Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths

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Both immediate and timeless, Abraham tells the powerful story of one man's search for the shared ancestor of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Traveling through war zones, braving violence at religious sites, and seeking out faith leaders, Bruce Feiler uncovers the defining yet divisive role that Abraham plays for half the world's believers. Provocative and uplifting, Abraham offers a thoughtful and inspiring vision of unity that redefines what we think about our neighbors, our ...
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Overview

Both immediate and timeless, Abraham tells the powerful story of one man's search for the shared ancestor of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Traveling through war zones, braving violence at religious sites, and seeking out faith leaders, Bruce Feiler uncovers the defining yet divisive role that Abraham plays for half the world's believers. Provocative and uplifting, Abraham offers a thoughtful and inspiring vision of unity that redefines what we think about our neighbors, our future, and ourselves.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Bruce Feiler searches the globe for the man who figures prominently in three different religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- and discovers that the patriarch might be the key to ending the current conflict between the faiths.
Eric Wargo
Feiler's 2001 bestseller, Walking the Bible, took readers on a spiritual tour through the lands of the Bible. Its sequel is a spiritual biography of Abraham, the father of the three great monotheistic religions. Jews, Christians and Muslims all trace their origins to Abraham, who, as the story goes, led his family out of Mesopotamia and into Canaan (possibly in the early second millennium B.C.) and, during the journey, had several decisive encounters with God. God's outrageous requests—like asking Abraham to sacrifice his son—are, in the holy books that recorded them, templates for faith. Over time, each tradition has reinvented the patriarch to serve its own needs and sees its rivals as having betrayed his legacy. Feiler's travels through violence-ridden cities like Hebron (in the West Bank) and the New York of September 11 reveal the depths of the rift that divides Abraham's modern heirs. While this is an engaging, timely book, Feiler's final plea for an updated Abraham on which all three faiths can agree sounds like wishful thinking.
Publishers Weekly
Feiler, who penned last year's bestseller Walking the Bible, once again offers a winning combination of history, travel and spiritual memoir. Arguing that Abraham, the purported "father" of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, "holds the breadth of the past and perhaps the dimensions of the future in his life story," Feiler sets out to recover Abraham as he is portrayed in all three religions. The book's first half addresses what the Bible and Koran say about Abraham, his call to monotheism, and his sons Isaac and Ishmael. Particularly fascinating are Feiler's discussions of how the three religious traditions invented stories about Abraham to supplement the rather skeletal canonical version and even borrowed these stories from one another, as when Muslim traditions about Abraham and Ishmael began appearing in eighth-century Jewish commentaries. The second half very poignantly delves into each faith tradition and discusses how the Abraham narratives relate to contemporary religious and political conflicts. No one writes description quite like Feiler. His claim, for example, that "the Holy Sepulcher is to a church what Picasso is to a portrait a cubist vision of fractured beauty" is an arresting and perfectly imagined analogy, and he mellifluously depicts the Arabic language as "flowing, evolved, [and] sculpted, like a dune." More important than Feiler's masterful wordsmithing is his passionate engagement of the subject matter. Italics are everywhere, yet they don't feel overused; Feiler has a keen sense of what is at stake when these three religions claim Abraham as their father. This is a joy to read. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA
In this insightful study of Abraham, patriarch of three religions, the author explores what unites and what divides those religions today. Feiler begins with the Genesis account of Abraham, who can rightly be called the founder of monotheism. He examines the various Jewish and Muslim explications that enlarge on the biblical story and the nature of God's call to Abraham. The sons of Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac and what Abraham did with and to them mark the beginning of the divisions between Islam and Judeo-Christianity. Feiler is an excellent writer who carries the reader along as he visits the Middle East, seeking not only the historical Abraham but also the Abraham who has been reinvented by the various faiths. He has met with distinguished Jewish, Christian, and Muslim clerics, and finds that these leaders agree on the fundamental importance of Abraham and recognize that his message is inclusive, not exclusive. This agreement is very relevant today. Religion, as much as politics, divides Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Unfortunately, this book, although written by an experienced writer and reporter, is unlikely to find a significant audience in most public schools. It is too theological, even spiritual, to appeal to most students seeking either a biography or even an easy look at current Middle East turmoil. It could be useful, however, as an offering in a course in religion and politics. VOYA Codes: 5Q 2P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2002, Morrow, 224p,
— Rayna Patton
Library Journal
Feiler (Walking the Bible) is a frequent contributor to National Public Radio and writes for both the New York Times and Washington Post. Understanding that Abraham is the shared ancestor of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, Feiler set out on a hejira with the intention of taking a closer look at the biblical patriarch. Asking himself, "Can the religions get along?," the author questions the fears he's encountered regarding the religions that had their roots in the Middle East with the hope of finding answers leading to reconciliation. He traveled into war zones and visited caves, ancient shrines, and outposts to which most Americans have never given a second thought. He spoke with some of the world's great religious minds, discovering multiple views on "Father Abraham," a man whose story defines what it means to be "one of the faithful" for over half the citizens of the planet. Along the way he took a look at his own as well as the universal fears in America. Feiler's historical perceptions of Abraham offer a vision of hope for reconnecting among the world's religious groups. His storytelling is immediate and thoughtful. Recommended for public libraries with large religion collections.-Pam Kingsbury, Florence, AL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
St. Petersburg Times
“Fascinating...an intriguing page turner.”
Boston Globe
“An exquisitely written journey...100 percent engaging.”--
Miami Herald
“Engaging, accessible.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Feiler’s combination of journalism, commentary and self-discovery tells the reader volumes about humankind.”
Book Magazine
“An engaging, timely book.”
Austin American-Statesman
“A thoughtful combination of theology, history and travel writing.”
Arizona Republic
“Compelling.”
Colorado Springs Gazette
“A heartrending journey...fascinating.”
Booklist
“Quietly brilliant. . . passionate and prayerful.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A compelling read.”
Nashville Tennessean
“Scrupulously fair in reporting the thinking of all of the traditions...appealing.”
Raleigh News & Observer
“Feiler’s book probably couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Washington Post Book World
“Feiler’s pluralistic view of this pivotal figure is intriguing.”
Christian Science Monitor
“A winning mix of insight, passion, and historical research...provides a basis for fostering genuine communication.”
Oregonian
“Captures the beauty and desolation of the landscape, the tension of its shared holy places...”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060515379
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2002
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 5.88 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Feiler

Bruce Feiler writes a column on contemporary families for the New York Times and is the author of six consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including The Council of Dads. He is the host of several series on PBS, a popular lecturer, and a frequent commentator on radio and television. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and twin daughters.

