[1] [11] W. Moberly, The Theology of the

1
Paul L. Allen, Theological Method: A Guide for the Perplexed. Guides for the
Perplexed, (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012) p.18.

2
What 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/

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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.

6
Job 1:11

7 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.

10
W. Moberly, Genesis 12-50 ‘An Invitation to the Imagination’, p.99.

11
W. Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis ‘Genesis 22: Abraham- Model or
Monster? p.195.

12
John 19:17

13
Genesis 22:6

14
W. Moberly, ‘Bible, Theology and Faith, Ancient and modern interpretations of
Genesis 22″ p.133-134

15
W. Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis ‘Genesis 22: Abraham- Model or
Monster? p.179.

16
W. Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis ‘Genesis 22: Abraham- Model or
Monster? p.198.

17W.
Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis ‘Genesis 22: Abraham- Model or
Monster? p.198.

18
W. Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis ‘Genesis 22: Abraham- Model or
Monster? p.198.

19
W. Moberly, The Theology of the Book of Genesis ‘Genesis 22: Abraham- Model or
Monster? p.195.

20
W. Moberly, Genesis 12-50 ‘An Invitation to the Imagination’, p.101.

 

Ultimately,
one’s predisposed religious affiliation is going to “determine one’s assessment
of the interpretation,” 20 and
thus whilst one scholar’s view may enrich one person’s understanding of Genesis
22, for the next it may act as a hindrance.

While for
the 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, an
issue drawn out by biblical scholars. The subject of child sacrifice is ever
more prevalent if one does not identify with a religion, which “in important
ways guides and constrains the understanding and use of Genesis 22.”16
It should not, as Professor Moberly argues, then come as a surprise if the
story is consequently deemed “at best weird and at worst dehumanising.”17
It thus becomes apparent that resources from the discipline of biblical studies
are vital in aiding an understanding of how “difficult historical issues of
cultural difference”18
can be reconciled to form “moral awareness and practices that are accountable
to the differing frames of reference that they inhabit simultaneously”19 issues
of the Old Testament are rather superficial, and stray too far from the original
meaning of the text.

For the
Christian scholar the question is not so much “‘what does this originally
mean?’ but rather ‘What does this now mean when it is read in the light of
Christ.”8
Indeed, Origen, a biblical scholar in the patristic period, writing in the
first half of the 3rd century, deduced that “faith in the
resurrection began to be held at the time of Isaac.” This claim is evidenced in
Hebrews where we hear “by faith Abraham did not hesitate, when he offered up
his son, on whom he received the promises, thinking that God is able to raise
him up even from the dead.”9Gerhard
von Rad, a commentator on the Old Testament in the twentieth century,
furthermore emphasises the principle role that Jesus plays in a Christian
understanding of the Old Testament; “we receive the Old Testament from the
hands of Jesus Christ, and therefore all exegesis of the Old Testament depends
on whom one think Jesus Christ to be”10
Yet, one has to remember when reading this that Von Rad was a Lutheran “and at
the heart of Lutheran theology stands a theology of the cross”, thus for the
non-Christian this Christocentric framework would not necessarily enrich their
reading of this passage.”11 A
further interpretation that can be drawn from biblical studies is a typological
parallel between Isaac and Jesus. In the same way that Jesus carries his cross12
so too Isaac carried the wood; “Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and
laid it on his son Isaac”13.
In many ways it is then clear to see “why Genesis 22 came to be considered by
Christians as one of the clearest anticipations of the Christian story of
salvation in the whole Old Testament”14
and how this passage is enriched through biblical studies. That being said, one
inherent problem and potential hindrance of such an interpretation is the
extent to which this engagement with the issues of the Old Testament are rather
superficial, and stray too far from the original meaning of the text.

For the
Jewish reader, Genesis 22 is known as the ‘Akedah’ or ‘the binding’ and is one
of the best known passages in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is traditionally read
on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, a festival that marks the Jewish New Year
and a “coronation of God as the ultimate spiritual sovereign of the Jewish
People.”2
Consequently, with this purpose in mind, the Jewish interpretation of this
passage is going to have a different focus to that of the Christian or Secular
understanding. Indeed, Moberly argues that an analogy can be drawn “between
Abraham’s response to God and that which is expected from Israel.”3 In
this passage we clearly see the sacrifice Abraham is willing to make for God,
painting Abraham as “a model for Torah obedience”4 A
reading of the Book of Jubilees, “the oldest extant interpretation of the whole
book of Genesis”5,
introduces the devil as another character into the story, as a figure who casts
doubts on Abraham’s faithfulness. When read in conjunction with Job 1, where
the devil carries out a series of tests on Job to try and make him “Curse you
God to your face”6,
Abraham’s actions can reasonably be interpreted as “a demonstration of his
genuineness”7.
Consequently, this scholarly interpretation enriches one’s understanding of why
it is that Abraham acts in the way he does, something the narrator does not
make explicitly clear in the original text.

Bernard
Lonergan argues that whilst it may be possible to reach a “significant level of
objectivity”1,
through being “sufficiently attentive, intelligent, reasonable and responsible”,
one can never be neutral. Indeed, one could argue that biblical studies are
never intended to be neutral but rather intend to aid an understanding of a
text from the author’s own view point. The story of Abraham and Isaac in
Genesis 22 in found within the book, referred to as the ‘Old Testament’ to the
Christian reader or the ‘Hebrew Scriptures’ to the Jewish reader. This initial
difference in how this book is referred to illustrates the differing frames of
reference that this passage can be viewed from. Furthermore, with the
increasing secularisation within our society, more and more people are
examining this passage from a secular stance. None of these standpoints are
neutral, yet this does not mean that this passage cannot be enriched by
resources from these different biblical studies.

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