The Servant Songs

Next week, on Wednesday, we’ll be reading some sections of II and III Isaiah.  In addition to the selections indicated, please read Harold Bloom on the Suffering Servant.  This is a section from his book, Jesus and Yahweh:  The Names Divine.  After reading, consider some of the following questions and discussion points.

Isaiah 42, 49, 50, and 53 are widely-known sections of poetry, known as the Servant Songs. There has been a great deal of controversy and interpretative claims attributed to these sections. They have been appropriated by the Christian tradition, yet they, along with other sections in Isaiah, are among the most powerful sections of OT poetry.

What are the ways that the Servant Songs have been interpreted?

What is the challenge of reading poetry like the Servant Songs in the context of the New Testament?  Why is this a challenge?

What does the figure of the Servant represent?

How does Harold Bloom use the most famous Servant Song (Isaiah 53) to elucidate his theory of poetic misreading?

What function(s) does the Messiah figure hold in the context of Isaiah?

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About Andrew Battista

Andrew Battista is Librarian for Geospatial Information Systems at New York University
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