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Abraham's Curse

Kenneth Wapner

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Abraham’s Curse: The Roots of Violence in

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Bruce Chilton’s masterful and original analysis of the religious violence and child sacrifice in

Western culture (Doubleday, 2008).

Wapner’s role:

• Proposal development and writing • Editing

From the Acknowledgments:

“The transfer of this study from conception to page required editorial midwifery. The incentive to

undertake the project came from Kenneth Wapner, who has provided expert advice…”

“An erudite, closely reasoned yet often fascinating tale that lets us view our heritage in a fresh and

provocative way.”

-LA Times

“In this thought-provoking study, Bard College professor Chilton (Rabbi Jesus) asks how the

Abrahamic faiths have understood Genesis 22, the story of the binding of Isaac. All three religions

include a strand of interpretation that reads the binding of Isaac as valorizing the sacrifice of

human life. Some rabbinic texts, for example, suggest that Abraham did in fact nick Isaac's neck,

shedding the boy's blood, and that Isaac offers a model for the necessary readiness for

martyrdom. Christianity has seen Isaac as prefiguring Jesus' crucifixion, and Christians, too, find in

both these sacrificial stories an approval of martyrdom. In Islam, Chilton finds a range of

interpretations, some of which gradually make Ibrahim more and more aggressive, to the point

that Allah could only prevent the slaughter... by miraculous means. These interpretations appear

to underwrite violence, but Chilton also finds within Jewish, Christian and Islamic sacred texts a

corrective: a clear insistence that God does not want human beings to sacrifice ourselves or our

children. Today's violent fundamentalists, Chilton claims, overlook those correctives and take their

cues from readings of Genesis 22 that seem to favor human sacrifice. Chilton produces yet

another creative and very relevant historical account.”

-Publisher’s Weekly


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