“When they arrived at the place which God had indicated to him, Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood. Then he bound his son and put him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to kill his son…” –The Book of Genesis
The story of Abraham’s acceptance of God’s command to sacrifice his son Isaac is one of the most disturbing of all biblical stories. Isaac is spared only at the last moment, when an angel stops Abraham’s hand. Theologians and scholars have wrestled with the question of why God asked Abraham to kill his beloved son, why Abraham acquiesced, and why in some interpretations he actually killed his son.
In Abraham’s Curse, Bruce Chilton traces the impact of the story of Abraham and Isaac on the beliefs and teachings of Judaism (where Abraham is regarded as the forefather of Israel), Islam (where he provides the role model for Muhammad), and Christianity (where he is the ancestor of King David, whose lineage culminates in Jesus). As Chilton examines the story’s significance, he makes the case that, far from only reflecting the violence of an ancient, unenlightened time, the sacrifice of children in the name of religion is still a fundamental part of our lives and culture — from Islamist suicide bombings to militant Zionism and graphic glorifications of the Crucifixion of Christ.
Bruce Chilton is Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson and priest at the Free Church of St. John the Evangelist in Barrytown, New York. He is the author of many scholarly articles and books, including Jewish-Christian Debates… More about Bruce Chilton
“Bruce Chilton’s masterpiece of religious narrative marks a genuinely new and important step beyond the now-faltering historical Jesus movement.” —Jacob Neusner, Jerusalem Post
“Open this book and see Jesus as you’ve never seen him . . . This is one heck of a good read.” —National Catholic Reporter
“Engaging and lively . . . Chilton has done an admirable job of taking us into Jesus’ world and witnessing the life of one of history’s most important figures.” —Charlotte Observer
“Rabbi Jesus is a scholarly pursuit that reads more like a novel. The biography flows with the fluidity of an adventure tale, rich in characters, texture, and detail.” —The Herald-Sun (Durham, North Carolina)
Praise for Rabbi Paul “A worthwhile exploration of a life that has richly touched all of ours.” —Dallas Morning News
“[Chilton’s] inviting prose, ability to recreate the cultural contexts of Paul’s life, and deep affection for the Apostle bring new life to a tale that has been told many times before.” —Publishers Weekly
“An eloquent biographical masterpiece.” —Jerusalem Post
Praise for Mary Magdalene: “A compelling portrait of Mary . . . Graced by both power and wit, Chilton’s book aims to reshape and reorient the imagination of a new generation.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Chilton is an eloquent, erudite, insightful, and pastorally sensitive biblical scholar. He has produced a profoundly affecting biography of Mary Magdalene.” —America
“An intriguing portrait of a woman strong enough to break through cultural misogyny . . . fascinating reading.” —Fort Worth Star-Telegram