Bruce Feiler writes a column on contemporary families for the New York Times and is the author of six consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including The Council of Dads. He is the host of several series on PBS, a popular lecturer, and a frequent commentator on radio and television. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and twin daughters.

Biography

Bruce Feiler has turned his curiosity into a career, writing on topics from clowning to Christianity with a sense of wonder, humor and inquisitiveness. Most recently he has become known as both theological tourist and tour guide, exploring Biblical history and its physical and cultural roots in the 2001 bestseller Walking the Bible and in 2002's Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths.

Feiler had begun his career writing about another culture with Learning to Bow: Inside the Heart of Japan, a funny and enlightening account of his year as an English teacher in a small Japanese town. The book continues to be embraced by those who want a better understanding of Japanese culture, one spiked with the humor of its alien gaijin observer. Feiler depicted another hallowed educational system in Looking for Class: Days and Nights at Oxford and Cambridge, an account of the author's experiences as a graduate student at Cambridge. Feiler's books educate, but their appeal also lies in the discoveries he makes as someone entering a new situation with natural preconceptions, then having those ideas upended by reality.

Kicking the fish-out-of-water theme up a notch, Feiler joined the circus for Under the Big Top: A Season with the Circus. Here, Feiler showed the journalistic enterprise and mettle that would later figure into his bold journeys through Biblical territory. Spending a year performing as a clown on the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus, Feiler provides a surprising look at the show, its performers and the often seamy underside that accompanies circus life.

Feiler jumped into yet another milieu with his look at the country music industry, Dreaming Out Loud. Presenting an insider's view of Nashville made possible by his access as a journalist to stars such as Garth Brooks and Wynonna Judd, Feiler puts together of picture of starmaking -- including in his profiles a young talent named Wade Hayes -- and the machinery that runs modern country music. As with his other books, Feiler describes how his notions (he hated country music before Brooks made him a fan) have evolved along with his subject.

Feiler is also an award-winning food writer and journalist who has written articles for major publications such as the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and the New Republic. But he gained a larger audience when he took on his biggest topic yet: the Bible. "Over more than a decade of living and working abroad I found that ideas, and places, became more real to me when I experienced them firsthand....In the Middle East, the Bible is not some abstraction," Feiler wrote in an essay on Barnes & Noble.com about the origins of Walking the Bible. "It's a living, breathing entity unencumbered by the sterilization of time. That was the Bible I wanted to know, and almost immediately I realized that the only way to find it was to walk along those lines myself."

In taking that walk, Feiler vastly expanded his audience and found himself a subject he would stick with. He was already working on a sequel to the book when September 11 redirected him toward one aspect of his earlier studies: the religious father figure of Abraham. He set out to find hope in this binding tie among Judaism, Christianity and Islam; but found, again, a different picture than the one he anticipated painting. Feiler's education is ours; without him asking the questions, we might not have new insights on cultural fixtures that already seem so familiar.

Good To Know

How he wrote his first book: Feiler appropriated sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov's self-description as an "explainaholic," then explained in an interview with a country music web site how he came to write his first book: "I wrote a series of letters home [from Japan] of the ‘you’re not going to believe what happened to me today' variety. When I came back home, everywhere I went people said to me, ‘I really liked your letters,’ and I would say, ‘Do I know you?’. It turns out that these letters had been passed around. I thought, well, if this is as interesting for me and my family and all of you, I should write a book about [my experiences]."

Feiler, who grew up Jewish in Savannah, Georgia, says that an early encounter with the legend of Abraham was part of a watershed moment for him. The Torah passage he read for his Bar Mitzvah was Lekh Lekha, the story of Abraham going forth from his father's house. He told BeliefNet, "The defining moment of my life was the night of my Bar Mitzvah, when my father pulled me aside at this family gathering, poured me a drink, and said, 'Son, you're a man now, you're responsible for your own actions.'"

Feiler's exploration of the Bible has been confined to the Hebrew Bible, leaving out much in the Old Testament and the entirety of the New Testament; but he told readers in a USA Today chat that he hopes to do a sequel that would take him through the events of Jesus' life.

Feiler is also a contributing editor at Gourmet magazine and has won two James Beard Awards for his food writing.

Feiler says he has traveled to over 60 countries and sprained his ankle on four continents.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Bruce S. Fieler
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 25, 1964
    2. Place of Birth:
      Savannah, Georgia
    1. Education:
      B.A., Yale University, 1987; M.Phil. in international relations, Cambridge University, 1991

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Home

They start walking just after dawn. They stream through the streets, begin climbing the hills, and drop a few coins in the outstretched palms of the poor. They leave their houses, their lives, their neighbors, and come by themselves or in groups of two or three. Their heads are covered, their eyes downturned. They are alone. But when they pass through the gates and lift up their eyes, suddenly they are in an illuminated place, a familial place. They are home. No one is alone in Jerusalem: even the stones know your father.

Once inside, the stream divides. Christians turn north. Today is the last Friday before Christmas, and this afternoon monks will lead a somber procession carrying crosses down the Via Dolorosa. Jews turn south. Today is the last Friday of Hanukkah, and at sunset rabbis will hold a jubilant ceremony lighting six candies at the Western Wall. Muslims turn east. Today is the last Friday of Ramadan, and at noon clerics will hold a massive prayer service with two hundred thousand bending as one.

Today is not rare. Jerusalem is a touchstone of faith, and has been since before time began. The legends of monotheism are clear on one thing. Before there was time, there was water, and a darkness covered the deep. A piece of land emerged out of the water. That land is the Rock, and the rock is here. Adam was buried here. Solomon built here. Jesus prayed here. Muhammad ascended here.

And Abraham came here to sacrifice his son. Today that rock is a magnet of monotheism, an etched, worn mask of limestone, viewed by few alive today, touched by even fewer, hidden undera golden dome, and made more powerful by the incandescence that seems to surround it at every hour. The legends say God issued the first ray of light from the Rock. The ray pierced the darkness and filled his glorious land. The light in Jerusalem seems to fit that description perfectly. Washed by winter rains, as it is this morning, the air is the color of candlelight: pink, saffron, rose; turquoise, ruby, and bronze. It's a poignant irony that the light is all these colors, and yet the worshipers wear mostly white and black, as if they've yet to achieve the richness of the source.

