Judgment And Hope: The Full-Orbed Gospel -- By: John Oswalt

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 17:2 (Fall 1996)
Article: Judgment And Hope: The Full-Orbed Gospel
Author: John Oswalt

Judgment And Hope:
The Full-Orbed Gospel1

John Oswalt*

Isaiah is often called “The Prince of the Prophets.” Why is this so? It is true that the book is characterized by beautiful language, impressive imagery, and lofty themes. But even the most ardent devotee of the book would be hard-pressed to deny that others of the Hebrew prophetic books possess the same qualities in some measure at least. So what accounts for the special place accorded Isaiah by so many?

I believe it is the comprehensive theology of the book which moves it to the front rank. More than any other biblical book it contains all the great themes of biblical theology. So much is this the case that I would contend that if all the other sixty-five books were destroyed, leaving Isaiah’s book alone, we would still have all the essential biblical truth, at least in elemental form. This is certainly a sweeping statement, but consider for a moment. Here are divine transcendence and immanence; original sin and redemption glory; arrogance and humility; implacable divine justice and unmerited favor; the utter untrustworthiness of any created thing and the absolute dependability of God; the majesty of the Divine King and the suffering of the gentle Savior; substitutionary atonement and the destruction of death; salvation by grace alone and the necessity of holy living on the part of the saved; God as the Creator of the Cosmos and the Lord of history; etc. No other prophet comes close to this kind of a binding together of biblical thought. I would even dare to say that no book of the Bible puts all the elements of biblical theology together as Isaiah does. Of course the NT books present the fulfillment of biblical faith more completely than Isaiah does, but, by and large, they do not do the kind of justice to OT truth that Isaiah does to NT truth. Yes, Isaiah is “The Prince of the Prophets,” and in some ways he is the “Prince of Biblical Theology.”

*John Oswalt is the Beeson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.

For many years the wholeness of the Isainic theology has been fractured, as higher critical issues and convictions have dominated the study of the book. At least since the appearance of Eichhorn’s groundbreaking introduction to the OT in the final years of the eighteenth century, it has not been the unity of the book, but its diversity which has held the attention of those investigating it.2 As the various theories of multiple authorship gained credence, scholars sought to find the distinctive character of the work of each author or group of authors. Thus, t...

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