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The Theology of the Book of Isaiah Paperback – June 2, 2014
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"Just the book for Bible readers who feel lost reading Isaiah! Goldingay proves an engaging, reliable guide, leading us through Isaiah's parts, showing its overall coherence and reviewing its treatment of key theological topics at the end. The result is a readable guidebook to the Isaiah masterpiece, and I'm pleased to recommend it." (Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., professor emeritus of biblical literature, North Park Theological Seminary, Chicago)
"Based on decades of concentrated analysis of the details of this key prophetic work, John Goldingay's volume highlights those golden threads that wind their way throughout Isaiah, glistening in the light of illumination. The strength of this work is its sensitivity to the thematic emphases of the major sections of Isaiah as well as the book as a whole. It is a helpful guide for those seeking to discover order in the midst of the creative intricacies of the book of Isaiah, whether before they tackle a detailed study of the book or at the end of a period of patient exegesis." (Mark J. Boda, McMaster Divinity College, McMaster University)
"John Goldingay lucidly and accessibly illuminates both the parts and the whole of the book of Isaiah. He incorporates the best insights of modern scholarship while nimbly dancing 'round the complexities of scholarly debate. Here is a theological reading of Isaiah that can inform contemporary faith." (Walter Moberly, Durham University)
"With the dust beginning to settle on fresh efforts to read the book of Isaiah as a whole, Goldingay here provides a clear and engaging reintroduction to Isaiah and its theological testimony. Written with his customary wit and flair, and with sensitivity to the literary flow of this ambitious masterwork, The Theology of the Book of Isaiah will profit beginner and expert alike. An impressive accomplishment for a publication of this length and a tribute to Goldingay's clarity of purpose and Isaiah's vision both." (Christopher Seitz, Toronto School of Theology, Wycliffe College)
"(Goldingay) offers helpful perspectives for surmounting some of the critical issues with which Isaiah confronts beginning readers, such as the problem of authorship, the New Testament writers' peculiar appropriations of Isaiah, and messianic interpretations that have been inappropriately applied to Isaiah for centuries." (Patricia K. Tull, Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology, 70(3), July 2016)
"Goldingay has managed admirably to condense the vast 'theologies' of Isaiah in an easy-to-understand style. Lucidly he explains all the technical terms . . . the reader encounters. This helps the general reader access the essential theologies of the book. His study is therefore especially valuable for preaching as well as for Sunday school classes." (Jerry A. Gladson, APC, Sharing the Practice, June 2015)
"This book could be useful for Christians in a number of ways. For the pastor or ministry leader preparing a talk or sermon on Isaiah, Goldingay will provide broad-stroke and expert commentary on the larger units of the book." (Michael Chan, Word & World, Winter 2016)
"Goldingay has written a very readable and provocative book, which could be enjoyed by and beneficial to both undergraduates and graduate students. Furthermore, thoughtful laypeople, who are willing to be challenged and stretched, would find it a helpful resource for better understanding what the book of Isaiah is driving at. Goldingay refuses to confuse obscurity with profundity." (Daryl Docterman, Stone-Campbell Journal, Fall 2015)
"Goldingay has succeeded in presenting a study regarding the theology of the book of Isaiah that is well worth reading. By working with the metaphor of collage he is able to emphasize not only the diversity of the different prophetic voices in the book of Isaiah but also their theological composition as a whole." (Judith Gärtner, The Review of Biblical Literature, February 2016)
About the Author
John Goldingay (PhD, University of Nottingham; DD, Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth) is David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. He was previously principal and a professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at St Johns Theological College in Nottingham, England. His books include An Introduction to the Old Testament, The Theology of the Book of Isaiah, Key Questions about Interpretation, Do We Need the New Testament? and commentaries on Psalms, Isaiah, and Daniel. He has also authored the three-volume Old Testament Theology and the seventeen-volume Old Testament For Everyone series. Goldingay also serves in pastoral ministry as an associate pastor at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Pasadena. He holds membership in the Society of Biblical Literature and the Society for Old Testament Study, and serves on the Task Force on Biblical Interpretation in the Anglican Communion and the editorial board for the Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies.
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Dr. Goldingay divides this excellent book into two parts with part one working through the major sections of Isaiah with a brief yet informative look at the overarching theological message of this book. Part two builds on the information provided in part one by further unpacking many of the larger theological treatises found throughout Isaiah. As one can imagine, Goldingay covers a lot of ground in a short amount of space in this book; however, the reader is provided with a number of valuable insights into the message of Isaiah and how we are to understand that message.
I appreciated the description Goldingay gives to the various sections of Isaiah, namely viewing them as collages of sorts, an apt description that rejects the idea of randomness in favor or viewing the material in Isaiah as “purposefully put together” to relay a cogent and consistent message. Goldingay rightly states a recurring theme or feature found throughout these collages is that of “God as Israel’s Holy One.” An outgrowth of the two major collages in Isaiah and the subsets of those collages is the “outworking of this description of God.” This underlying message is found in the text of Isaiah regardless of whether the prophecies or historical elements are relayed to the reader in a straightforward or circular manner.
Another helpful aspect of this book is the manner in which Goldingay works through the various layers of Isaiah, namely those elements that are either not as straightforward in presentation as one may originally think or those portions of Isaiah that circle back to the aforementioned underlying theme of God as the Holy One of Israel. Goldingay works through these difficult aspects of Isaiah in a manner that provides the reader with a sound and purposeful understanding of the text. His purpose in this book is not to explore each and every minute detail of the original languages or to explore each and every prophecy to its complete end. While he does engage those issues, his overall purpose is providing the reader with the means to grasp the overall message and thrust of what God is saying through the book of Isaiah and why it matters.
There is one portion of Goldingay’s exegesis and application of Isaiah that may give some individual’s a level of pause at first glance and that is his treatment of the servant passages of Isaiah. Most traditionally and immediately attribute the servant passages as a description of the Messiah, Jesus Christ while also noting the fact that at times God uses nations and individuals as a type of messiah to bring about His divine purposes. This dual fulfillment as it is called is the typical approach to Isaiah 53 for example. Goldingay does not argue against the reality that in the overarching construct of Scripture, Jesus is most certainly the Messiah, the promised Suffering Servant sent to bear our sin on the cross, the sinless Lamb led to slaughter on our behalf. What Goldingay does remind the reader is the immediate focus of the prophecies in Isaiah, specifically the fact that historical characters such as Cyrus were God’s anointed and shepherd in that specific period of history given the term shepherd as used in the period of the Old Testament “was a recognized way to describe the role of a king. A shepherd is in charge of his sheep both in terms of controlling them and of providing for them. Applied to a king, the image suggests both the holding of authority and the responsibility to protect the people.” This does not mean of course that Christ is not THE suffering Servant who is the perfect example of what it looks like to shepherd the people in the perfect servant-prophet construct. What it does present is the necessity to understand the immediate purpose of such prophecies, in this case the use by God of individuals such as Cyrus for His purposes that ultimately lead to the coming of the Messiah and the realization by God’s people of Jesus as the Messiah promised long ago. If anything, Goldingay provides the needed element of stressing the need to analyze such prophecies and not forgetting the more immediate significance of such passages in our effort to apply the more overarching truth of the perfect example of the suffering servant to the coming and work of Christ.
I highly recommend this book to all believers interested in getting a solid grasp of Isaiah, how to approach its message, and those focused on learning the underlying theological truths found in this amazing book of Scripture. Goldingay provides valuable insight into the structure and message of Isaiah and does so in a way that is accessible to believers or all theological levels.
I received this book for free from InterVarsity Press for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Review copy provided by InterVarsity Press