How Many Isaiahs Wrote Isaiah?

By C. Reuben Lindquist

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine, May September 1926


THE modern "critic" assures us that Isaiah is not the sole author of the book which bears his name but that his writing is confined to the first thirty-nine chapters, called by some the "former (portion," and that chapters forty to sixty-six inclusive, called the "latter portion," were written by some unknown prophet or prophets, living years later. They ridicule the thought that a prophet, borne by the Holy Spirit into the future, could predict events concerning generations yet unborn, which predictions should later be fulfilled to the letter. Some "critics" incline toward ascribing the "latter portion" of Isaiah to a veritable "school" of Isaiahs. There is, however, an appreciable majority of these modernistically obsessed scholars who tenaciously hold to the duel-authorship of the book.

The Jews and Christians for the past two thousand years have agreed upon the one authorship of the book of Isaiah thus proving that this theory is pure invention, There is no testimony, historical or otherwise, that the two parts ever existed separately, but the "critics" move without the aid of external evidence. They must appeal to internal evidence alone. In so doing they contrast phraseology style and difference of thought in the two 'sections as set forth and demonstrated in other prophetic writings throughout the Bible, making the necessary changes and explanations whenever modernistic necessity demands or mere fancy indicates.

Two Scriptural witnesses furnish testimony which is of such striking character as to contradict and overthrow the destructive and wicked contentions of the "critics." These two witnesses are:

a. The book of Isaiah itself.

b. The astonishing use of the book of Isaiah which is made by the New Testament writers.

When these two witnesses have spoken the case of the "critics" is lost.

IN THE first place, the book of Isaiah is itself antagonistic to the theory of dual-authorship. While there are some slight differences in character, style and phraseology in the two sections, there is so much of the first portion reiterated and restated in the second portion that this new theory calls for a complete reconstruction of the entire book. To divide the book into two divisions immediately violates the unity of the book. There are so many points of resemblance that identify the two sections as written by the same author and under the same circumstances that the idea of a natural division between the two portions is without the slightest proof, thus showing God's purpose in presenting one continuous line of argument throughout the book. The two portions must go together to complete the prophetic plan and purpose of the book

The first portion lays the foundation for the second, the second explains and unfolds the truths of the first They are inseparable. If treated as two separate and distinct portions they are most incomplete and unsatisfactory, lacking the very elements which distinguish the writings of Holy Writ from the writings of man. There is but one introduction to the book; if there were two sections, two introductions, would be necessary. If the two sections were not written by the same author, the second without a moment's explanation as to identity or commission, plunges headlong into the discussion, a thing contrary to the method employed by any other writer of the Word of God.

Again, one of the greatest proofs of the unity of the book is the repetition of the same expressions in both sections. For instance, the expression, "The Holy One of Israel," occurs twenty-five times in the entire book, twelve times in the "former portion" and thirteen times in the "latter portion." Former: Isa. 1:4; 5:19, 24; 10:20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19; 30:11, 12, 15; 31:15 37: 23; latter: Isa. 41:14, 16, 20; 43:3, 14; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9, 14.

The two following expressions are peculiar to Isaiah and are found in no other book in the Bible: "The Mighty One of Israel," and "The Mighty One of Jacob." The first expression occurs once in the "former," and the second expression occurs twice in the "latter." Former: Isa. 1:24; 30:29; latter: Isa. 49:26; 60:16. The expression, "The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it," occurs only three times in the entire book, once in the "former" and twice in the "latter." Former: Isa. 1:20; latter: Isa. 40:5 ; 58:14.

The modernistic "critics" aver that the Hebrew words "bachar" and "halal" occur only in the "latter portion" of Isaiah and that because they are to be found only in that section of the book, we are to conclude that a different writer gave us that section.

Taking them on their own ground, we investigate the words under discussion and find that the "critics" in these instances at least, are guilty of faulty scholarship. "Bachar" and "halal," contrary to their contention, do occur both in the "former" and "latter" portions of Isaiah. At once we see that on the ground of the "critics'" own argument we are forced to conclude that one Isaiah wrote Isaiah. SECOND, the Holy Spirit gives proof amounting to an inescapable demonstration that Isaiah wrote the entire book bearing his name. No other single book of the Old Testament is so fully endorsed and quoted in the New Testament as is the book of Isaiah. This fact furnishes a satisfying indication of its genuineness and a convincing confirmation of its authorship. Isaiah is twenty-one times mentioned by name in the New Testament as the sole author of the entire prophecy. Ten of these passages declare him to be the author of the so-called "former portion" and eleven passages attribute, to the one Isaiah, the words of the "latter portion."

The Lord Jesus Himself names Isaiah as the sole author of both portions. In Matt. 13:14-16, He recognizes Isaiah as the author of the "former portion," quoting from Isaiah 6:9-10, thus:

"And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive. 'For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."

In Matt. 12:17-20, Christ names Isaiah as the author of the "latter portion," quoting from Isa. 42:1-4, thus:

"That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen ; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the gentiles. He shall not strive nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory."

The Apostle Paul also bears testimony to one authorship failing to discriminate when quoting from either portion In Acts 28:25-27 he quotes from the "former portion' in Isa. 6:9-10 thus:

"And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."

Continuing in Rom. 10:16, 20 Paul quotes from the "latter portion" in Isa. 53:1 and Isa. 65:1, thus:

"But they have not obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? . . . . But to Israel He saith, All day long have I stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people."

The earnest student of God's Word can scarcer restrain a smile when he realizes that the Lord Jesus and Paul were evidently not educated in the same "university" that the "critics" were, hence their conclusions about Isaiah differed somewhat from the conclusions of these present day self-important wise-acres.

The two witnesses to the Isaiah authorship of Isaiah have spoken. Their testimony points to one inescapable conclusion. Isaiah was written by one Isaiah. The testimony of the book itself shows that one author wrote the whole book through its undeniable unity and through the presence of the book's characteristic expressions occurring in both portions. The testimony of the New Testament quotations leaves nothing more to be said. Jesus and Paul unhesitatingly declare, under inspiration, that both the "former" and the "latter" portions of the book of Isaiah were written by Isaiah. The "critics" are put to rout by the heaven-given declarations of Holy Writ. Modernism is overwhelmed by its own pet authority, — internal evidence. Satan's scheme against at least one book of the Bible is demonstrated to be an utter hoax. The Word of God is gloriously vindicated, — praise God, Isaiah wrote Isaiah.