I’ve been studying out prophecies of the Old Testament and in studying out the prophecies of Isaiah I looked up what Wikipedia had to say about it.  According to Wikipedia “The exact relationship between the Book of Isaiah and any such historical Isaiah is complicated.  One widespread view sees parts of the first half of the book (chapters 1–39) as originating with the historical prophet, interspersed with prose commentaries written in the time of King Josiah a hundred years later; with the remainder of the book dating from immediately before and immediately after the end of the exile in Babylon, almost two centuries after the time of the original prophet.” So this would mean that the prophecy of Cyrus in Isaiah 45:13 was either not very amazing or not a prophecy at all. While beforehand I thought the entire book of Isaiah dated around 750 BC and this was an astoundingly accurate prophecy I’m now not sure. Is the dating of Wikipedia accurate or is there evidence othe rwise?


You do not need me to tell you to take anything found at Wikipedia with a very big grain of salt.  You can probably assume that the person or people who wrote this article does not even believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. Anyone who starts from an incorrect presupposition about the scripture is likely to have some conclusions that are far from correct.

Having said this, the information here does have some truth to it, and it deserves a response.  The author of the article is accurate in stating that this theory is widely held.  It is true that there seems to be a fairly significant shift in style and content between the first 39 chapters of Isaiah and the last 27 chapters, so the theory is not simply wild speculation.  It is likely that Isaiah wrote the two “halves” of the book at different times in his life.  The first part of the book deals more with judgment on the enemies of God’s people and the second half is more about the coming Messiah and his kingdom.  However, the differences between the halves are far less than the similarities, and my research has led me to believe that the theory you found in Wikipedia is not correct.  There are dozens of messianic prophecies in the first forty chapters, and there is plenty of material about the judgment of God in the second half of the book.  The stylistic differences are relatively minor and can easily be explained by the fact that the subjects are somewhat different and by the possibility that the material was written at different times during the more than forty year prophetic career of Isaiah.

Here is the principle reason that most commentators claim that the book of Isaiah has at least two authors–with one author writing around 500 BC.  It is the mention of Cyrus in Isaiah 44 and 45.  The belief among the Jews that Isaiah was a real person is so strong that even the most liberal commentators find it nearly impossible to completely deny Isaiah’s role in the book.  However, these commentators assume that the Bible is not inspired by God and that it is not possible for the writer of Isaiah to know by inspiration that a king named Cyrus would rule Persia and conquer Babylon.  This assumption makes any conclusion about the author of the last 27 chapters circular reasoning.  If commentators assume the conclusion (that Isaiah 44 and 45 were written after Cyrus ruled), then why should we trust their conclusion and their supposed “evidence”?  Besides, it just so happens that Isaiah 39 (part of the first 40 chapters, obviously) has another prophecy about the role of Babylon in destroying Judah.  Naturally, these scholars who assume that there can be no inspired predictions of the future in Isaiah, also claim that chapter 39 was written after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.  What I am trying to say is that the principle reason that many believe the second part “Deutero-Isaiah” was written two hundred years later is not the internal evidence but their presupposition against inspiration.

It is possible, but not likely that Isaiah had two major authors.  If so, then both authors wrote before the events prophesied in Isaiah 39, 44 and 45.  It is more likely that it had one author, but that a later editor arranged the material and added certain prose sections (this is almost certainly the case with Daniel).  However, you should be extremely skeptical of the consensus of scholars when the group holding this consensus hold to the false belief that the Bible is not inspired.  Personally, I believe that Isaiah himself wrote the prophecies in Isaiah 44 and 45.  Those who put the Old Testament into its final form in the fifth or fourth centuries BC clearly believed that the historical person Isaiah wrote the book and they were in a much better position than unbelieving scholars today to know whether it is the case.  If the scribes and teachers of the law who accepted the Old Testament knew that parts of Isaiah were, in essence, faked prophecy, they certainly would not have accepted the book as part of scripture.

I cannot “prove” that Isaiah has a single major author and we cannot absolutely disprove the theory you found in Wikipedia, but you should feel confident that these prophecies are indeed propheciesand that they show the miraculous nature of the book of Isaiah.

John Oakes

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