Hagar, Sarah, and Their Children: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives

Article excerpt

Hagar, Sarah, and Their Children: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives edited by Phyllis Trible and Letty M. Russell Westminster John Knox, Louisville, 2006. 211 pp. $24.95. ISBN 0-664-22982-4.

MODELING A COMMUNITY that respects and values difference, seven scholars representing three religious traditions have contributed to this volume in an effort to honor the perspectives of Hagar and Sarah in the Genesis stories about their lives. Their purpose is to read with the marginalized, to envision the action from Sarah and Hagar's point of view, which undercuts the assumptions of patriarchy and "may help us create a different vision of human and gender relations" (p. 26).

Surveying interpretations of the Hagar and Sarah story within Muslim, Jewish, and Christian traditions, the authors demonstrate that the conflict between these two women has been used by theologians in various historical contexts to perpetuate conflict among people with different religious convictions. Typically, interpreters have shaped interpretations of the story to address contemporary disputes, consistently elevating one community's "truth" over another's.

Like the many theologians who precede them, the authors in this volume are compelled to revisit the story of Hagar and Sarah by the pressing needs of their own current context. Conflict between Sarah and Hagar's descendants continues to endanger the well-being of God's creation. Yet unlike their predecessors, they intentionally shift focus away from Abraham, the traditional star of the narrative, to the mothers of Abraham's descendants, seeking reconciliation within this broken family. …