YHWH of hosts rules on Mount Zion: literary cohesion in Isaiah 24-27
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date26/06/2020
Clardy, Hannah Elizabeth
Isaiah 24–27, the so-called "Isaiah Apocalypse," is a striking section in the book of Isaiah––from its opening depiction of cosmic upheaval, to the death of Mot, to the summoning blast of the shofar. Its heightened, almost feverish, visions of "that day" are interspersed with lyrical sections ranging from jubilant praise to anguished lament. This distinctive alternation in genre, tone, and content, often without conjunctive discourse markers, contributes to a sense of disorientation that has long plagued interpreters. This synchronic study of Isa 24–27 addresses the related problems of the text's structure and coherence. It asks how Hebrew poetry, in particular Isa 24–27, indicates literary connectedness and what effect attending to these connections has for understanding Isa 24–27. To answer these questions, the study adapts tools from text linguistics and the work of Michael Halliday and Ruqaiya Hasan to examine cohesive ties in Isa 24–27. The thesis argues that Isa 24– 27 is best understood as a series of announcements about the rule of YHWH, each followed by a different response(s). Although there is a wide variety of cohesive relations within the text, they all contribute to the dominant theme of the kingship of YHWH. Part I establishes the context for the study, beginning with a survey of existing research (Chapter 1). The survey finds that, despite growing appreciation for the literary (e.g. poetic, metaphorical, and intertextual) features of Isa 24–27, there remains considerable disagreement about the "unity" or coherence of this passage as a text in its own right. Chapter 2 introduces the project's aims, then defines and illustrates literary cohesion in a variety of prose and poetic texts. Chapter 3 proposes a macrostructure for Isa 24–27, which unfolds in three non-chronological movements. Part II analyses Isa 24–27 along literary cohesive lines, taking each of the three movements in turn. Chapter 4 deals with Movement 1 (24:1–25:5) and considers the relationship between the eschatological prophecy and responsive hymn. Chapters 5– 6 discuss Movement 2 (25:6–26:21), which similarly describes the nature of YHWH's rule. However, the response within this movement incorporates lament concerning an apparent disparity between the prophetic word and the community's experience. Chapter 7 traces cohesion across the final movement (27:1–13) and argues that, despite its use of several different metaphors, it unfolds similarly to the previous movements (announcement–response). This final response is neither song nor lament, but a theological argument for the community's difficulties. Part III synthesises the findings of the study and examines more closely the major themes of Isa 24–27 and their relationship with the book of Isaiah. Although each movement contains unique elements and distinct imagery (e.g. dimmed luminaries in Movement 1, birth imagery in Movement 2, and slain Leviathan in Movement 3), the composition is nonetheless united by a number of cohesive ties that span the whole passage. Chapter 8 explores the significance of the major cohesive ties of Isa 24–27: temporal perspective; the unnamed cities; death, life, and new creation; and the rule of YHWH. The thesis concludes with implications of the study (Chapter 9). Although the structure and unifying principles of Isa 24–27 are not consistent with modern literary ideals (e.g. chronology or syllogism), this discourse nonetheless expresses a coherent structure and semantic unity in its claim that YHWH rules the cosmos from Mount Zion and will one day create the world anew.