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Bible Study Isaiah Was Written By Just One Man

Who wrote the Book of Isaiah?

  • Isaiah, Son of Amoz

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  • Isaiah, Deutero-Isaiah, and Trito-Isaiah

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The traditional view is that the Book of Isaiah was written by a prophet, Isaiah son of Amoz, sometime between 739 and 681 B.C. Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah. Higher critics believe that Isaiah whose history we know was only the author of the first thirty nine chapters. They believe that another individual wrote Chapters 40-55 towards the end of the Exile, and yet another writer wrote the last ten chapters after the Exile.

Because this view is prevalent in quasi-intellectual circles, most just accept it. Yet the unbiased reader, when beginning at Chapter one and reader all the way through to the end of Chapter 66, finds no indication that the Book was written by more than one individual. Why then do the Higher Critics assume that it was?

Such an assumption is based entirely on their belief that there is no such thing as predictive prophecy. Certain prophecies do exist in the first thirty-nine chapters (i.e. The Oracle against Babylon (Isaiah 13-14) or the prophecy concerning the Apocalypse (Isaiah 24-27), it become impossible for the Higher Critic, because of his predetermined bias, to accept that Isaiah could have written in detail about events that would take place hundreds of years later. Hence, a second author is assumed to have written the chapters where such events take place. And a third author is deemed necessary, for he needs to have written about events that take place after the Exile.

So the denigration of a Sacred Book begins with the presupposition that predictive prophecy cannot occur. Now if the Higher Critic were to state such a belief in such clear terms at the beginning of an argument, few sincere believers would buy into his claim that there was more than one author. So they look for more evidence.

They claim that there is a substantial difference in style between Chapters 1-39 and between Chapters 40-66. Actually certain differences can not be explained by simply by attributing each difference to a different author. (Plus, these differences were not the first piece of evidence they suggested; it was the fact that different authors were needed to reduce different prophecies to historical recounts).

Some conservative scholars have been advancing the belief that the first section of Isaiah speaks of Israel and Judah's unfaithfulness, the threat of an Assyrian invasion, and the nations dependence on military 'allies' rather than on God. These scholars believe such information merely paves the way for the prophecies found later. For Chapters 40-66 speak of an invasion, and of the spiritual decline that led to such. Any differences in style or wording are non-existent, and while there is a difference in the subject and matters discussed, this can hardly indicate duo-authorship.

In fact there are some note-worthy similarities between Isaiah 1-39 and 40-66. The term 'Holy One of Israel' occurs fourteen times in the first thirty nine chapters (Isaiah 1:4, 5:19,24, 10:17,20, 12:6, 17:7, 29:19,23, 30:11,12,15, 31:1 and 37:23), while it occurs as many times between Chapters 40-66 (Isaiah 40:25, 41:14,16,20, 43:3,14,15, 45:11, 47:4, 48:17, 49:7, 54:5, 55:5, and 60:9,14). While this hardly constitutes as conclusive evidence for single authorship, the burden of proof remains on the Higher critic to show why the traditional view is mistaken. I have shown a detail supporting the similarity of the document. Higher critics speak much of the differences, but are in short supply of details.
We also find similar phrases like 'your hands are covered with blood,'
(Isaiah 1:15) and 'your hands are stained with blood,' (Isaiah 59:3) or 'a crown of glory and a diadem of splendor,' (Isaiah 28:5) and 'a crown of splendor...a princely diadem.' (Isaiah 62:3).

Isaiah is the largest Old Testament book of prophecy. The New Testament refers to it often. This also includes references to Isaiah 40-66 which the Higher Critic assumes to be written by another author or two.

Consider Luke 4:17 which says 'they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.' Jesus then reads from it, and what he reads from is Isaiah 61:1-2. Jesus does not question the authorship of Isaiah. John 12:38 quotes from Isaiah 53:1 claiming that they were the 'words of the prophet Isaiah.' Mathew 3:3 refers the time when 'the prophet Isaiah spoke,' while John 1:23 cites John the Baptizer as claiming 'I am, as Isaiah prophesied,' and Mark 1:2 states 'It is written in the Book of Isaiah.' These three writers are referencing Isaiah 40:3 and all give credit to Isaiah for authorship. Yet the Higher Critic maintains that a different author wrote this. Matthew 12:17 speaks of events that 'fulfill the prophet Isaiah.' These are events that Isaiah, according to Matthew, prophesied about, and they appear not before Chapter 40 but after. (Isaiah 42). Acts 8:30 speaks of Philip hearing 'him reading the prophet Isaiah.' What part was he reading? The man was reading from Isaiah 53:7-8 and yet Philip credited Isaiah. Romans 10:16 reads 'As Isaiah says,' and then goes on to quote Isaiah 53:1.

Higher critics claim that while three authors wrote Isaiah, all of their writings may be placed under the banner of the first author. This is nothing but special pleading; for the Higher Critic sees that their anti-supernatural foundation is crumbling beneath them, and there is nothing left to hold on to but a few arguments unable to support any weight.
Higher Critics have taken a historical Book (previously believed to be the work of one man) and have divided it into parts written by three men. Some scholars have accepted this, and others buy into it. Yet the New Testament authors credit ‘the prophet Isaiah’. Who shall we believe: John the Baptizer, Luke, Matthew, Mark, John, Paul and Jesus or Fred G. Bratton, George Knight, and William Barclay?

I believe the divinely inspired men ( though the way the Higher Critics blindly accept the writing of their co-workers, some reader may wonder which side I am referring to as divinely inspired), and because I believe in a God who can see from beginning to end, I have no difficulty accepting that God told Isaiah about what Cyrus would do. I do not reject the supernatural and because I do not I accept the obvious: That Isaiah was written by one man.

