The second half delves into each faith tradition and discusses how the Abraham narratives relate to contemporary religious and political conflicts.
I have been interested in learning more about the similarities of the three major faiths in the world and was looking forward to reading this book. The book begins with a quote from Genesis 12: 2-3 with Gods promise to Abraham. Bruce broke the chapters out by focusing on the Rock of Abraham (his home), the God of Abraham (his Birth and Call), the Children of Abraham (Ishmael and Issac), the People of Abraham (Jews, Christians and Muslims) and the Blood of Abraham (his legacy). I would not have been ready to read this book when it was published in 2002, I dont think my faith was strong enough. Being a Christian I couldnt help but be looking for some confirmation of my faith but very quickly I learned to let go and let Bruce have control of this journey. Abrahams family worshiped many gods and he was called by God to leave his homeland and become the father of a great nation. As Bruce takes us through Christianity, Judaism and Muslims relationship with Abraham I am still reading with my jaw dropping. The last chapter on the Blood of Abraham did bring me to solid ground. I have an appreciation for other faiths, I do not believe there is only one faith or one way to God. What I do know is I am comfortable with my choice of Christianity. I believe again the important message is that we all come to God in a different way and we choose that belief based on our gifts and our needs. This Abraham is not Jew, christian, or Muslim. Thankfully I can continue this journey with my strong and confident faith in God and Jesus and I can appreciate Abrahams guidance in bringing me this far.
Although Feiler interviews several authorities from different faiths, the book is in no way a scholarly approach to the belief systems of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Even more aggravating, Feiler regards both Judaism and Islam with great respect, even referring to the Koran and Mohammad's revelations as though they are completely accurate, but then treats the New Testament in much the same way as one might treat a fairy tale, with statements like, "Jesus' followers spread word that Jesus had not actually died irreparably on the cross." So Mohammad definitely received revelations from Allah, but Jesus couldn't possibly have risen from the dead? Overall, I'd categorize this book more as one man's questions and interpretations regaring the abilities of the main three world religions to coexist peacefully than a true search for the historical figure of Abraham.
While it was an interesting piece looking at the shared aspects of the three major faiths, i found it to be a little bit more of a follow-up book than a stand-alone piece of art. By the time he's done, he'll be averaging a memior for every 3 years of his life.
In this new land, two sons are born to Abraham, and God asks Abraham to sacrifice one of them as a test of his faith. Feiler writes, Considering that I set out in search of what I thought was one Abraham at the heart of all three faiths, I was amazed by how much time I spent trying to figure out when one religions Abraham ended and another began. Long before Christians and Muslims set about reinterpreting Abraham, early Jews were the first to perform reconstructive surgery on their purported father. Feiler describes how the Israelites set about codifying their Bible, gathering and recording oral stories. Hundreds of years later, Muslims trace their relevancy through Abrahams other son, Ishmael. Ibn Kathir accuses Jews of dishonesty and slander, claiming they introduced Isaac into the story, even though the Bible says Abraham went to sacrifice his only son, his favored son. For Muslims, Ishmael was the favored son, so he was the one Abraham took to sacrifice.
In Bruce Feilers enthralling book, we are taken into the heart of the Holy Land where the author talks to many learned figures from these three religions and explores shrines, tombs, and important places of worship, many of which are linked to Abraham and have been fought over for centuries in religious conflicts. Despite major differences in the theology of the worlds three major monotheistic religions, the authors contention is that Abraham offers a glimmer of hope for interfaith understanding, unity, and most importantly of course, peace. In a world where peace seems so unlikely, I found it refreshing to read about a figure who could perhaps be at the centre of a coffee table discussion between Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
I think the best part of the book for me is to open my eyes to the stories of Hagar and Ismael. I like the light, conversational tone and the great story-telling talent of Bruce Feiler.
Yeah, the book's about Abraham, he's the guy that got the Call, but Sarah is just a non-entity in this analysis and I think that does her a disservice.
His reputation and the portions of his story that were historically highlighted and debated said as much about the period in which they were written as it did about evolving religious traditions.
He is the writer/presenter of the PBS series Walking the Bible and the forthcoming Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler.