|Isaiah 53 in the Sefer Hizzuk Emunah ('Faith Strengthened') of Rabbi Isaac ben Abraham of Troki|
|Source: Stuhlmacher (Peter) & Janowski (Bernd), Eds. - The Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 in Jewish and Christian Sources|
|Paper - Abstract|
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Translator’s Summary1 (Full Text)
The city of Troki, in present-day Lithuania, represents in microcosm the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth of the sixteenth century. Here representatives of various religious communities — Protestants, Polish Roman Catholics, Russian Orthodox, Unitarians, and Jews of the Rabbanite and Karaite traditions - had the opportunity for serious religious dialogue. Rabbi Isaac ben Abraham (ca. 1525 – ca. 1586), leader of the Karaite community in Troki, participated in these discussions and wrote his influential anti-Christian polemical work, the Sefer Hizzuk Emunah, as a result. While previous studies have praised this work's masterful summary of 1,500 years of Jewish-Christian debate, little attention has been devoted to its refutation of Christian proofs from Isaiah 53, which forms one of its longest chapters. Isaac's treatment is valuable because it goes beyond brief polemical theses to serious exegetical engagement with the text. He combines Karaite and Rabbanite exegetical traditions with his own insights, for example, concerning a theology of Israel's (continuing) exile, in order to counter Christian claims that he likewise knew very well. Isaac's "collective" understanding of the Suffering Servant as applying only to the people of Israel precludes individual messianic interpretations. The interpretations of Isaiah 53 that Jews and Christians discussed four hundred years ago are therefore much the same as those that occupy the Jewish-Christian dialogue today.
Footnote 1: By Daniel P. Bailey.
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