Development of the Interpretation of Isaiah 7:14: A Tribute to Edward J. Young -- By: Edward E. Hindson

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 10:2 (Spring 1969)
Article: Development of the Interpretation of Isaiah 7:14: A Tribute to Edward J. Young
Author: Edward E. Hindson

Development of the Interpretation of Isaiah 7:14:
A Tribute to Edward J. Young

Edward E. Hindson

[Edward E. Hindson holds the M.A. in Biblical Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and is currently a postgraduate student at Grace Theological Seminary.]

In the interpretation of Isaiah 7:14, three basic positions have been historically taken by commentators: 1) that the reference is only to an immediate event of the prophet’s own day; 2) that it refers only to the Messiah; 3) that it refers to both. The first position has been generally held by those who have denied the unity of the book’s structure and supernaturalness of the content.1 There have, though, been exceptions such as Orelli who denied the unity and held the direct messianic interpretation of 7:14 .2 From the time of the reformers most evangelicals have held the second viewpoint. Calvin early reflected this view, maintaining the Christological interpretation of Isaiah seven .3 Early writers like Bishop Lowth and the Baptist minister, John Gill also held the messianic interpretation of this passage.4 However, during the middle of the nineteenth century, especially after the publication of Duhm’s work, the concept of immediate contemporary fulfillment of all of Isaiah’s prophecies became widespread.5 Unable to stem the rising flood of opinion, many conservatives retreated to a dual-fulfillment position, especially on this particular passage.6 Thus, the position of the reformers, who saw fulfillment only in Christ, was abandoned. This influence affected the interpretation of the entire Immanuel passage, which came to be viewed by many as merely symbolic.7

Barnes represents this viewpoint in advocating that “some young female” would bear a son whose name would indicate God’s blessing and deliverance. He maintains that only in this way could there have been any satisfactory and convincing evidence to Ahaz. However, he continues that though this is the obvious meaning there is no doubt that the language is so “couched” as to contain application to a more significant event that was a sign of God’s protection. He concludes that “the language, therefore, has at the commencement of the prophecy, a fullness of meaning which is not entirely met by the immediate event.”8

Beecher also accepted ...

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