Book of Isaiah
|For it is so written in|
2 prophets -- 1 book!
The first Isaiah, the one the book is traditionally attributed to, was a courtier and advisor in the court of King Hezekiah of Judah and several of his predecessors. It deals extensively in the repercussions of Judah's involvement in numerous wars and alliances in the area, as well as predictions of a Jewish Messiah to come.
Isaiah 7:14 contains the infamously disputed verse "Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the עלמה shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel." To this day, the question of whether the Biblical term 'almah above refers to a "young woman" or "girl" as in modern Hebrew or to a "virgin" (properly betulah in Hebrew) remains a rather divisive issue in Biblical translations. The word is rendered παρθενος ("virgin") in the Septuagint, leading to a curious ambiguity -- if the Septuagint indeed maintains an older textual tradition than the commonly accepted Masoretic text, wtf does this verse actually mean anyway?
The second Isaiah, who takes over after Chapter 39, writes of the eventual restoration of a fallen Israelite nation and does not actually identify himself. The point at which the two manuscripts were combined is unknown; the two had been combined by the time of the Septuagint and the later Qumran scrolls.
1980's Christian metal band Stryper often referred to Isaiah 53:5 on their album covers.
The text of The Messiah by Handel is taken from Isaiah, and regardless of your religious beliefs is a sweet piece of composition.
There are arguments that more than one author composed the book of Isaiah: proponents of this theory normally cite the sudden change in literary style with book 40, and the historical perspective, which before this point describes God's anger and coming vengeance (suggesting a pre-exile viewpoint), and after it, a description of God's coming mercy and forgiveness, which suggests a post-exile viewpoint. The Talmud  states that the book of Isaiah was written by 'King Hezechaiah and his attendants'; a similar view is held by the Catholic Church, which states that it was compiled by later 'disciples of Isaiah' It is conventional to assign four different origins to the Book of Isaiah:
- Chapters 1-24, 28-34, and 36-39: The prophet Isaiah who is described in the book 2 Kings. Also called Proto- or First Isaiah. (Chapters 15-16 are copied from Jeremiah 48, and chapters 36-39 are copied from 2 Kings 18:13-20:19. Or could it be the other way around?)
- Chapters 25-27: Someone writing long after the Babylonian Exile, the last of the authors. Sometimes called Isaiah Apocalypse.
- Chapters 35 and 40-55: An anonymous prophet from the time of the Babylonian Exile, called Deutero- or Second Isaiah.
- Chapters 56-66: A school of prophets influenced by Isaiah writing shortly after the Babylonian Exile, called Trito- or Third Isaiah.
 Isaiah and human rights
The book of Isaiah has a large amount to say on social justice; this sort of sentiment is something neglected by many Christians. For example, Isaiah 58:6-10 gives the following as an instruction from God:
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.