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Why Your Church Should Talk about the Servant: A Video

On November 20th at 6:30pm, at our local mega church, Cornwall Church, I’ll be speaking about the resurrected servant prophesied 500 years before Jesus–details here. I’ll be using Isaiah 53 as a springboard to examine four general elements of Bible study. Each of these provides an ample reason why your church should talk about the servant. Examining Isaiah 53 closely teaches us about:

  1. Noting genre
  2. Identifying plot and narrative
  3. Developing a biblical theology
  4. Connecting everything to applicable principles
I’ll also be taking questions after each step live on stage. I’m hoping for some very cool technology elements, like texting in questions, to aid in this process.
So, if you’re in northwest Washington, I hope you decide to join us on Sunday night. I also hope you decide to discuss the servant in your church community, because the Bible study reasons are just the beginning. And if you decide you would like for me to come speak about it at your church or conference, just shoot me an email: johndavidbarry[at]yahoo[dot]com.

The Resurrected Servant Saved Me: A Podcast

I recently discussed how the resurrected servant saved me on Engage in Truth, the podcast of the National Day of Prayer Task Force (NDPTF)–listen here.

In the podcast, NDPTF’s chief communications officer, Michael Calhoun, and the vice chairman, John Bornschein ask me about:

  • The identity of the servant in Isaiah 53
  • Why it mattered to the ancients
  • Why it matters today
  • How I came to my conclusions in The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah
  • Why resurrection can (and should) change our perception of the Christian faith

John on Engage in Truth, Speaking about The Resurrected Servant

What do you wonder about the servant in Isaiah?

From Resurrected Servant to Resurrected Jesus

How (and why) did the resurrection of Jesus become the focal point of the early church? The answer seems obvious—it was a miracle—but it’s actually not that simple.

There were other accounts of resurrection. Check out 2 Kings 4 and John 11. So if other people had been raised from the dead, why was Jesus’ resurrection the center of what they believed?

What if Isaiah 53 is the reason that Jesus’ resurrection was such a big deal to the early church? What if their entire framework wasn’t just centered around the life and teachings of Jesus, but about what He fulfilled?

And maybe resurrection was an even bigger deal than we realize. Just run a search for it on Biblia.com and you will see what I mean. Resurrection had to do both with what happened, what was happening, and what would happen. It was the power of God on earth. It was the power of God overturning everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything. (I’ll unpack this more in a later post.)

It’s time to begin a new journey with the resurrected servant. Let’s discuss how a belief in the resurrected servant in Isaiah affected the early church, and still affects us today.

For starters, check out:

Mark 12

Romans 6

1 Corinthians 15

After you’ve read these passage, let me know what you think.

Now Shipping: The Resurrected Servant (Logos Bible Software Version)

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The Resurrected Servant on Logos.com

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(Since I’m the author of this book, I will receive a small royalty if you purchase it.)

Resurrection in the Scrolls? You Decide.

Is the servant resurrected in the Dead Sea Scrolls’ version of Isaiah 53? You be the judge.

This is the translation included in my forthcoming book with Paternoster Press and Logos Bible Software. Variants between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the traditional Hebrew Text, the Masoretic Text, are in bold.

10 Yet Yahweh was pleased to crush him and1 he made [him] sick. If she/you2 places his life a guilt offering,3 he will see his offspring and4 he will prolong days and the will of Yahweh [is] in his hand, [it] will succeed.

11 From [the] trouble5 of his life he will see light6 and7 he will be satisfied.8 And9 in his knowledge, his10 righteous servant11 shall make the many righteous and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will divide to him [a portion] among the many, and with [the] strong ones he shall divide bounty, because he exposed his life to death and was counted with transgressors, and he carried [the] sins12 of many and will intercede for their transgressions.13

What say you? Is the servant resurrected?

