What a powerful testament by a collection of solid scholars. With D. Bock and Mitch Glaser as the general editors, the text includes work from David Allen; Richard Averbeck; Michael Brown; Robert Chisholm Jr.; Craig Evans; Walter Kaiser Jr.; and others! That’s a powerhouse line-up, all with their eyes on one mission: explore the theology of the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.
This book is particularly geared at witnessing to the Jewish tradition, that which does not view Jesus Christ the Son of God as the Messiah that is popularly understood as being alluded to in Isaiah 53. This mission drives the authors of the book so much that there are even example sermons at the end of the book following exegetical data. Let’s take a look at the book in more detail …
The break down of the book is as follows:
PART 1: Interpretation
– Christian Interpretation of Isaiah 53
– Jewish Interpretation of Isaiah 53
PART 2: Isaiah 53 in Biblical Theology
– Identity and Mission of the ‘Servant of the Lord’
– Isaiah 53 and the Message of Salvation in the Four Gospels
– Isaiah 53 in Acts 8
– Isaiah 53 in the Letters of Peter, Paul, Hebrews, and John
– Substitutionary Atonement and Cultic Terminology
– Forgiveness and Salvation in Isaiah 53
PART 3: Isaiah 53 and Practical Theology
– Postmodern Themes from Isaiah 53
– Using Isaiah 53 in Jewish Evangelism
– Preaching Isaiah 53
*Appendix A: Expositional Sermon on Isaiah 53
*Appendix B: Dramatic-Narrative Sermon on Isaiah 53
My own thoughts on the book is that these guys nailed it. They have a passion for reaching the Jewish audience as well as equipping Christians with the background knowledge to what is may be the most compelling prophetic statement in all of Scripture. Isaiah 53 is a stumbling block for so many, but The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 provides Christians with the foundation needed to have the conversation with those who do not find Jesus Christ in the prophetic statement.
That being said, I do not see Jesus directly in the text as many authors of the text do. They come from what appears to be a very Christocentric perspective (correct me if I’m wrong). In other words, they might find it a flaw to not read Jesus Christ into the passage in place of the suffering servant. I would caution the interpretation of this text to say that Isaiah 53 points toward Christ (What is often termed “Christotelic”). In other words, and in my opinion, the original audience would not have read this and thought of God’s Son Jesus Christ as the suffering servant. We have to rest at the point before moving forward because there is a lot of application for the immediate audience before it reaches us. It also appears that the editors approach the text from dispensational presuppositions — again, not where I would land but I hold nothing against their research and am not fine-tuned enough to say where their exegesis of the text is weak. I would say that the book is worth its price for Walter Kaiser’s chapter alone. 🙂
I would highly encourage anyone who wishes to better understand the Jewish perspective and how a Christian ought to approach that perspective. You can look into it more at the following link:
Purchase The Gospel According to Isaiah 53
*This book was free with my promise to post an unbiased review.