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Old Testament Essays

versión On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versión impresa ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.21 no.3 Pretoria  2008


'To the captives come out and to those in darkness be free...' Using the book of Isaiah in (American) politics?



L. Juliana M. Claassens

University of Stellenbosch





This essay investigates the way in which the book Isaiah, and particularly Deutero-Isaiah, is used in politics. For instance, a classic example comes from George W. Bush's May 2003 speech on the USS Lincoln where he declared an end to major combat in Iraq. In light of the way politicians use (or abuse) Isaiah in political debates, this essay considers the relationship between Bible and empire in Isaiah 40-48, arguing that in the midst of the brutal reality of empire in the biblical traditions there are a few texts that represent a counter or subversive rhetoric. I argue that these minor voices relate well to the recent developments in postcolonial interpretation that turn to 'love' or 'compassion' as a means to subvert empire thinking. Finally, I will make some suggestions of how this complex understanding of the interplay of empire and counter imperial rhetoric may be utilised in public discourse to offer an alternative vision of the world.



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Juliana Claassens
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, USA
Extraordinary Visiting Associate Professor at the Department Old and New Testament
University of Stellenbosch

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