Jesus, Servant of The Lord
- The Concept of Servant
- The Deutero-Isaian Servant(s)
- Jesus of Nazareth, Servant of the Lord
- In Conclusion
In approaching any historical figure, we go back and forth between fact and interpretation, between data and understanding. Although these can be distinguished, they are in the end inseparable. What we ultimately seek in our pursuit of history is not fact alone, but understanding. Even when we approach the historical Jesus or the Jesus of historiography we still interpret in order to understand. In the previous volume we interpreted Jesus of Nazareth as a prophet and sage. We did so in order to understand his role in history.
I now suggest an additional interpretative category: Jesus as servant of the Lord. In speaking of him as a servant we are not setting aside but rather including our previous understanding of Jesus as both prophet and teacher.
Just as words like prophet, preacher, healer, teacher have a history, so does the word "servant." Jesus as healer was not like a twentieth-century physician was Jesus as teacher like a university lecturer or twelfth-century commentator. So likewise the word "servant" must be understood before we can use it to understand Jesus.
First, we will consider the background to the Israelite concept of servant. Second, we will look at four Deutero-Isaian servant poems. Third, we shall look at the data in the history of Jesus himself which urge us to speak of him as a servant of the Lord.
The Concept of ServantThroughout the Hebrew Bible, the servant is the servant of the Lord, one whose life is lived in unfailing obedience to the Lord, one who does the will of the Lord, who lives in accord with the covenant of the Lord and the word of the Lord. Servanthood is obedience (Jer 7:23, 11:5). 1
As the theology of suffering developed in Israelite and Judean history, it became more clear that sometimes suffering was a part of obedience to the Lord. Not all suffering was the result of a divine vocation and servanthood, nor does all obedience involve the call to suffering. However, sometimes the servant had to suffer. Not that suffering was desired by God, but that suffering was inevitable if the mission of God was to be accomplished. This suffering servanthood is the theology of servanthood which we find in the first three of the deutero-Isaian servant songs. Jeremiah is a supreme exemplification of this type of servanthood. 2
Jeremiah was called by the Lord to be a prophet to Judah and to the nations during the final years of Judah's history prior to the Babylonian captivity, during the reigns of Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah. He was called to be the Lord's prophet, the Lord's servant. This was in spite of his own resistance, his own distaste for the vocation (Jer 1:4-8). In spite of his resistance, Jeremiah was seduced by the Lord and accepted his call.
O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and thou hast prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. (Jer 20:7)
From that moment onward, Jeremiah's life was one of fidelity and obedience to the Lord. He was not yet twenty when he was called and he continued to speak the Lord's word until he was almost sixty years of age (from 627 until after 587 B.C.E.). Jeremiah's obedience to the Lord brought only one suffering after another throughout his life. There was no respite (Jer 4:19-22, 11:19, 15:10-18, 20:1-18). Jeremiah was like Job (contrast Jer 20:14-18 and Job 3). The people would not listen to him. His ministry seemed in vain. He was repeatedly maltreated. Yet he continued to speak out against the worship of false gods and the apostasy of the people (Jer 2 and 3; 5:30-31; 14:14; 23:13-14, 16-17, 30). He continued to speak out against the social injustices which were a violation of the covenant with the Lord (Jer 5:1, 28, 30-31; 7:5-7; 22:3). He continued to call for interior repentance, the circumcision of the heart (Jer 4:4, 9:25-26, Dt 10:16). He even had the ill fortune of having to advise surrender on the part of the chosen people to Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (Jer 25:9, 27:6). He proclaimed the destruction of Jerusalem, God's own city (Jer 9:11; 26:6; 38:4-5, 52). Jeremiah was judged to be both a traitor and a heretic (Jer 26). This was the fate to which the Lord had called him.
We can allow the pain of Jeremiah to speak for itself: "My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!" (Jer 4:19). But there was no peace for this faithful servant. Ill begotten was he who would have to preach the word of the Lord at this time and place in history. Jeremiah himseif knew that only too well.
Woe is me, my mother, that you bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me. So let it be, O Lord, if I have not entreated thee for their good, if I have not pleaded with thee on behalf of the enemy in the time of trouble and in the time of distress! (Jer 15:10-11)
Jeremiah's vocation was one of prophecy and preaching, a ministry of the word. But it was a vocation to suffering, loneliness, inconsolable grief, anguish, imprisonment, pain and rejection as well. This was what the Lord had called him to by calling him to speak God's word. And the human soul of Jeremiah could only cry out.
Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, "A son is born to you," making him very glad. Let that man be like the cities which the Lord overthrew without pity; let him hear a cry in the morning and an alarm at noon, because he did not kill me in the womb; so my mother would have been my grave, and her womb forever great. Why did I come forth from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame? (Jer 20:14-18)
Few texts of the Hebrew Scriptures move us as deeply or portray as completely the theology of suffering servanthood.
The servant in the Israelite tradition was anyone who did the will of the Lord, whose life is the prayer "Thy will be done." That ought at least be the king, the prophet, the priest, the sage, but also every Israelite or Jew, as well as the nation as a whole. Obedience characterized the Lord's servant. Sometimes that obedience was inseparable from suffering and rejection. The theology of the servant continues to be developed in the theology of the second Isaiah.
The Deutero-Isaian Servant(s)The word "servant" has varied meanings, not only within the Bible, but even within Deutero-Isaiah. Walther Zimmerli points to five specifically religious uses of the word in Scripture: the self-description of the humble in the presence of the Lord; the pious; Israel; specific figures in Israel such as the patriarchs, Moses, the king, the prophet, Job; and the suffering servant of Deutero-Isaiah. 3 In Deutero-Isaiah, outside the four texts known as the servant songs to which we will shortly refer, the servant refers to Israel. The image of the servant in the four specific texts of our concern, however, goes beyond the image in the rest of DeuteroIsaiah in that the servant does not always appear to be simply Israel. Sometimes the servant has a mission to Israel.
The problems connected with critical exegesis of these four texts are many and there is little unanimity on most of the issues. For our purposes the critical issues are less pertinent than the theology (or theologies) of the "songs." Nevertheless, a summary of some of these issues may be helpful. Although there is discussion about which verses actually comprise the servant songs and how these are to be divided, scholars generally agree that the four servant songs comprise 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-11; 52:13to 53:31.
