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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.23 n.1 Pretoria  2010


What would Bakhtin say about Isaiah 21:1-12? A re-reading1



Barbara M. Leung Lai

Tyndale Seminary, Canada





Employing the Bakhtinian theory of polyphony and dialogism, the following is a re-reading of my previous publication on the same passage.2 While the feasibility of uncovering the internal aspects of the Isaian personality has been demonstrated through the first reading, the impact of reading Isaiah 21:1-12 from a Bakhtinian vantage point goes beyond literary, psychological, imaginative, and philosophical lenses to a new angle of perception: the dialogic way of presenting and constructing "truth." On the one hand, the notion of Isaiah 21:1-12 as a polyphonic and dialogic text is established. Yet, on the other hand, there is still no "final word" with regards to the Isaian internal profile. Thus, readers are invited to engage in an ongoing dialogue with both-the author, through Isaiah's self-presentation and projection of his internal profile, and the characters that emerge through the independent unmerged voices of the text. The anticipated result is what Bakhtin sagaciously termed, an "unfinalizable," yet ever expanding and enriching reading on the subject.



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Barbara M. Leung Lai
Department of Biblical Studies, Tyndale Seminary, 25 Ballyconnor Court, Canada
M2M 4B3 Toronto
Ontario, Canada



1 This was originally a paper read at the Bakhtin and Biblical Imagination Section at SBL, New Orleans, Louisiana, November 21-24, 2009.
2 Barbara M. Leung Lai, "Uncovering the Isaian Personality: Wishful Thinking or Viable Task?" in Text and Community: Essays in Memory of Bruce M. Metzger (ed. J. Harold Ellens; vol. 2; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2007), 82-100.

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