This volume by Brevard Childs replaced three volumes by Otto Kaiser and Claus Westermann in the popular Old Testament Library (OTL) series. It was written in the twilight of his career after his highly-regarded commentary on the Book of Exodus in the same series. Most reviews I’ve seen feel Mr. Childs is the best commentator on Isaiah that we have from the critical camp. After reviewing this book myself, I can see how that came to be believed by many.
In what seems to be a unique approach, Mr. Childs gives an introduction to the Book of Isaiah as a whole, followed by the introduction to Isaiah 1-39. Then he gives an introduction to Isaiah 1-12. That’s followed by commentary on that section and in chapter 16 we have an introduction to Isaiah 13-23. That pattern is continued with separate introductions to Isaiah 24-27, 28-35, 36-39, 40-55, and 56-66 followed by commentary on that section. I’m used to seeing Isaiah chopped in either two or three parts by the critical side, but this was rather unique. Don’t worry, though, following the commentary is still straightforward.
Mr. Childs did not stick to a canonical approach as much as he did in his commentary on Exodus, and gets more into sources and other redactional critical ideas. In his introduction to the whole book, he discusses the approach that he will take. More than in many commentaries I’ve read, I think it’s highly important that you allow him to explain for himself the track he will follow.
In the commentary itself, you will find much of what you might have come to expect with Mr. Childs. There’s still redactional discussions, but real exegetical help and textual insights abound throughout. The commentary is not as long as you might expect for a book the scope of Isaiah, but it still offers the reflections of a season scholar at the end of his career.
We can’t deny that this volume is an important one on the Book of Isaiah today. Though I follow a more conservative path than Mr. Childs does, I still find value in this book and look forward to interacting with him in future studies I do in the Book of Isaiah. It’s worth checking out.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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