Isaiah: Interpreted by Early Christian and Medieval Commentators
This book appears in the following featured collections.
- Patristic & Medieval Commentaries by Matt Quintana
The book of Isaiah was a particular favorite of early Christian authors. In its prophecies and images they saw frequent references to the coming Messiah, and they were absolutely convinced that these prophecies were unmistakably fulfilled in and through Jesus Christ. The New Testament authors recounted the story of Jesus using Isaiah as one of their primary interpretive lenses. In fact, as John Sawyer has pointed out, the early Christians saw Isaiah more as an evangelist than a prophet, and the book of Isaiah assumed a role in the preaching and teaching of the early church that was parallel to that of the New Testament Gospels (The Fifth Gospel: Isaiah in the History of Christianity [Cambridge, 1996], 1). Augustine’s Confessions also demonstrate the emphasis the early church placed on the book of Isaiah. Shortly after his conversion, Augustine sought guidance from Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, and asked what he should read in order to be made “readier and fitter to receive so great a grace” (Conf. 9.5). Augustine says that Ambrose encouraged him to read the book of Isaiah, “because more clearly than others he foretold the Gospel” (Conf. 9.5). Because of the priority placed on the book of Isaiah, it became the subject of a large number of early commentaries and was quoted frequently in early Christian apologetic texts. Among those who wrote commentaries on Isaiah are Theodoret of Cyrus (ca. 393– ca. 460), Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 260–ca. 340), Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444), Jerome (ca. [Full Review]