Which is why they come in the first place. The Rock is considered the navel of the world, and the world, it often seems, wants to crawl through that breach and reenter the womb of the Lord. As my archaeologist friend and traveling companion Avner Goren says while we hurry through the streets and climb to a perch overlooking the city, "To live in Jerusalem is to feet more alive, more yourself It's an honor, but it's a burden, too."

Stand here, you can see eternity. Stand here, you can touch the source.

Stand here, you can smell burning flesh.

At midmorning an explosion sucks life out of the air. I turn to Avner. "A bomb? A sonic boom?" "It's not a plane," he says. Gunfire riddles the air. A siren wails. The steady gait of worshipers becomes a parade of nervous glances. Every accessory is a provocation: a talit, a kaffiyeh, a kippah, a cross. Every stone is a potential threat. Men with machine guns hover, with walkie-talkie plugs in their ears, cigarettes dangling. Avner stops to hug an Arab shopkeeper. "We are nervous today," Abdul says. "We are worried the Israeli police will provoke some young boy and fighting will erupt. Ramadan is always the worst."

Upstairs, on the balcony of a Jewish high school where we settle in to watch the day develop, a teenage Hasidic boy named Joshua, dressed in black, has come to observe the Muslim throng. "I appreciate the fact that they're religious," he says, "that they worship the same God as us. But that their prayers should put my life in danger-rocks and knives, killing policemen, fomenting blood and hate and murder. just the other day I was walking in town when I heard an explosion. I turned and ran and there was another explosion. I started running in the other direction and then the car bomb went off. I was holding my stomach. I thought I was going to vomit. It was the first time I truly thought something was going to happen to me."

The legends say that wisdom and pain are the twin pillars of life. God pours these qualities into two symmetrical cones, then adjoins them at their tips, so that the abyss of pain meets the body of knowledge. The point where the two cones touch is the center of the cosmos. That point is the Rock, and it's where King David ached to build a Palace of Peace. But David made a mistake: He moved the Rock and in so doing unleashed the Waters of the Deep. "You cannot move me," the Rock announced. "I was put here to hold back the abyss."

"Since when?" David asked.

"Since God announced, 'I am the Lord thy God.'"

David inscribed God's name on the Rock and pushed it back into place. The deluge subsided. The touchstone is actually a capstone: remove it and death rushes forth.

By late morning a jittery calm prevails. Avner and I are overlooking the thirty-five-acre flagstone plaza of the Haram al-Sharif, or Temple Mount. On the southern tip is El-Aksa Mosque, the third holiest mosque in Islam. To the north is the Dome of the Rock, the splendid, cobalt blue octagon built over the Rock and topped with the twenty-four-carat dome that towers over Jerusalem's ecumenical skyline. Up above is the Mount of Olives and a cluster of churches marking Jesus' last steps. Down below are the sheer remains of the Second Temple perimeter, revered as the Western Wall. The defining spiritual fact of Jerusalem is this: Any panorama, any camera angle, any genuflection that encompasses one of these holy places will necessarily include at least one of the others.

But that doesn't prevent people from trying to blot out rival sites. On any day, one can meet worshipers with destruction in their hearts. Joshua, the devout Jewish boy who sits with us, munching on half-moon chocolate cookies, confesses to a fantasy. "We believe the messiah will come and rebuild the Third Temple and all the Jews will come. I look at the Mount, and all those Muslims, and try to envision that."

As a result of dreams like this, we are not alone on our perch. Four burly men in jeans and leather jackets have pushed us back from the rail and set up a table to survey the scene with Pinocchio-like binoculars and Uzis. A quick glance across the rooftops, sprouting television antennae and geraniums, reveals countless sentries like them. Every holy day is a possible holy war.

But the rhythm of prayer prevails. As noon approaches, hundreds of thousands have overflowed the Haram al-Sharif and lined the plaza under cypresses and palms. The muezzin makes the call, and just as he does the bells at Gethsemane Church begin to sound, ringing out a Christmas carol. No one seems to notice the clash, and maybe it's not a clash at all: Harmony, after all, is controlled dissonance. The imam, the chief cleric of El-Aksa, begins his sermon, and the leader of the security personnel translates the incendiaries. Today is Jerusalem Day, when mosques around the globe profess allegiance to this fractured city, al-Quds, the Holy.

Finally the climactic moment arrives. The sermon complete, the cavalcade of worshipers stand in single rows. The imam reads the opening lines of the Koran, and they bend, stand, kneel, touch their foreheads to the ground, touch again, then rise. The tidal effect is awesome, like waves in a sea of milk: more people assembled in one place to pray than occupy most hometowns. A brief pause ensues, then the second tide begins: bend, stand, kneel, touch the ground, then the recitation of the holiest words of all. There is no God but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God. Afterward the imam offers a blessing: May God bless the prophet Muhammad and his people just like he blessed Abraham and his people.

Then the city holds its breath.

I had been coming to Jerusalem often in recent years. My visits were part of a larger experience of trying to understand the roots of my identity by reentering the landscape of the Bible. I did most of my traveling during a rare bubble of peace, when going from one place to another was relatively easy. Now that bubble had burst, and the world that seemed joined together by the navel was suddenly unraveling around the very same hub: East and West; Arabs and Israelis; Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Words like apocalypse, clash of civilizations, crusade, jihad resounded in the headlines. "We are in a world war," Abdul, the Arab shopkeeper, had said, "a religious war, and it's based just outside my front door."

My experience in the region persuaded me that it's possible -- maybe even necessary -- to gain insight into a contemporary situation by turning away from the present and looking back to its historical source. Especially in matters of faith, even the most modern act is informed by centuries of intermingled belief, blood, and misunderstanding.

And in that conflagration, as it has for four millennia, one name echoes behind every conversation. One figure stands at the dawn of every subsequent endeavor. One individual holds the breadth of the past -- and perhaps the dimensions of the future -- in his life story.

Abraham.

The great patriarch of the Hebrew Bible is also the spiritual forefather of the New Testament and the grand holy architect of the Koran. Abraham is the shared ancestor of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He is the linchpin of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is the centerpiece of the battle between the West and Islamic extremists. He is the father -- in many cases, the purported biological father -- of 12 million Jews, 2 billion Christians, and I billion Muslims around the world. He is history's first monotheist.

