Motyer, J. Alec. The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. “Introduction” Loc. 624-1162.
Motyer’s introductory chapter discusses various topics which will prove useful in later study of the book of Isaiah itself. This introductory work is normally called isagogics, study of concepts which lead into the text. Motyer identifies five themes which serve to unify the entire book of Isaiah: “the Messianic hope, the motif of the city, the Holy One of Israel, history and faith and literary and structural features” (Motyer 1993, Loc. 629).
The Messianic hope is centered around “three Messianic portraits: the King (chapters 1-37), the Servant (chapters 38-55) and the Anointed Conqueror (chapters 56-66)” (Motyer 1993, Loc. 634). Each portrait shows the Messiah in very similar ways. He has the Spirit and word, is righteous, and is the Davidic servant king who draws all nations to himself (Motyer 1993, Loc. 634). The Messiah is also uniformly pictured as both God and man (Motyer 1993, Loc. 652). Motyer presents a graphic image showing how the characteristics of the Messiah are presented in parallel order in the various accounts in Isaiah. He further notes that the accounts have certain differences, serving to point the reader to anticipation of the Messiah’s completed work (Motyer 1993, Loc. 715).
The city motif presents Jerusalem as the holy city of God, the one who preserves, protects, and restores the city (Motyer 1993, Loc. 736). The city Jerusalem is seen as a microcosm of the entire world.
Motyer also notes the recurring theme of God as the Holy One (Motyer 1993, Loc. 747). God’s holiness is central to his transcendence, his judgment, and his salvation. This theme of holiness pervades Isaiah to a greater extent than the use of holiness in the rest of the Old Testament (Motyer 1993, Loc. 765). The idea serves to unify the entire book of Isaiah.
As pertains to the history and faith of the text, Motyer identifies the events of Isaiah from 740-686 (Motyer 1993, Loc. 782). The nation came under pressure from Assyria in the 740s. This pressure continued until the late 680s (Motyer 1993, Loc. 788). Motyer details many of the Assyrian comings and goings, summarizing the challenges which faced the kings of Judah.
The question of Isaiah 40-66 and whether the exile to Babylon was the end of God’s dealings with Israel arises here (Motyer 1993, Loc. 860). Motyer notes a change of “feel” in those chapters. The text urges a life of faith in light of severe hardships brought on by unfaithfulness (Motyer 1993, Loc. 865). Motyer finds many indicators of chapters 40-55 being parallel to the exile in Babylon but does not find parallels from 56-66 to post-exilic authorship. It seems to deal with “principles rather than with situations” (Motyer 1993, Loc. 875). The overall thrust is the faith which eagerly awaits a coming Messiah (Motyer 1993, Loc. 891).
Motyer moves on to consider the literary structure and the features which have suggested differences in authorship for chapters 40 and following (Motyer 1993, Loc. 896). Motyer does not concede a need for different authors due to the different styles. Rather, he suggests the author had a different purpose, moving from more historic narrative earlier to a more motivational tone in the later chapters (Motyer 1993, Loc. 906).
Motyer moves on to a discussion of authorship (Motyer 1993, Loc. 942). He sees the evidence for unity of authorship to be overwhelming, noting that the fragmented view of authorship arose very recently and with little evidence (Motyer 1993, Loc. 942). Motyer previews some of the arguments for eight century authorship by Isaiah in Jerusalem, noting that more documentation will be available in the commentary (Motyer 1993, Loc. 964). The denials of early authorship are largely based on a rejection of predictive prophecy (Motyer 1993, Loc. 1027).
Again Motyer addresses the theology of Isaiah. He reiterates the unifying theme of God as “the Holy One of Israel” (Motyer 1993, Loc. 1042). He then details theological themes throughout the book, noting their relationship to the overall theme.
The overall structure of Isaiah strongly suggests a work which was built on the framework of God’s holiness as applied to various situations presented to Isaiah (Motyer 1993, Loc. 1092). The author creates a thematic mosaic, using a variety of genres and topics to present his overall idea.
In final introductory comments, the text appears very clean with few variants (Motyer 1993, Loc. 1133). There is some thought that the Septuagint followed a manuscript other than the Masoretic Text, judging from variants in the translation (Motyer 1993, Loc. 1148).