The Trials of Abraham: The Making of a National Patriarchby Martin Sicker
The Trials of Abraham is based on the premise that the primary concern of the Torah is with establishing a conceptual framework within which a unique nation might emerge and flourish for the exclusive purpose of facilitating the emergence of a model civilization for eventual emulation by all the peoples of the earth. The Trials of Abraham is devoted to a consideration of how the biblical author sought to explain through narrative rather than analysis why Abraham was chosen to be the founding patriarch of that new nation.
The saga of Abraham is presented in the book of Genesis in a group of stories reflecting a series of progressively severe tests or trials to which Abraham was subjected in order to demonstrate to all but especially to posterity his worthiness to be the founder of a unique nation committed to God's service. The trials illustrate the discrete steps by which he underwent transformation from a natural philosopher to a religious sage, from being a consummate rationalist to becoming a man of faith capable of suppressing even the most pressing demands of reason.
Understanding the biblical narrative requires that we strive to comprehend what the text as we have it is telling us, explicitly as well as implicitly. As is the case with many biblical texts, it is not always clear what is being conveyed or why certain bits of information are provided and others omitted. The challenge for the sympathetic reader is to attempt fill in the seemingly obvious gaps in the narrative and to make sense of that which is or is not said. It is the purpose of The Trials of Abraham to assist the reader in doing just that.
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