The Book of Isaiah: No Small Endeavor

The first seminar I was a part of in my Old Testament PhD studies at GGBTS was on the book of Isaiah.  I simultaneously started an adult Sunday morning Bible study at Risen Life Church on the book of Isaiah.  I started this class in part: 1) to help me remember what I was learning in my Isaiah seminar as well as 2) disseminate all the information in a useful way to my church.

If you have ever read the book of Isaiah you know that it is not an easy read.  In Isaiah there is poetry, narrative, historical accounts, prophecy, praise and worship, and even some apocalyptic writing.  The writing is complicated and yet there are many memorable passages with clear meaning.  The servant song of Isaiah 53:2-12 is one of the most well known prophecies of the coming savior as well as prophecy of Immanuel in Isaiah 7:14.  Isaiah’s vision of the throne room of God in Isaiah 6:1-7 has inspired Christians throughout the ages.  Many missionaries have heard Isaiah’s commission in Isaiah 6:8-13 and have been moved to give their lives for the sake of the Gospel.  Isaiah 1:18 has reminded us of God’s compassion and love toward His people even in our sin.  Finally, Isaiah 65-66 has given us visions of the future, when God’s kingdom will be established.  The passages above are just some of the many, many, passages that are well known from Isaiah.  (If I didn’t list your favorite passage, forgive me.)

Isaiah as a whole is hard to wrap our minds around, though we know its parts.  In fact much of the study of Isaiah has been mired in textual criticism, debates about authorship, and misunderstanding in construction of an overall timeline for the book.  Increasingly, scholars and lay Christians alike are returning to the book of Isaiah and studying it just as it has come to us, as one book.  And this is a good thing.  In my seminar and in my Sunday morning Bible study we study the book of Isaiah as one book, meant to communicate a message to a particular people at a particular time, by one author, Isaiah, who God used to communicate truths to His people of all times.

We are well into our study of Isaiah in my Sunday morning Bible study, but I want to share our study with you. Jason Cotting a member of Risen Life Church has been gracious enough to record every Sunday morning Bible study I have done on Isaiah (except the first class on background and structure) on his phone.  I want to warn you the quality of the recordings is not great and the teaching may be worse J.  I share these recordings with you in the hopes that they may help you unlock an understanding of Isaiah that would move you to deepen your walk with Christ.  Not every class is taught by me, Carl Lund and Kelly Paasch have been faithful co-teachers when I am called to preach.  I hope you enjoy what you hear, and I would love to hear from you if you have found the study beneficial or learned something new.

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t share and give credit to the resources that have helped me understand the book of Isaiah.  If you are looking for a good commentary on Isaiah I highly suggest both volumes of The Book of Isaiah (volume 1 - Isaiah chapters 1-39, volume 2 – Isaiah chapters 40-66) by John N. Oswalt in The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT) series, published by Eerdmans.  These two commentaries are phenomenal both in their scholarship and application.  Even the background sections on Isaiah were a joy to read.  Oswalt provides a good outline of the book of Isaiah, pertinent background information, and heartfelt exegesis and commentary.  If you are serious about understanding the structure of Isaiah I would also take a look at Dr. Paul Wegner’s article, "Seams in the Book of Isaiah: Looking for Answers." In The Bible as a Human Witness to Divine Revelation: Hearing the Word of God through Historically Dissimilar Traditions, edited by Randall Heskett and Brian Irwin, 62-94. New York, NY: T & T Clark, 2010.  Dr. Wegner was my seminar professor on Isaiah and I believe he is on to something in his structuring of the book of Isaiah.  I am also greatly indebted to Dr. Wegner for everything he has taught me on the book of Isaiah.  Anything I say that is really cool or mind blowing probably came from Oswalt or Wegner.

To begin listening to my study of Isaiah, click on the link below. The link will take you to my resouces page where I am weekly adding the Bible study recordings from my Isaiah class.  Please scroll to the end of the page to find the Isaiah class recordings.  Again I hope you enjoy the study and would love to hear any feedback you have.


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