Isaiah 24-27: Studies In A Cosmic Polemic -- By: William D. Barker

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 60:2 (NA 2009)
Article: Isaiah 24-27: Studies In A Cosmic Polemic
Author: William D. Barker


Isaiah 24-27: Studies In A Cosmic Polemic1

William D. Barker

This study primarily aims to demonstrate that: (1) the background material for Isaiah 24-27 is Canaanite, as represented in the north Canaanite Ba‘al tradition of Ugarit, (2) Isaiah 24-27 is not a series of isolated allusions to various segments of the Ba‘al Myth, but a coherent framework and narrative progression that has been intentionally adopted from the Ba‘al-Mot Myth, and (3) the function of Isaiah 24-27 is to describe the eternal and cosmic kingship of YHWH, while condemning Canaanite deities (i.e. El, Ba‘al and his rpum, Mot, Litan, Shapash, and perhaps Asherah) and cult institutions (i.e. Ba‘al worship, the asherim and the marzēaḥ). This indicates that the message of Isaiah 24-27 is in keeping with the kingship and anti-idolatry themes present elsewhere in Isaiah. With this interpretation, there is a polemic continuity between Isaiah 7-13, Isaiah 14-23, and Isaiah 24-27. This interpretation also elucidates some of the connections between Isaiah 24-27 and 28.

This study begins by reviewing the recent history of interpretation of Isaiah 24-27. In Chapter two various interpretations of the Ba‘al Myth are reviewed, and an alternative interpretation is proposed. Chapter three investigates the nature and functions of chthonic deities throughout the ancient Near East, and compares them to מָוֶת in the Hebrew Bible, with particular reference to Isaiah 25:6-8. Chapter four begins with an exegetical analysis of Isaiah 25:6-8, which is followed by an inquiry into banqueting practices and banqueting in the mythic literature of the ancient Near East. Chapter five seeks to define the marzēaḥ in Ugarit, and also distinguishes between the funerary marzēaḥ and other types of marzēaḥ gatherings. The ways in which Isaiah 25:6-8 is a condemnation and inversion of the funerary marzēaḥ

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