Re: [Kierkegaardians] In more detail
- Glad to see you responding to the conversation, Jim S. I agree with
your point of view. I'd only add that I think K/p seeks to add a new
dimension of difficulty to the Abraham and Isaac story, but to
illustrate this new dimension of difficulty I need to show one way out
of the difficulty.
We can still get around the inherent difficulty of the story by
historicizing it -- God didn't command Abraham to murder Isaac, but to
-sacrifice him-. This would not be so difficult for Abraham to
understand as a religious rite: I'm sure at least some local pagan
religions in Abraham's day required the ritual sacrifice of children.
Abraham did not have a written Mosaic code so could not know that
this new God who appeared to him would not require human sacrifice.
Abraham's problem with the command was twofold: first, natural
feelings of a father for a son, which were magnified in Abraham's case
because Abraham went all his life assuming he'd never have a child
with Sarah, then finally did; next, the fact of God's promise that
Abraham's descendants through Isaac would be as numerous as the stars
in the sky. How could God fulfill this promise if Isaac was dead?
The author of the book of Hebrews conjectures that Abraham assumed God
would raise Isaac from the dead after he had been sacrificed.
But I don't think Silentio or Kierkegaard wants us to historicize the
story. This is the new level of difficulty. I think they want to
nail us with the fact that the God we worship -now- once asked a
father to do this to his son. They especially want to take this story
out of the safe, Sunday School realm and confront us with all its
moral horror once again, so that we can consider what it really means
to have an absolute relation to God -- and how frightening that may
be. Loss of everything is a real fear for the ethical consciousness,
and seems like a consistent theme -- see the book of Job, since
ethical living is supposed to have attendant material blessings and
usually does. This theme seems to come up again at the end of Concept
of Anxiety. The only way out is through anxiety as saving through
faith, or establishing an absolute relation to God.