Revised Lectionary includes ‘2nd Isaiah’ to better reflect Biblical scholarship

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops announced a revision to the lectionary used at Mass. 

The revision was made in an attempt to bring the Scripture readings up to date with current Biblical scholarship; several changes have been proposed, including breaking the book formerly known as “Isaiah” into “1st Isaiah,” “2nd Isaiah,” and “3rd Isaiah.” 

“We know now that Isaiah the man didn’t actually write the book of Isaiah, if he even existed at all,” Biblical scholar Sue Ellen Jasper said. Jasper was on the committee that proposed the revisions. 

“Actually, what we call ‘The Book of Isaiah’ was written in at least 3 distinct parts over several centuries by revisionists as a way to cope with Israel’s exile and return,” she continued. 

All lectors at Catholic parishes are now instructed to proclaim the reading with “a reading from the [1st, 2nd, or 3rd] Book of the Jews in Babylonian Exile and later ascribed to Isaiah ben Amoz, supposed Prophet.” However, in children’s liturgies readers can use the alternate formula, “a reading from Proto- [Deutero, Trito] Isaiah” to make it more understandable for the very young. 

The revisions announced so far have focused exclusively on the Old Testament books, but changes are anticipated for the New Testament as well. 

“We’re considering many other possibilities for the New Testament,” Jasper said. “We’re thinking of breaking the Synoptic Gospels up into 5 separate Gospels, and changing the liturgical proclamations to ‘A reading from the Q source,’ or ‘The Holy Gospel according to the Marcan author,’ or things like that.” 

“John’s Gospel is definitely due for an overhaul,” she added. “As of now we’re going with ‘A reading from the Holy Gospel according to the 2nd century Christian community writing under the pen name of John the Apostle.’” 

“But, it’s a work in progress I guess!”