First we should consider the question of authorship. Although all four texts are found within the corpus attributed to Deutero-Isaiah (Is 40-55), they form a sufficiently distinct unit from the rest of the prophecy and raise special problems. Sigmund Mowinckel argues for an authorship later than Deutero-Isaiah, very possibly the circle of which Trito-Isaiah was a member. 4 On the other hand, Christopher North argues for Deutero-Isaian authorship on the grounds that the relation of the songs to their contexts, their vocabulary, their metrical forms and their theological content do not necessitate an author other than Deutero-Isaiah. 5 North concludes that the songs are by Deutero-Isaiah, that there was a common author for all of them, that they represent development in the prophet's thought, and that they were not all composed at the same time.
The issue of authorship is closely related to the issue of how distinctive (and perhaps separable) the songs are in relationship to the rest of Deutero-lsaiah. There are two distinct opinions here. Peter Ackroyd argues, "Great damage appears to have been done to the understanding of the message of the prophet in the separating out of four socalled 'Servant Songs' from the remainder of the material." 6 But John L. McKenzie contends, "We have adopted the position that the Songs are not related to the context except for the response which follows the first three Songs (42:5-9; 49:7-13; 50:10-11)." 7 Although there is little agreement about how distinctive and separable the four songs are, there is more agreement that they cannot be seen as too self-contained a unit. As Ackroyd writes, "Considerable unreality is introduced into the discussion when attempts are made at finding a thought-sequence within the four single passages." 8 McKenzie concurs, "Yet it should be noticed that the four songs do not form a single literary unit. They cannot be read together. They are detached not only from the context but even more obviously from each other." 9
If we separate the songs out someone other than Deutero-Isaiah appears to be the author, as Mowinckel and McKenzie maintain. If we integrate the songs into the context, we will more likely attribute authorship to Deutero-Isaiah, as do Ackroyd, North, Rignell. 10 For our purposes, we can Ieave the question of authorship open, and recognize both the differences and simiiarities between these four poems and the rest of Deutero-Isaiah. Authorities conclude that the texts were composed somewhere near the end of the Exile.
It is important to consider whether or not the texts are messianic. The messianic interpretation was the prevalent opinion in Christian theology prior to the development of critical exegesis and some continue to hold this interpretation. The majority of those who maintain a traditional messianic interpretation also hold for the unity of the book of Isaiah. Objections to the messianic interpretation include the fact that the servant is to lead Israel out of exile. And since the prophet expected this to happen soon, the servant must already have been born. Mowinckel's opinion in this regard is instructive: the servant prophecies are not messianic in the sense which that word had in Hebrew Scripture or in Judaism.11 North would agree: "I do not think that anything is to be gained by attempts to prove that the Servant is the Divine Messiah of Isaiah 9 and 11."12
If we set aside the traditional messianic interpretation, there have been two major directions within critical exegesis about the identity of the servant: whether the servant is an individual or a collective reality. The collective theory has taken many forms: the entire nation Israel, the ideal Israel, a pious minority within Israel, the order of prophets, the order of priests. Today the collective theory is associated with H. Wheeler Robinson of England and Otto Eissfeldt of Germany. They base their modifications of the collective theory on the Hebrew concept of corporate personality and argue for a composite in which the servant was both an individual historical person and Israel.13
Suggestions about the identity of the servant as an historical individual vary widely. Names proposed include the prophet himself (Deutero-Isaiah), Zerubbabel, Meshullam the son of Zerubbabel, Scheshbazzar, Jehoiachin, Moses, or someone now unknown. Advocates of an individual interpretation for the servant figure include Sellin, Mowinckel, Kittel. Sellin advocated Zerubbabel, Jehoiachin, and Moses, and then in turn abandoned each candidate, finally opting for Deutero-Isaiah himself. Mowinckel was the originator of the autobiographical theory, that the servant was the prophet Deutero-Isaiah himself, but. Mowinckel himself later abandoned this view. He is still a strong advocate of the historical individual theory and now maintains that the servant was a definite person known to the prophet, a prophet from the same circle as the author, the Deutero-Isaianic circle from which the Trito-Isaian prophecies came.14 Kittel's theory combines individual and messianic elements -- that the servant was an anonymous contemporary of Deutero-Isaiah to whom the prophet looked as the promised Messiah. Since the claims for particular historical individuals have so far failed, North's argument is persuasive: if the_servant_is an individual, it must be someone anonymous.
North is ready, however, to abandon the historical individual theory altogether. Neither does he advocate the collective theory, however. He points, rather, to the fact that the contrast need not be between individual and collective theories but can be between historical individuals and an ideal figure, whether that be an ideal individual or the ideal Israel. For North, it is a question of a unique individual who has not yet appeared and a concrete ideal figure still to come. For North the question of whether the prophet expected the servant in the near or distant future is unimportant. He was expected, and he was still to come.15
Another issue in the whole discussion is what weight, if any, to give to the political role of the servant. On this issue Mowinckel, North, and von Rad all opt for the nonpolitical, non-royal servant, distinguished from the political character of the Davidic Messiah. In this sense the expected servant was not the expected Davidic Messiah. For both Mowinckel and North the servant was a concrete individual, but for Mowinckel an historical individual, and for North an ideal future individual who was seen as a type for Israel. North would not insist on an either/or interpretation with respect to the individual and collective theories. For him, the servant really transcends both as an ideal of one to come. Although this figure was not messianic in the strict sense of the expected Davidic Messiah of later Judaism, North's interpretation of the servant as an ideal of one to come can be seen as a new quasi-messianic interpretation.
