Chronicles as Evidence for Deutero-Isaiah

Today my class on the Bible focused on stories from among the Writings, the third major section of the Hebrew Bible, including Chronicles. I was struck that the ending of Chronicles provides important evidence for the multiple authorship of the Book of Isaiah.

In 2 Chronicles 36:22, the author makes much of the fact that the pronouncement of Cyrus, that exiles can and should return to their homeland to rebuild, fulfilled what the prophet Jeremiah was recorded to have said, that after 70 years there would be an end to the exile.

If the author of Chronicles knew of a prediction by Isaiah of Jerusalem which mentioned Cyrus by name, I am convinced that he would have mentioned Isaiah here too, and not just Jeremiah. The fact that he does not do so confirms what we were already able to tell from internal evidence, namely that the second part of Isaiah was not composed until the exilic period.



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  • Deane

    In 2 Chr 36:22-23 / Ezra 1:1-4, we’re dealing with a very late composition – fourth or third century BCE. So how can its omission of a reference to Deutero-Isaiah show that Deutero-Isaiah “was not composed until the exilic period” (sixth century BCE)? 2 Chr 36:22-23 / Ezra 1:1-4 are not as early as sixth-century writings. So if you are right that it is odd that Deut-Isaiah gets no mention in 2 Chr 36:22-23 / Ezra 1:1-4, it is the mention of “Cyrus” in Deut-Isaiah that would be post Chronicles and post Ezra. But presumably Isa 40-55 had already been composed. Maybe those who detect the mention of “Cyrus” in Isa 40-55 as secondary are right (e.g. Albertz: it originally referred to Darius). But it’s not itself evidence of a separate author of Deut-Isa 40-55.

    • James F. McGrath

      Interpolations are a possibility. But given that Deutero-Isaiah is thought to date from a time when the author knew about Cyrus, that scarcely seems a necessary hypothesis. More likely is that the author of Chronicles – whether dated as late as you suggest or somewhat earlier – knew of Deutero-Isaiah, but not yet as something added to and attributed to the work of Isaiah of Jerusalem. And so it would presumably not have seemed more significant than his own work, while the prediction attributed to Jeremiah would have stood out as in a different category.