@Susan posed this question “High and lifted up” in Isaiah for the members to consider. I would like some feedback about it.

  1. Is it a good question? If you think so, 12 people do so far, then can you indicate why you think it is.

  2. There is a glaring unsubstantiated claim being made in the question, which makes it more rhetoric than a genuine question. Can anyone identify that claim?

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    As Davïd pointed out, it is not readily apparent why you think this question is a problem. Consider self-answering this post with your own perspective on why this matters to the site. – Caleb Nov 23 '15 at 13:36
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    Also trying to work out what your beef is .... it’s true that questions predicated on incorrect (or at least controversial) assumptions can occasionally be answered productively by undermining those assumptions rather than going in the direction intended by the OP. You’re free to do so if you have a point to make. The primary assumption I see is that the text quoted (BHS) reflects that produced by the author(s) of Isaiah, which is not exactly radical... – Susan Nov 23 '15 at 16:33
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    @engenue As implied by others, you should self answer this so that we can better understand where you are coming from. – ThaddeusB Nov 23 '15 at 18:59
  • @Susan You authored your question. You should be able to answer mine. Please make an attempt at an answer and be brave enough to admit what you've done and not just hint at it in your comment. It's clear to me now that it was intentional, which makes you a danger to anyone who legitimately wants to extract meaning from the biblical texts. – enegue Nov 23 '15 at 19:00
  • @ThaddeusB. I will do that in due course. The second part of my question provides plenty of scope for answers other than Caleb's. The fact that you guys are not seeing the problem with Susan's question is a problem. If you can't see it in the specific question I have identified, then she has a free hand to subliminally manipulate anyone who comes to this site. – enegue Nov 23 '15 at 19:07
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    The fact that you guys are not seeing the problem with Susan's question is a problem. That is your opinion only, and you shouldn't be making others have to guess what you perceive as a "a glaring unsubstantiated claim." If you feel there is one, state it. No one wants to play games here and your combative attitude is not helpful. – ThaddeusB Nov 23 '15 at 19:11
  • If you don't want to play the game @ThaddeusB, then simply stop participating. – enegue Nov 23 '15 at 19:12
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    @enegue Um, this isn't a gaming site, and treating it as such would be inappropriate. This site aims for serious, academic discourse. If you want to play games, then I suggest it is you who should find a different venue in which to spend your time. – ThaddeusB Nov 23 '15 at 19:16
  • Well, I challenge your claim. There IS a game being played here and you are either ignorant of it, or have been desensitized to it, or you know about it and are happy to go on playing. – enegue Nov 23 '15 at 19:20
  • @enegue I can speak only for myself, but I don't play games. I upvote questions/answers that I deem useful and downvote ones that I deem not useful. Nothing less, nothing more. Anyone treating the site as a game is acting inappropriately. – ThaddeusB Nov 23 '15 at 19:23
  • @ThaddeusB Please follow this link and read all of the instructions concerning downvotes. I'm pretty sure you are discerning enough to see that your general understanding of the use of downvotes misses the mark in regard to the clearly identified - even with it's own heading - intended use. – enegue Nov 23 '15 at 19:33
  • @engeugue Your are right. I don't downvote something merely for being "not useful," as there are many many question/answers I find not useful (i.e. not worthy of an upvote), but also not worthy up a downvote... I will be less tactful and more explicit. I downvote posts for being worthless - either because they don't answer the question (the vast majority of my DVs, most of which are quickly deleted), because they show zero effort (for example link/quote only posts), or because they are blatantly wrong. Effort is a consideration, but no amount of effort alone is not enough to avoid a DV. – ThaddeusB Nov 23 '15 at 19:59
  • The downvote privilege is being abused, @Thaddeus. If someone can downvote without having to give a reason for it, then this site is no better than twitter or facebook, where upvotes and downvotes are a measure of who you like and who you don't. The statistics for this site bear witness to the fact that visitors don't want to participate, and I believe the abuse of the downvote privilege is contributing to that. You, of course, will have your own explanation. – enegue Nov 23 '15 at 20:52
  • @ThaddeusB What constitutes a wrong answer? Who determines truth? – enegue Nov 23 '15 at 20:57
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    Non-anonymous feedback defeats the point of the voting system. This is not a BH decision, but a SE decision. And the site has been growing steadily since inception, but thanks for your concern. The individual voter determines what is "wrong" for them and they are not obligated to explain why, nor should they be. – ThaddeusB Nov 23 '15 at 21:22

Yes, this is a very good question.

