Torah or Gospel?
Anyone who accepts a single commandment in faith is worthy to
have the Holy Spirit rest upon him.
IN CHAPTER 4, we traced the process by which Abraham the father of the Jewish people became Abraham the founder, or rediscoverer, of belief in the one true God as well. Whereas the chapters about him in Genesis focus on God’s promise of progeny, land, and blessing and give no indication that Abraham had any teaching at all, by some point in the second century B.C.E. he has become an active adversary of idolatry and the materialist presuppositions upon which it rests. Abraham has, in a word, become a philosopher, and with this came the notion that his vocation is of great import even to those outside his own family. The entire world needs to acknowledge and obey its divine creator and master, it was now taught, and give him the testimony and service that are his due. In testifying to a higher truth, the philosopher opens a portal through which outsiders can enter and dwell within that truth.2
But there are problems. To say, as Philo does, that Abraham came to see that there was “a charioteer and pilot presiding over the world” leaves troublingly vague the question of how one is to enter into relationship with that charioteer and pilot. The same can be said for the rabbinic legend that Abraham established an inn in which he asked his guests to make the benediction, “Blessed be the Everlasting God / God of the World of whose bounty we have eaten.”3 Compared with the rich texture of the traditional Jewish, Christian, or Muslim life, these affirmations, however essential they may be, seem too thin to support a whole identity, too frail a skeleton on which to rest a lasting religious community or to sustain and nourish a life-changing insight.