John Lindblom takes a different position from most other scholars. For him, the question is not: who was the servant of the songs? Rather it is: what did the servant figure signify? "In my opinion the principal question concerning the Ebed-Yahweh problem must be: What is the literary character of the Ebed Songs?"16 For Lindblom, the songs form a special group not because there is a connecting servant figure but because there is a unifying literary character. Hence Lindblom discards the assumption that the subject of the songs must be the same throughout. The servant is different in different songs. Lindblom's conclusion then is to see the songs as allegorical or symbolic pictures depicting Israel's captivity and mission. The four songs do not describe a common figure but are all allegorical elucidations of varying historical realities. Lindblom divides all the oracles of Deutero-Isaiah into two groups, the missionary revelations and the triumphal revelations, based on two homogeneous sets of ideas. The missionary revelations include, in addition to the four songs, 45:20-25; 51:7-8; 55:1-5; 48:1-1 1; 48:17-19. These oracles all express a mission of Israel to the Gentiles and culminate in the Servant Songs. The themes here are the salvation of the Gentiles, and Israel as the instrument of that salvation. In the triumphal revelations, the theme is triumphal deliverance of Israel from Babylonia and consequent vengeance on the enemy. Although the two groups of texts have much in common, the differences are significant. Israel's positive task in the world in the first set contrasts with Israel's deliverance from the triumph of her enemies in the second set. In the first group the Gentiles are seen as recipients of the true faith and in the latter as the object of judgment.
Thus, for Lindblom, the same prophet, Deutero-Isaiah, could not be the author of both groups of oracles, and yet it would be arbitrary simply to point to two authors. Rather the differences reflect the historical experience of Israel and depend on the fluctuating course of historical events. The prophet saw in history the incomprehensibility of the ways of God. Therefore there is no need to separate the four songs from the other oracles. Yet these four songs are alike in that they are allegorical pictures interpreting historical situations, Israel's present situation and her noble mission. The servant was neither individual nor group exclusively, but was a symbol, an individual who allegorically symbolized Israel in different roles.
H.H. Rowley presents a clear and succinct essay.17 His own view is similar to North's. Rowley sees the corporate personality approach of Wheeler Robinson as helpful since there are both collective and individual traits in the servant concept. A single identity of the servant with Israel is not possible. In the second song the servant has a mission to Israel. Also, the sufferings of Israel were not innocent or guiltless. Thus Rowley, like North, opts for development within the songs from a more collective to a more individual interpretation. The first song seems to be predominantly about Israel. In the second song we see purified Israel. Thus there was a mission both to and through Israel. The third song is less clear. It may be about the collective servant as a personification. The fourth song, however, is unmistakably individual. This individual servant was a future figure, not an historical one. Like North, therefore, Rowley concludes that the servant was a future individual.
Rowley differs from Wheeler Robinson in that Rowley sees development but not fluidity in the songs. Rowley perceives a development from the servant as Israel to the servant as a future individual, but not alternation. Rowley also distinquishes his view from that of North. He sees North's interpretation as a linear development (not a fluid back and forth movement), but Rowley argues neither for fluidity nor for a simple linear interpretation but for cumulative significance.
I find the development from the thoughts of Israel as the Servant to the thought of the individual Servant par excellence, without abandoning the thought of Israel as still the Servant. If the fourth song is dominantly individual, the mission which the Servant fulfills is still not merely his own, but Israel's and Israel is still called to enter in some measure into it, so that the Servant may really be Israel's representative.18
Rowley is also more reluctant than North to use the term "messianic" to describe this future individual because that word suggests the Davidic Messiah and most would agree that the Servant and the Messiah were different concepts. The notion of suffering was not associated with the Messiah in pre-Christian Judaism, at least not in the more widespread, popular messianic hope. There is enough in common between North and Rowley, however, to make their views merit special consideration.
As we conclude this brief survey of some of the critical issues, we can suggest that we need not or ought not impose one interpretation on all four of the poems, for the servant figure need not necessarily be the same in all four, and that the servant figure may refer both to an idealized Israel or remnant therein as well as to a figure to come whose mission was also idealized. The collective and individual connotations of the idealization are not mutually exclusive. Let us then look more closely at these four depictions of servanthood, not suggesting however that they can be truly separated from the rest of Second Isaiah.
- Isaiah 42:14; The First Servant Song
- Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
- my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
- I have put my Spirit upon him,
- he will bring forth justice to the nations.
- 2 He will not cry or lift up his voice,
- or make it heard in the street;
- 3 a bruised reed he will not break
- and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
- he will faithfully bring forth justice.
- 4 He will not fail or be discouraged
- till he has established justice in the earth
- and the coastlands wait for his law.
Who the designated servant might have been is not our concern so much as the meaning of the image: the servant is chosen by the Lord, is one in whom the Lord takes delight, ls pleasing to the Lord.19 The Lord not only chooses who is to be the Lord's servant but he is one on whom the Spirit of the Lord descends and he takes his place among the charismatic figures of Israelite history. The gift of the Spirit does not necessarily mean that of prophecy, for judges and kings as well as prophets take their place among those who had been endowed with the spirit in the past.
He was to be called or chosen and endowed with the Spirit in order to serve. He was to be called or given a task to perform, a mission to fulfill, for others. It was for the sake of others that he was to be chosen. His mission was that of mishpat, translated in the RSV as justice (lines ld, 3c, 4b), translated by others as judgment, or by George Knight as way of life, interpreted by Edward Kissane and John McKenzie as revelation. It must be left somewhat open as to what the mission consisted in, but communicating knowledge of the true God seems to have been part of it. Klaus Westermann suggests that the judgment the servant was to bring was that the Lord of Israel alone is God, a judgment brought to the Gentiles.
The servant here contrasts with other servants of the Lord, whether the prophets or kings or others. He was not typical. He would not impose his message on others by force. He would not shout his prophecies in the street. The servant was to be non-coercive, non-oppressive. He would not burden or crush the poor and the helpless, the bruised reeds. Yet he would not fail.
Verse four returns to a theme in verse one-that his mission was to be to all, to the nations beyond Israel. The suggestion is that he will indeed be a revelation to the Gentiles. Several authors see in the figure "one like Moses,"20 and verse four concludes that the nations wait for his torah (his instruction, revelation, perhaps a delineation of the mishpat).
Whether the figure is to be interpreted individually, collectively, ideally, or allegorically, we have the description of a chosen one, upon whom the Spirit rests, who is called to serve others, whose mission is to the Gentiles, whose message will not be imposed by force, whose mishpat is a true judgment, knowledge, and revelation of the Lord.
- Isaiah 49:1-6: The Second Servant Song
- 1 Listen to me, O coastlands,
- and hearken, you peoples from afar.
- The Lord called me from the womb,
- from the body of my mother he named my name.
- 2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
- in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
- he made me a polished arrow,
- in his quiver he hid me away.
- 3 And he said to me, "You are my servant,
- Israel, in whom I will be glorified."
