The Art Archive/Dagli Orti

The prophet Isaiah holds the single scroll containing the Book of Isaiah in this sixth-century mosaic from the Church of San Vitale, in Ravenna, Italy. Though Isaiah’s book reads as a seamless text today, scholars speculate that it is the work of two (or, perhaps, three) different writers: the original eighth-century B.C.E. prophet named Isaiah and an anonymous sixth-century B.C.E. prophet who appended his own writings to those of his more ancient predecessor.

Why did this later author, often called Second Isaiah, attribute his own work to an earlier prophet? Propp points out that the writer may have hoped this would give his prophecies more credibility. But Propp also suggests that Second Isaiah may not have been quite as modest as scholars have long presumed. His name may well be inserted in the text, although most modern scholars have overlooked it.