I’m preparing for an Advent message series on the O Antiphons, songs sung about the coming of King Jesus at Advent and Christmas. And (of course) I’m digging into commentaries on Isaiah. Of particular fascination for me has been John F.A. Sawyer’s The Fifth Gospel: Isaiah in the History of Christianity. While reading this work today, I came across a brilliant piece of writing by Isidore of Seville, wherein he tells the story of Jesus using the words of Isaiah. Read with me:
Behold a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son (7:14 LXX, Vg), a rod out of the stem of Jesse (11:1). His name shall be called ‘Immanuel’ (7:14), wonderful counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace’ (g:6), Key of David (22:22), the Christ (45:1 LXX, Vg). To us a child is born (9:6). The ox knows its owner and the ass its master’s crib (1:3). The gentiles will come to your light and the kings to your rising …. They shall bring gold and incense (60:6). The idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence (19:1). Behold my servant … in whom my soul delights (42:1). The spirit of the Lord will rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding (11:2). By the way of the sea, beyond Jordan and Galilee of the nations (9:1), the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…. (61:1). Surely he has taken our infirmities and borne our sicknesses (53:4). Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened… then shall the lame man leap like a hart (35:5-6). The glory of the Lord is risen upon you (60.1). He shall be a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation (28.16), but also a stone of offence and a rock of stumbling to both the houses of Israel (8:14). He said, Go and tell this people, Hear indeed, but understand not…’ (6:9).
“I will weep bitterly… because of the destruction of the daughter of my people (that is, Jerusalem 22:4). Say to the daughter of Zion, Your savior comes (62:11 LXX, Vg). My house will be called a house of prayer for all people (56.7). My servants shall eat but you shall be hungry, my servants shall drink but you shall be thirsty… (65:13). To everyone that thirsts, come to the waters… (55:1). He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter (53:7). The government (that is, the cross bearing the inscription ‘King of the Jews’ on it) shall be upon his shoulder (9:6), and there shall come up briars and thorns (5:6). I gave my back to the smiters and my cheeks to those that pluck out the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting (50:6). He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities (53:5). From the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness, but bruises and sores and bleeding wounds (1:6). He was numbered between the transgressors… and made intercession for the transgressors (53:12). They made his grave … with a rich man (53:9). His tomb will be glorious (wH10 Vg). Now I will arise, says the Lord, now I will lift myself up, now I will be exalted (33.10). Then shall your light break forth like the dawn (58:8). Seek the Lord while he may be found (55:6). Behold my servant shall understand, he shall be exalted and lifted up (52:13 LXX, Vg); he shall be high and lifted up (6:1). I will set a sign among them…. I will send survivors to the nations, to the sea, to Africa and Lydia, to Italy and Greece, to islands afar off, to those who have not heard about me and have not seen my glory; and they will proclaim my glory to the nations (66:19).
That’s pretty impressive.
And it underscore’s Sawyer’s point (which itself echoes Jerome): Isaiah has been used as the fifth gospel of Christianity as we tell the story about Jesus.
Citation Information: Isidore of Seville, Ysaye Testimonia de Christo Domino, PL Suppl. 4, cols. 1821-39, translated John F.A. Sawyer, The Fifth Gospel: Isaiah in the History of Christianity (Cambridge: CUP, 1996), 49-50.