JACKSON, Tenn. – Jan. 6, 2010 – A new commentary on Isaiah by Union University Christian studies professor Gary Smith is now available.
Published by B&H Academic, Smith’s commentary on chapters 40-66 of the book of Isaiah is part of “The New American Commentary” series. It follows the first commentary Smith wrote on Isaiah chapters 1-39, released in 2007.
“There’s a shift that takes place,” Smith said about the first 39 chapters and the final 27 chapters. “The first 39 chapters tend to be about people, kings and their problems.”
For example, chapters 6-12 deal with Ahaz and his failure to trust God, and following chapters deal with Hezekiah’s war with Sennacherib and Isaiah’s encouragement for Hezekiah to trust God to deliver him. The first part of the book is tied to historical events pretty closely, Smith said.
“When you get to chapter 40, there are no kings mentioned and it’s difficult to identify the historical events,” Smith said. “Moderates and liberals think there’s a second Isaiah and a third Isaiah, and they put the second Isaiah in the exile and third Isaiah in the post-exilic period. As I studied it, I began to notice there were some historical events referred to.”
As he studied the book, Smith discovered several pre-exilic references, and concluded that the last half of the book was written before the exile, just like the first half.
“The common conservative interpretation is that Isaiah is looking into the future and prophesying a message of hope to the people while they are in exile,” Smith said. “I came to the conclusion that he’s actually preaching to pre-exilic people, and it’s a message of hope to Hezekiah and the people before the exile. In a sense, the whole issue of ‘Who wrote it?’ becomes a moot issue then. Because it was pre-exilic, it’s obviously Isaiah.”
Smith said one of the themes in the second part of Isaiah is God’s sovereignty, and how he’s more powerful than any of the nations. That’s the basis of the message of hope Isaiah preaches to Hezekiah – that the nations attacking Israel, in God’s eyes, are nothing. Another theme is the powerlessness of the gods in the ancient Near Eastern world.
Smith has previously written commentaries on the minor prophets of Amos, Hosea and Micah, as well as “An Introduction to the Hebrew Prophets: The Prophets and Preachers.” He has also worked as a translator on four Bible translation teams.
The commentary is available for purchase at Amazon.