I heard news this weekend while at my regional SBL meeting that I have now had a second paper accepted for the upcoming national meeting in Atlanta (see HERE for the first acceptance).
This paper is for the Formation of Isaiah unit. Here is the abstract:
The identity of the servant in the book of Isaiah has been a long-standing issue of debate within scholarship. Various identities have been advanced, no doubt a result of the ambiguity latent in the biblical text. This proposal suggests, though, that recognizing the ambiguity is the entire point of the text. Understanding ambiguity as a purposeful literary mechanism that is able to communicate meaning while still shrouding it, I will argue that the ambiguity surrounding the central characters in this text, as well as who is speaking, makes sense within the global context of the book of Isaiah as a whole.
Isa 52:13-53:1’s reticence to reveal any clarity concerning the “many,” the “nations,” and the “kings” anticipates the remainder of Isa 53 as well as the entire book. This blurring of the lines through the poetic employment of ambiguity will be seen to foreshadow the fulfillment of YHWH’s universal expectations concerning the servant, who after chapter 53 is known only in the plural, in relation to the nations (cf. Isa 2:2). The kings will be shown to communicate YHWH’s sole kingship, a central tenet of the book. Through this realization the text seeks to communicate to the reader that both Israel and the nations are called upon and compelled to utter the question of 53.1: “Who has believed our report? Upon whom has the arm of YHWH been revealed?” and through their answer make a conscious choice to become a part of YHWH’s servant people.
Many of you may not know this, but before my current interests in Jacob, Genesis, deception, and OT theology . . . . I was an Isaiah guy through and through. The servant texts–especially 52:13-53:12–was my baby. I’m looking forward to revisiting the topic again at the national meeting.