"I Am Large, I Contain Multitudes": Second Isaiah's Lyric Exploration of Divine Relational and Emotional Complexity Open Access

Heffelfinger, Katie M (2009)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/5h73pw45h?locale=en
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Abstract

While scholars largely agree that Isaiah 40-55 is written in poetic form, this recognition has not been applied to the question of Second Isaiah's overarching arrangement and meaning. This omission seems to be due in part to difficulties in unifying the categories of poetry and prophecy along with the lack of a clear method for dealing with a long series of poems as an artistic whole. This project undertakes an approach to interpreting Second Isaiah as a meaningful whole that eschews narrative or discursive modes of organization, and instead employs specifically lyric strategies for cohesion. The study argues that, rather than presenting an argument to engage in some particular action or ethic, Second Isaiah presents itself primarily as an encounter with the divine speaking voice. This encounter with the speaking voice of Yhwh provides a fitting response to a historical setting in which the audience charges the deity with absence and abandonment. Like the various themes, motifs, and poetic structures that fragment and fracture Second Isaiah, the divine speaking voice is conflicted, speaking alternately in tonalities of compassion and wrath. Rather than attempting to smooth out these inconsistencies interpretively, or to eliminate them via redactional explanations, this dissertation views these vacillations as meaningful elements of Second Isaiah's presentation of the speaking presence of Yhwh. Through these "tonal shifts" in the divine voice, the audience is invited to imagine both the world of divine wrath and the world of divine compassion. Throughout the series of poems, the deity's voice wrestles between the offer of reconciliation with the audience and divine fury at their resistance. This wrestling likely mirrors and is reflective of the conflicted attitudes and emotions of the poems' original audience around the issues of divine abandonment and reconciliation. In wrestling its way towards a resolution, the divine voice wears down the audience's resistance on its way to its eventual resolution in comfort. In this way, Second Isaiah illustrates a complex relationship between Yhwh and the people.

