Re: [asa] Isaiah 11:6: Wolf and Lamb

From: Murray Hogg <muzhogg@netspace.net.au>
Date: Mon Sep 15 2008 - 01:21:25 EDT

Hi David,

My personal view - which I hold rather tentatively - is that there is a huge degree of cultural accommodation involved in the eschatological imagery of Isaiah as a whole.

As such I think the idea of the lion (wolf) lying with the lamb is the sort of image one might expect from a pastoral society attempting to describe the 'perfect' world.

But just how we are to take this images is, to me, not at all clear.

Problematic is the fact that there are elements in the text which don't quite marry with a Christian notion of eschatology - for instance, Isaiah 11:23 suggests that family life will continue much as it does in the present but with the elimination of any negative aspects. Yet Jesus suggests something rather different (Matt 22:30; Mark 12:25).

There are other passages in Isaiah which I find equally obscure: for instance in Isaiah 65:20 we read;

No more shall an infant from there live but a few days,
Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days;
For the child shall die one hundred years old,
But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.
Verse 17 of the same chapter indicates this to be referring to the "new heaven and the new earth" - but whilst an end to infant mortality is surely a good thing - the above still indicates that death and sin will be part of the equation. Frankly, I simply don't know what to do with this!

Perhaps others more enlightened than I can offer a degree of clarity.

Blessings,
Murray Hogg
Pastor, East Camberwell Baptist Church, Victoria, Australia
Post-Grad Student (MTh), Australian College of Theology

David Opderbeck wrote:
> I'm curious how folks here interpret Isaiah 11, particularly the famous
> "lion shall lay with the lamb" (actually it's a "wolf," not a lion)
> passage. Here are some possibilities I've heard:
>
> -- the YEC version: this refers to a restoration of herbivorous Eden
> -- the Rossian OEC version: this refers to the Millennium; either it is
> a miracle or people will manage creation in such a way as to feed the
> carnivorous animals
> -- Figurative: the lion lying with the lamb, the child reaching his
> hand into the cobra's nest, etc., are figurative expressions meaning
> that there will be peace among peoples and nations (don't remember where
> I heard this one)
> -- Accommodation (?): this is a mistaken reference to an herbivorous
> Eden and is an accommodation.
>
> It seems to me that this is a place where an accommodation hermeneutic
> breaks down. I'd like to argue that this is a figurative passage
> referring to peace among peoples and nations. However, in his Isaiah
> commentary, J.A. Moyter says this passage is indeed a reference to
> Eden. (Not sure of Moyter's view of Eden as literal or not.) Yet, if
> the reference to Eden is an accommodation, why isn't the reference to
> the peace of the eschaton not an accommodation? What reason do we have
> to hope for peace? Anyone know of commentators who understand this as a
> general literary reference to future peace, a cultural metaphor, rather
> than as literal wolves and lambs resting together?
>
> --
> David W. Opderbeck
> Associate Professor of Law
> Seton Hall University Law School
> Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

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Received on Mon Sep 15 01:21:39 2008

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