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First Isaiah and the Disappearance of the Gods

First Isaiah and the Disappearance of the Gods

by Matthew J. Lynch

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Isaiah 1–39 uses the unique term אלילים—usually translated as “idols”— more than anywhere else in the Hebrew Bible. Using this linguistic phenomenon as a point of departure, Matthew J. Lynch reexamines the rhetorical strategies of First Isaiah, revealing a stronger monotheizing rhetoric than previously recognized.

Standard accounts of Israelite religion frequently insist that monotheism reached its apex during the exile, and especially in Deutero-Isaiah. By contrast, Lynch’s study brings to light an equally potent mode of monotheizing in First Isaiah. Lynch identifies three related rhetorical tendencies that emphasize yhwh’s supreme uniqueness: a rhetoric of avoidance, referring to other deities as idols (אלילים) to avoid conferring on them the status of gods (אלוהים); a rhetoric of exaltation, emphasizing yhwh’s truly exalted status in opposition to all that which exalted itself; and a rhetoric of abasement, fully subjugating all other claimants to absolute power—whether human or divine—before the divine king.

Succinctly and persuasively argued, Lynch’s book will change how biblical scholars understand the nature and development of Israelite monotheism.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781646021307
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Publication date: 05/10/2021
Series: Critical Studies in the Hebrew Bible , #12
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 144
File size: 859 KB

About the Author

Matthew J. Lynch is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Regent College. He is the author of Monotheism and Institutions in the Books of Chronicles and Portraying Violence in the Hebrew Bible: A Literary and Cultural Study.

Table of Contents

Abbreviations ix

Acknowledgments xi

Preface xiii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Rhetoric of Exaltation and Abasement in First Isaiah 19

Chapter 2 Yahweh's Exaltation in Isaiah 2:6-22 35

Chapter 3 Enemy Boasts and Prophetic Response in Isaiah 10 61

Chapter 4 The Folly of the Gods in Isaiah 19 76

Chapter 5 Conclusions and Comparison 98

Appendixes 107

Bibliography 111

Index of Subjects 121

Index of Authors 123

Index of Scripture 125

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