Isaiah’s Song Liturgical and Missiological Implications

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Wann Fanwar


Isaiah is one of the most studied books of the Hebrew Bible (HB). However, despite the enormous amount of attention given to Isaiah, one area of research is curiously untouched. A careful reading of the book reveals that it has much to say about ‘song’ or ‘singing’. This message is embedded in the use of three Hebrew root words: ranan, shir, and zamar. These words are used over 30 times in Isaiah and appear in both verbal and nominal forms. An examination of the three words unveils an intriguing pattern. They are prevalent in chapters 1-35 and concentrated in chapters 40-55. They are not utilised in chapters 36-39 and only rarely in chapters 5666. This pattern fits the generally recognised segments of the book and provides structural clues for the book. However, the primary paradigm that emerges has more to do with the theology of the book. The prevalence of ‘song’ in chapters 1-35, despite this segment being the ‘doom and gloom’ portion of Isaiah, is highly instructive. The concentration of ‘song’ in chapters 40-55 is also expected because of the hope motif pervading these chapters. It is fair to conclude that ‘song’ (and ‘singing’) in Isaiah has two primary functions: (1) ‘Song’ is the most appropriate way of speaking to God (liturgical implication); and (2) ‘Song’ is the most appropriate way of speaking about God (missiological implication).


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