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The Isaiah 1-39: Chapters 1-39 (The new international commentary on the Old Testament) Hardcover – 31 Dec 1996


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 759 pages
  • Publisher: William B Eerdmans Publishing Co (31 Dec. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080282529X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802825292
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.4 x 4.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 201,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Of all the books in the OT, Isaiah is perhaps the richest. Read the first page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Pollin on 9 Feb. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Oswalt has presented to the theological world an excellent commentary on the book of Isaiah, it has not been rushed and one can sense hours of hard work being poured into this labour. I highly recommended this book alongside Youngs 3 vol commentary, if you want to go deeper into Isaiah buy these two commentary's and Youngs!
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Format: Hardcover
This really is an excellent commentary on Isaiah. I use this when I was studying Isaiah at WEST (a fine theological establishment) and I could see why it was one of the core texts. It is very thorough in contextualising each part of Isaiah, so that you are aware of just where you are in the book and exactly what you're dealing with in terms of text (whether it is historical, poetic or / and prophetic). As such this is very useful. The other strengths is that this is a very academic work dealing with all the technical and translational difficulties within the text and very usefully providing Oswalt's own translation of the text. This, coupled with the fact that it is written in a very straightforward and easy to understand style, steering clear of too much theological jargon, makes this a commentary that should be on any serious Bible scholars or preachers bookshelf. If you are looking to get a couple of commentaries on Isaiah, this should definitely be one of the academic ones and 'God delivers' which is found EP's Welwyn series would be a good choice as it will give you a good overview of the various passages.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Best evangelical commentary on Isaiah 18 Sept. 2004
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed Oswalt's commentary on Isaiah 1-39 while leading a Bible study on it. It's the most comprehensive conservative evangelical commentary, much better than its predecessor in the series by E.J. Young. I share more theologically with Young and Alec Motyer's commentary, but Oswalt is balanced most of the time and presents so much more information that I wouldn't want to use either of the others without his.

Some mainstream commentators complain that Oswalt doesn't interact enough with contemporary Isaiah scholarship. His introduction argues for Isaian authorship of the whole book, with stronger arguments for the unity of the book than for Isaian authorship. The general argument for the orthodox position among scholars is circular in addition to assuming naturalism, so I agree with Oswalt's conclusion. I appreciate his arguments for this view, but his critics are right that he hasn't comprehensively dealt with everything the other side says. His introduction could have spent more time on such things.

In the commentary proper, he sometimes refers to others' views on authorship, and he might give quick versions of his arguments against them, but it would get too annoying to do too much of this. I can understand why he decided to make this a commentary on Isaiah rather than a comprehensive reply to modern scholarship.

Theologically speaking, Oswalt is Wesleyan, which sometimes makes a difference. He studiously avoids recognizing that chapter 10 assumes compatibilism about the responsibility of the King of Assyria for his actions and complete divine control over those very actions. On chapter 29, he acts as if Reformed thought doesn't allow the doctrine of common grace, something Reformed thinkers developed. He seems to misunderstand predestination itself, acting as if Reformed thought means that people don't endorse their own actions or believe their own beliefs for reasons within their own minds. That's not even close to Reformed theology but rather a perversion of it, but his argument against Reformed interpretations of these passages assumes that Reformed thinkers treat human beings as robots who don't make choices based on their own beliefs and desires. It's as if he thinks Reformed thought involves God forcing people to do things against their wills. This only cropped up in a few places, though, and the majority of the commentary was theologically reflective, with some concern for transferring the theology of Isaiah to our current circumstances.

