One Abraham or Three?
And in point of fact his activity has resulted, as we see today, in
the consensus of the greater part of the population of the earth
in glorifying him and considering themselves as blessed through
his memory, so that even those who do not belong to his progeny
pretend to derive from him.
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, the Global Negotiation Project at Harvard University began developing a novel and dramatic initiative in quest of interreligious and international cooperation and reconciliation. Known as “Abraham’s Path,” the project aims to develop a kind of modern, interfaith, and intercultural pilgrimage following the supposed footsteps of the biblical figure on his route from his Mesopotamian homeland to Canaan, the land that, according to the book of Genesis, was promised to Abraham and his descendants forever.
That the initiative focuses on the figure of Abraham makes eminent sense. He is, as the various publications of the project are at pains to point out, hailed by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike as their spiritual father and thus serves as an appropriate figure, indeed perhaps the ideal figure, for efforts to replace animosity among them with cooperation, and their deadly differences with a healing sense of their common heritage. In the words of one of the Abraham’s Path documents, “Three and a half billion people—over half the human family—trace their history or faith back to Abraham, considered the father of monotheism. The Abraham Path honors this shared cultural heritage by linking together into a single itinerary of outstanding interest and beauty the ancient sites associated with Abraham and his family.” The text goes on to predict success for the initiative. Abraham’s Path, it tells us, “will serve as an intercultural meeting place,