Sunday, December 9, 2007

Advent Chagall series: Hagar in the Desert


6 comments:

Kenneth Wolman said...

I have always suspected that there is an odd dynamic at work in the story of Hagar and Ishmael, and that it is related down the road to the testing of Abraham via the "binding of Isaac." Sarah, who I consider unreasonable and downright vicious, is instrumental in having Hagar and Ishmael thrown into the desert. A wag could say Abraham is PW'd by his wife with God's consent. But it seems to be God alone, or some version thereof that derives from a Mesopotamian monstrosity, is directly responsible for commanding the child-sacrifice of the Akeidah. I have always wondered: Abraham, who would challenge his God over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, folds without a word when told to turn Isaac into a "holocaust" (shiver). Better theological minds than mine have wrestled with all this stuff, so I defer to the present company.

Jane R said...

Wow -- Lots I could say to this but I am in Istanbul and jet-lagged, with some work things to do (yes, I had to bring work along). What I CAN recommend --and it will be interesting even if you just read the Table of Contents and other things from the Amazon.com "look inside" feature, is the latest thing since sliced bread on Sarah and Hagar, Sarah, Hagar, and Their Children. Have a look. Also, I preached/gave the Baccalaureate Address on various perspectives on the Abraham/Sarah/Hagar saga at Oberlin College about 10 years ago (it's my alma mater and it was the year of my 25th reunion) and for a long time it was on their website, but I think it's gone now.

Delores Williams's Sisters in the Wilderness, which came out 15 or so years ago, is great on Hagar and African American women, but she has a chapter in the book I mention above which probably repeats some of it. Also there is a bunch of new creative Jewish feminist work on Sarah and also Sarah and Hagar -- but again, there is some in the book.

The whole Akedah (note to others: this is the word used in Hebrew by both religious Jews and various scholars to speak of the "sacrifice of Isaac") is one of the most intractable passages in Scripture. Many of us find it incredibly painful and incomprehensible re: both humans and God. (As one woman said to me, no Mother God would ask anyone to do that to their child. There is midrash somewhere saying Sarah got no sleep after that little episode.)

johnieb said...

By Phylis Trible? More books, Oh boy!

Kenneth Wolman said...

I will look at that TOC, but must say this first--my "first" rabbi, a Reconstructionist and (not incidentally?) a woman, commented on the Akeidah not from Sarah or Abraham's point of view, but from Isaac's. It's like "Remember him? He was the one who was tied down!" Joy's calculation (maybe it was Rashi's?) was that Isaac was 37 years old at the time of the demanded sacrifice, and that he in a sense really died on that mountaintop. Some commentators see him as slightly off-center or suffering from some kind of PTSD. If so, who could blame him? Your own father raises a knife to you because some unseen Fiendity demands blood? Right, even Kierkegaard had a hard time with this. I don't trust anyone who says they know the answer to the capital-M Mystery of the Akeidah. It seems to prefigure questions of why God allowed the Egyptian bondage, Chmielnicki, and the Nazis. The line between the God-destined and human will is often very hard for me to figure out.

Jane R said...

Dorothee Soelle says all this evil has very little to do with God (she says the Shoah left her with very little truck for hymns to "God who so gloriously reigneth") and more to do with the fact that in that era (and others, and today) God did not have enough friends. She favors the weak God, which is why she loves Jesus, the tortured one who is human with us.

P.S. Google/Blogger says:
Google Hesabınız yok mu? Buradan kaydolun.
Ayrıca Blogger hesabınızı da kullanabilirsiniz.

(Just answer And also with you! ) ;-)

johnieb said...

And also with you. Would "and with all Her creation" also be fitting?