pdf Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 4/1 (1992)  >  Isaiah Made Easier
ARTICLES
  1. Editor's Introduction: Questions to Legal Answers
  2. Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion
  3. George Dempster Smith, Jr., on the Book of Mormon
  4. Stories from the Early Saints: Converted by the Book of Mormon
  5. Living the Book of Mormon: A Guide to Understanding and Applying Its Principles in Today's World
  6. Ancient American Indians: Their Origins, Civilizations and Old World Connections
  7. Fathers and Sons in the Book of Mormon
  8. Fathers and Sons in the Book of Mormon
  9. The Book of Isaiah: A New Translation with Interpretive Keys from the Book of Mormon
  10. The Book of Isaiah: A New Translation with Interpretive Keys from the Book of Mormon
  11. A Standard unto My People
  12. Southwestern American Indian Rock Art and the Book of Mormon
  13. Gadiantons and the Silver Sword: A Novel
  14. The Truth about Mormonism: A Former Adherent Analyzes the LDS Faith
  15. A Tragedy of Errors
  16. The Book of Abraham: Divinely Inspired Scripture
  17. By Study and Also by Faith, vol. 2
  18. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon Vol. 3, Alma through Helaman
  19. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon. Vol. 3 Alma through Helaman
  20. Dominions of the Gadiantons
  21. The Most Correct Book: Why the Book of Mormon Is the Keystone Scripture
  22. The Book of Mormon: Mosiah, Salvation Only through Christ
  23. Isaiah Made Easier
  24. Rediscovering the Book of Mormon
  25. Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?
  26. Out of Darkness into Light: A Novel Approach
  27. The Use of the Old Testament in the Book of Mormon
  28. Death Knell or Tinkling Cymbals?
  29. Fantastic Archaeology: The Wild Side of North American Prehistory
  30. Fantastic Archaeology: The Wild Side of North American Prehistory
  31. To Mothers & Fathers from the Book of Mormon
  32. 1991 Book of Mormon Bibliography
  33. About the Reviewers

Review of David J. Ridges, Isaiah Made Easier. Springville, UT: By the Author, 1991. i + 76 pp., $9.95.



Reviewed by Terrence L. Szink

The author's declared purposes in this volume are (1) to help students make notes in their own scriptures as they study Isaiah, and (2) to demonstrate that Isaiah can be understood and even enjoyed. To achieve these goals Mr. Ridges reprints the text of the King James Version of Isaiah and the passages of Isaiah that appear in the Book of Mormon and parenthetically inserts in each verse explanations and comments taken from a number of sources. The sources for these notes include the footnotes in the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Bible, the Joseph Smith Translation, passages from the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Victor Ludlow's Isaiah: Prophet, Seer and Poet, Monte Nyman's Great Are the Words of Isaiah, various unspecified Bible dictionaries, the Old Testament student manual published by the Church Educational System, and the Martin Luther edition of the German Bible. The choice of these sources is good; they all provide solid background and important commentary without delving too much into speculation. I assume that the inclusion of the latter of these sources is related to Joseph Smith's declaration that he preferred the German version to the King James Version in many instances.1 One does wonder about the value of including information from the footnotes of the Latter-day Saint version of the Bible, since most readers will be using that as their primary text anyway.

Many of the notes are useful, particularly those that clarify to whom pronouns refer, and those that provide historical or cultural data. Unfortunately, other notes attempt to clarify terms and ideas that do not seem to need clarification. For example, after the phrase "ye shall eat the good of the land" (Isaiah 1:19), the comment is "(you will prosper)"; after "For they shall be ashamed of" (Isaiah 1:29), the explanation is "(shamed because of)." Such comments are redundant and tend to disrupt the flow of the text.

Another minor complaint is that (with the exception of scriptural passages and the alternate translations provided by the German Bible) there is no documentation of where the notes come from. I realize that this would burden and even further interfere with the flow of the text, but perhaps a system of abbreviations could have been devised.

In several chapters Mr. Ridges rightly points out the chiastic structure of the text. In addition, a short explanation of Hebrew poetry in general would have been useful for the beginning student, since much of Isaiah is in a poetic style.

Despite these few shortcomings, I feel that with Isaiah Made Easier Mr. Ridges has reached his goals for the beginning student of Isaiah. He shows that with a little work, Isaiah can be understood by most members of the Church. It should be emphasized that this volume is not a commentary per se, but rather a compendium of commentaries. I certainly hope, along with the author, that after gaining the basic understanding of Isaiah's writings provided by Isaiah Made Easier students "with the help of more in-depth and scholarly books on Isaiah . . . might continue to pursue their studies of the words of this great Prophet of God" (p. i). I also agree with him that the "explana-tions and interpretations [found in his book] are not intended to be the final word on Isaiah" (p. i). I hope that students will begin to see many other possibilities for interpretation and application of Isaiah, for his symbolism and messages do indeed lend themselves to multiple interpretations in various settings. I would hasten to repeat that Mr. Ridges has made excellent choices for the sources of the explanatory notes; they all provide a firm foundation on which to build.

Notes

1. TPJS, 349, 360-64.