1Paul L. Allen, Theological Method: A Guide for the Perplexed. Guides for thePerplexed, (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012) p.18.
2What happens in the synagogue of Rosh Hashanah by Rabbi Daniel Kohn.Accessed:29/12/17 https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/prayer-services-of-rosh-hashanah/3 W.Moberly, The theology of the book of Genesis p.
187. 4 W.Moberly, Genesis 12-50 ‘An Invitation to the Imagination’ p.92-93.
5 W.Moberly, Genesis 12-50 ‘An Invitation to the Imagination’ p.91. 6Job 1:117 W.Moberly Genesis 12-50 ‘An Invitation to the Imagination’ p.92. 8 W.Moberly, Genesis 12-50 ‘An Invitation to the Imagination’, p.
95.9 W.Moberly, ‘An Invitation to the Imagination’, p.96.10W. Moberly, Genesis 12-50 ‘An Invitation to the Imagination’, p.99.
11W. Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis ‘Genesis 22: Abraham- Model orMonster? p.195. 12John 19:1713Genesis 22:614W. Moberly, ‘Bible, Theology and Faith, Ancient and modern interpretations ofGenesis 22″ p.133-13415W. Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis ‘Genesis 22: Abraham- Model orMonster? p.179.
16W. Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis ‘Genesis 22: Abraham- Model orMonster? p.198.17W.Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis ‘Genesis 22: Abraham- Model orMonster? p.198.18W. Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis ‘Genesis 22: Abraham- Model orMonster? p.
198.19W. Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis ‘Genesis 22: Abraham- Model orMonster? p.195.
20W. Moberly, Genesis 12-50 ‘An Invitation to the Imagination’, p.101.
Ultimately,one’s predisposed religious affiliation is going to “determine one’s assessmentof the interpretation,” 20 andthus whilst one scholar’s view may enrich one person’s understanding of Genesis22, for the next it may act as a hindrance. While forthe Jewish and Christian reader this story illustrates the importance of a”costly right response to God”15,for the secular reader, the issue of child abuse becomes more poignant, anissue drawn out by biblical scholars. The subject of child sacrifice is evermore prevalent if one does not identify with a religion, which “in importantways guides and constrains the understanding and use of Genesis 22.”16It should not, as Professor Moberly argues, then come as a surprise if thestory is consequently deemed “at best weird and at worst dehumanising.”17It thus becomes apparent that resources from the discipline of biblical studiesare vital in aiding an understanding of how “difficult historical issues ofcultural difference”18can be reconciled to form “moral awareness and practices that are accountableto the differing frames of reference that they inhabit simultaneously”19 issuesof the Old Testament are rather superficial, and stray too far from the originalmeaning of the text.
For theChristian scholar the question is not so much “‘what does this originallymean?’ but rather ‘What does this now mean when it is read in the light ofChrist.”8Indeed, Origen, a biblical scholar in the patristic period, writing in thefirst half of the 3rd century, deduced that “faith in theresurrection began to be held at the time of Isaac.” This claim is evidenced inHebrews where we hear “by faith Abraham did not hesitate, when he offered uphis son, on whom he received the promises, thinking that God is able to raisehim up even from the dead.”9Gerhardvon Rad, a commentator on the Old Testament in the twentieth century,furthermore emphasises the principle role that Jesus plays in a Christianunderstanding of the Old Testament; “we receive the Old Testament from thehands of Jesus Christ, and therefore all exegesis of the Old Testament dependson whom one think Jesus Christ to be”10Yet, one has to remember when reading this that Von Rad was a Lutheran “and atthe heart of Lutheran theology stands a theology of the cross”, thus for thenon-Christian this Christocentric framework would not necessarily enrich theirreading of this passage.”11 Afurther interpretation that can be drawn from biblical studies is a typologicalparallel between Isaac and Jesus.
In the same way that Jesus carries his cross12so too Isaac carried the wood; “Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering andlaid it on his son Isaac”13.In many ways it is then clear to see “why Genesis 22 came to be considered byChristians as one of the clearest anticipations of the Christian story ofsalvation in the whole Old Testament”14and how this passage is enriched through biblical studies. That being said, oneinherent problem and potential hindrance of such an interpretation is theextent to which this engagement with the issues of the Old Testament are rathersuperficial, and stray too far from the original meaning of the text.
For theJewish reader, Genesis 22 is known as the ‘Akedah’ or ‘the binding’ and is oneof the best known passages in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is traditionally readon the second day of Rosh Hashanah, a festival that marks the Jewish New Yearand a “coronation of God as the ultimate spiritual sovereign of the JewishPeople.”2Consequently, with this purpose in mind, the Jewish interpretation of thispassage is going to have a different focus to that of the Christian or Secularunderstanding. Indeed, Moberly argues that an analogy can be drawn “betweenAbraham’s response to God and that which is expected from Israel.
“3 Inthis passage we clearly see the sacrifice Abraham is willing to make for God,painting Abraham as “a model for Torah obedience”4 Areading of the Book of Jubilees, “the oldest extant interpretation of the wholebook of Genesis”5,introduces the devil as another character into the story, as a figure who castsdoubts on Abraham’s faithfulness. When read in conjunction with Job 1, wherethe devil carries out a series of tests on Job to try and make him “Curse youGod to your face”6,Abraham’s actions can reasonably be interpreted as “a demonstration of hisgenuineness”7.Consequently, this scholarly interpretation enriches one’s understanding of whyit is that Abraham acts in the way he does, something the narrator does notmake explicitly clear in the original text.BernardLonergan argues that whilst it may be possible to reach a “significant level ofobjectivity”1,through being “sufficiently attentive, intelligent, reasonable and responsible”,one can never be neutral.
Indeed, one could argue that biblical studies arenever intended to be neutral but rather intend to aid an understanding of atext from the author’s own view point. The story of Abraham and Isaac inGenesis 22 in found within the book, referred to as the ‘Old Testament’ to theChristian reader or the ‘Hebrew Scriptures’ to the Jewish reader. This initialdifference in how this book is referred to illustrates the differing frames ofreference that this passage can be viewed from. Furthermore, with theincreasing secularisation within our society, more and more people areexamining this passage from a secular stance. None of these standpoints areneutral, yet this does not mean that this passage cannot be enriched byresources from these different biblical studies.