Best books on moral ethics on sacrifice of Isaac on Gen 22

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Posts 1879
mike | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Oct 29 2019 4:25 PM

What resources presents good moral ethic of scholarly arguments on the sacrifice of Isaac on Gen 22?

Thanks!

Posts 42
DHG | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 29 2019 4:46 PM

The best resource might be the Book of Genesis, specifically the place where it mentions who created what.

Or maybe Søren Kierkegaard on Fear and Trembling? https://www.logos.com/product/16935

Posts 1879
mike | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 29 2019 10:26 PM

Thanks for the recommendation. I (partially) read that book and books that cited Kierkegaard's work, but those books tend to give a quick and one-sided conclusion without going through the arguments and details. (helpful tho!)

Any other?

Posts 1659
Allen Browne | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 30 2019 5:19 AM

mike:
What resources presents good moral ethic of scholarly arguments on the sacrifice of Isaac on Gen 22?

As you may have found, Gen 22:2 is largely absent from books on ethics.

Good commentaries wrestle with the ethics of God's request, not so much solving the issue as giving understanding. For example Victor Hamilton (NICOT) notes:

The real test is whether Abraham will sacrifice the one person who can perpetuate the promises of God.

Posts 3739
Mattillo | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 30 2019 6:31 AM

This would be worth a look as well for you, albeit a little short depending on how much you are looking for:

https://www.logos.com/product/43185/is-god-a-moral-monster-making-sense-of-the-old-testament-god 

Posts 634
Scott E. Mahle | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 30 2019 7:09 AM

Most certainly worth your consideration:

The Crucifixion of the Warrior God, vols. 1-2

Logos Series X Pastor’s Library | Logos 3 Leader’s Library | Logos 4 Portfolio | Logos 5 Platinum | Logos 6 Feature Crossgrade | Logos 7 Essential Upgrade - Large | Logos 8 Methodist & Wesleyan Platinum and Academic Professional

Posts 10794
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 30 2019 10:14 AM

mike:

What resources presents good moral ethic of scholarly arguments on the sacrifice of Isaac on Gen 22?

Thanks!

What is moral? Ethical? For a diety? These days among the religious, seems hypocritical.

Ironically, Issac's unfortunate experience was a big deal in 2nd Temple ... later largely forgotten.

"I didn't know God made honky tonk angels."

Posts 53
LW | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 30 2019 11:46 AM

I think Kierkegaard did as bad a job as possible on this topic. The best resource the I can think of for this is Bullinger's Figures of Speech Used in the Bible. A brief mention under peirastic irony, one of the many gems available at Logos/Verbum. There's more I would add, but I'm not home at my little library right now to look it up.

Posts 28
Olli-Pekka Ylisuutari | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 30 2019 4:42 PM

This is not my area of expertise at all, but I’ll give it a shot…

As you are enquiring as to resources presenting good moral ethic of scholarly arguments I would start with this:

https://www.logos.com/product/42397/the-dialogues-of-plato-vol-2

Plato has the dialogue (Eutrypho) which poses the classic philosophical question raised by Socrates: ”Whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods?” (page 84).

Socrates’ is not just a moral ethical question, but one that cuts a bit with theology too in a monotheistic setting: Is God is tied to the laws of morality instead of formulating them?

In my understanding ”morality vs. obeying God” was hotly debated in the Middle Ages.

Then:

https://www.logos.com/product/46688/the-guide-for-the-perplexed

Rabbi Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) says in his guide for the perplexed that the Aqedah demonstrates that revelation is as true and as certain as philosophical argument.

Possible search words or key words: Natural law? Voluntarism? Divine command theory? Absolute sovereignity of God’s will? Arbirtrary morality? Moral contingency? Independent moral standards? Self-sufficient or absolute morality beside God? Moral character of God?

William Ockham’s Sentences, or Duns Scotus..? (haven’t read them myself, though; relying totally on the wiser people, here). I am not sure, whether to find Ockham or Scotus in Logos.

Immanuel Kant’s classic analysis of the problem of sacrificing Isaac from a moral perspective in Kant’s Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der blossen Vernunft (Ausgabe 1793). I strongly doubt if there is an english translation in Logos. Maybe you can get it otherwise, as a print copy?

Kretzmann, Norman (1999). "Abraham, Isaac, and Euthyphro: God and the basis of morality". In Eleonore Stump; Michael J. Murray (eds.). Philosophy of Religion: The Big Questions. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-20604-0.

And as an opposite critique of Kierkegaard: Emmanuel Levinas, A propos Kierkegaard vivant?

Shalom Spiegel, The Last Trial: On the Legends and Lore of the Command to Abraham to Offer Isaac as a Sacrifice? Not in Logos, but can be found:

https://www.amazon.com/Last-Trial-Legends-Command-Sacrifice/dp/187904529X

Jacques Derrida, The Gift of Death?

https://www.amazon.com/Second-Literature-Secret-Religion-Postmodernism/dp/0226142779

Happy hunting! And an interesting subject indeed, I might add!