And he is largely unknown.

I wanted to know him. I wanted to understand his legacy and his appeal. I wanted to discover how he managed to serve as the common origin for his myriad of descendants, even as they were busy shoving one another aside and claiming him as their own. I wanted to figure out whether he was a hopeless fount of war or a possible vessel for reconciliation.

But where could I find him? Abraham, if he existed at all, left no evidence -- no buildings or rugs or love letters to his wife. Interviewing people who knew him was out of the question, obviously; yet half the people alive claim to be descended from him. The Hebrew Bible discusses his life, but so do the New Testament and the Koran -- and they often disagree, even on basic matters. Going to places he visited, as fruitful as that has been for me and for others, also has its limitations, because Abraham's itinerary changed from generation to generation, and from religion to religion.

I would have to design an unconventional journey. If my previous experience in the region involved a journey through place -- three continents, five countries, four war zones -- this would be a journey through place and time -- three religions, four millennia, one never-ending war. I would read, travel, seek out scholars, talk to religious leaders, visit his natural domain, even go home to mine, because I quickly realized that to understand Abraham I had to understand his heirs.

And there are billions of those. Despite countless revolutions in the history of ideas, Abraham remains a defining figure for half the world's believers. Muslims invoke him daily in their prayers, as do Jews. He appears repeatedly in the Christian liturgy. The most mesmerizing story of Abraham's life -- his offering a son to God -- plays a pivotal role in the holiest week of the Christian year, at Easter. The story is recited at the start of the holiest fortnight in Judaism, on Rosh Hashanah.

The episode inspires the holiest day in Islam, 'Id al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, at the climax of the Pilgrimage.

And yet the religions can't even agree on which son he tried to kill.

What they do concur in is that Abraham occupies such sacred space because he is the first person to understand that there is only one God. This is his greatest contribution to civilization and the shared endowment of the Abrahamic faiths. It gives him power but is also a flash point, as everyone wants dominion over that moment. Muhammad may be more important for Muslims, Jesus for Christians, and Moses for Jews; yet all three traditions go out of their way to link themselves to their common patriarch. It's as if Abraham were the Rock, tugging everyone to a common hearth, the highest place, the earliest place. The place closest to God. Control the Rock and you control Abraham. Control Abraham and you control the threshold to the divine.

And so I returned to Jerusalem. I came alone -- as everyone does, in a sense -- to an uncertain destination. I came because this is the best place to understand Abraham, and to understand what he revealed about God.

And because this is the best place to understand myself.

Dusk fell early in Jerusalem that Friday. The sun left a wake of lavender and ruby that clung to the clouds and gave them the appearance of mother-of-pearl. By four o'clock it was nearly dark.

I walked down to the plaza in front of the Wall, where revelers gathered for the lighting of the menorah. The day had passed with disquiet but no blood, leaving the city grateful but spent. The explosions, I realized, were as much a part of the landscape as olive trees and primeval tales. Tomorrow everyone would wake again and once more confront the ache of anxiety.

But now was a time for celebration. A man with a white beard, black coat, and circular fur hat stood on a platform just under the Dome. Before him was an ten-foot-long iron menorah, eight feet tall, with nine round oil caskets the size of paint buckets. He lit a torch and raised it into the air. The crowd began to chant: Praised be thou, 0 Lord our God, king of the universe, who has wrought miracles for our forefathers, in days long ago, at this season.

And then the moment these worshipers came for. The five hundred or so people gathered at the remains of the Second Temple, a place desecrated two thousand years earlier, then reclaimed by a small band of radical Jews, began to sing "Rock of Ages." It was the same song my mother made my family sing, atonally, awkwardly holding hands around hundreds of multicolored candles during countless nights in my childhood. And yet this time I couldn't sing; all I could do was listen -- to the voices, the stones, that throbbing of fear I'd felt earlier in the day -- as I heard the words anew. And thy word broke their sword when our own strength failed us.

And as I stood there, remembering, staring at the prayers folded into the Wall, I realized that in the diaspora of monotheism we think of these holidays as being radiant with joy, but here they are resplendent in pain as well. Ramadan is a story of fasting and replenishing, Christmas the story of exile and birth, Hanukkah the story of destruction and deliverance. The same holds for this place, the Rock, the place where life meets death. At the navel of the world, Muhammad left earth for heaven, then returned; Jesus left earth, then also returned. Abraham lay his son on the earth and offered to slaughter him.

Is that the model of holiness, the legacy of Abraham: to be prepared to kill for God?

After a few minutes, a man approached. He was short, with a cropped sandy beard and black kippah covering his head. David Willna had attended a Jewish day school in Los Angeles, then a Roman Catholic university. After winning fourteen thousand dollars on Wheel of Fortune, he decided to come to Israel for a year. Fifteen years later he hadn't left. I asked why, and he told me a story.

Two brothers live on either side of a hill. One is wealthy but has no family; the other has a large family but limited wealth. The rich brother decides one night that he is blessed with goods and, taking a sack of grain from his silo, carries it to the silo of his brother. The other brother decides that he is blessed with many children, and since his brother should at least have wealth, he takes a sack of grain from his silo and carries it to that of his brother. Each night they go through this process, and every morning each brother is astounded that he has the same amount of grain as the day before. Finally one night they meet at the top of the hill and realize what's been happening. They embrace and kiss each other.

And at that moment a heavenly voice declares, "This is the place where I can build my house on earth."

"That story is shared by all three religions," David said. "And our tradition says that this is that hill, long before the Temple, long before Abraham. And the point of the story is that this degree of brotherly love is necessary before God can be manifest in the world."

"So can God be manifest in the world?"

"You could not have written a script that would say that today, after thousands of years, with all our technology and sophistication, we would still be fighting a war over this place, over the legacy of Abraham. But the reason is that this is the place of relationship. This is not only the spot where it is possible to connect with God, it's the spot where you can connect with God only if you understand what it means to connect with one another.

"The relationship between a person and another human being is what creates and allows for a relationship with God. If you're not capable of living with each other and getting along with each Other, than you're not capable of having a relationship with God." He gestured up at the Wall, the Dome, the churches. They were illuminated in man-made light now, their brilliance a little too sharp.

Then he turned back to me. "So the question is not whether God can bring peace into the world. The question is: Can we?"

