The Sacrifice of Isaac: The Aqedah (Genesis 22) and Its Interpretations

By Ed Noort; Eibert Tigchelaar | Go to book overview
Save to active project


Andy F. Sanders

1. Introduction

Reading the story of the sacrifice of Isaac is one thing, reading Søren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling (1843), one of its famous literaryphilosophical interpretations, another. In this contribution my aim is, first, to give a brief exposition (sections 2–3) of how Genesis 22:1–19 is read by Johannes de Silentio, the pseudonymous writer of Fear and Trembling and, next, to exhibit its ongoing significance by comparing it briefly with Derrida's recent reinterpretation of it (section 4).

Though there are perhaps few philosophers whose life and work are so intricately connected as those of Kierkegaard, I cannot go into the controversial issue of his pseudonymous authorship.1 Let me just recall that, except for a few journeys to Berlin, he lived and worked as a writer in Kopenhagen where he was born in 1813 and died in 1855, that he got a Lutheran upbringing by a severe and melancholic father, that his mother, six of his seven brothers and sisters and his best friend died before he was 23, and, not surprisingly, that he suffered himself from 'melancholy'. Also important to recall in this connection is that he broke off his engagement with the love of his life, the seventeen year old Regine Olsen in October of 1841, less than two years before Fear and Trembling appeared. From his diaries we know that he himself understood this rupture as a sacrifice and that it was very much in his mind while he was writing the book.2 However, as I will focus on the text itself, the host

1 Though there is no reason to suppose that Kierkegaard's views are significantly
different than those of his pseudonym, I will respect the distance he wished to cre-
ate between his writings and his own person by referring to de Silentio or Kierkegaard-
de Silentio as the author.

2 It has been suggested with good reason that part of the hidden meaning of
Fear and Trembling was to disclose to Regine why he had broken off their engage-
ment. According to Malantchuk, it is therefore not Abraham, but Isaac who rep-
resents Kierkegaard-de Silentio: '[he] simply wanted to tell Regine that he himself


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Sacrifice of Isaac: The Aqedah (Genesis 22) and Its Interpretations


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 230

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?