ENG150Y1 Lecture Notes - Erich Auerbach, Binding Of Isaac, Dharma
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Hebrew Bible (Lecture 4) The book of Job
Comparison of literacy technique between Homer’s Odyssey, and Genesis
o Different realities to express the purpose of the text
o West; read narrative of classical ideas, difficult to view the holy text as work
Genesis is similar to Odysseus’ scar, more contrast?
o Homer’s Odyssey: ‘externalized, uniformly presented phenomena, connected together
without gaps in a perpetual foreground; thoughts and feelings completely expressed’
o Odysseus’ scar is similar; the scar has an in-depth story of rich detail
o Genesis; leaves out the circumstantial details, deals with gaps since it deals with the
most important points
o Entirely about surface
o Genesis: ‘the externalization of only so much of the phenomena as is necessary for the
purpose of the narrative, all else left in obscurity; thoughts and feelings remain
unexpressed, re only suggested by the silence and the fragmentary speeches; the whole,
permeated with the most unrelieved suspense and directed toward a single goal,
remains mysterious and ‘fraught with background’
Erich Auerbach, “Odysseus’s Scar”
Implication that it’s the readers work to get the story, to fill in the holes
o Odyssey; realism. Genesis lied behind modern ideas of realism too, in characterization,
that character is multi layered.
o The bible, genesis, was a new form of reading.
The binding of Isaac
Chapter 22 of Genesis: “after these things...”
Abraham is fully prepared to kill Isaac; it was only a test but it was to show his willingness to God
The main message of the text: one should be willing to follow god’s commands, even to the
excess of killing ones child.
o To some readers, it is an unthinkable
Evidence from the text that the story isn’t that indepth, that the story isn’t to intense
The binding (Akedah) of Isaac
o Story (re-ordering): “Abraham!”
o “Here I am.”
o Take your son,
Your only son,
The one you love,
o Syntax of Gods commands: He has to sacrifice even more. He had already left home, but
now he has to sacrifice god’s promise of offspring
o In the spaces of the pauses, there implies a conversation between God’s and Abraham’s
God says take your son, and Abraham knows something is bad so he attempts to
defer God’s choice of son. He asks which son. God asks your only son. Abraham
says he has two sons though, both his only son to one life. God says the one you
love, Abraham says but I love both sons. In the end, God simply says Isaac
Show’s Abraham’s want for his son, his love for Isaac
There is an entire conversation between the lines, even more story from
o Isaac’s perspective
o What is Isaac’s perspective? The son that is to be sacrificed. The story is unfolded to not
only to Abraham, but also in a way to Isaac.
Abraham took the wood ofthe burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he
himself carried the Fire and the knife.
So the Two of them walked on Together.
Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!”
And he said, “Here I am, my son”
He said, “the fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt
Abraham said, “God himself will provide a lamb for the burnt offering, my son”
So the two of them walked on together
This shows a togetherness of Abraham and His son, ‘they walk together’
o God himself will provide a lamb for the burnt offering, my son
Is Abraham lying to his son? Is he blatantly lying to his only son
Or, does Abraham truly believe that God will provide in the end, that god could
not make him do this
When Isaac asks of the where the offering, that the fire and wood is there, but
where is the lamb?
Isaac doesn’t mention the knife though. Through silence, it implies wonder
Is Abraham hiding the knife? Is Isaac simply ignoring it?
Isaac is recognizing his own demise, but refusing to acknowledge it?
The knife is mentioned, through not being mentioned. What isn’t there is
implied, creating more information. New literacy technique.
o Caravaggio, “The Sacrifice of Isaac”
Interpretation of the Binding of Isaac
The knife is at the center of the poem
No one is really looking at each other, while doing so. Blank, blind faces.
o Abraham is a character of blind faith, of faith, of oath to god.
What about Isaac?
Jacob; he talks to his uncle, and explains who the God of his father is
o If the god of my father, the god of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac had not been on my
side, I would not have survived this
o The god of his fathers
The god of his Grandfather: the god of his promise, covenant
The god “fear, terror” of the father: fear, terror,
Same god, two aspects of the divine.
The book of Job:
Rhetoric of Biblical Narrative. Along with the more sublime messages of the book of Job.
Writers struggle with simplistic views of the bible are similar with Job’s struggles.
Milton, Blake. Deeply influenced by the book of Job for the theological aspects and the poetic
Most of the books are narratives: the book of Job is only minimally narrative
Pushes the limits with mankind’s view and life of monotheistic divine
The breakups of poems are of two very different forms of creation
o Ancient folk lore of a man challenged by god
o Some amazing poet interpolate dialog that takes the story in a completely different
o But, the book of Job takes both.
‘a mash-up’ multiple views throughout the one story: flashpoint I think the movie’s called
Rarely have a narrator who can say ‘what’s going on in God’s mind’
o What does god do with Abraham? He just calls him
o In the book of job; ‘there was once a man... turned away from evil’ the narrator of evil
strictly says what the man is.
The reader won’t have to work too hard, won’t have to interpret it the same
way of Isaac
o The Holy Tribunal: Satan means the accuser, the prosecuting attorney.
The sons of god: the accuser, the destroyer (in Passover), defender or comfiture
Genesis stays clear of them for the most part
Problem with monotheism
How can you have an antagonist for the god?
In Exodus, god himself becomes the antagonist
Greek: Satan, Greeks used accuser so Diabalos: Our word of Devil comes from
Diabalos, the accuser in Greek language. The creature who exteriorises the
problems with man. The serpent, all merged into Satan: a strong opposition to
The satan went out in the presence of the Lord
In the story of Abraham and Isaac, Job is like them, struggles
o ‘I alone have escaped to tell you’
Repetition with intensification
Councel points out to Satan how Job hasn’t sinned.
Skin for skin.
Job can say the lord gives and lord takes away when it is external
happenings, but if you cause harm to him he will curse you – satans
Job is infected with boils, but despite his wife telling him to curse God,
he knows he has not sinned so he will not curse god.
o Friends say, god will pay you back for what you have done.
o Similar to dharma
The limit case
The limit Case
Hebrew bible (lecture 4) the book of job. Comparison of literacy technique between homer"s odyssey, and genesis: different realities to express the purpose of the text, west; read narrative of classical ideas, difficult to view the holy text as work. Implication that it"s the readers work to get the story, to fill in the holes: odyssey; realism. Genesis lied behind modern ideas of realism too, in characterization, that character is multi layered: the bible, genesis, was a new form of reading. Chapter 22 of genesis: after these things . Abraham is fully prepared to kill isaac; it was only a test but it was to show his willingness to god. The main message of the text: one should be willing to follow god"s commands, even to the excess of killing ones child: to some readers, it is an unthinkable. Evidence from the text that the story isn"t that indepth, that the story isn"t to intense.