Posts 28760
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 30 2019 6:35 PM

It has been years since I read this but IIRC it is useful in unpacking the passage: The Last Trial: On the Legends and Lore of the Command to Abraham to Offer Isaac as a Sacrifice by Shalom Spiegel. An also IIRC this book takes the ethics vs. obedience approach: The Binding of Isaac  by Omri Boehm. This was recommended to me by a friend who's opinion I trust but I've only glanced through it. Unbinding the Binding of Isaac by Mishael M. Caspi

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 7082
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 30 2019 7:55 PM

Here’s a short excursus from the New Interpreter’s Study Bible (Not available in Logos):

Excursus: The Moral Dilemma of the Sacrifice of Isaac

The moral dilemma posed by this story comes to a climax in Gen 22:12–13, as God allows an animal sacrifice to be put in place of Isaac but at the same time commends Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. A major response to this dilemma among interpreters has been to read the story as a polemic against human sacrifice. According to this interpretation, the story describes God’s demand for a human sacrifice only to show that in the end God desires not human sacrifice but the substitution of an animal. This interpretation appears to be supported by frequent condemnations of human sacrifice in the OT (e.g., Deut 12:31; Jer 7:30–32). The key difficulty with this interpretation, and the reason why it is not as widely accepted as it once was, is that it undermines the point of the text: Abraham’s absolute obedience in his willingness to slay Isaac. How can the story honor Abraham so highly for his willingness to do what the story condemns, the offering of human sacrifice? Abraham’s obedience, therefore, is meaningful only if the story takes human sacrifice as a genuine act of worship, as was the case in the ancient Near East and apparently at some point in biblical history (Exod 22:29–30 [Heb 22:28–29]; Ezek 20:25–26). Among the many attempts to respond to this moral dilemma are two major ones. According to one, God is above all human moral codes and is free to act in divine wisdom: God’s ways are not human ways. According to the other, the vast difference between ancient and modern cultural norms (and their accompanying theologies) must be emphasized and incorporated into any contemporary response. While the obedience of Abraham might be understood and appreciated from a historical perspective, the practice of human sacrifice must be recognized, as it is in most biblical texts, as a contradiction to genuine worship and morality.The moral dilemma posed by this story comes to a climax in Gen 22:12–13, as God allows an animal sacrifice to be put in place of Isaac but at the same time commends Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. A major response to this dilemma among interpreters has been to read the story as a polemic against human sacrifice. According to this interpretation, the story describes God’s demand for a human sacrifice only to show that in the end God desires not human sacrifice but the substitution of an animal. This interpretation appears to be supported by frequent condemnations of human sacrifice in the OT (e.g., Deut 12:31; Jer 7:30–32). The key difficulty with this interpretation, and the reason why it is not as widely accepted as it once was, is that it undermines the point of the text: Abraham’s absolute obedience in his willingness to slay Isaac. How can the story honor Abraham so highly for his willingness to do what the story condemns, the offering of human sacrifice? Abraham’s obedience, therefore, is meaningful only if the story takes human sacrifice as a genuine act of worship, as was the case in the ancient Near East and apparently at some point in biblical history (Exod 22:29–30 [Heb 22:28–29]; Ezek 20:25–26). Among the many attempts to respond to this moral dilemma are two major ones. According to one, God is above all human moral codes and is free to act in divine wisdom: God’s ways are not human ways. According to the other, the vast difference between ancient and modern cultural norms (and their accompanying theologies) must be emphasized and incorporated into any contemporary response. While the obedience of Abraham might be understood and appreciated from a historical perspective, the practice of human sacrifice must be recognized, as it is in most biblical texts, as a contradiction to genuine worship and morality.The moral dilemma posed by this story comes to a climax in Gen 22:12–13, as God allows an animal sacrifice to be put in place of Isaac but at the same time commends Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. A major response to this dilemma among interpreters has been to read the story as a polemic against human sacrifice. According to this interpretation, the story describes God’s demand for a human sacrifice only to show that in the end God desires not human sacrifice but the substitution of an animal. This interpretation appears to be supported by frequent condemnations of human sacrifice in the OT (e.g., Deut 12:31; Jer 7:30–32). The key difficulty with this interpretation, and the reason why it is not as widely accepted as it once was, is that it undermines the point of the text: Abraham’s absolute obedience in his willingness to slay Isaac. How can the story honor Abraham so highly for his willingness to do what the story condemns, the offering of human sacrifice? Abraham’s obedience, therefore, is meaningful only if the story takes human sacrifice as a genuine act of worship, as was the case in the ancient Near East and apparently at some point in biblical history (Exod 22:29–30 [Heb 22:28–29]; Ezek 20:25–26). Among the many attempts to respond to this moral dilemma are two major ones. According to one, God is above all human moral codes and is free to act in divine wisdom: God’s ways are not human ways. According to the other, the vast difference between ancient and modern cultural norms (and their accompanying theologies) must be emphasized and incorporated into any contemporary response. While the obedience of Abraham might be understood and appreciated from a historical perspective, the practice of human sacrifice must be recognized, as it is in most biblical texts, as a contradiction to genuine worship and morality.