- 4 But I have said, "I have labored in vain,
- I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
- yet surely my right is with the Lord,
- and my recompense with my God."
- 5 And now the Lord says,
- who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
- to bring Jacob back to him,
- and that Israel might be gathered to him.
- For I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
- and my God has become my strength.
- 6 He says:
- "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
- to raise up the tribes of Jacob
- and to restore the preserved of Israel;
- I will give you as a light to the nations,
- that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."
In the first of the songs, it is the Lord who speaks, "Behold my servant whom I uphold." Here it is the servant himself who speaks, "Listen to me, O coastlands." We see his sense of mission, specifically the mission to the nations, to the whole earth, to the Gentiles.21
The poem speaks of a call. The Lord has chosen his servant while he was still in his mother's womb. The call is reminiscent of that of Jeremiah: "Before I formed you, in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations"(l:5).
As the call of the servant resembles that of the prophets, so does his approach. The mission is to be accomplished by word of mouth, through speech, in power, through the power of the word, the ministry of the word. The Lord equipped him with speech for his task.
The main exegetical problem of verse three is the reference to Israel. Westermann argues that it is a later addition.22 It is the only time the word "Israel" appears in the four songs. It could be a gloss which represents the beginning of a collective interpretation for the servant. It could also portray the identity of the servant with Israel. The tone of the poem, however, is that of an individual speaking.
Verse four introduces the motif of discouragement. His work has been in vain. His strength is gone, he has accomplished nothing. Yet he does not despair. Surely the Lord is still with him and will vindicate him. This hope is even more strongly expressed in verse five (c and d). God is his continuing strength. He is honored in spite of failure or setback. One mission (to bring Israel back to the Lord) is being replaced by another-to be a light to the nation6. The mission to Israel is too small a task; his mission is to be to the nations.
The servant has told his story, how he had been chosen from his mother's womb, how he had been given the power of the word, how he had been sent on a mission to Israel, how this mission was in vain, how he became discouraged, how the Lord remained with him and replaced his earlier mission with a greater one, how he was to bring the salvation and the word of the Lord to the whole earth.
- Isaiah 50:4-11; The Third Servant Song
- 4 The Lord God has given me the tongue of
- those who are taught
- that I may know how to sustain with a word
- him that is weary.
- Morning by morning he wakens,
- he wakens by ear
- to hear as those who are taught.
- 5The Lord God has opened my ear,
- and I was not rebellious
- I turned not backward.
- 6I gave my back to the smiters,
- and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
- I hid not my face
- from shame and spitting.
- 7For the Lord God helps me,
- therefore I have not been confounded;
- therefore I have set my face like a flint
- and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
- 8 he who vindicates me is near.
- Who will contend with me?
- Let us stand up together.
- Who is my adversary?
- Let him come near to me.
- 9Behold, the Lord God helps me
- who will declare me guilty?
- Behold all of them will wear out like a garment;
- the moth will eat them up.
- 10Who among you fears the Lord
- and obeys the voice of his servant,
- who walks in darkness
- and has no light,
- yet trusts in the name of the Lord
- and relies upon his God?
- 11Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
- who set brands alight!
- Walk by the light of your fire,
- and by the brands which you have kindled!
- This shall you have from my hand:
- you shall lie down in torment.
The speaker seems to be the servant as in the previous song, although some argue that it is Deutero-Isaiah who speaks, at least in verses ten and eleven. Verses four and five reflect the theme of the call, as in the two previous songs.23
The poem makes the point: my words are God's words. He taught me. I listened and obeyed. The prophetic character of his mission is again stated: his is a ministry of the word. Those who are weary may be the Israelites. The Lord is the instructor whose message sustains those whose burden is heavy ("My yoke is easy and my burden is light," Mt 11:30). The disciple is attentive, listens, hears, and is docile. Verse five points to the receptivity of this disciple. The sequence is call, discipleship, mission, servanthood, prophetic ministry, vindication.
As verses four and five describe the vocation and docility of the servant, verse six specifies adversities even more clearly than the previous two poems. He is rejected by those to whom he is sent. His mission encounters hostility and abuse. Verse six has something of the character of a lament such as we find in Jeremiah (11:10; 18:18).
As verse six describes the abuse, verses seven to nine express the servant's confidence. He is convinced: God is with me. He remains firm in the face of the adversities. He obeys. He neither runs nor rebels against the Lord: the Lord will vindicate him. Bold enough to challenge his adversaries he, like Jeremiah, is confident (11:20; 15:15-16; 20:11, 12).
Verses ten and eleven are more difficult. Are they the words of the servant or the author? Kissane sees verse ten as an address to the exiles, the Israelites, the oppressed. It can be seen again as reflecting the notion that he who hears the servant hears the Lord. Those addressed are called upon to trust in the Lord and to have confidence in him.
Kissane interprets verse eleven as an address to the oppressors, the pagans, specifically the Babylonians. If so, this is the only reference to other nations, a theme prominent in the other two poems. Yet the reference here is different. The nations are not the ones who hear the word of the servant but those who shall be defeated and laid low, perhaps the Babylonians. McKenzie sees verse eleven as still an address to Israelites, those who reject the prophetic word. This interpretation would be more consistent with the two previous poems.
Despite inconsistencies, common themes run through all three poems: call, mission, message, ministry of the word, presence of the Lord, discouragement and rejection, vindication.
- Isaiah 52:13-53:12; The Fourth Servant Song
- 13 Behold, my servant shall prosper,
- he shall be exalted and lifted up,
- and shall be very high.
- 14 As many were astonished at him--
- his appearance was so marred,
- beyond human semblance,
- and his form beyond that of the sons of men--
- 15 so shall he startle many nations;
- kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
- for that which has not been told them they shall see,
- and that which they have not heard they shall under stand.
- 1 Who has believed what we have heard?
- And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
- 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
- and like a root out of dry ground,
- he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him,
- and no beauty that we should desire him.
- 3 He was despised and rejected by men;
- a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
- and as one from whom men hid their faces
- he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
- 4 Surely he has borne our griefs
- and carried our sorrows;
- yet we esteemed him stricken,
- smitten by God, and afflicted.
- 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
- he was bruised for our iniquities;
- upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
- and with his stripes we are healed.
- 6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
- we have turned every one to his own way;
- and the Lord has laid on him
- the iniquity of us all.
