“A Remnant Will Return: An Analysis of the Literary Function of the Remnant Motif in Isaiah” by ANDREW M. KING
ABSTRACT: The remnant motif has been rightly recognized as a significant feature in the Hebrew Bible. And yet, while various studies have helpfully catalogued its occurrences, far too little attention has been given to developing the motif as a complex literary device. This article assesses the nature of the remnant motif in the book of Isaiah. It is argued that the motif exhibits a two-fold function as both a threat of impending judgment as well as an indication of blessing. To accomplish this task, this article surveys the relevant passages under two primary categories: 1) the remnant motif in prophetic oracle and 2) the remnant motif in prophetic narrative. Within each of these sections, the motif is shown to have a positive or negative literary function. In prophetic oracles, the motif is used with both senses with respect to Judah yet only functions negatively when used
in relation to the nations. The motif is used in Isaiah’s prophetic narratives in order to further the negative and positive characterization of Ahaz and Hezekiah respectively. It is argued that a proper understanding of the dual nature of this motif benefits not only readers of the Hebrew Bible, but also aids proper interpretation of various New Testament passages.
KEYWORDS: Remnant, Isaiah, Judgment, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Oracles aainst the Nations