Isaiah, John and Romans
Just so there is no misunderstanding the importance I place on Isaiah, it is my belief that without at least a working knowledge of all units of Isaiah, John and Romans, an intimate knowledge of the Bible is impossible. Isaiah teaches how to trust God; John teaches how God is revealed to mankind; and Romans teaches how to receive God Revealed. Like the proverbial three-legged stool, neither leg can be counted as “most important.” And again just like the three-legged stool, all three legs will sit securely on the ground without wobble regardless of how disproportionate the length of the three legs may be. The only reason to make sure they are of equal length is so you can sit on the stool in comfort.
Traditional Sunday School teaches John quite well, and for that, those who have grown by it should be commended. To a lesser degree, I could say the same thing about Romans. But Isaiah usually does not get taught as a unit. It gets taught piecemeal, and rarely does traditional Sunday School purport to teach Isaiah at the same level of detail.
Hebrew poetry – even when translated into a familiar language – can be intimidating for even the intermediate reader. But once you get the gist of how Hebrew poetry works, there are elements of the poetry that make it actually easier. The large majority of statements are spoken twice, and the restatement follows the same grammatical structure of the original statement, only replacing the first words with synonyms in the re-statement. Since one word will be clearer than the more obscure word in the parallel statement, we can often glean the meaning of the obscure word through its association with the word that parallels it. The series on this web site seeks to exercise the reader’s skills in taking advantage of this parallel structure.
Another element of Isaiah that sometimes makes reading through the book is the difficulty in assigning context to a particular passage. Reading the words is easy, but several chapters of reading can be awkward to keep your focus. To that end, an Overview link has been posted here that can at a minimum keep you focused on what is going on in each chapter. This overview link is not the only way to comprehend Isaiah. But it is an understanding that can keep you understanding what is said.
Isaiah has its familiar passages. But – unlike many other familiar passages that On Beyond Sunday School does not focus on – this site will explore the profundity of each passage. As familiar as verses 7:14; 9:6; or 53:6 may be, they are rarely taught in context. And the series of Isaiah focuses keenly on context. A complete set of entries numbers over 300. This tab is titled “The Best of Isaiah.” Only about 30-50 will actually be posted here. I just don’t see anyone printing out 300+ entries and ever sitting down to read them front to back. The selection process is intended to give the reader the most benefit from the most compact level of reading as possible.
On Beyond Sunday School wishes to thank Dr. John N. Oswalt, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY, for his outstanding work in his commentary of Isaiah, and recommends that the 2-volume set (Volume 1 and Volume 2) be obtained, and read in parallel with the Isaiah essays from this tab. This recommendation was not requested by Dr. Oswalt, and should not in any way be comprehended as Dr. Oswalt's endorsement of this web site.