The Return of YHWH : The Tension between Deliverance and Repentance in Isaiah 40-55
Sammanfattning: The theology of Isaiah 40-55 has two seemingly contradictory aspects: the tension between the consolatory message of deliverance, and the harsh tone of accusation. In this part of the Book of Isaiah, YHWH's return to his people is demonstrated through the accumulation of declarations about YHWH's ability and his will to deliver the Israelites from the exile. At the same time, the Israelites are exhorted to return to YHWH, who is the only God for them. This raises the following questions: What is the essence of the repentance called for, and why is repentance required, once the deliverance has been carried out? Analysing these and related questions, this study arrives at a new understanding of that tension. It is argued that such tension does not necessarily disclose a different authorship, but that it expresses the basic nature of the relationship between YHWH and the Israelites, in which the actions of YHWH and the actions of the people stand in a relationship of interdependence. This implies that repentance is not a condition for deliverance, nor does deliverance condition repentance, but both these actions condition the reestablishment of the relationship between YHWH and the Israelites. It is further argued that such an understanding of the interaction of the actions was vital for the shaping of the identity of both the exiled and the non-exiled Israelite communities in the latter part of the sixth century BCE. The five main chapters of this book include a brief survey of the scholarly discussion of the prophetic call to repentance in general and of the idea of sin and repentance in Isaiah 40-55 in particular (chapter 1), an analysis of those texts in Isaiah 40-55 which, on the one hand express accusations against the Israelites, and, on the other, call for the repentance of the people (chapter 2), an investigation of the texts about the fabrication of idols together with the texts that present YHWH's dispute with the nations (chapter 3), a survey of the ideas of repentance and transformation in the Books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel (chapter 4), and a discussion of the central concepts considered, i.e. a discussion of the implications of the theology of interaction between YHWH and the Israelites, with a concluding reference to the importance of this theology for the socio-political and religious life of the Israelites in the aftermath of the Babylonian exile (chapter 5).
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