Isaiah 39 & 40 – Stylistic Transition

So the style of the text has changed dramatically. Ch. 39 gives a fairly clear prediction of the fall of Jerusalem and the castration and enslavement of the Davidic line, concepts quite at odds with the previous position of Isaiah son of Amos. While style and content alone do not necessarily indicate a change in authorship – my own written work has undergone profound variations in both features since my earliest compositions – many modern textual scholars find the differences sufficient to conclude that a different person, from a different time period, wrote these passages. The editors of the JSB do not waver in their conviction: Study notes at the beginning of ch. 40 state plainly, “The first of the three sections within chs 40-66 was written by the anonymous exilic prophet in Babylonia, shortly before or immediately after the fall of Babylonia to the Persians led by Cyrus in 539 BCE, but before Cyrus issued his decree allowing the Judean exiles to return to Zion in 538.” HarCol moderates the statement somewhat: “These chapters, which console the people of Judah with the promise of a joyous return to their homeland, presuppose the Babylonian exile and probably date from the period between 545 and 539 BCE.” (Emphasis mine.) The Reformation Study Bible, on the other (third) hand, clearly ascribes all of the text to Isaiah son of Amoz with the statement, “Isaiah originally addressed these words to the future exiles in Babylon to encourage them to flee from there and return by faith to the Promised Land. The encouragement partially arises from there supernatural character. These prophecies, delivered more than a century and a half beforehand, astonish their audience by predicting Israel’s (i.e. Judah’s) immediate deliverance from Babylon by Cyrus, the coming of the suffering Christ to save them from their sins after they return to the land, and Israel’s final salvation in the last days.” (Again, I added the emphasis.)