Abraham: A Paradigm of Faith Essay

Abraham: A Paradigm of Faith Essay

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Standard readings of the Akedah (Genesis 22.1-19) promote Abraham as a paradigm of faith because of his limitless and unwavering commitment to God. God speaks to Abraham, demands a painful violence that threatens to shatter his soteriological promises to Abraham, and Abraham marches forward fully complaint with the injunction. These actions certify Abraham as faith-hero par excellence; Abraham obeys regardless of obstacle or cost. This traditional interpretation is so readily accepted that even Kant fails to question its validity. Consequently, he chastises Abraham for his complete lack of moral when tasked with sacrificing Isaac. Even more awkwardly, while Maimonides argued that this pericope established the “extent and limit of the fear of God,” his assessment often gets mistranslated as an affirmation of limitless (and reckless) fear of God. This interpretation of the Akedah often puts exegetes in the difficult position of having to reconcile the unflinching resolve of Abraham with the potent agony of the story itself. However, rather than acting with limitless and unwavering commitment to the paradox God places before him, Abraham safeguards faith not through rejection of critical reasoning but rather a rejection of faith itself; only because Abraham believes and trusts in God can he so boldly reject the words of God.
Parts one and two of this essay will address issues of Genesis 22.1-14’s dating and structure within the Abraham life cycle in order to show the overall arc of Abraham’s sincere and deep-rooted faith in YHWH. Part three will then more closely scrutinize verses 1-14 to show how the arc of the story emphasizes radical faith amidst his painful testing by YHWH. Part four will conclude the pri...

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...Sanders, A.F. “Kierkegaard’s Reading of the Sacrifice of Isaac” in The Sacrifice of Isaac: The Akedah (Genesis 22) and its Interpretations. Edited by Ed Noort and Eibert Tigchelaar. Boston: Brill, 2002.

Ska, Jean-Louis. Introduction to Reading the Pentateuch. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2006.

Stern, David H. Jewish New Testament Commentary. Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992.

Van Bekkum, W.J. “The Aqedah and Its Interpretations in Midrash and Piyyut” in The Sacrifice of Isaac: The Akedah (Genesis 22) and its Interpretations. Edited by Ed Noort and Eibert Tigchelaar. Boston: Brill, 2002.

Wenham, Gordon J. Story as Torah. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000.

Wintermute, O.S. “Jubilees: A New Translation and Introduction” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Volume Two. Edited by James J. Charlesworth. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2009.

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