Tuesday, June 08, 2004

On Isaiah...

The last entry, was an unfinished letter written december 26. This one is an unfinished entry written just a week ago. I've only gotten through an introduction and an outline; even the outline isn't finished. But, I have to bite off little bits, otherwise I'll never finish the whole thing anyway. I hope to get to the contents of Isaiah this weekend; that's really the amazing part...

Here's what I have so far:

I've started a study of the book of Isaiah, to try to decipher what meaning I may find; and my early readings seem to have borne some fruit. I see extensive meaning within the structure of the book, starting with the basic divisions, down to the patterns of individual phrases amongst each other. These patterns seem to be found so readily, even predictably, that I have little doubt that I will continue to see them as I work through the rest of the book. That is to say, each time I have presented the text with the question, "I wonder if there's any pattern to...?" I have been confronted with a decisive "yes," without having manipulated the text to find it. This manner of inquiry is not an objective way of gathering information; I believe it's known as expectancy bias; however, it does not make the information invalid. The existence of such a bias simply means that I cannot prove, based on my study, that the text does in fact have some sort of overarching meaning.
On this point, it’s important that I am careful what type of overarching meaning I am looking for in the first place. Often, it seems, these discoveries are placed within the context of proof of divine origin. This, it seems, is a quantom-logical leap. At this very moment, to be sure, authors all over the globe are lacing their respective works with sublime passages and 2ndary and tertiary meanings, without any pretense of divine origin. What difference does it make to our proof that these profound meanings happen to be in the Tanakh? In addition, there is always the comparative religionist, ready to point out that there exist innumerable religious texts with similar claims of higher meaning. However, if nothing else, if the layers of meaning are constant, it can be shown that the author at least intended for them to be there. For this to be true, the patterns must be consistant. Clear deviation from the norm must be counted as evidence against the text.
Again, on this point we have to draw a fine line. Believers often (rightfully) assume that deviations from the expected norm represent a shortcoming in their own understanding. This is a problem unique to the analysis of religious texts. The reader is presented with an enormous task. They must, in reading, either determine that the weight of evidence points to divine origin, or that it doesn't. By answering "yes, it is of divine origin" they place huge burden of proof on any contrary evidence. "Is this point important enough to jeapordize my entire belief structure?" -they ask. And so, the fine details of a schema are often brushed aside.
In this context, one must ask themselves, “how many points am I willing to concede before I change my paradigm?” To this question, religion has 2 things going for it. 1) People seldom (i.e. never) keep track of exactly how many points they have conceded in the course of their studies. That is to say, the pursuit of the mind of G-d is littered with suspension of disbelief. 2) Most people (wrongly) believe that faith somehow requires this suspension of disbelief, so that, even if contrary evidence builds past the point of plausibility, there always exists the refrain, “just believe.”
But I digress. This is not to say that an in-depth analysis of the Tanakh and Novoi Zavyet is meaningless. Only that it can be read within the context that we will not, in the end, prove anything (although proof may be there to be found). What I’m looking for is empirical evidence. In other words, in this case I can only say that I observe, upon early analysis, that a pattern exists. My task now is to root it out as far as it readily goes, to see where it goes. I keep open the possibility that it may lead nowhere...

"If you only have money for one newspaper, buy the opposition's."


a. The denunciation of Judah, 1:1-12:6
i. Judahs condemnation 1:1-5:30
1. The address
2. The indictment from God
3. A promise of restoration after judgment from God
4. Glory in the future kingdom
5. A purging
6. A millennial kingdom
7. The vineyard parable
ii. Isaiahs commission
iii. The Messiahs coming, 7:1-12:6
1. Immanuels sign
2. Maher-shalal-hash-baz
3. Messiahs sign
4. Samarias judgment
5. The retribution on Assyria and the return of Israel
6. The Branch of Jesse and its rule
7. A song of praise

b. The denunciations against the other nations, 13:1-23:18
i. Against Babylon
ii. Against Assyria
iii. Against Philistia
iv. Against Moab
v. Against Damascus
vi. ***Against Israel
vii. Against Ethiopia
viii. Against Egypt
ix. Against Babylon
x. Against Edom
xi. Against Arabia
xii. Against Jerusalem
xiii. Against Tyre

c. The Day of the L-rd, 24:1-27:13
i. Judgments of the Tribulation Period
ii. Triumphs of the Kingdom
iii. Praise in the Kingdom
iv. Israel in the Kingdom

d. The denunciation of Israel and Judah, 28:1-35:10
i. Samarias woe
ii. ***Judahs woe, 29:1-31:9
1. The hypocrisy
2. The alliance with Egypt
iii. The kingdom of Messiah
iv. The destruction of Assyria
v. The judgments of Armageddon
vi. The blessings of the kingdom

II. Sennacheribs denunciation, 36:1-39:8
a. The Taunt from Assyria
b. The Truth from God
c. The Threat from Assyria
d. The Triumph over Assyria
e. The Sickness of Hezekiah
f. The Stupidity of Hezekiah

a. The Greatness of God, 40:1-48:22
i. In releasing Judah
ii. In relation to creation
iii. In reference to idols
iv. In provision of His servant
v. In restoring Israel
vi. In Using Cyrus
vii. In the judging & release of Judah from Babylon

b. The Servant-Messiah and Salvation, 49:1:57:21
i. The servant is commissioned
ii. The servant is contrasted with disobedient Israel
iii. The remnant is encouraged and exhorted
iv. The suffering and the triumph of the servant
v. Salvation song
vi. Salvations invitation: Blessings given to the gentiles
vii. The rebuke to those who refuse salvation

c. Israel’s future: Program for Peace, 58:1-66:24
i. The Contrast between Right and Wrong Worship
ii. The Dealing with Sin 59:1-21
1. Israels sins described
2. Israels sins confessed
3. Israels sins blotted out
iii. The Glory of Israel
iv. Messiah's Ministry of Peace during the Advents
v. Israels restoration, future of Jerusalem
vi. Vengance of G-d
1. What is needed for blessings
2. Gods enemies judged
3. Gods people make confession
4. The repentance of sins
vii. Climax to history
1. Kingdom characteristics
2. Hypocrisy rebuked
3. Israels rebirth The Rebirth of Israel
4. Great rejoicing in the Future

The outline is more important than it may look, I think. Where each topic lies in relation to the other topics is significant. The number of ideas represented in each section is important too. Notice that most portions are broken into either 7 or 12 parts, and notics that the middle section, written to the King and not in prophetic language, seems to fall into 6 sections. Whether these divisions are inherant and intended, or a remnant of the analysis is open to debate of course...

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