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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Abraham's Curse: The Roots of Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Chilton, Bruce

New York: Doubleday, 2008 pp. 259. $24.95

Description: The story of Abrahamís acceptance of Godís command to sacrifice his son Isaac is one of the most disturbing of all Biblical stories. Isaac is spared only at the last moment, when an angel stops Abrahamís hand. Theologians and scholars have wrestled with the question of why God asked Abraham to kill his beloved son, why Abraham acquiesced, and why in some interpretations he actually killed his son. In ABRAHAM'S CURSE, Bruce Chilton traces the impact of the story of Abraham and Isaac on the beliefs and teachings of Judaism (where Abraham is regarded as the forefather of Israel), Islam (where he provides the role model for Muhammad), and Christianity (where he is the ancestor of King David, whose lineage culminates in Jesus). As Chilton examines the storyís significance, he makes the case that, far from being an example of the violence of an ancient, unenlightened time, the sacrifice of children in the name of religion is still a fundamental part of our lives and cultureófrom Islamist suicide bombings to militant Zionism, and the graphic depictions of the Crucifixion of Christ.

Subjects: Bible, Literature, Methods, Theological Approaches, Comparative Religion, Islam, Judaism, Christianity

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Review by Marvin A. Sweeney
Published 1/24/2009
Citation: Marvin A. Sweeney, review of Bruce Chilton, Abraham's Curse: The Roots of Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2009).

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