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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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ISAIAH.—There are seven instances recorded in the Gospels in which Jesus quotes from the prophecies of Isaiah, besides numerous other cases in which His language is more or less manifestly reminiscent of expressions in the book. The most notable passages are two in which our Lord applies to Himself the terms used by the prophet of the Exile with regard to the Servant of Jehovah, viz. Luke 4:16-22, where Jesus reads and expounds the words of Isaiah 61:1-2; and Luke 22:37, where He adopts as a prediction of His own experience a clause of Isaiah 53:12. Our Lord thus plainly taught that, alike in the mission and in the vicarious suffering of the ideal Servant of Deutero-Isaiah, His own person and work were typified and foreshadowed. More general is the application of Isaiah 6:9-10 to the people of His own time (Matthew 13:14-15, Mark 4:12, Luke 8:10); and also His use of Isaiah 29:13 of the Pharisees and scribes (Matthew 15:7-9, Mark 7:6-7). All three Synoptists record the quotation from Isaiah 56:7 with which He rebuked the temple-traders (Matthew 21:13 ||). St. John alone gives the quotation of a general character from Isaiah 54:13 (John 6:45), while St. Mark records an expression which manifestly comes from Isaiah 66:24 (Mark 9:48). In only three of the above seven cases is Isaiah mentioned by name, and in no case is there any indication that bears in the slightest degree upon the question as to the authorship of the various parts of the book.

In addition to these more direct references, there are many expressions in the discourses of Jesus in which we have echoes of Isaiah’s language. Our Lord’s mind was filled with the OT, and it was to be expected that His utterances should be cast in the mould, and often expressed in the very words, of psalm and prophecy. In Matthew 5:34-35 we perceive a reminiscence of Isaiah 66:1; Matthew 21:33 ff., || at once suggests Isaiah 5:1-2. Other less obvious instances are probably to be found in Matthew 11:23 (cf. Isaiah 14:13; Isaiah 14:15) Matthew 16:19 (Isaiah 22:22) Matthew 6:6 (Isaiah 26:20); and various expressions in the eschatological discourses of Matthew 24 and Luke 21. To these others might possibly be added; but it is not warrantable to find in every case of verbal similarity a reference to, or even a reminiscence of, the words of the OT. But apart from doubtful cases, it will be seen that the Book of Isaiah, both in its earlier and in its later portions, is fully acknowledged and used in the teaching of Jesus.

It is not less so with the Evangelists themselves. All four quote Isaiah 40:3 with regard to the mission of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:3 and ||); while Mt., who uses the OT so largely in connexion with the ministry of Jesus, applies to His coming and mission the passages Isaiah 7:14 (Matthew 1:23) Isaiah 9:1-2 (Matthew 4:14-16) Isaiah 53:4 (Matthew 8:17) Isaiah 42:1-4 (Matthew 12:18-21). St. John (John 12:38-41) quotes Isaiah 53:1; Isaiah 6:10 in reference to the rejection of Christ by the people; and the Synoptists all record the voice heard at the Baptism and the Transfiguration as using the language of Isaiah 42:1.

As with the words of Jesus Himself, so, in the case of the Evangelists, no theory with regard to the actual authorship of any part of the book can claim to be supported by the manner of the references. ‘Isaiah,’ even when named, stands manifestly for the reputed author, and (as in John 12:38) the mode of expression is naturally and rightly that popularly used and understood. No critical conclusions can be drawn from any of the references.

With regard to the original Messianic import of the passages applied in the Gospels to Jesus Christ and His work, there is no difficulty in those cases where the ‘Servant of Jehovah’ is identified with the Messiah. And even in such passages as Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:1-2 quoted by Mt., we must recognize, beneath and beyond the immediate prophetic reference, an ideal element which permitted and justified the specific application by the Evangelist. Especially is this so with the prophetic conception of ‘Immanuel,’ an ideal figure in whom we find the earliest portraiture of the Messianic King (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:8; Isaiah 8:10; Isaiah 9:6-7). Though it might in some cases be without historical or critical exactitude (as in Matthew 4:15-16 from Isaiah 9:1-2), it was quite legitimate to find unexpected correspondences between the earlier and the later stages of Providence and Revelation, based on the deep underlying unity and consistency of the Divine purpose and methods.

J. E. M‘Ouat.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Isaiah'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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