Abraham. Copyright © by Bruce Feiler. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Rock of Abraham
Home 3
God of Abraham
1 Birth 17
2 Call 36
Children of Abraham
3 Ishmael 57
4 Isaac 82
People of Abraham
5 Jews 113
6 Christians 136
7 Muslims 160
Blood of Abraham
8 Legacy 189
Hope of Abraham
Unity 221
Blessings 227
Readings 229
Questions 233
Passages 237
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First Chapter

Abraham
A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths

Introduction

Home

They start walking just after dawn. They stream through the streets, begin climbing the hills, and drop a few coins in the outstretched palms of the poor. They leave their houses, their lives, their neighbors, and come by themselves or in groups of two or three. Their heads are covered, their eyes downturned. They are alone. But when they pass through the gates and lift up their eyes, suddenly they are in an illuminated place, a familial place. They are home. No one is alone in Jerusalem: even the stones know your father.

Once inside, the stream divides. Christians turn north. Today is the last Friday before Christmas, and this afternoon monks will lead a somber procession carrying crosses down the Via Dolorosa. Jews turn south. Today is the last Friday of Hanukkah, and at sunset rabbis will hold a jubilant ceremony lighting six candies at the Western Wall. Muslims turn east. Today is the last Friday of Ramadan, and at noon clerics will hold a massive prayer service with two hundred thousand bending as one.

Today is not rare. Jerusalem is a touchstone of faith, and has been since before time began. The legends of monotheism are clear on one thing. Before there was time, there was water, and a darkness covered the deep. A piece of land emerged out of the water. That land is the Rock, and the rock is here. Adam was buried here. Solomon built here. Jesus prayed here. Muhammad ascended here.

And Abraham came here to sacrifice his son. Today that rock is a magnet of monotheism, an etched, worn mask of limestone, viewed by few alive today, touched by even fewer, hidden under a golden dome, and made more powerful by the incandescence that seems to surround it at every hour. The legends say God issued the first ray of light from the Rock. The ray pierced the darkness and filled his glorious land. The light in Jerusalem seems to fit that description perfectly. Washed by winter rains, as it is this morning, the air is the color of candlelight: pink, saffron, rose; turquoise, ruby, and bronze. It's a poignant irony that the light is all these colors, and yet the worshipers wear mostly white and black, as if they've yet to achieve the richness of the source.

Which is why they come in the first place. The Rock is considered the navel of the world, and the world, it often seems, wants to crawl through that breach and reenter the womb of the Lord. As my archaeologist friend and traveling companion Avner Goren says while we hurry through the streets and climb to a perch overlooking the city, "To live in Jerusalem is to feet more alive, more yourself It's an honor, but it's a burden, too."

Stand here, you can see eternity. Stand here, you can touch the source.

Stand here, you can smell burning flesh.

At midmorning an explosion sucks life out of the air. I turn to Avner. "A bomb? A sonic boom?" "It's not a plane," he says. Gunfire riddles the air. A siren wails. The steady gait of worshipers becomes a parade of nervous glances. Every accessory is a provocation: a talit, a kaffiyeh, a kippah, a cross. Every stone is a potential threat. Men with machine guns hover, with walkie-talkie plugs in their ears, cigarettes dangling. Avner stops to hug an Arab shopkeeper. "We are nervous today," Abdul says. "We are worried the Israeli police will provoke some young boy and fighting will erupt. Ramadan is always the worst."

Upstairs, on the balcony of a Jewish high school where we settle in to watch the day develop, a teenage Hasidic boy named Joshua, dressed in black, has come to observe the Muslim throng. "I appreciate the fact that they're religious," he says, "that they worship the same God as us. But that their prayers should put my life in danger-rocks and knives, killing policemen, fomenting blood and hate and murder. just the other day I was walking in town when I heard an explosion. I turned and ran and there was another explosion. I started running in the other direction and then the car bomb went off. I was holding my stomach. I thought I was going to vomit. It was the first time I truly thought something was going to happen to me."

The legends say that wisdom and pain are the twin pillars of life. God pours these qualities into two symmetrical cones, then adjoins them at their tips, so that the abyss of pain meets the body of knowledge. The point where the two cones touch is the center of the cosmos. That point is the Rock, and it's where King David ached to build a Palace of Peace. But David made a mistake: He moved the Rock and in so doing unleashed the Waters of the Deep. "You cannot move me," the Rock announced. "I was put here to hold back the abyss."

"Since when?" David asked.

"Since God announced, 'I am the Lord thy God.'"

David inscribed God's name on the Rock and pushed it back into place. The deluge subsided. The touchstone is actually a capstone: remove it and death rushes forth.

By late morning a jittery calm prevails. Avner and I are overlooking the thirty-five-acre flagstone plaza of the Haram al-Sharif, or Temple Mount. On the southern tip is El-Aksa Mosque, the third holiest mosque in Islam. To the north is the Dome of the Rock, the splendid, cobalt blue octagon built over the Rock and topped with the twenty-four-carat dome that towers over Jerusalem's ecumenical skyline. Up above is the Mount of Olives and a cluster of churches marking Jesus' last steps. Down below are the sheer remains of the Second Temple perimeter, revered as the Western Wall. The defining spiritual fact of Jerusalem is this: Any panorama, any camera angle, any genuflection that encompasses one of these holy places will necessarily include at least one of the others.

But that doesn't prevent people from trying to blot out rival sites. On any day, one can meet worshipers with destruction in their hearts. Joshua, the devout Jewish boy who sits with us, munching on half-moon chocolate cookies, confesses to a fantasy. "We believe the messiah will come and rebuild the Third Temple and all the Jews will come. I look at the Mount, and all those Muslims, and try to envision that."

As a result of dreams like this, we are not alone on our perch. Four burly men in jeans and leather jackets have pushed us back from the rail and set up a table to survey the scene with Pinocchio-like binoculars and Uzis. A quick glance across the rooftops, sprouting television antennae and geraniums, reveals countless sentries like them. Every holy day is a possible holy war.

But the rhythm of prayer prevails. As noon approaches, hundreds of thousands have overflowed the Haram al-Sharif and lined the plaza under cypresses and palms. The muezzin makes the call, and just as he does the bells at Gethsemane Church begin to sound, ringing out a Christmas carol. No one seems to notice the clash, and maybe it's not a clash at all: Harmony, after all, is controlled dissonance. The imam, the chief cleric of El-Aksa, begins his sermon, and the leader of the security personnel translates the incendiaries. Today is Jerusalem Day, when mosques around the globe profess allegiance to this fractured city, al-Quds, the Holy.

