The Use Of Quotations From Isaiah 52:13-53:12 In The New Testament -- By: Kenneth D. Litwak

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 26:4 (Dec 1983)
Article: The Use Of Quotations From Isaiah 52:13-53:12 In The New Testament
Author: Kenneth D. Litwak


The Use Of Quotations From Isaiah 52:13-53:12
In The New Testament

Kenneth D. Litwak*

The question of the use of the OT in the NT requires a many-faceted answer. One cannot give a simple, straightforward reply. The answer depends on the writer, even the specific passage. One writer can use quotations from the same OT passage in different ways in varying contexts. The use of quotations from Isaiah 53 in the NT can be studied in several ways. The citations can be separated according to the hermeneutic behind them, whether it be pesher, midrash or allegory, to name three. Or quotations can be divided between Septuagintal and non-Septuagintal text-forms. A third alternative, adopted here, is to treat quotations from the fourth Servant song according to their function in their NT context.

Before examining the NT usage of Isaiah 53, it seems appropriate here to expound the understanding of the passage in its original setting assumed in this paper.1 There has been anything but consensus on the identity of the Servant in Isa 52:13–53:12. M.D. Hooker identified the Servant as Israel. The passage is a theodicy, designed to explain and justify Israel’s suffering during the exile.2 Orlinsky, however, argues that the Servant cannot be Israel, for the Servant is innocent and the prophets make it rather clear that Israel was not righteous, either before or after the exile.3

The key to understanding the concept of the Servant, I believe, is corporate personality, first developed fully by H. W. Robinson. The whole community can stand for an individual and vice versa.4 This of course is something of an oversimplification. C. R. North follows Robinson in seeing a fluid concept of the Servant in the Servant songs. The concept moves from collective Israel in Isaiah 42 to an individual in chap. 53.5 Rowley identifies the Servant similarly to North. Unlike North, Rowley sees not only linear development in the concept but oscillation as

*Kenneth Litwak is a computer programmer for Wycliffe Bible Translators in Huntington Beach, California.

well.6 Franz Delitzsch likened the Servant conception in the Songs to a pyramid with Israel at its base and Christ at its apex. North extends the li...

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