[b-hebrew] A correction about one, two, or three Isaiahs

George Athas George.Athas at moore.edu.au
Sun Dec 26 20:55:15 EST 2010

Bryant Williams wrote:

"Conservative scholarship treats Isaiah being produced by one person, the prophet Isaiah. Most modern scholarship treats Isaiah as being written by two, maybe three persons. It is based on the discredited JEDP theory of Graf-Welhausen. SEE archives for previous discussions."

I have a few corrections/comments to make about this.

Firstly, I know many conservative scholars who believe Isaiah is the product of at least two or three people. To use the term 'conservative' to characterise a position on this is, I believe, not helpful or accurate. Perhaps 'traditionalist' is a better term for those who argue for singular authorship of Isaiah.

Secondly, the argument for two or three authors for Isaiah actually has little to do with the Graf-Wellhausen Documentary Hypothesis ('JEDP'). The 'JEDP' hypothesis really relates only to the Pentateuch.

Thirdly, the JEDP theory is a source-critical theory, that argues for particular documents as the sources lying behind the current Pentateuch. The argument for two or three authors of Isaiah is not really a source theory, but rather a redaction-critical theory.

Fourthly, some of the conservatives who argue for two or three authors also add a theological argument (when God speaks, it is immediately relevant and demands an immediate response from the prophet's audience). I don't want to argue the pros or cons of this argument, but I do need to state that this position is held by certain proponents of the two/three authors theory.

Moore Theological College (Sydney, Australia)

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