1 This variant is supported by 1QIsaa
2 This could be translated as a second, masculine singular or a third, feminine, singular.
3 The variants in this line are discussed in chapter three. These variants are translated in the following tables.
4 This variant is supported by 1QIsaa.
5 May be translated as “suffering.”
6 This variant is supported by 1QIsaa, 1QIsab and 4QIsad (Questionable).
7 This variant is supported by 1QIsaa and 4QIsad (Questionable).
8 May be translated as “find satisfaction.”
9 This variant is supported by 1QIsaa.
10 This variant is supported by 1QIsaa. 4QIsad reads “my servant.”
11 May also be translated as “the righteous one, my servant.”
12 This variant is supported by 1QIsab and 4QIsad.
13 This variant is supported by 1QIsaa, 1QIsab and 4QIsad.

The Crazy Greek Version of Isaiah 53

The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, has always challenged scholars. Making sense of the choices the ancient Greek translators made is difficult—to say the least. (So props to Septuagint scholars.) Isaiah 53:10–12 is no exception. Check out my translation. This is the translation in my book, The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah.

10 And [the] Lord desires to cleanse him from the blow. If you give concerning sin, your life will see a long-lived offspring. And [the] Lord wishes to take away 11 from the toil1 of his life,2 to show him light and form3 the understanding,4 to justify a righteous one [who is] serving many well, and he himself shall carry their sins.

12 Therefore, he shall inherit many,5 and he shall divide the spoils of the strong, because his life was given over to death; and he was counted among the lawless ones, and he carried the sins of many, and he was given over because of their sins.

Notes:
1 May also be translated as “toil” or “business.”
2 May also be translated as “life.”
3 May also be translated as “mold” or “fill.”
4 May also be translated as “faculty of comprehension” or “intelligence.”
5 May also be translated “he shall cause many to inherit.”

The link to The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah is an affiliate link, which means I will receive a small amount if you purchase something after clicking on it. Also, since I’m the author of the book, I will receive a royalty if you purchase it.

A New Translation of Isaiah 53:10–12 from the Hebrew

We sometimes lose meaning in translations. Here is a literal translation of the Masoretic Text of Isaiah 53:10–12. (The Masoretic Text is the traditional Hebrew text used in most synagogues. It is the text that most English translations are based upon.) Compare this translation to your English translation here, and then drop me comment to let me know what you think of my rendering of the text. This is the translation included in my book, The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah.

10 Yet Yahweh was pleased to crush him; he afflicted [him] (with sickness).1 If she/you2 places his life a guilt offering, he will see offspring, he will prolong days,3 and the will of Yahweh in his hand will succeed.

11 From the trouble of his life he will see.4 He will be satisfied.5 In his knowledge, my righteous servant6 shall make the many righteous7 and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will divide to him [a portion] among the many, and with [the] strong ones he shall divide bounty, because he exposed his life to death and was counted with transgressors, and he carried [the] sin of many and will intercede for transgressors.

Translational Notes:
1Micah 6:13 closely parallels this verse in form: “I afflicted you to crush you, making you desolate because of your sins.” Here the direct object is also not supplied, but implied.
2 This could be translated as a second, masculine singular or a third, feminine, singular.
3 This translation will be explained and justified later in this book.
4 May also be translated “he shall see from the trouble of his life,” though the poetic, grammatical and discourse structure presented in my book argues against this translation.
5 This is how the accents in the Masoretic Text suggest reading the text, but based solely on the consonants of the Masorectic Text, this line can also be understood as “He will be satisfied in his knowledge. My righteous servant shall make the many righteous and he will bear their iniquities.”
6 May also be translated as “a righteous one, my servant.”
7 The Hebrew lamed here is the lamed of specification (in reference to), and is thus left un-translated. See Ronald J. Williams, Williams’ Hebrew Syntax (3rd ed., revised and expanded by John C. Beckman; London: University of Toronto Press, 1993), 108, paragraph 273a. This clause could also be translated “My righteous servant will justify many.”