Table of Contents

Chapter One: The Role of Poetry in the Interpretation of Second Isaiah ..........................1 1. History of Scholarship........................................................................................3 1.1. James Muilenburg................................................................................3 1.2. Roy F. Melugin....................................................................................6 1.3. Richard J. Clifford..............................................................................10 1.4. Beyond Clifford..................................................................................23 2. Explaining the Neglect of Lyric Poetic Tools ..................................................26 2.1. Poetry and Prophecy...........................................................................27 2.2. Poetry and Fragmentary Meaning.......................................................33 2.3. Implications of a Lyric Approach to Second Isaiah............................37 3. Proposal and Plan...............................................................................................39 Chapter Two: Second Isaiah and Lyric Tools....................................................................42 1. Defining Lyric....................................................................................................43 2. A Word About Anachronism.............................................................................48 3. Assessing Second Isaiah as Lyric......................................................................51 3.1. Characteristic One: Second Isaiah's Units as Non-Narrative.............52 3.2. Characteristic Two: Second Isaiah's Units and Vocality, Musicality, and Tropological Density..........................................................................60 3.3. Summary: Second Isaiah's Units as Lyric Poems..............................65 4. Tools for Reading Lyric Poetry.........................................................................66 4.1. Lyric Sequencing as Lens for Reading Lyric Collections..................67 4.2. Disjunction as Significant and Meaningful........................................76 4.3. The Significance of Voice..................................................................83 4.4. The Centrality of Emotion..................................................................85 5. Conclusion.........................................................................................................94 Chapter Three: The Problem of Comfort: Second Isaiah's Rhetorical Environment and its Intractable Problem............................................................................................................96 1. Situating Second Isaiah......................................................................................98 2. Indications of Exigence within Second Isaiah.................................................106 2.1. Embedded Speeches as Indicators of Rhetorical Environment - The Audience's Perspective............................................................................111 2.2. Allusions as Indicators of Rhetorical Environment.............................................................................................113 3. The Tension Between the People's Complaint and the Divine Response..............................................................................................................117 3.1. An Opening Announcement of the Intention to Comfort: Isaiah 40: 1-2............................................................................119 3.2. Further Expressions of the Comfort Theme .....................................128 4. The Tension Between Comfort and Indictment...............................................130 4.1. The Divine Voice and Past Rage......................................................131 4.2. Divine Rage and Present Threat.......................................................132 5. Comfort as Intractable Problem.......................................................................133 6. Conclusion.......................................................................................................137 Chapter Four: A Paratactic-Cohesive Whole: Lyric Unity in Second Isaiah..................138 1. Tension and Balance: Centripetal and Centrifugal Forces..............................139 2. Centrifugal Forces and Disjunction in Second Isaiah......................................140 2.1. Parataxis and Its Impact....................................................................141 2.2. Concrete References.........................................................................153 2.3. Lack of Terminal Closure.................................................................155 3. Ambivalent Forces in Second Isaiah................................................................164 3.1. Second Isaiah's Lack of Clear Boundary Markers...........................165 3.2. Second Isaiah's Lexical Recurrences and Thematic Threads...........176 4. Centripetal Forces and Cohesion in Second Isaiah..........................................187 4.1. Mirrored Passages.............................................................................187 4.2. Dominance of the Divine Voice.......................................................191 5. Second Isaiah's Balance Point and the Significance of the Divine Speaking Voice....................................................................................................................195 6. Cohesion in Prior Scholarship.........................................................................196 7. Voice as "Unstable" Unity...............................................................................203 Chapter Five: Tonal Tension and Resolution in the Divine Speaking Voice..................206 1. Determining the Tonalities of the Divine Voice in Second Isaiah..................208 1.1. Major Stream 1: Compassionate Comfort........................................209 1.2. Major Stream 2: Righteous Indignation with Accusation and Disputation..............................................................................................213 1.3. Major Stream 3: Majestically Supreme Confidence........................219 1.4. Juxtaposition as Tonal Indicator Throughout Second Isaiah...........223 1.5. The Interplay of Tonal Streams in the Divine Voice........................225 2. Tracing the Flow of Tonalities in the Divine Voice........................................226 2.1. Survey of Second Isaiah's Tonal Flow.............................................226 2.2. An Opening Announcement of Comfort - Isaiah 40:1-2.................228 2.3. The Confidence of the Creator - Isaiah 42:5-9.................................229 2.4. Sinners in the Hands of an Obliterating God - Isaiah 43:22-28.......240 2.5. Your Name is Transgressor - Isaiah 48:1-11...................................253 2.6. Indelibly Engraved - Isaiah 49:14-50:3............................................267 2.7. A "Rebuking Consolation" - Isaiah 51:12-16..................................286 2.8. The Climax of Comfort - Isaiah 54:1-17a........................................294 3. Summary of Tonal Flow: The Progression of Tonalities and the Resolution of Their Tension.......................................................................................................312 4. Tonal Flow and the "Intractable Problem"......................................................313 4.1. Contributions of the Comfort Tonality.............................................314 4.2. Contributions of the Indictment Tonality.........................................315 4.3. Contributions of the Confidence Tonality........................................316 5. Rhetorical Impact and Implications for Second Isaiah's "Message"...............317 Chapter 6: Conclusion.....................................................................................................320 1. Summary of Argument....................................................................................320 2. Significance of these Findings.........................................................................323 2.1. The Question of Second Isaiah's Meaningful Arrangement.............323 2.2. Methodological Contributions..........................................................325 2.3. Addressing Critical Problems in Second Isaiah................................326 3. Avenues for Further Research.........................................................................328 4. Conclusion.......................................................................................................329 Appendix 1: Motif Recurrences in Second Isaiah...........................................................331 Appendix 2: Speaking Voices in Second Isaiah..............................................................334 Appendix 3: Chart of the Tonalities of the Divine Voice in Second Isaiah....................336 Appendix 4: Sequence of Poems in Second Isaiah and Tonal Descriptions of Each......339 Bibliography....................................................................................................................345


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