Isaiah, The Book of

consists of prophecies delivered (Isa. 1) in the reign of Uzziah
(1-5), (2) of Jotham (6), (3) Ahaz (7-14:28), (4) the first half
of Hezekiah's reign (14:28-35), (5) the second half of
Hezekiah's reign (36-66). Thus, counting from the fourth year
before Uzziah's death (B.C. 762) to the last year of Hezekiah
(B.C. 698), Isaiah's ministry extended over a period of
sixty-four years. He may, however, have survived Hezekiah, and
may have perished in the way indicated above.

The book, as a whole, has been divided into three main parts:
(1.) The first thirty-five chapters, almost wholly prophetic,
Israel's enemy Assyria, present the Messiah as a mighty Ruler
and King. (2.) Four chapters are historical (36-39), relating to
the times of Hezekiah. (3.) Prophetical (40-66), Israel's enemy
Babylon, describing the Messiah as a suffering victim, meek and
lowly.

The genuineness of the section Isa. 40-66 has been keenly
opposed by able critics. They assert that it must be the
production of a deutero-Isaiah, who lived toward the close of
the Babylonian captivity. This theory was originated by Koppe, a
German writer at the close of the last century. There are other
portions of the book also (e.g., ch. 13; 24-27; and certain
verses in ch. 14 and 21) which they attribute to some other
prophet than Isaiah. Thus they say that some five or seven, or
even more, unknown prophets had a hand in the production of this
book. The considerations which have led to such a result are
various: (1.) They cannot, as some say, conceive it possible
that Isaiah, living in B.C. 700, could foretell the appearance
and the exploits of a prince called Cyrus, who would set the
Jews free from captivity one hundred and seventy years after.
(2.) It is alleged that the prophet takes the time of the
Captivity as his standpoint, and speaks of it as then present;
and (3) that there is such a difference between the style and
language of the closing section (40-66) and those of the
preceding chapters as to necessitate a different authorship, and
lead to the conclusion that there were at least two Isaiahs. But
even granting the fact of a great diversity of style and
language, this will not necessitate the conclusion attempted to
be drawn from it. The diversity of subjects treated of and the
peculiarities of the prophet's position at the time the
prophecies were uttered will sufficiently account for this.

The arguments in favour of the unity of the book are quite
conclusive. When the LXX. version was made (about B.C. 250) the
entire contents of the book were ascribed to Isaiah, the son of
Amoz. It is not called in question, moreover, that in the time
of our Lord the book existed in the form in which we now have
it. Many prophecies in the disputed portions are quoted in the
New Testament as the words of Isaiah (Matt. 3:3; Luke 3:4-6;
4:16-41; John 12:38; Acts 8:28; Rom. 10:16-21). Universal and
persistent tradition has ascribed the whole book to one author.

Besides this, the internal evidence, the similarity in the
language and style, in the thoughts and images and rhetorical
ornaments, all points to the same conclusion; and its local
colouring and allusions show that it is obviously of Palestinian
origin. The theory therefore of a double authorship of the book,
much less of a manifold authorship, cannot be maintained. The
book, with all the diversity of its contents, is one, and is, we
believe, the production of the great prophet whose name it
bears.