The purpose of the course is to dive deeply in the narrative of the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac, respecting the traditional Jewish view that elevates the event while at the same time embracing the difficult questions that arise when reading the text slowly.
The questions happen in several areas:
- Theology: What is the purpose of the test? Does God know, or not, how Avraham responds?
- Morality/ethics: what kind of god asks for human sacrifice? What kind of parent does this? What other stories in the Tanach have this theme? Is this any different than murder?
- Avraham: what kind of personality does he show, compared to everything we have seen before? Is he actively lying? Is he the "knight of faith" of Kierkegaard? Is he confused about what is demanded of him? Is Job a response to Avraham, in any way?
- Isaac: what is his age? Is he a passive child or an adult actively trying to enable his father's devotion? How does he relate to the image of his mother?
- Sarah: where is she? How could Avraham do this to her?
- The aftermath: Avraham and Itzchak never talk again, nor does God talk to Avraham, Sarah dies. What is the personal price?
The order of the sessions is fairly independent, excluding, of course, the introduction. The only two sessions that are dependent on one another are the ones dealing with Kierkegaard. The text is denser and the discussion envelopes all aspects of the Akedah.