Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I-35: The Holy Roller's Holy Roll

CNN is reporting that a group of Christians believe that I-35, which runs across the midsection of the USA, is the 'Way of Holiness' that they believe is mentioned in Isaiah 35:8 [1]. For the life of me, I cannot fathom how this kind of thought gets started (apart from copious amounts of liquor, that is) let along how upon reflection people can continue to believe it. Cindy Jones, a Texas minister with obviously too much time on her hands, received a revelation and says "she can't be sure Interstate 35 really is what is mentioned in the Bible but says she received a revelation to start this campaign after once again reading Isaiah, Chapter 35" [1].

The verse in question says:

And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. [Isaiah 35:8; NIV]

This is a quintessential example of isogesis, or the reading in of meaning to a text. I suppose that the Reverend Jones has noticed that Isaiah 35 could be associated with I-35 - if one ignores the context of the pericope. This passage is describing Israel's triumphant return to Zion from exile: "They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them and sorrow and sighing will flee away" [Isaiah 35:10b; NIV].

Forget how this passage forms the end of First Isaiah and transitions into the exile phase of Second Isaiah [2]. Forget how Zion is a abstract concept that Eliade would refer to as an "archetype" [3]. What is more reasonable? That Isaiah 35 would refer to I-35 or that ancient Hebrews would engage in hegemony by describing a 'Way of Holiness' that led back to Israel from Babylon?

I tell you honestly that no one can make this stuff up! This is the ridiculous world in which we live!

-Safari Bob

[2] Blenkinsopp, J. (2000). Isaiah 1-39, The Anchor Bible Vol. 19. Doubleday, New York, pp. 454-457.
[3] Eliade, M. (1996). Patterns in Comparative Religion. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, pp. 371-372.


  1. So what does that say about the I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota?

  2. Oooh good point! I wonder how that could be spun...