The Characterization Of The Assyrians In Isaiah: Synchronic And Diachronic Perspectives -- By: Mary Katherine Yem Hing Hom

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 60:2 (NA 2009)
Article: The Characterization Of The Assyrians In Isaiah: Synchronic And Diachronic Perspectives
Author: Mary Katherine Yem Hing Hom


The Characterization Of The Assyrians In Isaiah: Synchronic And Diachronic Perspectives1

Mary Katherine Yem Hing Hom

The Characterization of the Assyrians in Isaiah: Synchronic and Diachronic Perspectives is a literary analysis of every text in Isaiah in which the Assyrians explicitly or implicitly feature. In addition, a few texts regarded by dominant voices in scholarship as referring to the Assyrians are discussed. The general approach of the dissertation is to assume a literary synchronic reading in order to appreciate the narrative artistry and meaning conveyed by the final form of the text and to establish a standard from which diachronic inquiry may proceed.

Each chapter of the dissertation is a study in its own right, usually concentrating on a passage or chapter of Isaiah. In addition to analysing the role of the Assyrians from both synchronic and diachronic perspectives, these chapters also explore the diverse and sophisticated ways in which literary devices, such as mirroring, typology, various structures, and inner-Isaianic repetition and reversal, function in relation to the depiction of the Assyrians. In several instances, when the interpretation of a unit of text is especially difficult or debated, more attention is devoted to exegesis or engagement with the particular scholarly issue. These matters include: a critique of Erlandsson’s theory concerning Isaiah 13-14; the interpretation of Isaiah 28:23-29 concerning the agricultural parable; the relationship between Isaiah 10 and 30:27-33; the interpretation of the particularly difficult Isaiah 21; and the combination of Isaiah 30 and 31 to function as a sort of Janus passage conveying the suggestion that both the previous threats and the future threats emanating from Assyria will assuredly be overcome by YHWH.

From the outset of the dissertation, it is observed that the representation of the Assyrians demonstrates a diachronic dynamic, as an evidently eighth-century situation under the Assyrians was generalized to make it applicable to subsequent circumstances (1:5-9; 5:25-30; 13-14). The Assyrians’ punitive role links the narrative chapters of Isaiah (Isa. 7, 36-38), making evident contrasts between two stories about faith. The irresistible and destructive power of Assyria is dramatically depicted through metaphorical imagery later in

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