The Ethical Teaching of the Prophet Isaiah

It is a remarkable historical fact that in 800BC the prophet Isaiah had developed a keen sense of ethics directed at the lay, political and religious life of his contemporaries in the nation of Israel.  He predates the Greek Presocratic philosophers by at least 200 years.  He was a radical reformer, dramatist and fearless advocate of social, political and cultic purity.  The current book of Isaiah reflects both his own writings and those of the school he founded.  It is sometimes considered to have three parts – a historical section in the centre of the book concerning King Hezekiah, also found in the deuterocanonical writings, divides the two main sections.  It must be said there are still those conservative scholars who argue for the book as entirely the personal work of Isaiah as the version found with the great archaeological find of the Dead Sea Scrolls contained the book in its entirety.  However, whatever the human history of the book, it clearly divides thematically into three sections.

This was a short undergraduate essay (1500 words only) which is notable for its extensive citations and strong structure.  My previous essay for this lecturer was the lowest mark I ever received for a piece of work (35%), it is the only piece you will not find on this blog.  I learnt that if you get given a reading list by a lecturer you had better read it, even if you argue against what you read!  It was also ironic that he became my Master’s supervisor some 10 years later and we could laugh about it.

You can read a PDF here.

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