulary of the prophets, it did not address matters of Isaiah’s peculiar construction from a literary standpoint.
In an 1886 revision of the aforementioned commentary, Cheyne listed 82 words peculiar to chapters 40–66 as well as seven unusual forms.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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