Thursday, June 8, 2017

Character and Author of Isaiah

Decrees of the Pontifical Biblical Commission

June 29, 1908 (ASS 41 [1908] 613f; EB 287ff; Dz 2115 ff)

I: May it be taught that the predictions read in the Book of Isaias-and throughout the Scriptures- are not predictions properly so called, but either narrations put together after the event, or, if anything has to be acknowledged as foretold before the event, that the prophet foretold it not in accordance with a supernatural revelation of God who foreknows future events, but by conjectures formed felicitously and shrewdly by natural sharpness of mind on the basis of previous experience?

Answer : In the negative.

II: Can the opinion that Isaias and the other prophets did not put forth predictions except about events that were to happen in the immediate future or after no long space of time, be reconciled with the predictions, in particular Messianic and eschatological, certainly put forth by the same prophets concerning the distant future, and also with the common opinion of the holy Fathers who unanimously assert that the prophets also made prophecies that were to be fulfilled after many centuries?

Answer: In the negative.

III: May it be admitted that the prophets, not only as correctors of human depravity and preachers of the divine word for the benefit of their hearers, but also as foretellers of future events, must consistently have addressed, not future, but present contemporary hearers in such a manner that they could be clearly understood by them; and that in consequence the second part of the Book of Isaias (chapters 40-66), in which the prophet addresses and consoles, not the Jewish contemporaries of Isaias, but as if living among them, the Jews mourning in the Babylonian exile, could not have Isaias, long since dead, for its author, but must be ascribed to some unknown prophet living among the exiles?

Answer: In the negative.

IV: Should the philological argument drawn from language and style to impugn identity of authorship throughout the Book of Isaias be deemed of such force as to compel a man of sound judgement with competent knowledge of Hebrew and of the art of criticism to recognize several authors in the same book?

Answer: In the negative.

V: Do there exist arguments which even when taken together avail to demonstrate that the Book of Isaias must be attributed not to Isaias himself alone, but to two or even several authors?
Answer: In the negative.

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