Brevard Childs's commentary is less willing to see Isaiah behind as much of the book but is theologically reflective and concerned to interpret the book in its final form, though he disagrees with Oswalt on the formation of the book. Blenkinsopp and Wildberger are much more detailed but less helpful for theology or explaining the flow of the text. John Watts does better at the latter but develops idiosyncratic views in his second volume on 40-66 and isn't as well received by scholars of any persuasion. I highly recommend the longer of Motyer's two IVP volumes (which has the best treatment of the "virgin/young woman will conceive" passage I've seen but is also theologically helpful and much more concerned with the structure of the book and each passage than Oswalt is), and for a very brief exposition through the entire book, I recommend Barry Webb. I wouldn't want to use any of these without Oswalt, though.
56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
Breathtaking! 8 April 2001
By Michael Crary - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Basically, ditto my review of volume two...
Having just completed my study of the book of Isaiah, I have to say that I am a little shell-shocked. The depth and breadth of Isaiah's vision is breathtaking, and he is a master in communicating that vision. Much of this is evident even to a layperson like myself, but I cannot overstate the value of a commentary such as this to assist in grasping the extended themes of judgment of the faithless, redemption of the faithful, a promised Messiah, the incomparable faithfulness and glory of the living God, etc.. or how their historical significance has application to my life today.
I worked through two commentaries in my study - Edward Young's three volume set (the original NICOT offering) and Oswalt's two volume set. Without going too far into comparing them, I will say that I found Oswalt's volume to be considerably more accessible to the layperson while still impressively scholarly in tackling the textual controversies which are rife in Isaiah scholarship.
Oswalt's commentary lies in the evangelical tradition of Biblical scholarship, which means that he accepts the scriptural and traditional testimony of Isaianic authorship for the complete book, and also that his interpretation falls within the historical Christian paradigm.
He is generous in drawing from liberal and conservative studies together for interpretation of the text while at the same time very penetrating in his analysis and criticism of the a priori arguments raised by liberals in rejection of Isaiah's authorship of the whole book.
But I found most valuable the heightened vision of God and his glorious Messiah, along with the challenge to myself to seek to live a godly life before him which Oswalt has imparted to me through this commentary. I heartily recommend this commentary to all who want to understand the book of Isaiah, the Bible, and above all, their relationship to the living God.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Excellent For A Pastoral Library 3 Oct. 2007
By David A. Bielby - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This commentary has more than enough for a typical pastor who is exegeting Isaiah for a sermon series. He recognizes that visions ought not be interpreted literally all the way through, and also seems solid on the author issue, yet intelligently interacts with the other views in his extended introduction. I found more material than I care to read on the theories of how Isaiah was written. I found his conclusions convincing and I agree with his rejection of multiple authors on the basis of no ancient evidence at all. (That was only part of his argument).

The commentary itself lends itself to be a preaching aid for Pastors/Bible Teachers. There is plenty of meat there for anyone who desires to study. For example, in Isaiah 4:4 the term 'daughters of Zion' is used. At one point some scribes adjusted the phrase because of the implications for men if only the daughters of Zion are blessed. However, Oswalt points out that if we interpret this symbolically as a reference to all of Jerusalem, then there is no problem with seeing the blessing coming on both men and women. The over zealous literalists don't have an answer for that which makes sense. Oswalt has excellent information throughout this commentary.

I also recommend John Walton's Bible Background Commentary of the OT as a supplement to this. Another great commentary is Motyer on Isaiah.

Here is my review on the other volume for your convenience.
This review focuses on Volume 2 on Isaiah for the NICOT series. I'm a preacher and full time pastor who uses commentaries in my sermon preparation. I've found that this commentary is very helpful on a number of points. It provides a wealth of relevant resources that I've typically not found in other commentaries (I'll illustrate that in a moment). He deals with the Hebrew exegetical ideas and source issues without spending a lot of time (no bogging down in minutia as some have a tendency to do). His footnotes do contain the minutia on textual issues that some require or desire. Yet in the main text of his commentary he deals with crucial textual issues if they affect the exegetical outcome. That's helpful, especially his pithy summaries of the various views. Summaries are well done in this commentary.

The second volume has over 700 pages of information on Isaiah 40-66.

Since it may be the greatest passage in Isaiah, let me zoom in on how he handles the fourth Servant song. (Isaiah 52:13 to 53:3). For this section he gives 37 pages of information. He breaks the passage down into the following outline:

a. Astonishment and Rejection (52:13-53:3)
b. Punished for others (53:4-6)
c. Unjustly punished (53:7-9)
d. Many made righteous (53:10-12)

He provides his own unique translation for each one.