  1. It's about an interesting turn of phrase that doesn't necessarily have an obvious translation and may or may not have implications depending on how it's interpreted. But really what makes it a good question is that it stems directly from the original text and is already well researched. Furthermore it's specific, meaning it will be apparent when answers do or don't answer the answer the question. The combination of these last two points means that it is well setup for somebody with the specific expertise required to answer to come in and share their knowledge.

  2. Assertions (substantiated or otherwise) are not as much of an issue for questions in the same way as they are for answers. Answers are expected to defend any claims they bring into their interpretation. Questions on the other hand play a different role, and sometimes challenging the basis of claims found in questions can be the right thing to do in an answer.

  • So, a good answer to the question will confirm the research already done? – enegue Nov 23 '15 at 11:35
  • I downvoted you answer because your response to the second question wasn't helpful in identifying the unsubstantiated claim. – enegue Nov 23 '15 at 11:36
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    The background research is included to help frame the actual question. This is good practice. If the research is flawed that can be corrected in answers (or it can be confirmed) but it would not even be possible to ask the specific question that was asked without showing some of the details already uncovered. – Caleb Nov 23 '15 at 11:37
  • What background research has been identified in the question? Can you identify the unsubstantiated claim? – enegue Nov 23 '15 at 11:40
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    @enegue I don't think answering that directly would be constructive because it's neither here nor there to the issue of whether this is or isn't a good question and why. As this meta site is for discussing the function of the main site, I answered with what I thought was the most constructive approach: helping you understand how different concerns weigh into analyzing posts and why the point you are trying to raise is irrelevant. – Caleb Nov 23 '15 at 11:59
  • Your opinion about whether the question was constructive, was not sought. 1. If you can identify the unsubstantiated claim, then do so? Stop prevaricating, and answer the question. 2. In your answer you said, "But really what makes it a good question is that it stems directly from the original text and is already well researched." Can you tell me what the point is in regurgitating the conclusions of research already done? Where are the links or references in the question to the research already done? – enegue Nov 23 '15 at 12:06
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    @enegue Stop prevaricating,... - ... this is getting you nowhere. It really isn't helpful to arrive in a well established group and start throwing things at people. | As for your original question, with now 13 upvotes, the community obviously thinks this is a "good question". I'm trying to work out what your beef is here. – Dɑvïd Nov 23 '15 at 12:18
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    I'm going to defer to Jon & Oliver. If you don't think my approach was a constructive approach to resolving the core issue of the question you raised, then down-voting it was the right thing to do. If there is anything I can clarify let me know, but I don't see a need to redirect my answer in a direction I don't think is useful to your (or anybody else's) understanding of the site. – Caleb Nov 23 '15 at 12:19
  • This is a useful exercise in more ways than you can see. It would be very helpful if you could see the glaring unsubstantiated claim in @Susan's question. – enegue Nov 23 '15 at 12:27
  • @David The fact that you can't see the problem, is the problem. – enegue Nov 23 '15 at 12:29
  • @Caleb It would be very helpful if you edited Susan 's question to insert a glaringly absent link/reference to the research already done, and/or remove the unsubstantiated claim. – enegue Nov 23 '15 at 12:37
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    @enegue I didn't change my mind. I realized that I wrote the same sentence twice in a row which was awkward to read. I edited out the duplicate statement. Perhaps you could give this all a read again later and get a little broader view. You seem a little lost in details and missing the bigger picture. – Caleb Nov 23 '15 at 12:50
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    @enegue Maybe —just maybe— the currently low participation on your just-posted meta question has to do with the fact that David and I are in timezones where being awake right now makes sense and most of the site's constituents are asleep in the US. Time will tell. If more votes show up in the next 18 hours... – Caleb Nov 23 '15 at 13:18
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    @enegue On meta votes are a touch different than on main. Same basic idea, but because Meta is more focused on the function of the site and the community, voting expresses agreement or disagreement as well as useful/not-usefulness. If, for example, an answer here picks up a lot of upvotes, that signals you the reader that a lot of separate people have agreed/seen the usefulness (and the inverse for downvotes). Only if people think a different approach than my answer would be constructive will more answers show up. – Caleb Nov 23 '15 at 13:34
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    @enegue At this point you need to either posit an answer yourself or stop wasting everybody's time. You've turned this into a stump-the-chump question and that's not a format we encourage. If you think there is a problem with the established patterns on this site the onus is on you to explain. Your attempt to make us read your mind has gotten to the point of insulting. Further discussion seems pointless until we hear your take on what's important to consider in forming a question. – Caleb Nov 24 '15 at 7:30

