"Psalm 23," 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: A Child Is Born
Isaiah 9:1-7 Commentary
by Christopher B. Hays
When a scripture passage begins with “But,”1 that’s probably a hint to question the lectionary selection.
And indeed, it is better to read this passage with Isaiah 8:16-22. Even with the proper literary context, this passage has proven difficult to interpreters. The ancient translations varied widely in their understandings of what the author was trying to say, and modern commentators disagree about the historical context. One scholar called it “perhaps the most enigmatic ... in the entire book of Isaiah.”2 Nevertheless, what emerges is a stark contrast between a life of misery, darkness, and uncertainty under the influence of necromantic divination and a life of riches, freedom, and triumph under the rule of a righteous king.
Necromancy is perhaps not the leading temptation for Western audiences in the 21st century, although we’re apparently still buying Ouija boards. And in a slightly broader perspective, the popularity of ancestor veneration in Asian cultures, and the Mexican Day of the Dead indicate that this is not entirely an antiquarian concern. (These phenomena are ...
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Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL291: Isaiah: A Child Is Born
November 19, 2017
This is the podcast for Isaiah 9:1-7, the Narrative Lectionary reading for Nov. 19, 2017, featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Kathryn Schifferdecker, and Craig Koester. Podcast recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.