"Great Catch of Fish," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Isaiah 6:1-8 Commentary
by J. Clinton McCann
It has long puzzled interpreters that the apparent call of Isaiah is not recounted until chapter 6.
Indeed, many interpreters conclude that Isaiah 6:1-8 represents not Isaiah's call, but rather something like a renewal-of-call experience or a re-commissioning for a new situation that was precipitated by the death of King Uzziah in 742 BCE (or 736, according to some historians).
Certainty is impossible; but, in any case, the present canonical arrangement certainly helps the reader appreciate Isaiah's confession that he lives "among a people of unclean lips" (verse 5), since chapters 1-5 offer a detailed and stinging indictment of the people of Judah and their leaders. These chapters may also help the reader appreciate why Isaiah also confesses that he himself is "a man of unclean lips" (verse 5) -- that is, if nothing else, he would have incurred guilt by association!
Of course, there is something else. In particular, there is the overwhelming experience described in verses 1-4. Isaiah says that he "saw the Lord" (verse 1). In some traditions, to see God is to die (see Exodus 33:20, although ...
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2019-20 Worship resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
Narrative Lectionary 054: Isaiah
November 18, 2012
Join Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Kathryn Schifferdecker, and Craig Koester for "I Love to Tell the Story," a weekly conversation on the narrative lectionary. This week's readings are: Isaiah 6:1-8, and Luke 5:8-10.