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Jesus and the Suffering Servant

Did Jesus of Nazareth live and die without the teaching about the righteous Servant of the Lord in Isaiah 53 having exerted any significant influence on his ministry? Is it probable that this text exerted no significant influence upon Jesus' understanding of the plan of God to save the nations that the prophet Isaiah sets forth? Did the use of Isaiah 53 to interpret his mission actually begin with Jesus? Would it have been possible for Jesus to have acted so unnaturally as to have died for the unjust without reference to Isaiah's teaching about the Suffering Servant who poured out his soul to death and bore the sins of many?

These are the kinds of questions that were in the minds of those who organized a conference on "Isaiah 53 and Christian Origins" at Baylor University in the fall of 1995. The principal papers from that conference are now available in Jesus and the Suffering Servant, with contributions by Moma D. Hooker, Paul D. Hanson, Henning GrafReventlow, R. E. Clements, Otto Betz, N. T. Wright, and others. Of particular note in these papers is the discovery that it may have been Paul rather than Jesus who first exploited the idea of atoning suffering in Isaiah 53.

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