Kelly J. Wilson

willow the wip

Yet another false gospile from the urantia book this is not a christ centered book its another religion, another bible yet diffent Jesus.

Big diffrence between urantia`s isiah and the Bibles version of Isaiah.


My reason for believing there were two Isaiahs is NOT because I dismiss prophecy... it is actually because of 'predictive prophecy' as you put it.

Professional writers in the ancient time period often had schools, pupils who learned to write in the style and in the name of an initial writer. It has been awhile since I studied the issue in school and I admit that here I am recapitulating the conclusion I came to years ago...Nevertheless, I have yet to see any sufficient reason to change it.

Ok, so Isaiah would have had his own school. The pattern that developed in antiquity was 1. The original author wrote and 2. Their students wrote pseudopigryphal material. By our standards today, we may consider this action deceitful -- but they didn't! It was accepted, and it is conceivable that if one writer was God-inspired, their students may have been as well. Afterall, it is fine and good to espouse inspiration, but who are we to limit God in how it happened?

We see this pattern in much of scripture. Moses wrote much of the Torah, but obviously a student finished the work. David wrote much of the Psalms, but his students finished the work. Isaiah wrote an initial collection of prophecies, and his students wrote a second. The entire Johanine community wrote John and Revelation. The latter Pauline epistles were written by a student of his. Writing in the name of your predecessor was not deceitful to them, it was honouring. Thus, God could have inspired not only the Biblical writers, but also the whole process of how it came to be.

In Scripture, prophecy is commonplace and it is a reflection back on inspiration. Although the issue has been exagerated in both directions, liberal and conservative, I still contend that it contains legitimate prophecy. Predictive prophecy is less apparent, by far, but it is there. However, whenever it happens, the fulfillment is immediate. Speculation as to what and what did not fulfill a prophecy is not meant to continue on. It is predicted, it happens. Samuel prophetically predicted David to be king and annointed him as such--it happened pretty soon afterwards. So on and so forth. Jesus made a lot of prophecies about Jerusalem and his own people--they all came true within that generation. The Johanine community made predictions in Revelation that were even then 'at hand'. In fact, they said to seal the book not since the events 'would soon take place'. That is how it worked.

Mary was told she would be mother of the saviour, and that happened pretty soon afterwards--not to some future 'Mary' in a future world. That was how prediction worked.

1st Isaiah and 2nd Isaiah have to be designated as such. They share a common style, because both are from the same school of thought. But there is a time-gap issue and it does no good to ignore it. The structure of the book itself, its style and differences in that style, and language used, all suggest that 2nd Isaiah was written much later than 1st Isaiah. That is how I understand its composition. Now, here is where I don't agree with liberal thought.

This is not at all to give an excuse to make the prophecies of 2nd Isaiah appear as later Christian projections. Their argument is that an early Christian wrote 2nd Isaiah and tacked it on the end of Isaiah to 'make Jesus look like the Jewish messiah'. It's a good argument if you are trying to get popular news channels to do yet another report on yet another challenge to Christianity. But this view has serious problems that would have to be overcome before I could accept it.

1. Why did the Jews canonise Isaiah if it is so obviously early Christian propaganda? And don't say they didn't know better. The Old Testament was canonised within 100 yrs after Jesus' death. If 2nd Isaiah was written by someone like Paul or Barnabas, this means that they would have lived to see their own material included. This type of thing simply did not happen back then. Perhaps the argument would hold water if the Old Testament was canonised in 1324 CE, giving it a long time to get corrupted.
2. Even Jewish scholars, like Abraham Heschel and Geza Vermes don't fall so quickly into traps of incompetant scholarship. It takes real scholarly conviction to not just agree with a view that would 'prove' your religious leaning. Especially if evidence seems to go otherwise.

I would date 2nd Isaiah a generation before Jesus. The predictions about the suffering servant found there would have been freshly known by the people at that time--and yet ignored because it didn't predict the messiah they wanted. I still hold that 2nd Isaiah predicted the true messiah.

1st Isaiah is much older, though it was probably not written down until shortly before 2nd Isaiah, by Isaiah's school of thought.

So there you have it, an evangelical defence of the two Isaiahs.


I do not accuse every Christian who rejects single authorship of Isaiah as being dismissive of predictive prophecy. The fact is though, that those who introduced the concept of duo-authorship did suggest this because they had a predetermined bias against prophecy. This was coming from the Higher Critical school of thought. Only because this thought prevails in the majority of Protestant church administrations, do sincere believers accept it.
Reasons offered later would be that there is considerable literary differences between the three sections of Isaiah. In fact this is not the case, and there is never evidence given to document this.
Moses wrote the entire Pentateuch, but someone may have wrote the final chapter, where his death is recorded. There is no evidence that anyone other than John wrote his epistles, gospel and Revelation, nor is there any that someone other than Paul composed his own epistles.
kelly j wilson


This is off-topic. I was responding to a reply, not introducing a new subject. Hence further discussion is unnecessary on this particular subject, which is discussing single, duo, or trito-authorship of Isaiah.
kelly j. wilson


An honest question...

Christianity has always grown stronger out of enduring, and answering back to, voices of opposition...

We see this all throughout church history.

Shouldn't we, therefore, be engaging 'higher criticism'? I'm NOT saying blindly accepting it. I'm saying, engaging it. If there are true points that they pick up on, we have to account for that; and if there are false points they assert, we have to come up with an answer to it other than, 'That's not what I believe'.

Honestly... what do you think?


GOD wrote the book of Isaiah!

it was spirit breathed, therefore whether written by one author, two authors, three or 33 it is of little importance, Isaiah chapter one is as much God's Word as Isaiah 51, and of equal authority!
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