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xvii + 601 pp.

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The Book of Isaiah
Its Composition and Final Form
Ulrich F. Berges

Study of the book of Isaiah has in recent times been strongly marked by a tension between synchronic and diachronic approaches. The first is favoured mainly by English-speaking, the second by German-speaking scholars. Berges’s book attempts to mediate between the two poles, arguing that the final form analysis and the tracing of the development of that form are deeply interdependent.

This new research paradigm is applied here to the entire text of the book of Isaiah. Berges works consistently from the synchronic to the diachronic and back again to the evolved synchronous final form. Features that have been repeatedly observed—the cross-connections, key word associations, resumption of themes, and especially the bracketing of the book by chaps. 1 and 66—are traces of a deliberate interweaving of various small compositions as well as of larger literary redactions.

The paradigm most suited to the book of Isaiah in all its complexity is not that of one comprehensive overall structure or final redaction, but that of smaller compositions that build on one another, come into conversation with one another, and, each in its own way, bring into play specific contemporary problems. We should not force a common thematic denominator on the book, but it becomes clear that Jerusalem and Zion belong to the basic tenor of the book of Isaiah as it was developed and refashioned through the centuries.

The Book of Isaiah: Its Composition and Final Form is translated by Millard C. Lind from its German original, Das Buch Jesaja: Komposition und Endgestalt (Freiburg: Herder, 1998).

Ulrich Berges is Professor of Old Testament at the University of Bonn.

Series: Hebrew Bible Monographs, 46
978-1-907534-59-1 hardback
Publication October 2012

1. In Search of the ‘Unity’ of the Book of Isaiah
       1.1. Stating the Question
       1.2. From the Prophet of Three Books to the Message of One Book
       1.3. Approaches to the One-Book Interpretation

2. Isaiah 1–12: Zion between Claim and Reality
       2.1. The Structure of Isaiah 1–12
       2.2. Zion between Claim and Reality (1.1–4.6)
       2.3. Isaiah, His Sons and Disciples as a Community Model (5.1–10.4)
       2.4. Judgment upon Assyria—Change for the People of God (10.5–12.6)

3. Isaiah 13–27: Of Zion’s Enemies and Friends
       3.1. Isaiah 13–23 and 24–27 as an Interpretive Unit
       3.2. The Historical References of Isaiah 13–27 and the Isaianic Core
       3.3. The ‘Babylonizing’ of the Oracles Concerning the Nations
       3.4. The ‘Zionizing’ of the Oracles Concerning the Nations
       3.5. Isaiah 24–27 as a Conclusion to the Oracles Concerning the Nations

4. Isaiah 28–35: The Divine King and the Zion Community
       4.1. The Structure of Isaiah 28–35
       4.2. The Historical Relationships of Isaiah 28–35 and the Isaianic Core
       4.3. The Zion Community Redaction
       4.4. The Proto-Apocalyptic Revision
       4.5. Isaiah 33: The First Bridge-text of the Book of Isaiah
       4.6. Placement and Function of Isaiah 34–35

5. Isaiah 36–39: Threat and Salvation for Zion
       5.1. The Double Tradition in 2 Kings 18–20 and Isaiah 36–39
       5.2. The Historical Relationships
       5.3. Contextual References and Demarcation of Interpretational Units
       5.4. The Threat against and Salvation of Zion (36–37)
       5.5. The Pious King Saves Himself and the City (38)
       5.6. The Announcement of the Exile (39)
       5.7 Place and Function of the Hezekiah-Isaiah-Narrative

6. Isaiah 40–55: From Babylon and the Nations to Zion
       6.1. Introductory Remarks
       6.2. The Structure of Isaiah 40–55
       6.3. The Historical Relationships
       6.4. The Deutero-Isaianic Basic Literary Stratum
       6.5. The Golah Redaction
       6.6. The First Jerusalem Redaction
       6.7. The Second Jerusalem Redaction
       6.8. The Fourth EYS (52.13–53.12)

7. Isaiah 56–66: On Salvation, Repentance, and Yhwh’s Servants
       7.1. Preliminary Remarks
       7.2. The Structuring and Sequencing of Isaiah 56–66
       7.3. The Trito-Isaianic Core Text
       7.4. The ‘Repentance Redaction’ (56.9–59.21)
       7.5. The Redaction of the Servant Community (56.1-8, 63.1–66.24)

8. Summary and Outcome
       8.1. A Synchronic Approach that Reflects the Diachronic
       8.2. The Final Form and ‘Plot’ of the Book of Isaiah
       8.3. The Major Compositions of the Book of Isaiah

The book aims to do justice to both synchronic (wholistic) and diachronic (redactional) perspectives on Isaiah, which generally exist in tension with each other … Berges demonstrates a sensitive ear not only to various historical contexts but also to the themes of the whole book. He is to be commended for attempting to embrace different approaches that are often performed to the exclusion of each other. Christopher B. Hays, Religious Studies Review.