The Isaiah Map

Confession time: I used to hate Isaiah. When I was 13 years old and couldn’t sleep on Christmas Eve I read Isaiah so that I would fall asleep. I’m not making that up.

When I was a seminary teacher, I tried to avoid teaching Isaiah. If I was teaching 1 Nephi 20-22, I would spend all my time on 1 Nephi 22 (20-21 are Isaiah). If I was teaching 2 Nephi 6-9, I’d spent 90% of the time on 2 Nephi 9 (Jacob, instead of Isaiah in 6-8).

All that changed several years ago, when I was fortunate enough to sit across the aisle from my colleague Matt Grey on a flight to Chicago. He sketched out a little map of the Ancient Near East and showed me how on just one page you could summarize a lot of history and geography that is really important for understanding Isaiah.

It completely changed the way I read Isaiah.

I just published an article that goes into detail about this map, and gives some examples of how to use it. It’s especially helpful for 1 Nephi 20-21 (Isaiah 48-49), 2 Nephi 7-8 (Isaiah 50-51) and 2 Nephi 12-24 (Isaiah 2-14).

This approach focuses on understanding the geography and historical context of Isaiah’s day and the following generations as suggested by Nephi (see 2 Nephi 25:6). I’m not suggesting this is the only or even best way to understand Isaiah; however, I have found this background information is helpful for people to gain confidence that they can learn to study Isaiah.

Please download this article (it’s free!) and share it with others. It’s made Isaiah come alive for me, and I hope it does the same for you.

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8 thoughts on “The Isaiah Map

  1. Thank you for sharing The Isaiah Map! I have been trying to gain a better understanding of Isaiah for YEARS. I have purchased numerous books to help me but I’ve had little success. I am teaching seminary this year and I’ve been a bit disappointed in the various Come Follow Me podcasts (don’t get me wrong I love them) but they all tend to avoid talking about 1 Nephi 19-22. This is giving me an easier way to understand and hopefully a better way teach the chapters on Isaiah. I so love teaching seminary and am so grateful for all that I am learning. I’m especially grateful for educators such as yourself who are willing to share their learning experiences.

  2. I only have one gospel doctrine period to spend on teaching isaiah. Not much time to cover. Do you have any suggestions on what to focus on during the lesson?

    1. That’s so hard! I don’t think there is any answer except prayer! There are hours and hours of possible material, it’s challenging to know what will be most impactful to your class. I do think that “teaching people how to fish” is one of the most important things so that they can feed themselves in the future. So I would be tempted to do the Isaiah map with one or two illustrations of how it works and invite them to use it in their personal study. But I’m obviously biased. 🙂

  3. I have been VERY blessed by your material, teaching style and the classes offered for free online thru BYU self study. God bless you for sharing your wealth of knowledge. I have learned so much by taking them online. I echo Terry Whitmer’s sentiments made earlier. I look forward to delving into more of your material.

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