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Conversion of Gentiles in Isaiah and Elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible

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Chapter Summary

From the lack of evidence for missionary activity by Jews in the second temple period, one might assume that Jews during this period had little or no interest in conversion of gentiles. This chapter examines the understanding of gentiles and conversion in the book of Isaiah and elsewhere in the Old Testament. The importance of the book of Isaiah for early Christians, an importance attested by the great frequency of its citation in the New Testament, was due no doubt in part to the attention which that book devotes to the place of the nations in God's salvation. Contrary to what one might expect in view of the general absence of evidence for active proselytizing in ancient Judaism, interest in the conversion of gentiles is widely evident in the Hebrew Bible. Interest in Isaiah in the destiny of the nations is most prominent of all in Isaiah 40-55.

Keywords: book of Isaiah; gentiles; God; Hebrew Bible; Judaism; New Testament; Old Testament



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