Boyarin, Isaiah 53 and Interfaith Dialog Done Badly (Part 1 – Interpretation)

This is the last in a series of posts here on Daniel Boyarin’s book “The Jewish Gospels“. In this post (actually, I’ll need two three posts), I will examine the final chapter of his book, where Boyarin provides a controversial interpretation of the “suffering servant” passage found in the Biblical book of Isaiah, chapter 53.

But before we can get to Boyarin, we have a lot of background to cover – so much background, in fact, that I’ll need to devote this post just to the background. In this first post, I’ll look at the way Judaism and Christianity have viewed Isaiah 53. My second post will look at Boyarin’s analysis in the context of the Jewish-Christian dispute over the meaning of this passage.

One caveat: entire books have been written about Isaiah 53, and seemingly none of them agree. Below is my effort to provide a brief but fair summary of Isaiah 53, but it’s probably not as fair as I might wish, and I know it’s not brief!

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