Posts 1879
mike | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 1 2019 5:27 AM

Olli-Pekka Ylisuutari:

This is not my area of expertise at all, but I’ll give it a shot…

As you are enquiring as to resources presenting good moral ethic of scholarly arguments I would start with this:

https://www.logos.com/product/42397/the-dialogues-of-plato-vol-2

Plato has the dialogue (Eutrypho) which poses the classic philosophical question raised by Socrates: ”Whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods?” (page 84).

Socrates’ is not just a moral ethical question, but one that cuts a bit with theology too in a monotheistic setting: Is God is tied to the laws of morality instead of formulating them?

In my understanding ”morality vs. obeying God” was hotly debated in the Middle Ages.

Then:

https://www.logos.com/product/46688/the-guide-for-the-perplexed

Rabbi Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) says in his guide for the perplexed that the Aqedah demonstrates that revelation is as true and as certain as philosophical argument.

Possible search words or key words: Natural law? Voluntarism? Divine command theory? Absolute sovereignity of God’s will? Arbirtrary morality? Moral contingency? Independent moral standards? Self-sufficient or absolute morality beside God? Moral character of God?

William Ockham’s Sentences, or Duns Scotus..? (haven’t read them myself, though; relying totally on the wiser people, here). I am not sure, whether to find Ockham or Scotus in Logos.

Immanuel Kant’s classic analysis of the problem of sacrificing Isaac from a moral perspective in Kant’s Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der blossen Vernunft (Ausgabe 1793). I strongly doubt if there is an english translation in Logos. Maybe you can get it otherwise, as a print copy?

Kretzmann, Norman (1999). "Abraham, Isaac, and Euthyphro: God and the basis of morality". In Eleonore Stump; Michael J. Murray (eds.). Philosophy of Religion: The Big Questions. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-20604-0.

And as an opposite critique of Kierkegaard: Emmanuel Levinas, A propos Kierkegaard vivant?

Shalom Spiegel, The Last Trial: On the Legends and Lore of the Command to Abraham to Offer Isaac as a Sacrifice? Not in Logos, but can be found:

https://www.amazon.com/Last-Trial-Legends-Command-Sacrifice/dp/187904529X

Jacques Derrida, The Gift of Death?

https://www.amazon.com/Second-Literature-Secret-Religion-Postmodernism/dp/0226142779

Happy hunting! And an interesting subject indeed, I might add!

Maan... You kept me busy yesterday and today. Had to stay awake until my fingers are frozen (no heater atm)

Thank you!

Posts 1879
mike | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 1 2019 5:30 AM

MJ. Smith:

It has been years since I read this but IIRC it is useful in unpacking the passage: The Last Trial: On the Legends and Lore of the Command to Abraham to Offer Isaac as a Sacrifice by Shalom Spiegel. An also IIRC this book takes the ethics vs. obedience approach: The Binding of Isaac  by Omri Boehm. This was recommended to me by a friend who's opinion I trust but I've only glanced through it. Unbinding the Binding of Isaac by Mishael M. Caspi

Thanks MJ. Will look them up!

Posts 28
Olli-Pekka Ylisuutari | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 1 2019 5:32 AM

Glad I could be of assistance!

Posts 10794
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 1 2019 7:24 AM

Re-intruding, and well aware this is a modern classing problem.

But for those who haven't read the account as close as the early jews, the resource 'Legends of the Jews' by Louis Ginsburg is great. If you have it, make sure you read the introduction first, so you'll know whence the accounts.

1. Gen 22:2 starts the ball rolling. God's question, requires 3 clarifications from Abraham (ergo the 3 verse descriptions): which son (has 2), which 'only' son (has 2, separate mothers), finally Isaac!

2. Abraham identifies the next problem. Abraham is not a priest. (Exactly what is being tested?). Abraham instead suggests Shem (who is still alive, haven't checked the Logos timeline). God says he'll consecrate Abraham later, and make him a priest. Whew.

3. Abraham knows Sarah will have a heart attack, if he lets her know what he's about to do. So, since Isaac's a grown man and 37, it's time for religious training ... Shem again.

4. Ishmael knows what's up, and is thrilled. Inheritance!

5. Satan appears to Abraham and points out the obvious. You're not supposed to roast favorite (Tanakh 1985) sons. God's a fake. Satan lets Sarah in on the truth too.

6. The OT text provides no clue how Abraham can locate the hill/mountain. So, the jewish account provides a pillar of fire (that the servants can't see).

7. On arrival, Isaac's fully on-board, pointing out he's 37 and Abraham is old. May need extra help from Isaac! Building a proper alter is not child's play.

8. God chats  with the angels, being extra proud that Abraham and Isaac are both so enthused.

9. The angels are crying ... not for Isaac, but God was breaking his covenant (no Isaac, no nation). Disaster!

10. Unbeknownst to Abraham (and the key to the whole moral/ethical problem), Abraham subconsciously (divine knowledge) knew Isaac will come home with him. So, Abraham's just doing a test. And God sees forward and backward ... Isaac was never in any danger. Happy angels.

"I didn't know God made honky tonk angels."

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