Question about Whether There Was More than One Isaiah


Question: The general consensus among Bible scholars is that the Book of Isaiah was written by two or more authors, but the scriptures say otherwise. How should one respond to that?

Answer: Liberal scholars’ main arguments for assigning several authors to the Book of Isaiah are (1) that its three different historical settings—Israel before its exile, during its exile, and returning from exile (Isaiah 1–39; 40–55; 56–66)—mean that authors from each of those periods in Israel’s past must have written those parts of the book; (2) that the mention of Cyrus the Persian king by name in Isaiah 44:28; 45:1 must mean that the author of that section of the book must have lived in the time of Cyrus; and (3) that the written prophetic discourses of the second half of the book (Isaiah 40–66) differ in nature from the mostly prophetic oracles of the first half.

Academics’ arguments—which have dominated Bible studies for decades—fail to discern the book’s three distinct historical settings as a literary structure that Isaiah adapted from Egyptian narrative patterns such as the Story of Sinuhe—Trouble at Home, Exile Abroad, and Happy Homecoming. That linear structure shows how God deals with Israel’s apostasy in its homeland by exiling it abroad among the nations, but then arranging for the return of righteous individuals who renew their covenant with him. This holistic structure, however, is but one of seven that are superimposed one upon another, making a tight case for a single author of the Book of Isaiah.

Isaiah’s use of the name Cyrus, the Persian king who ruled a century and a half after Isaiah, was never intended to address the person of Cyrus himself. Here again academics fail to discern that Isaiah’s “Cyrus” in reality addresses God’s end-time servant who fulfills roles similar to those of Cyrus and others. Isaiah’s “Cyrus,” in fact, forms a composite of types—of Cyrus as releaser of Israel’s exiles and Moses as Israel’s “shepherd” in one instance (Isaiah 44:26–28; cf. 63:11–14) and of Cyrus as world conqueror and King David as God’s “anointed” in another (Isaiah 45:1). Liberal scholars thus view prophets more as historians of their day rather than visionaries.

Their third argument—that the second half of the Book of Isaiah uses a different writing style than the first—is accounted for by Isaiah’s own spiritual journey from being a prophet whom the Lord sends to preach to the people (Isaiah 6:8–13) to becoming a seer made privy to the end of the world from the beginning (Isaiah 40:1–8; 46:10). From that point on, Isaiah wrote his vision, organizing it into a literary masterpiece. Isaiah’s Seven-Part Structure, for example, converts his entire book into an end-time scenario. A network of literary devices, typologies, and rhetorical connections preclude even the remotest possibility that it was written by more than one author.

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About Isaiah Institute

The Isaiah Institute was created in the year 2000 by the Hebraeus Foundation to disseminate the message of the prophet Isaiah (circa 742–701 B.C.). Avraham Gileadi Ph.D’s groundbreaking research and analysis of the Book of Isaiah provides the ideal medium for publishing Isaiah’s endtime message to the world. No longer can the Book of Isaiah be regarded as an obscure document from a remote age. Its vibrant message, decoded after years of painstaking research by a leading authority in his field, now receives a new application as a sure guide to a rapidly changing world. To those who seek answers to today’s perplexing questions, the Book of Isaiah is God’s gift to humanity.

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