In other words, they claim editors
later reworked the prophet’s earlier
writings. However, the need to do
this actually admits that the text as we
have it possesses unity. It also demonstrates again the critics’ unfortunate
assumption that the prophet could
not predict the future.
A second common thread of the
book also shows its unity: the use of the
divine designation Holy One of Israel.
This phrase occurs 25 times consistent-
ly throughout Isaiah. It occurs 12 times
in chapters 1— 39, 11 times in chapters
40—55, and twice in chapters 56—66.
The consistency forces the higher crit-
ics to see small pockets of editorial
work to try to salvage their approach.
On the other hand, the same consisten-
cy lends itself readily to the conclusion
that one author wrote one harmonious
book. Tracing other themes and topics
in the book, such as that of child or
land, leads to a similar conclusion.
Higher critics often point to differences within the book of Isaiah to prove their theory of multiple authors and time periods. However, many common themes run throughout the book and
argue against such a conclusion. One such theme is that of son/child.
Other Old Testament prophets who lived when critics say later sections of
Isaiah were produced scarcely used the terms.
However, in Isaiah, the word son occurs 54 times. Around 20 of
those simply describe a man as the son of his father (1:1; 2:1; 13:1).
The most famous uses of son are in the prophecies traditionally
understood as referring to the Messiah: “The virgin shall conceive and
bear a Son” (7: 14) and “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is
given” (9: 6). Another Messianic passage describes the sin-bearing
Messiah by saying, “So His visage was marred more than any man,
and His form more than the sons of men” (52: 14).
A passage referring to Lucifer, or Satan, calls him the “son of the
morning” (14: 12). Isaiah 19: 11 refers to judgment on Egypt with
this question for Pharaoh’s counselors: “How do you say to
Pharaoh, ‘I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings?’”
Several passages speak of the sons of Israel (45: 11; 49: 15, 17, 22; 60: 4,
9) or the sons of Jerusalem (51: 18, 20). Sometimes such passages speak
of future deliverance for the nation, while others speak of future judg-
ment. The sons of foreigners are also mentioned (56: 3, 6; 60: 10; 61: 5;
62: 8). All in all, the term son recurs frequently in all sections of Isaiah.
In some of the same passages, the word child is coupled with the
word son (9: 6; 49: 15). The use of the terms child, children, and
offspring is even more telling in showing Isaiah’s unity. Early in the
book, Israel is described in national and spiritual restoration, when
the Messiah will rule and the Jewish people will be in the land (chap.
11). At that time, the earth will enjoy many changes, highlighted by
the prediction, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb” (11: 6). In
that Kingdom era, “a little child shall lead them [the animals]” (v. 6)
and the “nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole” (v. 8).
Near the end of Isaiah, a similar prophecy says Israel will one
day enjoy its land: “They shall build houses and inhabit them; they
shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. . . . They shall not labor in
vain, nor bring forth children for trouble” (65: 21, 23).
Then it is restated that “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together”
28 MARCH/APRIL 2012
(Leah-Anne Thompson/ istockphoto)
(v. 25). This theme stands almost as bookends for the entire book of
Isaiah, revealing a common thread from the earliest to the latest sections. Such wording cannot be written off as the mere use of common
cultural terms across time. The prophet Zechariah, for example, who
lived during the time that critics say later sections of Isaiah were produced, scarcely used the terms son and child.
Another common scriptural image in Isaiah is that of a pregnant
woman or one nursing a child (26: 17‒ 18; 49: 15; 54:1). This image
runs throughout sections that higher critics often claim were written by different authors. The abundance of such similar threads
unifies the book and strongly supports the belief that it was written
by a single author whose name was Isaiah.
by Michael D. Stallard