FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Isaiah 64: 1 – 9
The three parts of the book of Isaiah were written by at least two authors, and probably more. “First Isaiah” (Chapters 1-39) was the advisor to kings before the loss of Judah and subsequent exile to Babylon (see II Kings 18-20). “Second Isaiah” (Chapters 40-55) was a poet living among the Babylon exiles who sang joyfully about the coming return to Judea. “Third Isaiah” (Chapters 56-66) written in Jerusalem after the return, is probably by several authors, though some scholars think it is a continuation of “Second Isaiah.”
Advent begins a new church year and a new set of lessons, Year B. As your commentator, I wipe the blackboard clean and write my comments as though you had never seen those for year A. Some of you have long known about the three Isaiahs; some of you learned about them from my comments for Year A. Please bear with me if I direct my comments in Year B to those who had no knowledge of the three Isaiahs before today.
I Corinthians 1: 3-9.
In preparation for the lessons to come, let me say a few words about the New Testament epistles. With the exception of Revelation, which is fictional, these were letters or “memoranda” written by traveling teachers of the early church—sort of traveling bishops, though the church as yet had no episcopal organization. The letters were sent to Christian groups throughout the Near East, Anatolia, Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome, sometimes in preparation for a visit, sometimes to follow one up, or sometimes to bolster the people’s faith. The communities, treasuring the letters from men they thought of as prophets, saved them and read lessons from them.
©Arthur H. Cash