The City in Isaiah 24-27 : a theological interpretation in terms of judgment and salvation
Thesis (DTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2008.
As the title indicates, our study is focused on a theological interpretation of the city in Isaiah 24-27 from the point of view of God’s judgment and salvation. The main reason for the study is that in Isaiah 24-27, the city plays a very significant role. The research therefore employs the socio-rhetorical approach which is a method that explores a multi-dimensional way of dealing with the text. Applying Robbins’ (1966a & b) textural analysis to the text of Isaiah 24-27, the inner and inter textures are examined in order to demonstrate the narrator’s rhetorical strategy. Through the prophetic genre of judgement and salvation, the narrator challenges the audience/reader to change their minds and attitudes, especially about the city. The challenge is that the fortified city alone would never provide safety and peace but rather bring God’s judgment. In contrast, God alone provides salvation and protection through God’s reign on Mount Zion/Jerusalem. It is shown that this rhetorical strategy is deeply embedded in the social and cultural context. The expectation was that the historical and political chaos which was triggered by international pressures and Israel’s unfaithfulness and injustice might cause Israel to reflect on what happened and what would happen to the city in God’s eschatological time. The rhetorical strategy also highlights the eschatological-apocalyptic character of the text and the author of Isaiah 24-27 uses it to focus on the ideological and theological textures by means of which he warned that “Zion theology” could become “Zion ideology” if it became located beyond prophetic voice and criticism. Furthermore, it is shown that the theological texture highlights God’s theological viewpoint that is symbolized by subjects such as universalism and the restoration of Zion/Jerusalem through judgment and salvation both of which are dialectically reflected in the destiny of the city of Zion/Jerusalem. At a deeper level, this theological engagement is based on God’s steadfast covenant love and justice, through which, God as husband and king, makes a demand on the city Jerusalem/Zion, the wife and the faith community. We have attempted to show from Isaiah 24-27 that God’s kingship is expressed in an apocalyptic manner which is beyond human power and intervention in order to emphasize God’s absolute sovereignty in controlling human destiny, especially the city. In line with the odd literary genre of the text, there still exist traditional prophetic thoughts which demand human responsibility on issues such as repentance, execution of social justice and righteousness in life.