The first of John N. Oswalt’s two-part study of the book of Isaiah for the NICOT series, this commentary on chapters 1–39 combines theological acumen, literary sensitivity, philological expertise, and historical knowledge to present a faithful and accurate reading of one of the Old Testament’s most important books.
In the introduction to this work, Oswalt considers Isaiah’s background, unity of composition, date and authorship, canonicity, Hebrew text, theology, and problems of interpretation, and he offers a select bibliography for further research. Oswalt also provides substantial discussions of several issues crucial to the book of Isaiah. He notes, for example, that scholars often divide Isaiah into three divisions, with chapters 1–39 addressing Isaiah’s contemporaries in the eighth century B.C., chapters 40–55 presupposing the exile of the sixth century, and chapters 56–66 presupposing the eventual return from exile. While taking this scholarship into account, Oswalt defends the unity of the prophetic book and argues convincingly that the whole book can be attributed to the Isaiah of the eighth century.
The commentary proper, based on Oswalt’s own translation of the Hebrew text, provides pastors, scholars, and students with a lucid interpretation of the book of Isaiah in its ancient context as well as an exposition of its message for today.
About the New International Commentary Old Testament Series
“In the Old Testament we read God’s word as it was spoken to his people Israel. Today, thousands of years later, we hear in these thirty-nine books his inspired and authoritative message for us.”
These twin convictions, shared by all of the contributors to The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, define the goal of this ambitious series of commentaries. For those many modern readers who find the Old Testament to be strange and foreign soil, the NICOT series serves as an authoritative guide bridging the cultural gap between today’s world and the world of ancient Israel. Each NICOT volume aims to help us hear God’s word as clearly as possible.
Scholars, pastors, and serious Bible students will welcome the fresh light that this commentary series casts on ancient yet familiar biblical texts. The contributors apply their proven scholarly expertise and wide experience as teachers to illumine our understanding of the Old Testament. As gifted writers, they present the results of the best recent research in an interesting manner.
Each commentary opens with an introduction to the biblical book, looking especially at questions concerning its background, authorship, date, purpose, structure, and theology. A select bibliography also points readers to resources for their own study. The author’s own translation from the original Hebrew forms the basis of the commentary proper. Verse-by-verse comments nicely balance in-depth discussions of technical matters — textual criticism, critical problems, and so on — with exposition of the biblical writer’s theology and its implications for the life of faith today.
About the Author
John N. Oswalt is Research Professor of Old Testament at Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi. A former president of Asbury College and former professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages at Asbury Theological Seminary, he also served on the translation team for the New International Version of the Bible.
An excellent conservative commentary on the book of Isaiah. . . . Oswalt’s work is a treasure. It provides solid help in understanding the text and message of this Old Testament book.