- 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
- yet he opened not his mouth;
- like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
- and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb,
- so he opened not his mouth.
- 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
- and as for his generation, who considered
- that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
- stricken for the transgression of my people?
- 9 And they made his grave with the wicked
- and with a rich man in his death,
- although he had done no violence,
- and there was no deceit in his mouth.
- 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him;
- he has put him to grief;
- when he makes himself an offering for sin,
- he shall see his offspring,
- he shall prolong his days;
- the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand;
- 11 he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul
- and be satisfied;
- by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
- make many to be accounted righteous,
- and he shall bear their iniquities.
- 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great,
- and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
- because he poured out his soul to death,
- and was numbered with the transgressors;
- yet he bore the sin of many,
- and made intercession for the transgressors.
There are two speakers in the fourth song. The Lord is the speaker in the beginning (52:13-15) and again in the end (53:11-12). The bulk of the poem (53:1-10) is a comment by some Israelites or a group of Israelites other than the servant. The Lord was the speaker in the first of the servant songs; the servant was the speaker in the next two; here we are aware of another voice. McKenzie suggests that it may be that of the author. Westerman points out the common element of humiliation and exaltation in both parts of this fourth poem. This theme is not new but the vicarious nature of the humiliation is new.24
The fourth poem begins somewhat like the first. The Lord then declares that his servant will be highly exalted. This "vindication" is again indicated in 53:10.
Many (probably Israelites) are astounded at the servant's appearance: appalling, disfigured, distorted. He does not even appear to be human. Such was the toll that his suffering took on his very physical features. Those shaken by his physical disfigurement will be shaken by the story of his success. Verse thirteen pointed to the exaltation or the success of the mission, the vindication of the servant. The report of what has been accomplished in him will reach many nations and recalls his role as "light to the nations" mentioned in the first two poems. Westermann writes, "That a man who was smitten, who was marred beyond human semblance, and who was despised in the eyes of God and men should be given such approval and significance, and be thus exalted, is in very truth something new and unheard of, going against tradition and all men's settled ideas."25
The speaker shifts in verse one of chapter 53, but the verse begins with the exact theme with which the previous speaker ended: It is unbelievable and unheard of that the Lord was at work in this. The servant had grown up like a young plant, not particularly comely or stately, not one to take note of, more like a plant in a desert. He is lacking in beauty, insignificant. He was not simply an unattractive and unnoticed figure. He became despised, rejected, one of the wretched of the earth, isolated from others, shunned. The nature of the affliction or suffering is unspecified. The description here has even led some to postulate that the servant was a leper. We are also reminded of Job (19:1-22).
In verse four, we come to a central issue. Because of his tremendous affliction he was judged to be guilty, according to the prevailing theology of suffering as a punishment for sin. But this one was innocent. His suffering was for our sake. It is our sorrow he bore. He himself was innocent and God was indeed with him. The traditional theology of suffering is shattered. The source of the wonder revealed in verse four is continued. We are the ones who have erred, strayed away, sinned. He is the one who was afflicted and has borne the brunt of the chastisement for our sake. By his suffering we have been healed. This theology of vicarious suffering is new to Hebrew thought.
Although the nature of his suffering is unspecified, we see, as in the third poem, the docility and obedience of the servant. In verses three and four, he was rejected because he was so uncomely, as if diseased. Here he is oppressed and maltreated and does not fight back. But he was the victim of misjudgment, a legal miscarriage of justice, as if he had been tried and found guilty of something. But how could his generation have understood innocence and that the righteous can suffer? Who realized, says the poet, that he was put to death for our transgressions?
He died, and was buried with the wicked. Again the poet acknowledges the servant's innocence in spite of the tale of his suffering, death and burial.
In verse ten, the narrator describes the vindication which the Lord had already mentioned in 52:13 and 15. His suffering was in fact in accord with the will of the Lord. His sufferings were a sin offering. Because he persevered in his mission even unto death, he will receive a reward; his days will be prolonged and he will see the fruit of his labors. These three themes are all significant: (1) The Lord had been with his servant throughout his life. (2) The suffering and death of the servant are comparable to a guilt offering. The servant is like the victim of an atonement sacrifice because through his death, others have been cleansed. (3) Although the work of the servant does not end in defeat, the nature of his vindication is unclear.
Either at the beginning or in the middle of verse eleven, the speaker becomes the Lord once again who simply repeats and confirms the report which has been given. The servant will see the fruit of his suffering. His servant is righteous in spite of the suffering heaped on him. He suffered for the unrighteous and bore the burden of their wickedness. He died, was buried as one of the transgressors, yet in fact was an intercessor for the transgressors, and therefore shall be numbered among the great. The Lord says that because of the vicarious suffering of his servant, many have been made righteous.
To conclude: Our primary concern is not with the critical problems of the texts (their distinguishability from the rest of Deutero-Isaiah, their authorship, their internal consistency, the identity of the servant) but with the theological content of the images. It is legitimate to see development within the four Songs; yet consistency need not be imposed in order to arrive at one servant figure. The following are ideas which flow from the texts, whether all these ideas refer to one figure or many, to an individual or to a group, to an historical reality or an ideal or future reality. The servant is chosen (Songs 1,2,3). He is given the gift of the Spirit (Song 1). He is given the power of the word (Songs 2,3). He is sent to serve, and has a consciousness of mission (Songs 1,3). The message is not imposed by force (Song 1). There is a mission to Israel, which does not bear much fruit (Song 2). There is also a mission to the Gentiles (Songs 1,2). The mission includes bringing true judgment, righteousness or salvation (Song 1). Discouragement and suffering and rejection are necessary for the mission itself (Songs 2,3,4). The humiliation and obedience extend even to death and burial (Song 4). The Lord remains with his servant and preserves him in the midst of all (Songs 2,3,4). The Lord vindicates and exalts the servant (Songs 3,4). The sufferings of the servant were undeserved, and are vicarious, an atonement for the many (Song 4).
