Publisher Westminster John Knox
This book appears in the following featured collections.
- Favorite Advanced OT Commentaries by Jeremy Pierce (parableman)
- Old Testament Advanced Commentaries by Moore Theological College Journal: Societas
This is a monumental commentary on the book of Isaiah. Like all of his work, Childs's commentary is erudite and exhibits impressive command of the scholarly field. He combines rigorous exegesis with powerful theological reflection, all with an ear towards the history of Isaiah's interpretation and it impact on both past and present communities of faith. Childs's work is concise yet substantive; accessible yet insightful. While "fluent" in critical scholarship and technical discussion, Childs helpfully keeps his primary focus on the canonical form of the book of Isaiah, the authoritative text for confessional faith communities. Even if one were to skip over his discussions of technical matters, there is much to be gleaned from only engaging his expositions. The commentary could be criticized for being too concise in certain areas, and there are certainly more detailed commentaries on Isaiah available. The beauty of this volume, though, is that it keeps one from getting lost in the "weeds" of all the scholarly debate on Isaiah while still providing an informed and persuasive reading of the text. Overall, I would rank this as the best volume commentary on the entire book of Isaiah available. Whether engaging in exegesis of the Hebrew text or preparing a sermon, I find that consulting Childs is always worth my time. This commentary should be on the shelf of all preachers and teachers of Isaiah, and really, anyone interested in serious study of the book.
Childs tackles the whole of the Isainic material in one volume. However, this comes at the expense of skimming over many of the questions raised in interpreting the text. In fact, Childs spends more time arguing why Isaiah should be understood from a canonical perspective (as opposed to the atomizing form-critical) than in showing how the text would be understood from such a perspective. His thoughts on some of the intertextual play within the book are helpful (especially regarding Deutero- and Trito-Isaiah), but, I confess, I expected more from a giant in the field on one of the key books in the OT, coming from one of the major commentary series.
The founder of the canonical approach comments with theological and literary sensitivity as well as an appreciation for the history of its interpretation. [Full Review]
Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001. Pp. xx + 555, Cloth, $50.95, ISBN 0664221432. Marvin A Sweeney Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University Claremont, CA 91711 Brevard Childs' new commentary on the book of Isaiah constitutes a landmark in the modern critical interpretation of the book in that it is one of the first major critical commentaries to treat deliberately the book of Isaiah as a coherent, literary whole (see also John D. W. Watts, Isaiah 1-33 [WBC 24; Word: Waco, 1985]; Isaiah 34-66 [WBC 25; Word: Waco, 1987]). It thereby joins the growing number of works by scholars who are now rethinking some of the older, diachronically-based interpretative paradigms by which the book has been interpreted throughout the twentieth century in relation to newer, synchronically-based models. Indeed, Childs is one of the early pioneers, together with Peter A. Ackroyd, Ronald E. Clements, René Lack, and others, in interpreting Isaiah as a single work. His treatment of Isaiah in his Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979, 311-338) called for an integrated reading of the book that would recognize First Isaiah's words of doom as an expression of G-d's continuing eschatological plan for Israel in all ages, i.e., sinful Israel would be punished and repentant Israel would receive salvation. In this fashion, the divine word would be fulfilled in history as Deutero-Isaiah's references to "the former things" were to be understood as First Isaiah's earlier prophecies, and "the new things" referred to the salvation yet to be realized. [Full Review]
Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001. Pp. xx + 555, Cloth, $50.95, ISBN 0664221432. A.Joseph Everson California Lutheran University Thousand Oaks, CA 91360 Brevard S. Childs has long been recognized as an advocate of canonical theology. In this new commentary on Isaiah, he now demonstrates how his particular approach to canonical theology works out in terms of this prophetic scroll. Childs wants to be clear that he affirms both synchronic and diachronic dimensions in critical textual study. His reservations about postmodern literary analysis come from the fact that so many of those studies seem to be too restricted to synchronic analysis and are "theologically inert at best, and avowedly agnostic at worst" (4). On the other hand, Childs is also critical of those studies that are primarily diachronic, seeking to discover earlier redactional layers within a text. His own contention is that canonical authority is found not in earlier redactions but only in the preserved final text of the prophetic collection, where it becomes "a coherent witness in its final received form to the ways of God with Israel" (4). Childs has long contended that the Isaiah scroll provides the classic example of an extended redactional process, involving repeated revisions or changes over a long period of time. He has reminded us that some material in Isa 1-39 clearly seems to be as late as material in Isa 56-66. He poses the important question: Why is postexilic writing consciously represented in the scroll as the writing of the eighth-century prophet? Childs answers this question by declaring that these texts have been consciously disconnected from their original historical settings by postexilic redactors precisely so that they may be held up and preserved as the living word of the Lord—given to the prophet in his vision, but now preserved for a new audience. The writings are at this point "sacred scripture." The word of the text is not simply testimony about past events. It is a now a word about judgment and salvation for people in any age. [Full Review]