The Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53

'He was despised and rejected by others;
A man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
And as one from whom others hide their faces
He was despised and we held him of no account.
Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases;
Yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
Crushed for our iniquities;
Upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
And by his bruises we are healed.
We all like sheep have gone astray;
We have all turned to our own way,
And the Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
Yet he did not open his mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
And like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
So he did not open his mouth'
(Isaiah 53: 3 - 7).

There are four Servant Songs in Isaiah that describe the service, suffering and exaltation of the Servant of the Lord (Is 42: 1-4; 49: 1-6; 50: 4-7; 52:13 - 53: 12).

The Ethiopian eunuch asks Philip to whom the Servant Songs of Isaiah refer? (Acts 8: 34).

Are they about Isaiah himself, or are they the personification of Israel or are they a prophecy about Christ?

Is this perhaps a 'moving text' to which all 3 interpretations apply?


  • What do you think, Rublev? Lots of questions addressed to us, but next to no input from you on the topic. People here like to discuss things. Not have their brains picked. You have covered many texts but there has not been much feedback, possibly because you are not provoking any discussion which is usually regarded as a two way thing
  • This is bugging me too. Normally I'd be all over textual stuff in Kerygmania, but not when it feels like someone's raised the topic solely so they can preach to me on it (and have no real interest in hearing ideas from others).
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I am interested in the idea that Bible passages can be seen as a 'moving text' or an ongoing revelation. So for example, the nativity stories have collected a host of Christmas traditions around them. But it doesn't take away from their original significance. Other Bible texts have been completely reinterpreted such as the injunction that women in the church are not permitted to teach (1 Tim 2: 12) because they are seen as being cultural contextualisations which are not in keeping with the whole of the Biblical message. The Servant Songs of Isaiah are another set of texts that are interesting to explore because their interpretation has changed over time.
  • But you still aren't telling us anything of what YOU think about the Servant Songs specifically. You've just told us that you think interpretations change. But what is YOUR interpretation, and why? Give us something to react against/in favor of, rather than just setting a topic for the good little students to make of it what they can. Please. Because seriously, I would dearly love to see real activity in Kerygmania, which tends to be rather quiet.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Minimally the suffering servant is Israel, not Isaiah. And Jesus validly arrogated it to Himself. Again, like Lamb Chopped's Zechariah quote, it is so peerlessly, transcendently beautiful it speaks of, reveals the ineffable Spirit behind the veil of humanity.
  • MamacitaMamacita Shipmate

    Rublev, you are rather new to the Ship, and we're pretty indulgent around here while we let folks get their sea-legs. But I urge you to read, mark, and inwardly digest what your fellow shipmates are saying to you here. I am certain (since I've known them for a very long time) that their comments on your posting style are offered with good intent.

    Clearly you have much you'd like to discuss, but, for heaven's sake, you're starting an average of three threads per day. Why not concentrate on one of your own threads at a time and actively join in some other discussions as well? You have all the makings of a solid contributor to Kerygmania, but be careful of swamping the boards.

    Also, as some have pointed out here, your opening posts read more like a professor giving an essay exam. You set out a text, ask a question, and tell people to provide their analysis of it. If you have thoughts on a text, let us know up front so that we can engage with you more directly.

    Mamacita, Keryg Host
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    edited March 2019
    I’m getting the same feeling too, which is a pity because I value Keryg and enjoy participating - I just find I’m uneasy about the OPs atm.

    I can cope with a fairly open ended OP up to a point (I.e. not every time) provided the OPer then engages in the discussion.
  • MamacitaMamacita Shipmate
    Also (still Hosting):
    I beseech everyone to provide a link for any and all biblical references. This is protocol for the Ship and it's being considerate to anyone reading your post.

    See that little chain thingy above your post? That plugs in the code to provide a link (unless you're using your phone). You can practice on the UBB Practice Thread in the Styx.

    Thanks for your cooperation.

    Mamacita, Keryg Host

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