Now I'm no student, so when it comes to asking questions about dem books wot I read, I find Bristol sadly lacking in conveniently appearing philosophy lecturers, and thus, Cambridge Companions and Routledges like these are a bit of send. To be honest, and I don't mind admitting this, on reading Fear & Trembling second time round, it in one hand, this book in the other, I found I'd missed much more than just a little bit.
The structure of the book dedicates four chapters to Fear & Trembling itself, and then a final two on its possible `hidden message' and the character of Johannes de Silentio (F&T's pseudonymous author). Lippitt has something either intelligent or reassuring to say on all F&T's original chapters, whether it's that the four sub-Abrahams of Attunement haven't really even been fully unravelled by academics yet, or that the Speech in Praise of Abraham is not just about lyrical fancy but contains very specific "logical howlers" meant by Kierkegaard to signal Johannes' unreliability early on. Chapters holding the meat of the text have much space dedicated, with large digressions on the current state of play in the academic world. So, we get two or three contemporary interpretations (most references are from the last 10-15 years) on each of the main `problems' and a lengthy discussion on Johannes' `knight of infinite resignation/knight of faith' duality.
Whilst Lippitt stuck to the text, I felt pretty much on solid ground, but where discussion moves into interpretation of the text as a whole, as in the final two chapters, then we enter a stodgier phase. Believe me, I know this is a book on a philosophy book and I expected it to be anything but clear cut, but where the counter-points run four iterations deep and F&T itself becomes something spied vaguely on the horizon, well, it's not all prosciutto and apple crumble let me tell you. But there again, these are the most rewarding parts too. If you can bludgeon your way through Green's three counter-arguments to ethical-centrism (whilst keeping Mooney in mind), and then work out the consequences of interpreting Abraham anagogically (yes, apparently that is a word) as God, sacrificer of the lamb Jesus, then your well on your way to saying `bye-bye Johannes, hello Soren'.
The only problem I have with books like this, and this is specifically in relation to Kierkegaard, is that his aim was to get us to engage in our own enquiry; the answers we'd come to therefrom being experientially more valuable than something given on a page. What I recommend is buying this book with Fear &Trembling, to get a feel of just how deep his writing runs beneath the pseudonymity, but then read others like Repetition or Either/Or without any guidance, keeping to Kierkegaard's wish that you engage yourself.