16 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Not what it says on the tin,
This review is from: Is God a Moral Monster? (Paperback)
I am an atheist and I also teach RE. I thought this book would be a light read examining some of the more contentious parts of the OT. This book couldn't be further away from that ideal; perhaps a more suitable title would be 'a defence of the cultural practices of the ancient Israelite nation'.
This book isn't balanced; it sets out to make a point, often on shaky foundations. I actually found myself putting down the book in anger fairly often, amazed at the sweeping generalisations or the absolute refusal to recognise what the issue is. My favourite examples of thess include: the assertion that God isn't proud because there's nothing he can't do, the defence of Abraham's decision to comply with God's command to sacrifice Isaac (with virtually no mention of the morality of God commanding this in the first place!) and the fact that the issue of homosexuality is pretty much ignored. Read it for yourself and you'll find many examples of Copan making unjustified leaps in logic and assumption that his worldview are shared by the reader and therefore don't need to be justified (for example, Copan refers to sexual practices in other comparable near east religions as aberrations because he believes the ideal standard should be monogamy).
Yet despite this, there's something about this book that's incredibly readable. It is certainly well researched and does an excellent job of putting Israelite society into context. I wouldn't recommend this book to anybody that isn't used to picking out personal views but I have genuinely found it useful, just not in the way I expected.
Still, I can't help but think that Copan's arguments are often rather weak because he doesn't stick to the issue of God's morality.
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Initial post: 19 Sep 2011 22:08:09 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 Sep 2011 18:29:32 BDT
Wikipedia 'Binding of Isaac', The early rabbinic midrash Genesis Rabbah imagines God as saying "I never considered telling Abraham to slaughter Isaac (using the Hebrew root letters for "slaughter", not "sacrifice")". Rabbi Yona Ibn Janach (Spain, 11th century) wrote that God demanded only a symbolic sacrifice. Rabbi Yosef Ibn Caspi (Spain, early 14th century) wrote that Abraham's "imagination" led him astray, making him believe that he had been commanded to sacrifice his son. Ibn Caspi writes "How could God command such a revolting thing?"
Modern-critical scholars operating under the framework of the documentary hypothesis commonly ascribe the Binding's narrative to the biblical source E, on the grounds that it generally uses God (אלוהי
Francesca Stavrakopoulou has speculated that it is possible that the story "contains traces of a tradition in which Abraham does sacrifice Isaac. Richard Elliott Friedman has argued that in the original E story Abraham may have carried out the sacrifice of Isaac, but that later repugnance at the idea of a human sacrifice led the redactor of JE to add the lines in which a ram is substituted for Isaac.
How could this be though, since Gen 22v15-17 talks about Abrahams descendants? Was it just a story told to deter that society from the ANE practice of human sacrifice? An example of development in human reasoning ? Someone had grown sick of the idea.
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