In an article in VT from 1993, Jerome Walsh analyzes the strructure of Isaiah 41:8-9 as follows:
A’. My servant
B’. You whom I have chosen
C. Seed of my beloved Abraham
C’. You whom I have held firm and called.
But then he notes that the cycle starts over: “the text has seduced us” (p. 361).
A”. You are my servant
B”. I have chosen you
C”. and have not rejected you.
He offers this commentary on the structure: ‘‘The effect of this textual seduction is double vision. We first read ‘my beloved’ in apposition to ‘seed of Abraham’; we are the seed, we are the beloved. Only later do we discover the second reading: Abraham is the beloved (note the triple alliteration that unifies the phrase Abraham ^ohabì). The second reading does not cancel the first, but transforms it: our friendship with Yahweh is a reflex and continuation of Abraham’s. This double vision involves a second set of ambiguities in the verses, namely the relative clauses themselves. The content of the clauses is in each case appropriate to the patriarch named: Jacob was the chosen of the Lord; Abraham was brought from distant lands by God’s hand. But the second-person forms make it clear that the clauses refer to the addressee and not to the patriarchs. Our election is congruent with Jacob’s; our rescue from these lands where Abraham sojourned is as sure as his.”
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Saturday, June 9, 2012 at 3:35 am
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