The Function Of Isaiah 24-27 -- By: Neil O. Skjoldal

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 36:2 (Jun 1993)
Article: The Function Of Isaiah 24-27
Author: Neil O. Skjoldal

The Function Of Isaiah 24-27

Neil O. Skjoldal*

The interpretive difficulties posed by Isaiah 24–27 remain intact, even after one hundred years of critical examination. G. W. Anderson’s thirty-year-old assessment of the exegetical questions surrounding these chapters is still correct: “It probably remains true that writers on most of the critical questions involved may still be divided into two groups: those who differ from each other and those who hesitate to commit themselves.”1

Such frustration, however, should not lead to despair. Two of the most recent treatments of Isaiah 24–27 have shown that the study of these chapters might indeed be a fruitful field of endeavor when the text is taken as a unit.2 My article addresses one of the major questions raised by a study of Isaiah 24–27—that is, identifying its function.

I. Isaiah 24-27 And Apocalyptic Literature

The vivid, futuristic language of Isaiah 24–27 inevitably has raised the question of the chapters’ relationship to apocalyptic literature. The understanding of this relationship has developed over time and is one of the primary ways in which the function of the chapters has been examined. Others have provided more detailed descriptions of this relationship, but a brief survey is in order here.3

* Neil Skjoldal is a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 2065 Half Day Road, Deerfield, IL 60015.

1. Isaiah 24–27 as late apocalyptic. Perhaps the most important adherent of this view is B. Duhm: “If Isaiah has written these four chapters, he might just as well have written the book of Daniel.”4 Although his commentary has been widely influential in dividing the passage between the “eschatological prophecies” and the “songs about destruction of a particular city,” Duhm’s analysis of Isaiah 24–27 as apocalyptic has been reconsidered, no doubt because it is clearly evident that the passage was written well before 150 BC.5

Otto Kaiser adopts a somewhat modified view by tracing different strata within Isaiah 24–27 as “advanced apocalypti...

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