BIBLE and INTERPRETATION
ABRAHAM’S SILENCE The Binding of Isaac, the Suffering of Job, and How to Talk Back to God J. Richard Middleton
It is traditional to think we should praise Abraham for his will- ingness to sacrifice his son as proof of his love for God. But have we misread the point of the story? Is it possible that a careful reading of Genesis 22 could reveal that God was not pleased with Abraham’s silent obedience? J. Richard Middleton suggests we have misread and misapplied the story of the binding of Isaac and shows that God desires something other than silent obedience in difficult times. Middle- ton focuses on the ethical and theological problem of Abraham’s silence and explores the rich biblical tradition of vigorous prayer, including the lament psalms, as a resource for faith. Middleton also examines the book of Job in terms of God validating Job’s lament as “right speech,” showing how the vocal Job provides an alternative to the silent Abraham. Abraham’s Silence provides a fresh interpretation of Genesis 22 and reinforces the church’s resurgent interest in lament as an ap- propriate response to God. Professors and students of the Bible, theology, and spirituality; pastors and church leaders; biblical scholars and theologians; and Jewish Rabbis, scholars, and lay- people will all value this work.
NOVEMBER 2021 • 272 pp. • paper • $26.99 • 9780801098017
J. RICHARD MIDDLETON (PhD, Free University of Amsterdam) is professor of biblical worldview and exegesis at Northeastern Seminary. He is the author of The Liberating Image and the award-winning A New Heaven and a New Earth . He is also the coauthor of Truth Is Stranger Than It Used to Be and The Transforming Vision . Middleton has served as president of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies and as president of the Canadian-American Theological Association.
“A groundbreaking work. The pastoral implications of this book make it a must-read for pastors and biblical scholars alike.” —CARMEN JOY IMES, Biola University “I consider this to be a masterpiece of once-in-a-generation quality.” —RABBI YITZ GREENBERG, president, J. J. Greenberg Institute for the Advancement of Jewish Life
CONTENTS Introduction: Does Abraham’s Silence Matter? PART 1: MODELS OF VIGOROUS PRAYER IN THE BIBLE 1. Voices from the Ragged Edge 2. God’s Loyal Opposition PART 2: MAKING SENSE OF THE BOOK OF JOB 3. The Question of Appropriate Speech 4. Does God Come to Bury Job or to Praise Him? PART 3: UNBINDING THE AQEDAH FROM THE STRAITJACKET OF TRADITION 5. Is It Permissible to Criticize Abraham or God? 6. Reading Rhetorical Signals in the Aqedah and Job 7. Did Abraham Pass the Test? Conclusion: The Gritty Spirituality of Lament Indexes
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