כל בשר (Meat Not Transcendence (Duetero-Isaiah)

flesh

In scholarly and theological circles, Deutero-Isaiah is famous for the world-embracing transcendence of its vision. The heaven is My throne, the earth My footstool, a new heaven, a new earth, etc. (66:1, 22). But the focus of the text, chapter 66, read today in the synagogue, is more red and raw than all that.

The affects that drive the text are shame and its overcoming in joy and comfort, wrought as the birth pangs of a nation born all at once, rage against the foe, the consolation of the breast, limbs that flourish like grass, God’s revelation of power. כל בשר, all flesh comes before God.

Deutero-Isaiah 66 is more about meat than transcendence. Horror is its closing picture. “They shall go out and gaze/On the corpse of the men who rebelled against Me;/Their worms shall not die,/Nor their fire be quenched;/They shall be a horror/To all flesh” (66:24).

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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