A Literary-Theological Study Of the Nations in Isaiah 56-66

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Theology (Th.M)


Exegetical Theology

First Advisor

V. Philips Long


Isaiah's portrayal of the nations in chapters 56-66 (Trito-Isaiah, or, TI) has not received a single focused study. This is partly due to the prevalent assumption that Isaiah 56-66 represents a theological "decline" after Isaiah 40-55, and partly due to historical- critical assumptions that TI is host to a number of conflicting ideologies of the nations that emerged in the post-exilic era. The result of the first assumption is that TI's theology of the nations is considered inferior or regressive, and the result of the second is that TI's texts concerning the nations become scholarly tools for discovering the social conditions in post-exilic Judah (assuming that those texts were tools wielded by Judean factions in the first place).

By contrast, this study argues that TI offers a cogent and remarkable theology of the nations that is best understood by attending to the literary arrangement of chapters 56- 66 and by attending to TI's use of Israel's robust Zion traditions (= a literary-theological approach). In sum, TI portrays the full arc of Yahweh's plan for the nations, beginning with divine blessing toward Zion's foreign inhabitants (the historical aspect, found in 56:1-8) and reaching to include entire nations (the eschatological aspect, climaxing in 60- 62 and 66:18-24). The key event catalyzing movement along this arc is the intervention of the Divine Warrior on behalf of Zion; for Zion is the focal point for international and cosmic transformation (as displayed in the strategic location of Zion scenes in the outer and center panels of TI' s chiasm), and the "media" through which Yahweh and the nations relate. Yahweh's intervention for and decrees from Zion convey his just reputation to the watchful nations, who ultimately abandon their idolatrous imaginations at Zion in worship of their creator and sovereign.


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