Son of Compare and Contrast

Kevin Wilson at Blue Cord rightly takes me to task for my rhetoric, which, of course, is rhetoric and isn’t intended to be addressed, but is my way of keeping such tediously boring drivel as this interesting for my readers. What can I say? I like English and slinging it about like playing airplane with a kid. I even say, “Whee!” in real life.

Regarding the substance of my off-handed critique of one or more of Biblical Studies sacred cows (heavens, what a fuss!), we will still have to differ. I am completely unconvinced that all the source critical work, even since the 1970s is even fundamentally right-headed, much less of truly permanent value. I don’t mean that to sound unkind, but I think it’s true, and I’ll give some of my reasons below, in no particular order.

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On Second Isaiah

Such a can of worms I’ve opened, at such a busy time for everyone! Chris at Higgaion brings up some good points concerning my critique of dating “Second Isaiah” to the sixth century. Of course, I am unrepentant, and not so easily turned aside. As I mentioned in my earlier post, it was a superficial treatment of some work I’d been doing on Isaiah, not detailed, and so with only that input, and if that were all I had in my hand, I’d agree with Chris that it’s not likely. But, I think perhaps, as Chris said himself, “Kevin is onto something important here.”

In response to Chris’ points however, I have a few of my own:
1.) What is the basis of the assumption that only the exile of Judahites by Babylonians is the possible context for any texts dealing with exilic subjects? Both Israel and Judah experienced much more massive deportations at the hand of the Assyrians in the late eighth and early seventh centuries, and some of those deportees, as in the case of others from the campaigns in the west, will have certainly ended up in Babylon and other southern Mesopotamian cities. In fact, we know of some who ended up in Elamite border cities. Both Israel and Judah are mentioned throughout Isaiah (claiming that “Israel” really refers to only the remnant of “Judah” is special pleading) in contexts of exiles, reassuring them, and so on. Would a prophet like Isaiah working precisely at the time of the fall of the Northern Kingdom actually have ignored that and the fate of its exiled people? Obviously not, though it is part of, for lack of a better term, academic orthodoxy to treat, as Chris does, every potential reference to an exile to the Babylonian Exile of 586.

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