Death is one of the major themes of 'First Isaiah,' although it has not generally been recognized as such. Images of death are repeatedly used by the prophet and his earliest tradents.The book begins by concisely summarizing what is known about death in the Ancient Near East during the Iron Age II, covering beliefs and practices in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Syria-Palestine, and Judah/Israel. Incorporating both textual and archeological data, Christopher B. Hays surveys and analyzes existing scholarly literature on these topics from multiple fields.Focusing on the text's meaning for its producers and its initial audiences, he describes the ways in which the 'rhetoric of death' functioned in its historical context and offers fresh interpretations of more than a dozen passages in Isa 5-38. He shows how they employ the imagery of death that was part of their cultural contexts, and also identifies ways in which they break new creative ground.This holistic approach to questions that have attracted much scholarly attention in recent decades produces new insights not only for the interpretation of specific biblical passages, but also for the formation of the book of Isaiah and for the history of ancient Near Eastern religions.
About the Author
Christopher B. Hays, Born 1973; 2008 Ph.D. at Emory University; presently D. Wilson Moore Assistant Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA.