The Bible, Theology, and Faith: A Study of Abraham and Jesus

By R. W. L. Moberly | Go to book overview

5
Genesis 22 and the hermeneutics of suspicion

The next step in our argument must be to reflect yet further upon Genesis 22. It is not enough solely to situate our exposition in relation to classic Christian concerns, from the New Testament to von Rad, and to note some similarities and differences with Jewish approaches. Other contexts too require attention.

The context with which I wish to engage is that of 'suspicion'. This takes many forms, one or two expressions of which were noted near the outset of the exposition of Genesis 22; in place of a paradigm of faithful response to the one true God, we find Abraham's response to a 'diabolical' deity being seen as 'insane'. Although this problem was already touched on towards the end of the exposition, more needs to be said, since the hermeneutics of suspicion is a major issue in contemporary biblical criticism. Reserve towards the story of Abraham comes not only from those who are alienated from Jewish and Christian faith, but also from those who locate themselves within, and wish to remain within, these faith traditions.

In general terms, a Christian theologian should not be quick to dismiss a hermeneutic of suspicion, for the prime reason that it represents a kind of secularized counterpart to the dogma of original sin. Indeed were it not for the decay of some of the classic disciplines of faith and theology in important strands of post-Reformation and post-Enlightenment thought, the rediscovery of the problems which suspicion touches on would not come as any great surprise. Suspicion touches on something that is basic within a Christian account of life, the recognition that there is nothing which cannot be abused and that humans have an enormous capacity for self-deception in the ways they try to rationalize and justify their greed, desires, and idolatries. The religious life is not exempt from this; rather it may be a prime exemplar of it. However, just as unremitting

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