Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pulpit Review: Isaiah

Lessing, Reed. Isaiah 40-55 (Concordia Commentary). St. Louis, Concordia, 2011. 737 Pages. Cloth. $49.99. www.cph.org (P)

Bock, Darrell L. and Mitch Glaser, Editors. The Gospel According to Isaiah 53: Encountering the Suffering Servant in Jewish and Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2012. 334 Pages. Paper. $27.99 (Purchased). www.kregel.com (LHP)


Each summer, I hope to encourage continued participation in Bible Class by covering an interesting topic from a fresh perspective. This year it is a study of Jesus in the Book of Isaiah.

I was extremely thankful when each of these books crossed my desk!


About This Volume:“Isaiah 40–55 contains some of the best-known, most-cherished, and theologically significant texts in the Bible. … Isaiah 40–55 provides us with the vocabulary and conceptual framework to understand the nature and purpose of the Father’s mission in and through his Son, Jesus, with the Spirit” (from the introduction).
Dr. Lessing’s scholarly expertise and decades of service as a seminary professor and pastor are evident as he meticulously expounds the text, historical setting, theology, Christology, and pastoral applications of “the fifth Gospel.” He explains why the prophet’s saving message, soaring language, and unforgettable imagery are so tightly woven into the fabric of Christian hymnody, liturgy, and prayer. Pericopes from chapters 40–55, which include the Suffering Servant Songs, permeate the lectionary throughout the church year.
About the Series:The Concordia Commentary Series: A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture is written to enable pastors and teachers of the Word to proclaim the Gospel with greater insight, clarity, and faithfulness to the divine intent of the biblical text.


This landmark work will cover all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, interpreting Scripture as a harmonious unity centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Every passage bears witness to the Good News that God has reconciled the world to Himself through our Lord's life, death, and resurrection.


The commentary fully affirms the divine inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture as it emphasizes "that which promotes Christ" in each pericope.


Authors are sensitive to the rich treasury of language, imagery, and themes found throughout Scripture, including such dialectics as Law and Gospel, sin and grace, death and new life, folly and wisdom, demon possession and the arrival of the kingdom of God in Christ. Careful attention is given to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. Further light is shed on the text from archaeology, history, and extra-biblical literature. Finally, Scripture's message is applied to the ongoing life of the church in terms of ministry, worship, proclamation of the Word, Baptism, the Lord's Supper, confession of the faith--all in joyful anticipation of the life of the world to come.


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Dr. R. Reed Lessing is Professor of Exegetical Theology and director of the graduate school at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. He studied at St. John’s College, Winfield, Kansas (B.A.), and Concordia Seminary (M. Div., S.T.M., Ph.D.). He has also served as a parish pastor.
(Publisher's website)
I am humbled at the magnitude of Professor Lessing's humble Hebrew scholarship. I was swimming along, enjoying my reading of Isaiah, and then, suddenly, I needed a lifeguard. This commentary also helped me while wrestling with the core of Isaiah and of Isaiah 40-55, Isaiah 52:13-53:12, titled, "The Servant Suffers for the Straying Sheep," covering pages 578-623.

As is standard in Concordia Commentary, the author provides his own translation, indicating parallel lines by indenting them equally (104), textual notes (exceptionally extensive in this volume), commentary, and reflections. Footnotes pepper nearly every page.

Lessing weaves in liturgy, hymnody, and Luther as appropriate. His introductory sections are as fascinating as they are faithful in confessing one author for the book of Isaiah: Isaiah. He artfully and factually defends the idea of prophecy predicting events, as opposed to the dishonest mindset of accepting a so-called "prophecy" after the fact, written to order by a supposed deutero- or trito-Isaiah.

Worth your time, money, and shelf space,  R. Reed Lessing's Isaiah 40-55 for the Concordia Commentary is a keeper. Keep the commentator in your prayers as he prepares the forthcoming volume Isaiah 56-66.


We had lost contact with the publisher Kregel for a time. We rejoice to present to you The Gospel According to Isaiah 53.



The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 presents the redemptive work of the Messiah to the Jewish community, exploring issues of atonement and redemption in light of Isaiah chapter 53. It is clear that Jesus fulfills the specifications of the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. This book has many potential uses in its presentation of the gospel for Jewish people. Pastors who study it will find unparalleled help in preparing Bible studies and sermons, so that their listeners will become better equipped to tell Jewish people about Jesus. It will be beneficial as supplemental reading for classes on Isaiah, the Prophets, and Jewish evangelism. And believers will be trained to share Isaiah 53 with Jewish friends and family.

Contributors include:

• David L. Allen • Richard E. Averbeck • Darrell L. Bock • Michael L. Brown • Robert B. Chisholm Jr. • Craig A. Evans • John S. Feinberg • Mitch Glaser • Walter C. Kaiser Jr. • Donald R. Sunukjian
(Publisher's website)
$28 for a paperback? Don't worry. It is well worth the price.  

I was surprised to learn that some Jews, even today, admit and teach that Isaiah 52-53 is about the Jewish Messiah. They deny, though, that Jesus is He. 

This book is a great reference for the whole book of Isaiah and the Hebrew Scriptures, putting this familiar Gospel text into its proper context. You will learn this pericope's potential for evangelism to the Jewish people, see all of the connections between this portion of Scripture and New Testament Scripture, delve deep in to the text's meaning and structure, and be encouraged to Tell the Good News About Jesus!


Isaiah Old Testament book most frequently read for Old Testament readings. I remember a time when we just heard the Epistle and Gospel on a regular basis. Consider a study of the Book of Isaiah at your next opportunity.


The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.