Ann Madsen – Why Study Isaiah

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In this interview, and with the release of her “Opening Isaiah,” Kelsey Wilding asked Ann Madsen, who at the time of this recording (2018) was a senior lecturer in ancient scripture at Brigham Young University: “How did you get interested in the Book of Isaiah?”

Madsen answered:

I was a master’s degree student when I was studying the Old Testament. And I was going to be teaching the Old Testament to other students at BYU.

To get ready I studied all of the prophets in the Old Testament. But I particularly liked Isaiah, however, I didn’t understand his writings very well.

It’s funny, as I think about my youth, and the first time I tried to read The Book of Mormon from cover to cover. And then pray about it. But when I got to the Isaiah passages, I couldn’t keep going!

It makes me smile now because, I think, no I hope I’m helping other people get through the Isaiah passages. That way they can find out that The Book of Mormon is true, because I didn’t get to find out that it was true when I was younger. In fact, instead, I started reading the Doctrine and Covenants. But I finally got to it and I found out for myself that it was true.

Opening Isaiah—a Harmony, by Ann Madsen and Shon Hopkin

And so, then as I was studying the Old Testament. And the more I taught the Old Testament at BYU, the more I wanted to learn more about Isaiah.

Isaiah seemed like a wonderful mystery that I could plunge into the depths of if I would just make the effort.  So, that’s what I did, and that’s what I’m still doing.  I mean I’ve just finished a book this year, Opening Isaiah—a Harmony, by Ann Madsen and Shon Hopkin, that I think puts together most of what I have learned in all these years.

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Ann N. Madsen, an Isaiah scholar and poet, teaches ancient scripture at Brigham Young University. She received her MA degree from BYU in ancient studies with a minor in Hebrew. At present, she serves on the Sunday School general board of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She and her husband, Truman, have three children and a Navajo foster son, sixteen grandchildren and, at the moment, twenty-five great-grandchildren.


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