Isaiah in the History of Christianity
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Paperback / softback
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
There is currently much interest in the history of interpretation, reader-response and the sociology of sacred texts - in what the text does as much as what it means. Isaiah, 'more evangelist than prophet' according to Jerome and others, provides an ideal case study, because of his profound influence on the language and imagery of Christianity. With illustrations from art, music, literature and the media as well as commentaries, sermons and official church pronouncements, Professor Sawyer shows how Isaiah has been used in all kinds of context, from the cult of the Virgin Mary, mediaeval passion iconography and antisemitic propaganda to Christian feminism and liberation theology. This first attempt at a comprehensive critical study of an essential part of biblical interpretation will provide a model for further research, and ensure that commentaries will never be the same again.
'... a fascinating work of exploration, so rich that summary is quite impossible.' The Expository Times '... John Sawyer writes engagingly, taking the reader on a cultural journey through time and over geographical, literary, gender and subject barriers.' Timothy Lim, Church Times 'Sawyer evidences his skill with exegetical, historical, theological and artisitic dimensions of the text. The reader of his book is invited, with enormous effectiveness, into the interpretive practice of the church, whose imaginative use of the Isaiah text is indeed a dense one. Sawyer illuminates that density in a manner which will enliven our own re-reading of the text, as a church willing to exercise courage, sensitivity and inventiveness in our own time.' Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur