Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Summary of An Uncomfortable Bit of Rope: Retellings of the Akedah
Chris Halverson

In this dissertation I begin by describing several recent retellings of Genesis chapter 22, the Binding of Isaac, which I refer to throughout as “the Akedah.” I suggest that this event is perplexing. Then I contend that when rewriters of the Bible retell the Akedah their particular focuses manifest themselves greatly, especially at the points where their accounts deviate from the biblical version. In other words, the Akedah is a literary Rorschach test.
In order to test this contention I look at four retellings from the early second century BCE to the closing of the first century CE. They are: The Book of Jubilees, also known as The Little Genesis, by an unknown author; Philo’s On Abraham; Biblical Antiquities by an unnamed author often called, for reasons explained in the dissertation, “Pseudo-Philo”; and Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities. I finish my introduction by going through the biblical account of the event and pointing out places in the text that may be ripe for retelling.
The next section involves me looking at each of these four authors, their works, and their versions of the Binding of Isaac. I describe how their accounts of the Akedah differ from the one found in the Bible and how this reveals the author’s biases.
Then, in order to explore the cultural and historical backgrounds of the texts, I look at them in synthesis with one another.
Finally, I discuss three modern retellings of the Akedah, which I had mentioned at the start of the dissertation.