Okay. I've found some time to give you my answer to the questions.

  1. Is it a good question? If you think so, 12 people do so far, then can you indicate why you think it is.

The question is not a good question, and those who suggest otherwise are adding nothing to the reputation of this site as a place of scholarship.

The question is either poorly formed because of ignorance of how one ought to compose a good question, or was deliberately crafted in such a way as to make its real intent less obvious.

If it was a matter of crafting, such behaviour is dishonest, and should be discouraged on this site.

  1. There is a glaring unsubstantiated claim being made in the question, which makes it more rhetoric than a genuine question. Can anyone identify that claim?

The unsubstantiated claim, of course, is: The text of Isaiah may have had more than one author.

Here is how Susan should have presented her question.

"High and lifted up" in Isaiah

Isaiah 52:13

הִנֵּ֥ה יַשְׂכִּ֖יל עַבְדִּ֑י יָר֧וּם וְנִשָּׂ֛א וְגָבַ֖הּ מְאֹֽד׃
Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.

Isaiah 6:1

... בִּשְׁנַת־מוֹת֙ הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ עֻזִּיָּ֔הוּ וָאֶרְאֶ֧ה אֶת־אֲדֹנָ֛י יֹשֵׁ֥ב עַל־כִּסֵּ֖א רָ֣ם וְנִשָּׂ֑א
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up ...

The consensus among current secular scholars is that the text of Isaiah may have been the work of more than one author.

I’m curious about the phrase "High and lifted up", which is apparently an Isaiah-ism, occurring nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible as far as I can determine. Does the use of this phrase in Isaiah, lend further support to the view that the text of Isaiah may have had more than one author?


  • Is 52:13 intentionally echoing a phrase that elsewhere refers only to God?1
  • Are the two passages from which I've quoted, considered to have common authorship? (This requires something messier than the 1st/2nd/3rd scheme.)
  • Or is it supposed that a later author had access to an earlier text and intentionaly wrote in that style?
  • Or is it just by chance that this combination of words comes up repeatedly?

1. This combination of (qal) √rwm and (nifal) √nśʾ within the same phrase (or once in close parallel - 33:10) occurs in five passages: 2:12-14, 6:1, 33:10, 52:13, 57:15. The first is actually a polemic against those who would so exalt themselves (i.e., over against YHWH), but the idea that the description should be reserved for YHWH is the same.

In this format, the intent of the question is clear, a link/reference has been given to support the view that spawned it, and those who are not of the same view can avoid wasting the effort of casting their pearls.

