The Known Isaiah: Appendix

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It remains to notice briefly, but perhaps sufficiently and in plain terms for the Christian, the effort to find grounds in the language of the book against its unity; which we have seen to be evident enough from its consistent scope and unequaled grandeur throughout. Here those who disbelieve and deride what they call verbal i. e. plenary, inspiration descend to points minute enough. But revelation has nothing to fear from criticism high or low, provided it be candid and comprehensive as well as complete. Reverent and believing were too much to ask; for the obedience of faith is incompatible alike with the theory and the practice of the soi-disant higher critics. They start with incredulity, latent only to themselves and their school, to end, unless grace intervene, in the depths of lawless thought and rebellion against God.
Here Professor Cheyne is more moderate than his fellows, and admits that the peculiar expressions of the later prophecies are, on the whole, not such as to necessitate a different linguistic stage from the historical Isaiah; and that, consequently, the decision of the critical question will mainly depend on other than purely linguistic considerations” (The Prophecies of Isaiah. Third Ed. p. 234). Professor Driver differs and is much more confident, though well aware that the rationalistic hypothesis used to rest mainly on its assumption that prophecy is necessarily limited to the near future: phraseology was only added as a make-weight. Indeed it was argued by some against the latter chapters that they were a studied imitation of the style of the earlier. Delitzsch, though he weakly wavered at last, never recanted the judgment that, so far as regards language, nothing in the O. T. is more finished or elevated than the disputed close of this prophecy. He used to affirm that its ethereal character was in a state of continuous formation throughout the course of all that precedes. This witness is true. Does it suit the close of this exile?
But Dr. D. (Lit. O. T. 225-227) descends to detail and points out, first, the words or forms of expression in chs. 40-66. (as some at least in chaps. 13. and 34.), not in the unquestioned writings of Isaiah; secondly, eight words alleged to have a meaning other than therein; and three other differing features of style. Now every one of these alleged peculiarities is due to the new and enlarged character of the final trilogy, which demanded more moral and spiritual expressions than the short, separate, and generally limited range comprehended in the first half of the book. So it is for God's choice of Israel and of Messiah, for praise, pleasure, goodwill, rejoicing, shooting forth, and breaking out, “thy sons” said of Zion, and the predictions of Jehovah, especially with a participle. Again, the new modifications of “isles or coasts,” “naught,” “offering,” “justice,” “breaking,” and “decking,” with phrases expressive of His future intervention in power of stipulated grace, ought to be no difficulty to any thoughtful mind, any more than impassioned appeals, repetitions, or omissions. To tie down such a soul as Isaiah to a servile sameness, to deny the unity of his pen because he rises to a higher strain when he is the instrument of revealing loftier hopes on a deeper basis, centering in the Messiah, and issuing in new heavens and a new earth, is a dream worthy only of an unbeliever. So the same spirit has hacked Homer; it might have split up Horace with more show of reason, had he not written his varied compositions so late in the day. Could our own poets Shakespeare and Milton, if severed from that day by a millenary or two, have escaped the like pseudo-criticism? To set grandeur against pathos, or force against persuasion, as incompatible with one great vision, is real shortsightedness. The case called for larger and fuller ideas than in the earlier words, and burdens. Jehovah infinite and incomparable, First and Last, is exactly in due place. So is Messiah the Servant in divine grace and unparalleled suffering, after the failure of Israel the responsible servant, and the wondrous mercy which is to form a faithful remnant, His elect servants, at the end and forever through their once despised but then to be adored Messiah.
How different from Jeremiah the real prophet writing toward the beginning, to say nothing of the close, of the exile! Between him and Isaiah we do find beyond controversy the most marked differences of thought, phraseology, and style. Had the concluding portion of the prophecy emanated from a writer long after Jeremiah or Ezekiel, we should have expected differences far more decided and unmistakable, not merely because of a century later but from the throes and humiliation of a long national exile: strange circumstances for such an unparalleled flow as that of the later prophecy.
