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.
But the first to challenge the idea in the age of historical critical research was Johann Christoph Döderlein in the third edition of his commentary on Isaiah in 1789. Döderlein believed that chapters 40 onwards were the work of a different author. Continue reading “The Servant in Isaiah 40-55, scholarly interpretations — individual and/or collective identities”