Septuagint Isaiah Introduction to Volume 2: Why Divide into Volumes?
In this Introduction to Septuagint Isaiah Volume 2, I want to answer the question, “Why divide into volumes?” I stated in the Introduction to the series, “I am too old to begin an academic study of Isaiah… Nor would I want to.” There are already plenty of academic approaches to this awesome book of Scripture. Many of them include greatly detailed discussions of whether one, two, or even three authors wrote the book. One more “scholarly” study by someone not qualified to undertake such a task would just muddy the waters. My approach is that of an ordinary devotional reader, just one small voice who wants to share her love for Jesus Christ. More basic than this, I personally am not interested in the academics of Isaiah. Rather, guided I believe by the Holy Spirit, whose promise to every believer is to do so, I am a seeker of Christ.
So Why the Division?
So why, then, the division into two volumes?
- First, the closing of Chapter 39 and the life of King Hezekiah is a natural stopping point. It is a good place to pause and refresh oneself before beginning the journey again. I did take such a break.
- The last words of Isaiah the prophet to King Hezekiah informed him that the Babylonians would come and take some of his own sons to “be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon,” (Isaiah 39:7).
- In a certain sense, the history of the Old Testament closes down, as a funnel, to the Babylonian captivity. Yes, Old Testament Scripture does record the return from captivity, the rebuilding of the temple and the city walls, the struggles of the people, and the sins they again fall into. These were the same sins they had previously committed. (See the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Haggai.) Nevertheless, after the return from captivity, the Old Testament quietly diminishes and fades softly into centuries of silence. For those who never awaken to the dawn of Christ, the story ends in a kind of whimper.
- But Isaiah 40 clearly opens with a powerful dawn. The turning of the page begins a new, victorious chapter in the chronicles of God’s people. God announces, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,” (Isaiah 40:1 LXE). These words toll like a clear bell calling out a new era of God’s favor and forgiveness.
- That era is Christ in his Incarnation, followed by his reign of glory. The Holy Spirit, who authored the Bible, scattered splashes of Isaiah’s message throughout both the Old and New Testaments. We will read of these in ensuing posts.
Differences Between Volume 1 and Volume 2
As a general summary, “Volume 1” of Isaiah, chapters 1-39, speak of failure and judgment of both God’s own people and of the nations. It includes brief flashes of the coming Messiah. Yet the bulk of this portion of the book devotes itself to demonstrating why a new, Messianic King is needful. Again, as a generalizing summary, the bulk of “Volume 2” of Isaiah speaks of the coming King in clear words. It describes his Passion and his triumphant glory. In Volume 1, we see the coming King as through a “mirror, darkly.” In Volume 2, we see very nearly “face to face.”
I personally love this latter part of Isaiah. The first two-thirds entail struggle, effort, halting steps, and much stumbling. In comparison, the prophet speaks plainly enough in the last portion, so plainly, that even “small” people, such as I am, can hear him.