Internal Evidences For The Unity of Isaiah
In the two previous articles on Isaiah we have stated the positions of the liberals on Isaiah, and have shown from their own writings why they say they have accepted the theories that dissect the book of Isaiah. We also presented in the second article the external evidences for the unity of Isaiah. In that article we showed (1) That until fairly recently scholars were unanimous in accepting the unity of the book of Isaiah; (2) That the Jewish historian, Josephus, accepted and indicates that Jewish scholars in his time accepted the unity of Isaiah; (3) That the Dead Sea Scrolls indicate that shortly before the time of Christ the scholars thought Isaiah wrote the entire book that bears his name.
In this concluding article we will present another and higher type of evidence for the unity of the book. This second type of evidence we call "internal" evidence, because it comes from the Bible itself.
The most obvious way to ascertain the authorship of any Biblical book is from the Bible itself. In Isaiah 1:1 we find the statement that this book is the "vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz." This verse and others that state the same fact indicate that Isaiah the son of Amoz wrote the book. The higher critics state that this fact is not adequate, since each separate prophecy is not said to have been made by Isaiah the son of Amoz. Many other books of the Bible state their author at the beginning of the book, and then do so nowhere else in the book. If the heading of Isaiah 1:1 is not to be applied to the entire book, then the inspired prophet left us with a false impression, since he no where else indicates that someone else was the writer of a part of the book. G.A. Smith says that those of us who maintain the Isaian authorship are obligated to slow where each individual prophecy is claimed for Isaiah. But if the whole book is claimed for him, as is the case in Isaiah 1:1, then it would be but needless tautology to separate each prophecy with the phrase that it was spoken by "Isaiah the son of Amoz." So the first evidence is the book of Isaiah itself. It declares that the prophecies were spoken by Isaiah the son of Amoz.
Since the style of writing is also claimed by the liberals as one of the reasons why they reject the unity of Isaiah, we should not let the issue be settled by the passing of human judgment alone upon the style of writing. We do not depend solely upon the style of writing. But I think that the unity of Isaiah is indicated by the style of writing in what the liberals consider to be the two sections of the book (i.e. chs. 1-39 and chs. 40-66). For example, Isaiah uses the expression, "the Holy One of Israel," more than all the other writers combined. This expression is found thirty-one times in the entire Bible. Twenty-five of these times it occurs in Isaiah's writings. The, striking point is that twelve of these times it is found in chs. 1-39, and thirteen times it occurs in chs. 40-66. This fact alone should be some indication to us that the same writer wrote all sixty-six chapters of Isaiah.
The critic's division and dating of the book make the arguments of the prophet for the divinity of God appear very foolish. To show the argument of Isaiah for the divinity of God more clearly we quote from Isaiah 41:22, 24; 42:9; and 44:7, 8, and in that order:
"Let them bring them forth, and declare unto us what shall happen: declare ye the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or show us things to come. Declare the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together."
"Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them."
"And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I established the ancient people? And the things that are coming, and that shall come to pass, let them declare. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have I not declared unto thee of old, and showed it? and ye are my witnesses. Is there a God besides me? yea, there is no Rock; I know not any."
In these passages God, through the prophet, repelled those who worshiped idols by challenging them to have their gods foretell the future. But suppose, as the critics allege, that the statements God presented as prophecy were actually only history, what would then be the weight of His challenge to the idols? It would have no force at all. It requires no miracle to write history (fallibly). If a God should demonstrate His power by prophecy, but Jehovah did not prophecy, (which He could not have done if His so-called prophecies were history instead), then the conclusion would be that Jehovah was not God, but only a god. One stands on precarious foundations who so obliterates the arguments for the divinity of Jehovah by his modernistic theories.
For our final and most conclusive argument we now notice the use of Isaiah's prophecies in the New Testament. Please notice that when the. New Testament writers quote from both sections of Isaiah (i.e. chs. 1-39 and 40-66), as the book is divided by the liberals, they ascribe the writing to Isaiah, and not to some great unknown prophet of the exile period. Isaiah is quoted by name in the New Testament about twenty times, which I think is more than all of the remaining writing prophets combined. Oswalt T. Allis states this argument very concisely in the following paragraph:
"Furthermore, in those books where he is so quoted most frequently, citations are made from both parts of the book. Matthew quotes Isaiah by name six times, three times from the first part and three times from the second. Paul in Romans quotes Isaiah five times by name, and from both parts of the book. John, while quoting less frequently, cites 53:1 and 6:10 in consecutive verses as 'Isaiah' (John 12:38 ff.) . . . Such evidences indicate with sufficient clearness that none of the New Testament writers 'dreamt' that the name of Isaiah was of doubtful or ambiguous meaning. Such facts as these should carry great weight with every Christian who values the testimony of the New Testament." The Unity of Isaiah, pp. 42, 43.
While the critics cannot fail to see the logical implications of these New Testament passages, yet they are not willing to admit them. G.A. Smith seeks to explain away this argument from the New Testament by asserting (1) that none of these New Testament citations are made "by our Lord Himself, (2) that none of them is given in answer to the question, "Did Isaiah write chs. 40-66 of the book called by his name?," (3) that the, Isaianic authorship is not involved in the argument. These arguments simply show how hard pressed the critic is, and the extremes to which he is willing to go in an effort to justify his position. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit would not the statements of the apostles Paul and John be just as authoritative as one actually written by Christ Himself? If Isaiah was not the author of the entire book, then the Holy Spirit approved of a misrepresentation in the Bible, for He ascribed the writing of the entire book of Isaiah to Isaiah the prophet. Those who believe in verbal inspiration and the infallibility of inspiration should demand no further argument, for this New Testament evidence should be conclusive. The New Testament writers state that Isaiah wrote the entire book!
The logical consequent of the radical critic's argument is the complete denial of all prophecy. This is the chief conclusion of the critics because of his commitment that the Biblical doctrine of inspiration is irrational. It would soon be generally accepted by Biblical "scholars" that Isaiah 53 refers to the Messiah were they not convinced that "the prophets predict nothing of the future, except what they could know and anticipate without special divine revelation." This idea destroys the possibility of prophecy, and this is why we said in the beginning of these articles that the critics' doctrine on Isaiah developed because of their attitude of strict materialism.
Seeing then, the trend of modern critical interpretation of prophecy, it follows that the Christian can have no part whatever in this modernism. Really there is no tenable middle ground between the liberal and the Christian. So one must choose his side. While the argument for Christ's divinity is built upon his fulfillment of prophecy, the modernist denies that this is even possible. So there is no ground for compromise between the liberal and fundamentalist.
We have now seen, in the course of these three articles, that this liberal concept of the book of Isaiah is of recent development, is unfounded, and not only unfounded but is refuted by historical evidences, by the internal evidences of the book itself, and finally conclusively repudiated by the New Testament. We see then, that faith in the unity of Isaiah is a fundamental element in the proper attitude toward God's Word, and ultimately toward the Christian system as a whole.
Truth Magazine III:10, pp. 15-17