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Definition: Isaiah from Philip's Encyclopedia

(Isaias) (active c.8th century BC) Old Testament prophet who was active in Jerusalem from the 740s until the end of the century, and gave his name to the Old Testament Book of Isaiah - although only part of it is attributed to him. The rest is thought to be the work of one or even two authors from a later period. The book contrasts Judah's perilous present-day state with glimpses into the future, when God shall send a king to rule over his people.


Summary Article: Isaiah from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(ìzā'yə, ìsā'–), prophetic book of the Bible. It is a collection of prophecies from a 300-year period attributed to Isaiah, who may have been a priest. Some scholars argue that a long-lived "school" of Isaiah preserved his oracles and supplemented them in succeeding centuries. He received his call to prophesy in the year of King Uzziah's death (c.742 B.C.) and preached during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. His message was partly political; he urged King Hezekiah to recognize the power of Assyria, then at its height, and not to ally himself with Egypt, as a party of nobles urged. Like other 8th-century prophets (Amos, Hosea, Micah), Isaiah indicts the people of God for perpetrating social injustice. The book falls into the following major sections. First are oracles of doom against Judah and Assyria interspersed with oracles of salvation in which a Davidic king and a renewed Jerusalem play prominent roles. These are followed by oracles against foreign nations and prophecies announcing the destruction and subsequent redemption of Zion. Next is an account (paralleled in 2 Kings) of Sennacherib's unsuccessful siege of Jerusalem and his assassination long after. The sickness of Hezekiah is recounted; his prayer and his subsequent recovery are followed by his reception of an embassy from Babylon and prophecy of captivity there. The rest of the book is divided into three parts—delivery from captivity, redemption from sin, and the redeemed state of Israel. The book contains prophecies interpreted by Christians as references to Christ; the most famous such prophecy is the vision of the suffering servant. Later biblical allusions to Isaiah are frequent. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls are two manuscripts of the book of Isaiah dating from the 2d–1st cent. B.C. As pre-Masoretic texts, these are important witnesses for establishing the contours of the Hebrew text of Isaiah 1,000 years before the earliest extant manuscripts of the Masoretic text.

  • See Westermann, C., Isaiah 40–66 (1969);.
  • Oswalt, J. N., Isaiah 1–39 (1986).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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