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Abraham on trial : the social legacy of biblical myth
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Abraham on Trial questions the foundations of faith that have made a virtue out of the willingness to sacrifice a child. Delaney critically examines evidence from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim interpretations, from archaeology and Freudian theory, as well as a recent trial in which a father sacrificed his child in obedience to God's voice, and shows how the meaning of Abraham's story is bound up with a specific notion of fatherhood. She explores how the sacrifice rather than the protection of children became the focus of faith, to the point where the abuse and betrayal of children has today become widespread and sometimes institutionalized.Kinship and origin myths, the cultural construction of fatherhood and motherhood, suspicions of actual child sacrifices in ancient times, and a revisiting of Freud's Oedipus complex all contribute to Delaney's remarkably rich discussion. She shows how the story of Abraham legitimates a hierarchical structure of authority, a specific form of family, definitions of gender, and the value of obedience that together have become the bedrock of society. The question she leaves us with is whether we should perpetuate this story and the lessons it teaches.
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