Aqedah and Philosophy

What would have happened to modern and postmodern philosophy if the philosophers had read, and accepted, the account of the Aqedah in Hebrews 11: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your descendants shall be called.’ He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.”

Kierkegaard would have had no basis for the teleological suspension of the ethical. There would be no need for Levinas to correct Kierkegaard by pointing out that Abraham ultimately returned to the sphere of the “ethical” because he refrained from sacrificing Isaac and sacrificed a ram instead. There would be no room for Derrida’s generalization from “this story of the absolute incommensurability of the individual” (Caputo), nor any grounds for Derrida to pose a radical contrast between the an-economic sacrifice of Abraham and the economic circle of gift and expected reward. Derrida to the contrary, the secret Abraham holds is no secret; it is right there in the text: “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.”

The Aqedah has floated free of its larger biblical context for more than a century. It’s time to call the prodigal home.

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