Abraham and Isaac Preview (svithe)


This is one of the Old Testament's most terrifying stories. Sure, sure, filtered through a New Testament lens it makes some sense, but Abraham and Isaac is --- awful. Admit it. (And really, if God the Father is standing above us with a knife --- is that really the image of him we want?)

I'll be teaching this story in Sunday School next Sunday and I've been struck by the list of takes on the story by Bored in Vernal at Mormon Matters (note the comments also).

One of the stories she mentions, Master Fob's "Abraham's Purgatory" has proven to be one of the most thought-provoking bits of Bible-based fiction I've ever read. It started me on the path of thinking on all this.

I'm still just percolating how I will approach this topic, but I am definitely planning something more like BiV's list than the traditional way of looking at the story.

Your suggestions are welcome.

last week's svithe


  1. .

    One idea I find particularly fascinating (although I think it works better with later Old Testament stories than Abraham and Isaac) is that when the Israelites killed thousands of the enemy in the Lord's name, that counts as taking His name in vain --- certainly if he did not demand it, and perhaps that isn't something he really demands?

    Compared to the wars in the Book of Mormon for instance where the only righteous war was a defensive war, the Israelites were pretty forward in their fighting.

  2. This has always been a difficult story for me. . .and I thought a lot about it this time around and it's beginning to make more sense.

    I think for me the thing that is hardest is that the emotional/spiritual/physical price that God is asking Abraham and Isaac to pay is so, so, so high. I keep thinking that a merciful and omniscient and omnipotent God could have found a different way. But I'm not God and I won't pretend to understand all His reasons and I certainly won't judge Him based on my limited, mortal understanding.

    That said, I spent a lot time thinking about the relationship between the Abrahamic covenant and the almost sacrifice. I think I'm only scratching the surface, but it seems to me that when Abraham was asked to put Isaac on the altar it may have been more about putting the symbol of his covenants on the altar.

    Looking at the whole thing through the lens of covenants makes it more complete and, to my mind, justifies the price God was asking them to pay.

    Still a difficult story though.