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"Oh that You would rend the Heavens and come down": The eschatological theology of Third Isaiah (Isaiah 56-66)

"Oh that You would rend the Heavens and come down": The eschatological theology of Third Isaiah (Isaiah 56-66)
Abraham Sung-Ho Oh


School of Humanities, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TH, UNITED KINGDOM.


Scholars taking historical approaches have thought that Third Isaiah (TI) is distinct from the rest of the book of Isaiah in authorship and theology. Writing a coherent theology of TI is impossible because it contains such diverse materials. However, a canonical approach is open to considering TI as a complex but coherent theological unity. Leaning on this approach, this dissertation attempts to construct a coherent theology of TI. Arguing that the theology of TI has eschatology (both prophetic and apocalyptic) at its core, it identifies four major themes and explores their significance through four key texts (56: 1-8; 59: 15b-21; 60: 1-22; 65: 13-25).

The covenant concept (56: 1-8) incorporates important themes of TI and forms a framework for the eschatology of TI. People are invited to walk in the covenant, which is worked out as eschatological salvation. In the prologue of TI, the eschatological visions of Second and First Isaiah are taken up, and the promised eschatological salvation is extended universally.

The coming of YHWH as the Divine Warrior initiates the eschatological era (59:15b-21) and restores the covenant. His coming brings judgment not only on the nations but also on the community of Israel. Only the repentant are redeemed. A number of texts indicate the coming of an envoy, a Messianic figure.

The glorified Zion is the eschatological Temple-city-paradise (60:1- 22), into which the nations flow. The new Zion is the fulfilment of the covenant, Zion, and Servant traditions. It is also an apocalyptic reapplication of the creation and the Exodus.

At the climactic conclusion of TI (and the book of Isaiah), the New Heavens and Earth are created (65:13-25). As the problem of sin is resolved, this is a return to the primordial paradise, in which the natural world is also restored. The Anointed One brings salvation, fulfilling both the works of the Servant (Second Isaiah) and the Davidic Messiah (First Isaiah).