A Few Ways to Get into the Biblical Languages:
Bible Study Magazine, the magazine I edit.
Logos Bible Software, the company I work for.
– The video series, “Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew with Logos Bible Software” by two of my colleagues and produced by the company I work for.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small amount if you click on them and subsequently purchase something. Also, I am the author of The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah, which means I will receive a royalty if you purchase it. Nonetheless, I only recommend resources I personally find helpful and/or use.

Suffering Servant Rap

There are only two words for this: Love it.

I called it a rap, but it’s really spoken word. I think Isaiah 53 was meant to be read aloud, so that makes this even better. The artist is Othello. The translation is the New Living Translation (NLT).

Thanks Wayne Leman at BetterBibles.com for posting about this.

Note: The New Living Translation link is an affiliate link, which means I will make something if you click on it and then buy something. Nonetheless, I only recommend books I personally find helpful.

Murky Questions

Children are full of questions. Big kids, like me, are full of questions too. Curiosity drives me. I love questions—especially the murky kind. So much so that I wrote an entire book about one major question: Is the servant in Isaiah resurrected? And if so, what does that mean for God’s people back then, and for us now?

My search became serious after reading a book by Jon Levenson.

Jon Levenson in his 2006 book, Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel, which is primarily focused on Dan 12 and other passages in Daniel that may allude to resurrection, stated in reference to Isa 52:13–53:12 the following:

Not least among the murky questions this exceedingly enigmatic and ambiguous passage poses is the postmortem fate of the servant. For the text say[s that all of the servant’s suffering] … happened, at least in part, so that “he might see offspring” (Isa 53:10). Shall we, then, add Isa 52:13–53:12 to the small list of pre-Danielic texts that speak of the resurrection of the dead? This depends, in part, on a more basic and equally murky question, whether the servant is an individual (in which case the restoration and vindication occur after his death) or the people of Israel (in which case the offspring and long life that follow his death need not be taken as a resurrection in the later and more individualistic sense of the term). Either way, of course, the God of life triumphs dramatically over death in this passage; either way, hope survives death. (pg. 188).

In essence, Levenson leaves these “murky question[s]” to the reader by never attempting to substantiate how “the God of life triumphs … over death.”

Question: What intellectual questions are you asking, and how do they connect to your everyday life?

Excerpt taken from the first chapter of my book, The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah (forthcoming in print with Paternoster and electronically for Logos Bible Software, 2010). Pre-order the print version direct from Paternoster here or buy it on Amazon.com here. Pre-order it for Logos Bible Software here. Note: Since I am the author of this book, I will receive a royalty if you purchase it. I may also receive a small amount for you making a purchase through one of my affiliate links in this post.

Resurrection in Daniel

Isaiah 53 is not the only passage that talks about a resurrected servant. Check out these allusions to Isaiah 53 in Daniel.

Daniel 12:1–4 supports the proposal that the servant is resurrected. It uses similar language to Isa 53:10–12. “And those who are wise” in Dan 12:3 echoes the phrase “see my servant shall prosper” in Isa 52:13. Likewise, when Dan 12:3 uses the phrase “those who lead many to righteousness” it is echoing “My righteous servant shall make the many righteous” in Isa 53:11.

In Daniel, it is a corporate servant (“the many”) who is resurrected: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. Some to everlasting life and some to reproach and contempt” (Dan 12:2). There is clearly an association of the servant with resurrection here, albeit a corporate resurrection, but nonetheless a resurrected servant.

Excerpt taken from the first chapter of my book, The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah (forthcoming in print with Paternoster and electronically for Logos Bible Software, 2010). Pre-order the print version direct from Paternoster here or buy it on Amazon.com here. Pre-order it for Logos Bible Software here. Note: Since I am the author of this book, I will receive a royalty if you purchase it. I may also receive a small amount for you making a purchase through one of my affiliate links. I truly believe, though, that exploring this passage will change the way you read the Bible, and your life in general.

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