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    The intent of your rewrite is clear, but it's not the same intent as Susan's original question. Her primary question is whether 52:13 is intentionally echoing 6:1 and therefore suggesting that the servant is the Lord. The secondary questions are to do with the authorship of the book. You have swapped her primary and secondary questions around! – curiousdannii Mod Nov 24 '15 at 14:02
  • @curiousdannii the text of her question was copied from the original, and the parts of it are in precisely the same order. Your innocence is refreshing, but don't waste your time here making such mistakes. Go to her question and write an answer, making sure you clearly identity who you believe the servant to be, and throw in a NT reference or two to support it. I'll be watching to see how you fare. – enegue Nov 24 '15 at 20:07
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    Ironically, the question in a way actually poses a challenge to the traditional critical view of 1st/2nd/3rd Isaiah by identifying a common strand between them. Regardless, the question explicitly acknowledges (twice) that there is controversy about whether one or more individuals authored Isaiah, so I’m not sure how you find this to be manipulative. – Susan Nov 24 '15 at 22:34
  • Where is your link or reference to support the basis of your question? Something I'm sure you would demand of the hoi polloi. I don't see the word controversy in your question. – enegue Nov 24 '15 at 22:43
  • I don't see any attempt in your question to make it obvious that poor lambs like curiousdanni, shouldn't bother attempting an answer. I believe there is a strong reason for you to self-answer the question to model for everyone the sort of answer you are expecting. – enegue Nov 24 '15 at 22:52
  • Just FYI in case you’re interested: How many Isaiahs? – Susan Nov 24 '15 at 22:53
  • What is the point of making a link here. Go back and edit your question and put it there. Doing it here is of no benefit to those who come across your question in there visit to the site. You need to reformat you question so that it is obvious what you are after. Just copy what I have done. It won't cost you any effort at all. – enegue Nov 24 '15 at 22:56
  • Silly me. I should have followed the link before responding. Where is your link/reference in that question? You say "there is a scholarly position", but you don't inform anyone about your source. – enegue Nov 24 '15 at 23:06
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    @enegue A question is fundamentally different than an answer. There is absolutely no requirement to reference anything in a question, let alone a commonly know fact. No one would even object to an answer that said "it is commonly believed that Isaiah had multiple authors..." – ThaddeusB Nov 24 '15 at 23:47
  • Wake up, ThaddeusB. If you are inviting people to answer a question, it is just common courtesy to let them know where you stand. Particularly, if the question involves a "controversy", to quote @Susan. Regardless of what you think is "commonly believed", the question has to give some indication of what the questioner requires in an answer. – enegue Nov 25 '15 at 1:10
  • @ThaddeusB Please take the time to read a question by Jon Ericson relating to "stump-the-chump" type questions. Don't just stop a his question, though, read all the comments and answers as well. – enegue Nov 25 '15 at 1:19
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    @enegue Your assumption that Susan is looking for a specific answer is unfounded and quite a violation of "common courtesy." – ThaddeusB Nov 25 '15 at 1:28
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    This set of objections is so patently ridiculous I don't even know where to start. What you have filled in between the lines of Susan's question is clearly quite different from her intent (as demonstrated by everybody but you coming to a different conclusion) to the point where your objection is completely fallacious. Her version of the question introduced the reader to there being controversy on the issue, then framed the second half of the question specifically at trying to understand the multi-author view. That is a question format that actually works well in SE's model. – Caleb Nov 25 '15 at 14:24
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    I'd say an apology is in order both to Susan for maligning her character as a poster (on zero evidence) and to the community at large for wasting a bunch of people's time playing guessing games and making a scene when a simple "This is what I see going on, is this how anybody else sees it and if so do they think that's a problem?" would have served to set the record straight without much-ado. – Caleb Nov 25 '15 at 14:24
  • @Caleb I haven't filled in anything, and if you can't see from curiousdannii's comment that she was conned into believing that Susan was legitimately inviting her to answer from the perspective of "Jesus is the suffering servant", then you really shouldn't be a moderator on this site. Go and read the Library conversation between curiousdannii and Susan regarding my question. Some of the conversations in the library amongst "the club" is pretty revealing. Perhaps I should ask a question about the club's you-post-something-and-we'll-upvote-it practice. – enegue Nov 25 '15 at 20:31

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