In section a. Astonishment and Rejection 52:13-53:3 Oswalt prefers the translation in 52:15 of the Hebrew 'Yazzeh' [sprinkle] to be interpreted as 'startle' because of the parallelism meaning. He also interacts with a variety of other opinions, including a footnote on 52:14 that introduces some technical points about protasis and apodasis as support for his position. They really do make the most sense of all the options (imo).

I was convinced by his points. For application ideas, see Oswalt's NIVAC on Isaiah. In that volume, which I also own, he draws out practical application to Philippians 2:5-11 as he discusses the idea of sacrificing for others. Then he draws out contemporary significance to this passage in his NIVAC by focusing on Accepting the offering by an appropriate response to what Jesus has done for us. He has many preachable points in this section.

Overall, Oswalt has written a worthy commentary that I believe is an excellent addition to every pastor's library. I also have found Alec Motyer's commentary on Isaiah to be very helpful, especially for a quick evaluation of literary style and outline ideas.

Oswalt's NIVAC commentary won the Gold Medallion Award. I think this commentary I am reviewing here, the NICOT, is worthy of an award. It's that good.

Back to the passage I was using to illustrate Oswalt's NICOT Vol 2 with.
At the end of his commentary on Isaiah 52:13-53:12, he has an Excursus.
Actually it is a select bibliography on the passage. However, the bibliography is organized into categories:

The Identity of the Servant
New Testament and Early Christian Interpretation
Jewish Interpretation
Exegetical and Theological Studies

Although several of the bibliographical entries are obviously in German, and useless to most of us, most of them are in English.

Here is my note on the first volume of this series.
This commentary has more than enough for a typical pastor who is exegeting Isaiah for a sermon series. He recognizes that visions ought not be interpreted literally all the way through, and also seems solid on the author issue, yet intelligently interacts with the other views in his extended introduction. I found more material than I care to read on the theories of how Isaiah was written. I found his conclusions convincing and I agree with his rejection of multiple authors on the basis of no ancient evidence at all. (That was only part of his argument).
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
What a great commentary 28 April 2006
By Carl A. Dixon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I have read through both volumes of Oswalt's commentary on Isaiah. This is my favorite commentary on this great prophetic book. I also like Motyer on Isaiah but Oswalt refers to his commentary and has much more detail. Anyone can read this commentary but even those who are true scholars will be thrilled by Oswalts conservative handling of Isaiah. He deals with many different views so this would be worth purchasing if you could only have one thorough commentary on Isaiah. If you are not into reading such detail Oswalt has also written a shorter book in the NIV Application Commentary series. I have read most of that series and Oswalts Isaiah is the best one yet!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
As good as it gets 1 Aug. 2012
By Narrowminded1 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Oswalt makes a very difficult section of Isaiah very understandable and relevant to 21st century readers. His thematic structure of the first part of Isaiah makes it so. First, he does an excellent job throughout in demonstrating the theological unity of the entire book of Isaiah. He contributes the differences in the latter chapters to perhaps different uses of scribes or even different times of writing for Isaiah. Oswalt describes the entire book as a unified anthology of the prophet, and he does an exceptional job in disputing those who try to divide the book up into 2 or more authors.

The use of messianic prophecies, specifically in chapters 7 & 9 is difficult in Isaiah's original time and audience. Originally, Hezekiah (or others) might have been in mind, but this would be contingent on the outcome. From a New Covenant perspective, we now understand Christ as the ultimate fulfillment of these prophecies. The themes throughout most of the first 39 chapters have to do with trusting in Yahweh or trusting in political alliances (specifically with pagan nations). This theme is redundant and Oswalt does as good a job as possible on commenting on these themes. That being said, that theme is still relevant today, as even many Christians are more concerned about the Kingdom of Man (politics) than carrying out the Kingdom of God--especially in America and the Western world. Social justice is also a important theme in Isaiah, and the lack thereof would bring God's justice into play as God's people abandoned the Torah and the will of God to pursue political security through alliances with nations who would eventually destroy them, particularly Assyria and Babylon.

Of all of the Commentaries on Isaiah, this one is probably the most readable and reliant in terms of historical, theological, and grammatical concerns combined!
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