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Monday, September 15, 2008

WOE to Me!

I had to work yesterday so I'm off today hoping to write my paper on the historical background of Isaiah 1-39.

I am more confused about this now that I've finished the reading than I was before I began! So, here's my take on Isaiah:


Isaiah got his commission as a prophet in 740 BC, I think, and that's the same year King Uzziah died, and King Ahaz suceeded him. And Ahaz had false piety and ticked off Isaiah and God. And his prophecy about the child to be born to a "young woman" if translated that way might have been Isaiah's own son who lived out the rest of the prophecy. But it can also be messianic when taken in a larger context. And somewhere King Hezekiah in chapter 35 or something said a prayer for deliverance from the Assyrians, but that's at the end of Isaiah which is really the beginning, and I still can't figure out who was in charge of the divided kingdom in the north and south especially when sometimes "Israel" means "Judah" and the rest of the time it means "Israel" as in "Israel". And Ahaz or Hezekiah both wanted to join with the Egyptions, but the Assyrians wanted Israel as a buffer state, and Isaiah said to trust God not alliances, and the Israeliates kept getting smited as they continued to be worldly and idolatrous and ignored God.


There are many lessons for us in Isaiah, but I'm not sure history should be one of those lessons. Can't I just go back to having the metaphysical abstract spiritual and synthetic understanding of Isaiah? It's a lot more logical than the history which is completely out of order in comparison to the text.

OK...I have 4 pages with endnotes and a Bibliography to write today. I'll deliver it to my professor with a brick wall so that as he reads my paper he can have something to slam his head against in frustration.

Works for me.

4 comments:

swissmiss said...

This year our bible study group is covering Revelation...which is a great book and one I really wanted to study. But, the book I wish that a Catholic scholar would create a bible study on is Isaiah. No small feat, I know, but it would be so enlightening. I'd hate to have to do a report for a class because it just seems like such a hard book to get your arms (and brain) around.

And, we are studying ancient civilizations in homeschool (with a large portion of it being biblical study and then including what was happening in the secular world). It's covering the area of Mesopotamia that you mention, which still confuses me as to who was ruling when. First the Sumerians, then Sargon, then Gutians, then Babylonians, then Assyrians, then Babylonians again, then...some Hittites and Persians in there. I can't keep it straight. Good thing we are just doing Kindergarten because I'm in over my head already. Things they never taught me in school!

Good luck on your paper! If you feel comfortable, I'd LOVE to read it. Are you reading any books that discuss Isaiah, or just class and the bible as sources?

Adoro te Devote said...

It is really difficult, esp. as Isaiah was not written for a historical purpose. But basically, it begins during the division of the kingdoms, and Rezin and Pekah, of Damascus and Isael, hate each other but unite in order to defend against Assyria, which is building their empire to the west. King Uzziah died, and his son Jotham took over Judah. Jotham's son Ahaz was named co-regent (he was only 11) but some years later when the Assyrian empire become threatening, the northern kingdoms wanted Judah to join their alliance. Ahaz refused, they decided to invade, but Ahaz appealed to Assyria for protection, which ended up placing Judah under Assyrian influence as he had to pay them tribute. The northern kingdoms, including Samaria, were sacked (and this is much of the suffering detailed in Isaiah - see the "woe" articles). When king Hezekiah took over, he refused to pay tribute to the Assyrians, so they, at that point under Sennechereb, laid siege to Jerusalem. But they were so spread out dealing with Babylon that they were making threats, but God, in response to Hezekiah's prayer, slaughtered Sennecherib's army. There was a period of peace and I think it was somewhere in here that the diaspora was allowed to return to their own cities.

I'm still trying to figure out the actual timeline.

As far as our study materials..we're using a book by Chisholm, the New Jerusalem Bible introduction to Isaiah, and a few articles in our course notes. There's a ton of info, but it's difficult to sort out the most important points.

Anonymous said...

EWTN has had a Bible timeline show on, in the past... searching....

Jeff Cavins. Our Father's Plan. They had a goofy little mnemonic system, too, which involved colored beads.

Can't help you with Isaiah, though I'm sure there's stuff out there.

Adoro said...

Anon ~ I'm familiar with Jeff Cavins Bible Timeline, unfortunately it's not a Master's level resource for us. His timeline is not specific to Isaiah 1-39, but the entirety of salvation history.