Finally the climactic moment arrives. The sermon complete, the cavalcade of worshipers stand in single rows. The imam reads the opening lines of the Koran, and they bend, stand, kneel, touch their foreheads to the ground, touch again, then rise. The tidal effect is awesome, like waves in a sea of milk: more people assembled in one place to pray than occupy most hometowns. A brief pause ensues, then the second tide begins: bend, stand, kneel, touch the ground, then the recitation of the holiest words of all. There is no God but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God. Afterward the imam offers a blessing: May God bless the prophet Muhammad and his people just like he blessed Abraham and his people.

Then the city holds its breath.

I had been coming to Jerusalem often in recent years. My visits were part of a larger experience of trying to understand the roots of my identity by reentering the landscape of the Bible. I did most of my traveling during a rare bubble of peace, when going from one place to another was relatively easy. Now that bubble had burst, and the world that seemed joined together by the navel was suddenly unraveling around the very same hub: East and West; Arabs and Israelis; Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Words like apocalypse, clash of civilizations, crusade, jihad resounded in the headlines. "We are in a world war," Abdul, the Arab shopkeeper, had said, "a religious war, and it's based just outside my front door."

My experience in the region persuaded me that it's possible -- maybe even necessary -- to gain insight into a contemporary situation by turning away from the present and looking back to its historical source. Especially in matters of faith, even the most modern act is informed by centuries of intermingled belief, blood, and misunderstanding.

And in that conflagration, as it has for four millennia, one name echoes behind every conversation. One figure stands at the dawn of every subsequent endeavor. One individual holds the breadth of the past -- and perhaps the dimensions of the future -- in his life story.

Abraham.

The great patriarch of the Hebrew Bible is also the spiritual forefather of the New Testament and the grand holy architect of the Koran. Abraham is the shared ancestor of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He is the linchpin of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is the centerpiece of the battle between the West and Islamic extremists. He is the father -- in many cases, the purported biological father -- of 12 million Jews, 2 billion Christians, and I billion Muslims around the world. He is history's first monotheist.

And he is largely unknown.

I wanted to know him. I wanted to understand his legacy and his appeal. I wanted to discover how he managed to serve as the common origin for his myriad of descendants, even as they were busy shoving one another aside and claiming him as their own. I wanted to figure out whether he was a hopeless fount of war or a possible vessel for reconciliation.

But where could I find him? Abraham, if he existed at all, left no evidence -- no buildings or rugs or love letters to his wife. Interviewing people who knew him was out of the question, obviously; yet half the people alive claim to be descended from him. The Hebrew Bible discusses his life, but so do the New Testament and the Koran -- and they often disagree, even on basic matters. Going to places he visited, as fruitful as that has been for me and for others, also has its limitations, because Abraham's itinerary changed from generation to generation, and from religion to religion.

I would have to design an unconventional journey. If my previous experience in the region involved a journey through place -- three continents, five countries, four war zones -- this would be a journey through place and time -- three religions, four millennia, one never-ending war. I would read, travel, seek out scholars, talk to religious leaders, visit his natural domain, even go home to mine, because I quickly realized that to understand Abraham I had to understand his heirs.

And there are billions of those. Despite countless revolutions in the history of ideas, Abraham remains a defining figure for half the world's believers. Muslims invoke him daily in their prayers, as do Jews. He appears repeatedly in the Christian liturgy. The most mesmerizing story of Abraham's life -- his offering a son to God -- plays a pivotal role in the holiest week of the Christian year, at Easter. The story is recited at the start of the holiest fortnight in Judaism, on Rosh Hashanah.

The episode inspires the holiest day in Islam, 'Id al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, at the climax of the Pilgrimage.

And yet the religions can't even agree on which son he tried to kill.

What they do concur in is that Abraham occupies such sacred space because he is the first person to understand that there is only one God. This is his greatest contribution to civilization and the shared endowment of the Abrahamic faiths. It gives him power but is also a flash point, as everyone wants dominion over that moment. Muhammad may be more important for Muslims, Jesus for Christians, and Moses for Jews; yet all three traditions go out of their way to link themselves to their common patriarch. It's as if Abraham were the Rock, tugging everyone to a common hearth, the highest place, the earliest place. The place closest to God. Control the Rock and you control Abraham. Control Abraham and you control the threshold to the divine.

And so I returned to Jerusalem. I came alone -- as everyone does, in a sense -- to an uncertain destination. I came because this is the best place to understand Abraham, and to understand what he revealed about God.

And because this is the best place to understand myself.

Dusk fell early in Jerusalem that Friday. The sun left a wake of lavender and ruby that clung to the clouds and gave them the appearance of mother-of-pearl. By four o'clock it was nearly dark.

I walked down to the plaza in front of the Wall, where revelers gathered for the lighting of the menorah. The day had passed with disquiet but no blood, leaving the city grateful but spent. The explosions, I realized, were as much a part of the landscape as olive trees and primeval tales. Tomorrow everyone would wake again and once more confront the ache of anxiety.

But now was a time for celebration. A man with a white beard, black coat, and circular fur hat stood on a platform just under the Dome. Before him was an ten-foot-long iron menorah, eight feet tall, with nine round oil caskets the size of paint buckets. He lit a torch and raised it into the air. The crowd began to chant: Praised be thou, 0 Lord our God, king of the universe, who has wrought miracles for our forefathers, in days long ago, at this season.

And then the moment these worshipers came for. The five hundred or so people gathered at the remains of the Second Temple, a place desecrated two thousand years earlier, then reclaimed by a small band of radical Jews, began to sing "Rock of Ages." It was the same song my mother made my family sing, atonally, awkwardly holding hands around hundreds of multicolored candles during countless nights in my childhood. And yet this time I couldn't sing; all I could do was listen -- to the voices, the stones, that throbbing of fear I'd felt earlier in the day -- as I heard the words anew. And thy word broke their sword when our own strength failed us.

And as I stood there, remembering, staring at the prayers folded into the Wall, I realized that in the diaspora of monotheism we think of these holidays as being radiant with joy, but here they are resplendent in pain as well. Ramadan is a story of fasting and replenishing, Christmas the story of exile and birth, Hanukkah the story of destruction and deliverance. The same holds for this place, the Rock, the place where life meets death. At the navel of the world, Muhammad left earth for heaven, then returned; Jesus left earth, then also returned. Abraham lay his son on the earth and offered to slaughter him.

Is that the model of holiness, the legacy of Abraham: to be prepared to kill for God?

After a few minutes, a man approached. He was short, with a cropped sandy beard and black kippah covering his head. David Willna had attended a Jewish day school in Los Angeles, then a Roman Catholic university. After winning fourteen thousand dollars on Wheel of Fortune, he decided to come to Israel for a year. Fifteen years later he hadn't left. I asked why, and he told me a story.

Two brothers live on either side of a hill. One is wealthy but has no family; the other has a large family but limited wealth. The rich brother decides one night that he is blessed with goods and, taking a sack of grain from his silo, carries it to the silo of his brother. The other brother decides that he is blessed with many children, and since his brother should at least have wealth, he takes a sack of grain from his silo and carries it to that of his brother. Each night they go through this process, and every morning each brother is astounded that he has the same amount of grain as the day before. Finally one night they meet at the top of the hill and realize what's been happening. They embrace and kiss each other.

And at that moment a heavenly voice declares, "This is the place where I can build my house on earth."

"That story is shared by all three religions," David said. "And our tradition says that this is that hill, long before the Temple, long before Abraham. And the point of the story is that this degree of brotherly love is necessary before God can be manifest in the world."

"So can God be manifest in the world?"

"You could not have written a script that would say that today, after thousands of years, with all our technology and sophistication, we would still be fighting a war over this place, over the legacy of Abraham. But the reason is that this is the place of relationship. This is not only the spot where it is possible to connect with God, it's the spot where you can connect with God only if you understand what it means to connect with one another.

"The relationship between a person and another human being is what creates and allows for a relationship with God. If you're not capable of living with each other and getting along with each Other, than you're not capable of having a relationship with God." He gestured up at the Wall, the Dome, the churches. They were illuminated in man-made light now, their brilliance a little too sharp.

Then he turned back to me. "So the question is not whether God can bring peace into the world. The question is: Can we?"

Abraham
A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths
. Copyright © by Bruce Feiler. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

  • On pages 18 through 19 Feiler writes, "He has no mother. He has no past. He has no personality. The man who will redefine the world appears suddenly, almost as an afterthought, with no trumpet fanfare, no fluttering doves… [Abram]…goes on to abandon his father at age seventy-five, leave his homeland, move o Canaan, travel to Egypt, father two sons change his name, cut off part of his penis, do the same for his teenager and newborn, exile his firs son, attempt to kill his second, fight a world war, buy some land, bury his wife, father another family, and die at one hundred-seventy-five." What appeals to you most about Abram/Abraham's life? What part (s) of his life are most difficult to understand or admire?
  • Feiler writes on page 27, "God may have made humans in his image; we humans made Abraham in ours." Who do you think Abraham was? Discuss what it is that makes Abraham important to you.
  • On pages 43 through 44, Feiler writes, "To be a descendant of Abraham is to…glance back at your native land, to peer ahead to your nameless destination, and to wonder, Do I have the courage to make the leap?" Describe Abraham's "Call." What does God ask of Abram? Have you ever had to make such a courageous leap? If so, describe your experience.
  • Sheikh Abdul Rauf tells Feiler, "We should take Abraham's viewpoint toward the world. We should try to be Abrahamic in our being." (Page 46) Rabbi Belzer tells Feiler, "Abrahanism. He's saying it's okay not to be in your native land at all. He left his father's house, knowing his father would always be in his heart. I'll go someplace and try something new. I'll cast my lot with a portable god -- the God of everyone, everywhere." (Page5) Father John tells Feiler, "The lesson of Abraham…is you have to be willing to risk it all. You have to give up everything for God…The bottom line is if you're too comfortable, or too secure, or too into having control, then you won't be willing to trust God." What is the Abrahamic viewpoint? How does one become "Abrahamic"?
  • On pages 64 and 65 Carol Newsome tells Feiler, "The thing that has always struck me about this story ...is that the moral sympathy of the story seems to be with Hagar and Ishmael, even though the author knows that our primary identification has to be with Abraham, Sarah, and Issac. …It's astonishing. Rather than having simple identification, we're asked, in a sense to identify doubly." Describe Sarah and Hagar and each woman's relationship with Abraham. With whom do you most identify? Why?
  • Feiler writes on page 75, "Perhaps the most striking feature of the story of Ishamael and Issac is its balance: Neither son is a pure victor, or a pure loser." How are Issac and Ishmael similar; how are they different? Which son do you find most compelling? Why?
  • On page 99 Feiler writes, "Abraham's test [the binding of Issac] is so extraordinary…Issac is us." What feelings does the story of Abraham's binding of Issac evoke in you? Why do you think the story has such eternal appeal?
  • Feiler writes on page 108, "All three monotheistic faiths force their adherents to confront the most unimaginable of human pains: losing a child. The binding, the crucifixion, and the dhabih -- often viewed as distinguishing the monotheistic faiths -- actually belie their shared origins." How is the binding of Issac interpreted by the three monotheistic faiths? Why do you think the sacrifice of a child is such a universal theme?
  • In a conversation with Hanan Eschler on pages 133 and 134, Feiler records, "So as a practical matter, what you're saying is that you can read these various interpretations, enjoy them, but in the end you have to find your own meaning in the story." What does the story of Abraham mean to you?
  • Describe how Judaism, Christianity and Islam created a new Abraham for their unique purposes.
  • On page 148 Bishop Theophanes tells Feiler, "A hundred years from now, the serious people will be considered ecumenical. They will understand that Abraham belongs to all humanity." How is Abraham an ecumenical figure, one who belongs to all of humanity?
  • Of all the people Feiler meets on his travels to uncover the story of Abraham, who do you think has the most persuasive argument about Abraham and what his life means? Why?
  • Sheikh Abu Sneina tells Feiler on page 163, "For me, Abraham submitted himself to Allah. He did everything for God. I don't know if he's like me, but I would like to be like him." Would you like to be like Abraham? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • At the end of his book, Feiler claims to have "found" Abraham. What does he mean by that? Describe the Abraham Feiler found on his journey.
  • What would you say is Abraham's legacy to the world today?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 35 )
Rating Distribution

