Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Religion, Old Testament Studies PhD
Richard M Davidson
Roy E. Gane
Jacques B. Doukhan
The main focus of this dissertation is the interconnection among the themes of justice, cult, and salvation in Isaiah 56-59. The investigation will analyze and explore the theological importance of these themes, which include questions such as, What are the descriptions of these themes in these chapters? How are they related to each other? As divine salvation is portrayed as moving back and forth from immanence to distance several times throughout this particular section of the book of Isaiah, what factors are responsible for this dynamic? What is the role of cult and social justice in this salvation? In what ways does cult affect the prevalence of justice within a community?
This task is accomplished by performing a literary and theological analysis of these particular chapters in the book of Isaiah. Discussion of the literary aspects of the text employs a microstructural analysis, which starts with a syntactical display of each verse based on its strophic and clausal divisions. The display provides a basis for observation of formal rhetorical devices, especially parallelism, and for highlighting literary patterns, word repetitions, and verbal sequences, with their theological implications. This part of the study is covered in chapters 2 to 5 of the dissertation. Drawing on the findings provided in the previous chapters, chapter 6 presents systematic theological implications of the study.
Thematically, the prophetic discourse in Isa 56-59 narrates God’s promise of salvation and its fulfillment. Within this thematic structure, the impossibility for humans to partake of this promised salvation is presented from social, physical, cultic, and moral perspectives. Against this backdrop, assurance of salvation is extended to those who are convinced that they (viz., foreigners and eunuchs) are excluded from it, and this assurance is also extended to God’s people, despite their moral failure. In this context, salvation is depicted as being bestowed on those who are undeserving of it; therefore it is unexpected and surprising.
In Isa 56-59 the theme of salvation is presented, first and foremost, as initiated and established by God; it is the work of divine healing and restoration in humans. Yet, at the same time, in order for this process to be effective, a human response is needed. Furthermore, salvation is depicted as a quest for an encounter with the Divine, in which each member of the society may gain a meaningful and constructive experience from it on both personal and communal levels—as a result, it brings justice. It is from this particular perspective of salvation that cult plays a significant thematic role in Isa 56-59. As salvation begins with the right concept about God, in which both the people’s theological and social assumptions and practices can be in harmony with the divine character, the realization of these ideals enables salvation to be a tangible experience. In Isa 56, the description of salvation is saturated with cultic terminology. In Isa 57, the description and critique of social injustice is presented in parallel with a report of the practice of idolatry. In Isa 58, while the audience of the prophet is described as engaging in the “right” form of cultic activity, criticism over social injustice shows that worship and ethics go hand in hand.
Bible. Isaiah 56-59--Criticism, interpretation, etc.; Salvation; Justice--Biblical teaching; Ritual
Muskita, Hudyard Y., "Justice, Cult, And Salvation In Isaiah 56-59: A Literary-Theological Study" (2016). Dissertations. 1645.
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