The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture-Part Twenty Five


J. Knabenbauer was a conservative Catholic commentator of the second half of the 19th century who did a good job of interacting with the church fathers, and having a balanced approach to the exegetical and theological substance of Isaiah. He argues well for the literary coherence of Is. 1-39 and thinks that Judah had undergone enough destruction and chaos that the historical Isaiah could have written Is. 40-66. He attempts to refute the arguments for two Isaiahs. {Interesting side note, Childs reveals his hand on p. 269, saying “there is a legitimate role for a biblical theology of the whole Christian Bible, it must not be an uncritical or unconscious introduction of Christian theology without first hearing the Old Testament’s own voice”}. Childs critiques Knabenbauer for too easily assuming that Is. 40-55 is talking about messianism in the same way that we find in Is. 7-11 for example, and his arguments that parallels between Is. 40-66 and Jeremiah could argue for an early date of second Isaiah ignore the fact that Jeremiah was edited after the fact as well. Knabenbauer sticks to the literal sense of the text, but occasionally cites the fathers attending to a figurative sense, but he gives no deep reflection of the relationship of these two senses.

J.C. K. Hoffmann (1810-77) a colleague of F. Delitzsch at Erlangen is chiefly important because of his fusion of a Heilsgeschichte approach to Biblical history with divine revelation in what Childs calls an organic approach. He sees a gradual unfolding of sacred history within secular history and this salvation history is consummated in the Christ event. Coupled with this was the divine revelation of where this process was going, what its goal and meaning was. History and revelation are joined in an indissoluble relationship with Christ who is the source of both. The whole of salvation history is prophetic, pointing forward.

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