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(13)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(5)

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(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2002

    An interesting and entertaining book

    Sorry, but the person who wrote the review titled "Another Islam bashing perspective" is way off base! Complaining that this book is written by an outsider to Islam is unfair, and would preclude anyone writing about anything they are not specifically a part of, or member of. Furthermore, Feiler does NOT bash Islam, any more than be bashes Christianity or Judaism. He takes a very open and honest approach to Islam, which is clearly conveyed in the book. His interviews and conversations with leading Islamic figures are demonstrate curiosity, respect and the sincere desire to learn. Perhaps you need to read the book again!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2003

    Finding Abraham/Ibrahim

    A very good book. Well written and easy to become engrossed in. Bruce is honest in his writing and very enlightening. By the end of the book you are able to understand the goal of all monotheistic religions SHOULD be loving your God and living a life following His direction. It has to do with trust. A Good read for anyone intrigued by faith.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2011

    AMEN%21%21%21%21

    A+definite+purchase+for+NOOK+readers%21

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2004

    a work that should be classified as fiction

    I warn anyone professing any beleif in either the Jewish or the Islamic or the Christain faith to not waste their time, energy or faith on the reading of this book. The writer makes suppositions about Abraham and his relationship with God that shows know understanding of any scripture, at least not Biblical, in fact it is so far fetched it should be labeled a work of fiction.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2003

    For Understanding Abraham: You Can Do Better

    Feiler's 'Abraham' is a good book about the father of three religions written for people who have never read the Book of Genesis. For the totally uninitiated, Feiler gives a summary of the biblical stories, but does not go much further than this. Instead of Feiler's 'Abraham,' I would recommend first that people read the biblical Genesis. This is a much more interesting and lively book than Feiler's. And second, if you want insight into the same material that Feiler is writing about, read Dennis Shulman's 'The Genius of Genesis.' Shulman's book has more depth and is as well written as Feiler's.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    In this short work, Feiler reviews the Biblical story of Abraham

    In this short work, Feiler reviews the Biblical story of Abraham and then describes how the myth of Abraham has changed over time and between the Abrahamic religions. It is well-written and interesting, and its length is well-suited for the amount of information Feiler wishes to convey. (There were no lengthy speculations in order to add bulk!) I enjoyed it and learned a little bit, too!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2011

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  • Posted January 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Unbiased and informative... also enjoyable to read

    This was an enjoyable book to read. It was filled with facts and perspectives from three different religions. Some of my favorite insights given were given by leaders from another faith! It is so great to be able to learn from each other... This book is fantastic!

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent literary work for those who wish to read an unbias view of the Prophet Abraham

    Outstanding book written by a Jewish man who provides truly unbias facts about the life of Abraham. He explains the ways the Abrahamic religions have adulterated the facts in an attempt to claim sole possession of the Prophet in order to honor their respective beliefs.

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  • Posted February 15, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Timely!

    This book should be required reading throughout the world. It promotes a hope for universal peace and concern for all humanity.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2006

    intriguing religions

    I'm not sure why someone only gave this 2 stars because it is an excellent book. It gives good insight into each of the 3 faiths and their interpretations of Abraham. It also shows that there is hope out there that we may beable to get along better than thought. I'm impressed with his interviews with leaders in each of the 3 faiths instead of just his thoughts about where the legends and stories came from.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2006

    ABSOLUTELY AMAZING

    I am a religion teacher for now seven years, and this book has inspired me in many ways. Feiler's ability to draw evident connections between Islam, Judaism and Christianity is truly a remarkable gift. Abraham is bound to become a classic in religion classrooms around the World. One can only hope that Feiler won't leaving his readers waiting for more for too long... let's all hope he comes out with another novel soon!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2004

    wishful thinking

    It finally took me 2 yrs to finally read the book. Since I am in torah study. We were just starting the new cycle I decided to read this by reccommendation by a friend. It was a easy read. But this book was based on wishful thinking. I began to get angry about how the bible was turned around to suit each religion. There was no conclusion just wishful thinking. But it did give you insight why we don't get along. As long as there is fundamentalist Christian, Jew or Muslim. It won't change, ther is too much Diversity.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2004

    Wishful Thinking

    I enjoyed the factual information about Abraham and the legends & myths as well. The book has an agenda of somehow attaining peaceful coexistence of the three major religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam due to the commonality of Abraham. I find the attempt at peace a noble one. However, attaining this through the common root of Abraham seems a bit far fetched as the similarities are far outweighed by the differences. The problem with this approach is that the author doesn't seem to want to dispel the myths or discount them. Freedom comes from truth and not clinging to falsehoods. Reconciliation between the cultures and religions really won't happen because they exist due to clinging to the falsehoods therein. The author doesn't seem to take the information that he's found seriously enough. An otherwise entertaining book with some interesting information in it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2002

    Universal

    Doesn't matter if your a jew, a christian, or a muslem. This book reminds us that we all spring from the same seed. Another book that reminds us of this on a more intense level is called, I Talked To God And He Wants To Talk To YOu. I recommend these books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2002

    Abraham exists as a reference point for the major religions.

    Contrary to other reviews this book does not bash any of the religions. It merely tries to explain how Abraham became the lynchpin of the 3 major religions. It causes you to think and ask "not unlike Abraham" why are we following these clerics, priests and rabbis? Unfortunately, there are more questions than answers and you may still not know who Abraham really was!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2002

    Very fine read.

    I have to say that this is an excellent piece. There's more here than most would assume, carries forward into todays faiths. Another author has done this with Moses, by Maddox, see below.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2002

    Mr. Feiler has written another winner

    Last winter I read Walking the Bible so when I found out Abraham was out I bought and read it. It is so inspiring that three faiths look to him for guidance. I really loved it.I wish now he would write a book on Moses.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2002

    Another Islam bashing perspective

    As an American-Muslim, it was dissapointing to another perspective on Islam from a non-Islamic person. Reading the chapter on Islam basically reinforced my views that Islam as a religion is totally misunderstood in the West. It is about time we start looking into this religion more carefully as a belief, and not as an enemy. Author's bias against Islam cames accross clearly and he should have been more carefull in that regard.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2002

    WE NEED BOOKS LIKE THIS

    In a world where people of different religious beliefs are killing each other in the name of God, we need more books like this. This book was a great read.

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