Lectionary Year B
January 6, 2003
Step III: Immediate Context
(JFC) A. IMMEDIATE CONTEXT
The 59th chapter of Isaiah accuses the people of being sinfully responsible their being divided from their God. It concludes by emphatically quoting God's covenant with the people, "My Spirit and My Word is with you and your succeeding generations for ever."
The rest of chapter 60 continues to enumerate and more clearly to identify the enemies of the people and the resources that will bless them. Hostilities shall end, enemies shall get their due, destruction shall be no more, nor will there even be any more mourning or violence at all. Hints that this paradise will be the City of the Lord emerge in a couple of verses. God's light and praise are repeated over and again throughout the chapter.
(JFC) B. COMPOSITIONAL WHOLE
This pericope is part of II and/or III Isaiah, announcing, all in poetry, salvation for but not without mentioning rather prominently her history of failures. Even more important, according to commentators, is the reason Israel gets saved & for what anticipated results Israel gets delivered. The first question is answered, evidently, that God chooses & loves them. The second question's answer says, "for you are to serve God and witness to your salvation, you are to glorify God and declare praise of the Most High. You are to manifest God's Holiness and assimilate foreigners into your community over which God presides to be praised by all peoples. The peoples shall learn God's Law and the cult that acknowledges supremacy of God through Israelite examples rather than from Israel's subduing them." Other topics prevalent in II Isaiah include Creation, Redemption, Forgiveness and Hope for a bright future following an admittedly depressing past. Hope in God's salvation predominates all references to the past, frequent as they appear. Isaiah's last chapter concludes describing a procession to Zion, with foreigners bringing gifts aplenty.
(JFC) C. ISSUES OF AUTHORSHIP
The identity of the author(s) of the second half of Isaiah is lost. He probably was a of Isaiah of Jerusalem of Isaiah 1-39. If we're dealing with a Third Isaiah in chapters 56-66, he could be a disciple of both or either Isaiah of Jerusalem and/or II Isaiah. He is a poet of the first order, graphically declaring hope and God's glory that will inspire righteousness and faithfulness in the people. These chapters were apparently written during the Exile in Babylon and/or afterwards following the return to Jerusalem when the restoration had begun but probably still left a lot to get done to return it to its earlier splendor. The Temple was completed in 520 – 515 BCE, so, this work comes before those dates.
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