Isaiah 40:1, Second Isaiah

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

//The book of Isaiah is made up of two parts: Chapters 1-39 prophesy doom upon Judah and upon any nation which opposes God. Then, chapter 40 begins a new theme, opening with today’s verse. The second half of Isaiah promises a renewed nation of Israel where God will again dwell with his people, a beautiful and glorious dream of a new kingdom.

Scholars are nearly unanimous in asserting that “Second Isaiah” was written by another author a couple hundred years later. Perhaps there were two additional authors; evidence seems to point to a “third Isaiah” as well. These later writings were then combined with the “authentic” Isaiah.

Why would anyone do this? Were these later authors trying to be deceptive, passing their additions off as original?

Probably not. It simply has to do with the size of the scrolls the stories were recorded on. A papyrus scroll, made from an Egyptian plant, could be about 35 feet long, rolled up for ease of transport.

A quick glance at the writings of the prophets will indicate that they fall neatly into four sections, all about the size of a single scroll:

[1] Jeremiah

[2] Ezekiel

[3] The twelve minor prophets

[4] The books of Isaiah

No deception involved; just convenience. The writings were combined where they would fit on a single scroll. In time, the books of Isaiah came to be considered a single document.

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