It must also be emphasized that the fourth servant song gave rise to an Isaianic exaltation theme that continued to be present in later Jewish literature, such as the Book of Daniel, Second Maccabees, and the Book of Wisdom, as Judaism struggled with the question of the fate of its righteous and persecuted ones, the milieu in which the doctrine of resurrection was born as well. The stories and theology of the persecuted but vindicated righteous are found in Daniel 12:1-3, 2 Maccabees 7, and Wisdom 2:12-20, 4:18-5:14, and elsewhere. The Isaianic theme of the exaltation of the servant lay behind the later hope of post-mortem vindication. As G.W.E. Nickelsburg writes, "At some time between the writing of Second Isaiah and the time of Antiochus, civil persecution of [the religious leader of] the Jews fostered an interpretation of Isaiah 52-53 as a scene of the post-mortem exaltation of the persecuted ones and the [impending] judgment of their persecutors."26
Jesus of Nazareth, Servant of the Lord
One can see why Christians came to interpret Jesus and especially Jesus' death and exaltation through the images of servanthood. The many facets of that image helped them to understand the ministry, mission and death of Jesus: obedience, suffering, rejection, suffering on behalf of others, the ideal Israelite, a messianic figure, a prophetic figure, one sent to the Gentiles. The servant image connoted someone chosen by God, on whom the Spirit descended. One called in order to serve, who was given a mission, with a message that will not be imposed on others by force. One with a mission both to and beyond Israel, whose ministry was especially a ministry of the word. One who gathered disciples, with whom God was and whom God vindicated and even exalted. One who died and whose suffering was undeserved. We can see the reasons for interpreting Jesus as servant.
Jesus was a prophet, not unlike the prophets of old. Traditionally, the true prophet was a supreme example of the servant of the Lord. Jesus was also a teacher and his teaching was often concerned with service and servanthood.27
That the last will become first and the humble will be exalted was one of the central themes in the authentic teaching of Jesus. Similarly, Jesus' teaching about himself included the understanding of one who comes to serve and not to be served.28
Not only in his ministry to the word of the Lord does Jesus emphasize servanthood, but also in his life. In the wilderness, at prayer, with faith and trust in God, Jesus' will is to do the will of the one who sent him. And in being open to his Father's will he allows himself to be someone who lives for others, through healing and exorcisms, through his presence to the blind and lame, through his readiness to respond to those who come or are brought to him, through his love for women and children, through his willingness to identify and be identified with the outcast and sinner. Jesus was what he proclaimed; he became what he preached. Jesus made incarnate in his praxis what it meant to be the Lord's servant.
Probably the most moving of Jesus' symbolic actions and the most clear exemplification of Jesus as servant and his own self-consciousness of being a servant is the acted out parable of the washing of the disciples' feet recorded in the Fourth Gospel and placed in the setting of their last meal together(Jn 13:1-20).29
There is sufficient reason to conclude that the footwashing has a basis in history, although the interpretative discourse surrounding the symbolic action within the Johannine narrative was not part of the original action. Whatever other associations or meanings there may be in the symbol, the primary symbolisation is of the humility of Jesus, the freely chosen humiliation in the life of a servant of the Lord, and the humiliation Jesus is soon to experience in his condemnation and crucifixion.
We must distinguish before going further between Jesus as a servant of the Lord and Jesus as the servant of the Lord. I am primarily asserting that Jesus is a servant, that he can be understood and must be understood within the servant tradition. When we speak about the servant, we mean the servant of the fourth Deutero-Isaian song and its depiction of the ideal individual still to come. One can also interpret Jesus in the light of this particular depiction of a servant. Jesus also exemplifies the ideal of servanthood as depicted in Isaiah 52-53. That particular conception of a servant helps us to understand and interpret the life and death of Jesus as well as his exaltation. We can justifiably see Jesus in that text. This does not mean, however, that Jesus is the Deutero-Isaian servant in the sense that the prophecy foretold his coming in particular, or that Jesus is the only (actual or possible) historical figure to fulfill that image of the Lord's servant. It is simply that the Jesus of history was in fact a servant of God, and a servant to a great degree in accord with the Deutero-Isaian pictures of the ideal servant.
Although it is valid to speak of Jesus as servant, would Jesus himself have thought of himself in that way? Although caution is necessary in any analysis of Jesus' self-understanding, it is probable that Jesus thought of himself as a servant in the Israelite tradition. Indeed, he thought of himself as a prophet. The life, prayer, ministry, and final humiliation of Jesus exemplify true servanthood. The teaching of Jesus often explicitly focuses on service and serving. It is hardly likely that Jesus did not see himself as exemplifying or embodying what it meant to be a servant. And he also explicitly spoke about his mission in such terms (Mk 10:4145, 2:17).
Was Jesus' consciousness, prayer, and mission influenced in part by the image of servant found in Deutero-lsaiah? Again, there should be no hesitancy to say yes. A prophet who had such a strong self-awareness of being God's servant and whose teaching was so clearly about true servanthood would hardly have ignored the provocative depiction in the Book of Isaiah. Jesus was well acquainted with the Scriptures. He prayed them. He preached from them. He was recognized as learned with regard to them. And the Book of Isaiah in particular was a great source of nourishment for him. Although Jesus knew well the Law and the Prophets, some texts in particular formed a part of his consciousness. In the wilderness narratives in Matthew and Luke, Jesus is portrayed as having relied on Deuteronomy. It was to be expected that Jesus would know and have prayed over Deuteronomy often and carefully. On the cross he is portrayed as having relied upon the psalms. These too would have been part of his daily prayer, memory, and consciousness. And there is reason to believe that the Book of Isaiah was likewise particularly significant for Jesus.30 It played an important role in Qumran. With the exception of Psalms, it is the book in the Hebrew Bible most often quoted in the New Testament. Jesus may have opened his Galilean preaching with a text from Isaiah (Lk 4:18). How often would Jesus not have prayed over and recited the verses from Isaiah about the Lord's servant whom the Lord upholds? Could he have avoided its helping him to see more clearly his own ministry and fate as his mission unfolded?
