Isaiah’s Book – Proto Isaiah
Isaiah is the first book containing the writings of the prophets of the Bible. It contains 66 chapters of some of the most beautiful, poetic, and powerful prose ever written. While the entire book carries Isaiah’s name, it is generally held that Isaiah himself could not have written the entire text, as it refers to events which occurred after his death in the past tense and contains three marked changes in theme and prose. As such, the book is thought to be the aggregation of three works:
Chapters 1-39 or Proto-Isaiah, which we will be exploring tonight, is widely accepted as being the original work of Isaiah and his contemporaries who worked in Jerusalem between 740 and 687 BC.
Chapters 40-55 or Deutero-Isaiah, which Nick will be exploring next week, is believed to be written by an anonymous author who lived in Babylon near the end of the Babylonian captivity, roughly 538 BC.
Chapters 56-66 or Trito-Isaiah, which Brian will explore the following week, is believed to be written in the years immediately following the Babylonian captivity.
It is important to note that two complete copies of Isaiah, dated between 150 and 70 BC, were amongst the first scrolls found in the first cave of the Dead Sea Scrolls which was discovered in 1947 and was excavated by Gerald Lankester Harding and Roland de Vaux between February 15 and March 5 of 1949. The creation and preservation of these scrolls is traditionally ascribed to the Essenes sect who lived outside of Jerusalem near Qumran who successfully hid them from the Roman onslaught and miraculously saved these texts, which predate all other known Biblical texts by 1000 years.
Isaiah is called “The Book of Salvation.”