But this is not all. Not only are the words or modifications of meaning, as far as really new to the later discourse, fully accounted for by the fresh aspects of the truth revealed, so that the objections compiled by Dr. Davidson and selected by Dr. Driver are demonstrably invalid; but it has been shown over and over that there are deeply rooted similarities which bind together the first half with the closing strain. And they are exceedingly numerous and minute as well as distinctive; so as to indicate identity. Thus under the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet alone the late Mr. Birks pointed out some forty words in which chaps. 40-66. resemble the earlier prophecies, which do not appear at all, or with the slightest exception, in the writings toward the close of the exile or after it. The true inference on this ground is therefore for the unity of the entire book as emanating from Isaiah. Nor does it lie only in bare words of a peculiar and striking kind, but in characteristic phrases which bespeak our prophet's mind and manner unmistakably. There “the Holy One of Israel” occurs with great frequency, and almost equally in the first and in the second half of the book; whereas (the corresponding part of 2 Kings excepted, as being Isaiah's) we elsewhere find it but thrice in the Psalms and twice in Jeremiah. So the rarer “Mighty One of Israel” is found in both portions; elsewhere only in Gen. 49:24, Psa. 132:2, 5, as has been observed. Again, “your God” alone occurs in both, elsewhere only with “Jehovah” preceding. A still more salient instance noticed is the phrase, “Jehovah will say,” three times in the earlier prophecies (chaps. 1:11, 18; 33:10), and five times in the later (chaps. 40:1, 25; 41:21; 58:9; 67:9). This future form occurs elsewhere but once (Psa. 12:6), the past tense very often indeed. Is it not a strong mark of one hand? If any desire a fuller setting out of the testimony of the language, they may find it in Mr. William Urwick's interesting essay on “The Servant of Jehovah” (Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark, 1877), especially in pp. 29-48; where the cautiously stated conclusion is, that the linguistic evidence, viewed by itself even, does not sanction but rather forbids, the difference of date and authorship which some modern critics claim for the two portions.
Yet the difference of style and language would naturally have been most palpable, if the assumption were true that the historic Isaiah of the earlier half flourished in Hezekiah's days, the pseudo-Isaiah. of the rationalists toward the close of the Exile and after the Return. And the more manifestly so, as we have Ezekiel at Chebar, and Daniel in Shushan or in Babylon, with whose writings to compare those alleged to be written practically at the same time and place. But how utterly different from either, Isa. 13, 14. 21, 34. or the later prophecy I contrast, not resemblance, is on the surface and underneath it. They breathe an Asiatic air, not the Hebrew of all Isaiah. The comparatively unadorned style of the statesman in one, yet announcing the kingdom of heaven to be wielded by the Son of Man, after all the imperial system has been destroyed with offshoot successors is undeniable in the one. The gorgeous imagery of the other turns the proud and idolatrous splendor of the Assyrian palaces into the service of God's throne, treating the symbols as mere attributes, and agents of Him Who sat there, then judging and leaving Jerusalem for a while (Ezek. 1-11), to return at the end of the age, and make it the everlasting seat of His presence and earthly glory (chaps. 40-48.) Both prophecies fit exactly the two writers and reflect perfectly their times and places, as they reveal the suited truth for the yet future glory of God in Israel and all the earth. And if we add the earlier prophecies of the mourning prophet who was given to see the Exile begin, and the sins and shame of the unrepentant remnant in Palestine and Egypt, the difference is complete with Isaiah, late or early, who stands alone and unapproached by any other, whether during the storm of the terrible Assyrian, or after it in days of peace and truth, with the Babylonish captivity before his eyes, and not Cyrus only as a comparatively near deliverer, but the Servant of Jehovah Who should suffer unto death for sin, but be exalted and extolled and very high, sprinkling many nations and kings abashed at His glory.
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