Jesus' servant consciousness manifested itself at his last meal with his disciples (Mk 14;24). It also clearly manifested itself when disputes about greatness and position and status surfaced among his disciples (Lk 22:24-27). "Here am I among you as one who serves!" has a claim to authenticity (Lk 22:27). And so does: "For the son of humanity also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mk 10:4S/ Mt 20:28).31
Again, this is not saying that Jesus saw himself as specifically fulfilling an Isaian prophecy, nor that he saw himself alone as exclusively exemplifying the Isaian prophecy, or that he saw the Isaian servant or himself in messianic terms. It is simply saying that Jesus may have relied upon the Isaian prophecy in order to understand and interpret his own mission and destiny. The earliest post-resurrection interpretation of Jesus' death was in terms of a prophet's or martyr's death (cf. Ps 1 18:22), but the interpretation in terms of redemptive suffering (Is 53) was also early, Palestinian (4 Macc 6:29, 17:22, and 2 Macc 7:37 f), and fitted well the later theology of the vindication and exaltation of God's persecuted and righteous ones.
In ConclusionJesus' tragic death by crucifixion was a consequence of religious, political, and socio-economic factors closely interwoven. Jesus was a victim of his own integrity and fidelity to God.
Even before the resurrection or any experience thereof, Jesus' death would have sought for an understanding. He had been too sought out as prophet and too compassionate a sage to be simply dismissed. The tragedy and scandal of his crucifixion could easily be seen as the death of a righteous martyr and the fate of a prophet, not unlike that of John. After the experience of the resurrection, Jesus' faithful followers would penetrate even further into the mystery of his death. Its redemptive significance would become more apparent.
But in one sense Jesus' death was simply a capsule of his whole life: a man in solidarity with God and the people. This is what the cross came to signify It was the symbol par excellence for the integrity and fidelity of this man, and eventually for his victory as well.
But the cross demands that we and the first disciples go beyond our previous understanding of Jesus as prophet to Israel and sage for his disciples, and beyond Jesus as simply a victim of a system, which he was, and to recognize in Jesus' mission and ministry and above all in his tragic end a true servant of the Lord. Jesus was a servant in his life and above all in his death. Whether he himself saw his death as redemptive or not,32 he saw himself as faithful to the darling God whom he served and the people to whom he had been sent-a servant par excellence.
Footnotes1 W. Zimmerli and J. Jeremias, The Servant of God, SBT (Naperville: Alec Allenson, Inc., 1957) provides coverage of the servant concept in general, the four Deutero-lsaian songs in particular, as well as the meaning and use in early Judaism and the New Testament period.
2 For a discussion of Jeremiah, see particularly John Bright, Jeremiah, Anchor Bible 21 (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Co., 1965). Although I quote from "Jeremiah's Confessions" in the text (e.g., 20:7, 15:10-11, 20:14-18), 1 am aware that the biographical information they provide is a disputed issue and that some exegetes interpret them as a product of later reflection on the exile.
3 Zimmerli and Jeremias, The Servant of God, 13-34.
4 Sigmund Mowinckcl, He That Cometh, The Messiah Concept in the Old Testament and Later Judaism, trans. G.W. Anderson (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 19S4), 241-46, 253-55.
5 Christopher North, The Suffering Servant in Deutero-Isaiah (London: Oxford University Press, 1956),156-89.
6 Peter Ackroyd, Exile and Restoration, The Old Testament Library (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1968), 127. Since Bernhard Duhm, it has been almost axiomatic to separate these four texts out from the rest of Deutero-Isaiah, but this consensus no longer stands. A recent effort to refute separating the songs from the larger context of the whole of Second Isaiah is Tryggve N.D. Mettinger, A Farewell to the Servant Songs, A Critical Examination of an Exegetical Axiom, trans. Frederick H. Cryer (Lund: C.W.K. Gleerup, 1983). Richard J. Clifford, Fair Spoken and Persuading. An Interpretation of Second Isaiah (New York: Paulist Press, 1984), also resists taking them out of their larger context. See pp. 30-33, 56-58.
7 John L. McKenzie, Second Isaiah, Anchor Bible 20 (Garden City, N.Y. Doubleday & Co., 1968), xxxix.
8 Ackroyd, Exile and Restoration, 127.
9 McKenzie, Second Isaiah, xxxix.
10 L.G. Rignell, A Study of Isaiah, Ch. 49-55 (Lund: C.W.K. Gleerup, 1956). Gerhard von Rad separates the servant songs as a new servant concept but holds to Deutero-Isaian authorship. See Old Testament Theology, trans. D.M.G. Stalker, vol. 2 (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), 250-62.
11 Mowinckel, He That Cometh, 213-33, 241-46, 155-57.
12 North, The Suffering Servant in Deutero-Isaiah, 218.
13 See H. W. Robinson, The Cross of the Servant: A Study in Deutero-Isaiah (London, 1926); also his Corporate Personalitv in Ancient Israel (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1964). Morna Hooker in her study also suggests a corporate interpretation. See note 30 of this chapter.
14 Mowinckel, 246-55.
15 North, 207-19.
16 John Lindblom, The Servant Songs in Deutero-Isaiah (Lund: C.W.K. Glecrup, 1951), 10.
17 H.H. Rowley, "The Servant of the Lord in the Light of Three Decades of Criticism," in The Servant of the Lord and other Essays (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1965), 1-60.
19 See especially Edward Kissane, The Book of Isaiah, vol. 2 (Dublin: Browne and Nolan, 1943), 35-36; George Knight, Deutero-Isaiah (New York: Abingdon Press, 196S), 70-74; John McKenzie, Second Isaiah, 37-38; and Claus Westermann Isaiah 40-66, The Old Testament Library (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1969), 92-97.
20 This is von Rad's interpretation. See Old Testament Theology, vol. 2, 250-62.
21 Cf. Kissane, The Book of Isaiah, vol. 2, 121-28; McKenzie, Second Isaiah, 103-6; Westermann, Isaiah 40-66, 206-12.
22 Westermann, 209.
23 Kissane, 151-52; McKenzie, 115-17; Westermann, 225-35.
24 McKenzie, 129-36; Westermann, 253-69.
25 Westermann, 260.
26 George W.E. Nickelsburg, Resurrection, Immortality, and Eternal Life in Intertestamental Judaism, Harvard Theological Studies 26 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972), 81. Nickelsburg's is the most thorough treatment of thc development of this Isaianic exaltation theme.
