Thanks to the wonderful folks over at Kregel Academic, I received a copy of The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 this summer. I was already working through Darrell Bock’s A Theology of Luke and Acts at the time, so I was excited to learn that Bock had co-edited this book, and contributed an essay on Isaiah 53 and Acts 8 as well. Needless to say, The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 has not been a disappointment.
Written with a very specific purpose in mind, Bock, Glaser and the other contributors have put together an excellent source for anyone seeking to share the Gospel with Jewish folks, or for Jews who might be seeking some more information on this “Jesus” fellow. The book is separated into three parts (a substantial section of which is focused on Isaiah 53’s influence on the New Testament), and there are some solid resources in the appendices as well. While each chapter is a separate essay, they work in tandem to create a quite complete view of Isaiah 53. As a result of the fine-tuned scholarship and enthusiasm that brought this book to life, the writers have created something that not only achieves its goal, but does far more as well.
In particular, I want to take a moment and say a few things about John S. Feinberg’s essay, “Postmodern Themes from Isaiah 53.” I tend to loathe such essays, finding them anachronistic and tedious. While I would consider myself a postmodern in some respects, treating this group as a subculture only creates unnecessary divisions in the community of Christ. I was surprised, then, to find that Feinberg’s essay was my favorite of the book. Specifically, I appreciated his “narrative” exposition. Isaiah has always proven a difficult book for me to engage with, and the presentation of the greater story being told has shed some light in my mind where darkness was shrouding the text (I have already written elsewhere about my thoughts on freedom and liberty, which was probably the other truly excellent portion of Feinberg’s essay). As a teacher, this is probably the chapter that will most assist me in future classes, and for that I am grateful.
While some may take issue with the Evangelical aspect of The Gospel According to Isaiah 53, to do so would miss the point, I think. As Bock makes clear in his conclusion, this a book aimed towards hope. Such a mission does not know denominational boundaries. I felt throughout each essay, the author never crammed a perspective down the reader’s throat nor did they demean other viewpoints. This is a work that is seasoned with grace, and I commend such an effort.