isaiah_1_4Another year is winding down and in addition to making secular resolutions like getting in better shape, etc. I always think it's a good time to make spiritual resolutions too. My spiritual resolutions are to try and pray more/better, read more slowly (something I struggle with), and/or dive more deeply into Scripture. There are many great books, commentaries, and Bibles that help you to study Scripture better, but sometimes books are no substitute for a DVD study program. Catholic Scripture Study International has a great number of choices, and today I am going to tell you about one of their latest - The Book of Isaiah.

The Book of Isaiah is the second-longest book in the Bible in terms of chapters at a robust 66. It is second only to Psalms, which is 150 (or 151 if you're Orthodox). I have always heard the theory that Isaiah had multiple authors, but I thought it was only three. The introduction to this study suggests that there were six authors in five different time periods. Three of the authors are referred to as Proto-Isaiah, Deutero-Isaiah, and Trito-Isaiah. The other sections of Isaiah are classified as Historical Narratives and Apocalypse. The study gives a few theories on the multiple authors, but one book. The two plausible ones are 1. the ancient custom of attaching your work to a more recognized work to lend credibility to your writing and 2. a school of thought with Isaiah as the master teacher and his students/"children" adding to his work.

The study then dives into the book of Isaiah spanning 26 lessons. The lessons are arranged by author, which for the most part leaves them in chapter order. The exceptions to this are Lesson 19: Apocalypse 24-25, Lesson 20: Isaiah Apocalypse 26-27, and Lesson 21 Isaiah 34-35. Each lesson contains an introductory section, verse-by-verse commentary, study questions, and reflections for group discussion. In the leader's guide, there is a section at the end for suggested responses to the study questions. Also included in the lessons are Catechism references to enhance the material and a section called "Rome to Home," which contains an extensive quote from a pope (past or present).

If one were to do a lesson a week with their small group, this series would take six months to complete. I know that is intimidating, but the time actually flew by for me. Working my way through this study, I learned just how important the book of Isaiah is both in understanding the Bible and in the liturgical cycle of the Church. We see so many references to the coming Messiah's birth and also his death. I admit, I skipped ahead a couple of times, just because I couldn't wait to get to specific sections. I particularly was interested in Isaiah 53, which is commonly known as the Suffering Servant. The lesson did not disappoint! If you are looking for an in-depth guide to an intimidating book of Scripture, I highly recommend this study for your small group.

Check out the other studies from TAN Books, including Doors of Mercy, which will help you through your Jubilee Year!

Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.

Copyright 2016 Stuart Dunn