“Love, love, love!” the Cynic had cried wearily. “You Jews seem to have only one kind of love, love of God, which means love of self, since you have created him in your image. Love your neighbour as yourself, yes, but first convert him to your prejudices. I love you, a man says to a woman, because you understand me. I love God, Joshua says, because he is a father who watches over me. But don’t you people ever love anything that doesn’t promote your love of self?”
Some thoughts that occurred to me after reading Ulrich Berges’ article that I outlined in the previous post – – –
One sees in Isaiah an overlap between the Servant as Israel and the Servant who is the personal prophet, or more strictly the personification representing a prophetic community.
Such a literary technique — constructing or attributing to a literary persona the issues and experiences being grappled with by the authorial community — is not unique to Isaiah. It is found in relation to David, Jeremiah, Judith, Daniel, Ezra, the mourner in Lamentations.
Ulrich Berges has conveniently outlined a history of scholarly interpretation of the Servant Songs in Isaiah 40 – 55, concluding with his own reasons for understanding the Servant who suffers yet saves as a literary personification of a prophetic community in the restored Jewish province under the Persian empire (SJOT, Vol.24, No.1, 28-38, 2010). The following is an outline of Ulrich Berges’ article. I have questions about some of the premises upon which Berges relies, and have additional questions about the possible relevance of the literary developments in evidence here for later Gospel narrative traditions, but I try not to let any of these personal thoughts interfere with my outline of Berges’ article here. The Isaiah Servant songs have always been of special interest to me, and I assume someone else without access to academic online journals will find some interest in these notes also.
Developments in the exegesis of the so-called Deutero-Isaiah corpus
The first to challenge the idea that Isaiah wrote the entire book bearing his name was Ibn Ezra in the 12th century.