27 See Mk 3:35/Mt 12:50, Lk 8:21; Mk 8:34-35/ Mt 10:38-39, Lk 9:23-24; Mk 9:33-37/Mt 18:1-5, Lk 9:46-48; Mk 10:31/ Mt 19:30, Lk 13:30; Mk 12:28-34/Mt 22:34-40, Lk 10:25-28; Mt6:24/ Lk 16:13; Mt 10:24-25/ Lk 6:40; Mt 24:45-51/ Lk 12:42-46; Mt 20:16; Mt. 23:1-12; Lk 10:29-37; Lk 12:37; Lk 14:7-11; Lk 17:7-10; Lk 18: 14.
28 See Mk 10:41-45/ Mt 20:24-28, Lk 22:24-27; Mk 2:17/ Mt 9:12-13, Lk 5:31-32; Mk 14:36/Mt 26:42, Lk 22:42.
29 0n the footwashing, see M.E. Boismard, "Le lavement des pieds (John 13:1-17)," Revue biblique 71 (1964), 5-24; Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John, XIII-XXI, Anchor Bible 29 A (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Co., 1970), 548-72.
30 Morna Hooker, Jesus and The Servant, The Influence of the Servant Concept of Deutero-Isaiah in the New Testament (London: SPCK, 1959), argues that Jesus did not see himself as the servant of Isaiah, see pp. 73, 77, 85.
31 There are several difficulties with respect to Mk 10:45. Is it an authentic saying of Jesus? Does it reflect the servant theology of Is 53? One could answer yes to the first question and no to the second, or vice versa. Some divide the verse. Thus: Is Mk 10:45a an authentic saying of Jesus, or is Lk 22:27 the original, authentic Jesus material? Even so, can Mk 10:45b be dismissed as not authentic? Mk 10:45b may be an authentic Jesus saying which Mark has united to another saying on Jesus coming to serve (so F.W. Beare, The Gospel according to Matthew [San Franscisco: Harper and Row, Pub., 1981], 408-9). In a concise summary of arguments pro and con, D.E. Nineham remarks that the majority opinion is against the authenticity of 10:45b (Saint Mark, Pelican NT Commentaries [New York: Penguin Books, 1981], 280-281).
Morna Hooker's research has been influential (Jesus and the Servant, The Influence of the Servant Concept of Deutero-Isaiah in the New Testament). The fact that Mk 10:45b is not included in the Lucan version of the saying suggests that it may not be authentic (p. 75). Even apan from this, however, Mk 10:45 is unrelated to Is 53. For Hooker, there is no evidence that Jesus saw himself as the servant of Deutero-Isaiah, namely, one whose suffering expiates the sins of others (pp. 74-79, 134-63; also Morna D. Hooker, The Son of Man in Mark [London: SPCK, 1967], 140-47).
H.E. Tödt, The Son of Man in the Synoptic Tradition, trans. Dorothea Barton (Philadelphia: Westminster Press,196S),202-11, also argues against the authenticity of Mk 10:45b; Mk 10:45b, however, probably does have reference to Is 53 for Tödt. But the probable dependence of Mk 10:45b on Is 53 does not go back to an original saying of Jesus.
Reginald Fuller, The Mission and Achievement of Jesus (London: SCM Press, 1954), 55-64, argued for the authenticity of Mk 10:45 and that the original material in the passion predictions formed a clear description of the servant of Is 53, and thus for Jesus' interpretation of his death in light of Is 53. However, later, influenced by Hooker and Tödt, in The Foundations of New Testament Christology (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1965), 115-119, he changed his mind. Mk 10:45b is an allusion to Is 53, but Mk 10:45b is not an original saying of Jesus.
Maurice Casey, Son of Man, The Interpretation and Influence of Daniel 7 (London: SPCK, 1979), 164-65, 205-6, 236-37, whose intcrpretation of the son of humanity problem I endorse as more accurate than Tödt's, lists Mk 10:45 among those sayings which are authentic examples of sayings spoken in accord with correct Aramaic idiom.
Barnabas Lindars, Jesus Son of Man (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1983), 76-84, maintains that Mk 10:45 comprises two sayings, that 10:45b is an addition to an original saying on service, that the word "ransom" in 10:45b is not original but interpretative, that the expression "son of humanity" belongs to 10:45b, and that what Jesus said was, "A man may give his life for many." The "many" may recall Is 53: 12. Thus Jesus may have been inspired by Is 53 to express his vocation to death. A connection with Is 53 remains incapable of being proved though it remains probable. Either way, the early church rapidly made use of Is 53 to explain the significance of Jesus' death.
In my opinion Mk 10:45a (certainly Lk 22:27) is most probably an authentic saying of Jesus. Mk 10:45b is more questionable but ought not be quickly dismissed; see Lindars' interpretation above. The relationship between Mk 10:45b and Is 53 remains an open question. That question, however, is not the only determinant of whether Jesus saw his death as a vicarious martyrdom. Apart from a strict connection between Mk 10:45 and Is 53, Jesus seems to have been influenced by the book of Isaiah. Also, even apart from Is 53, Morna Hooker, The Son of Man in Mark, 140-47; Jesus and The Servant, 78; and C.K. Barrett, "The Background of Mark 10:45," in New Testament Essays, Studies in Memory of T.W. Manson, ed. A.J.B. Higgins ( Manchester: The University Press, 1959),1-18; and J. Duncan M. Derrett, Jesus' Audience, the Social and Psychological Environment in Which He Worked (London: Darton, Longman and Todd,1973),44-45, point out that the concepts of suffering as atonement and vicarious merit were present and rellect Maccabean martyrdom theology. Also see Ps 118:22, and n. 26 of this chapter.
Morna Hooker, Jesus and the Servant, defines narrowly the servant of Deutero-Isaiah. I suggest that Jesus did not see himself as the servant of Deutero-Isaiah, but that he did see himself as a servant of the Lord, which concept was probably influenced by Isaian theology. At any rate, was there such a thing as the Deutero-Isaian concept for Jesus to identify with? Only moderns speak of Deutero-Isaiah and the four servant songs. Jesus saw himself as a servant. Servanthood influenced how he saw his life, and thus most probably how he saw his death. The sources for Jesus' understanding would have probably included at least Psalms, Isaiah, and Deuteronomy, as well as later Maccabean theology and his own reflection on the death of John the baptizer.
32 See J.C. O'Neill, "Did Jesus Teach That His Death Would Be Vicarious as Well as Typical?" in Suffering and Martyrdom in the New Testament, Studies Presented to G. M. Styler, ed. W. Horbury and B. McNeil (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 9-27.