What can we possibly learn about our relationships to others from reading a story about an ancient father who raised a knife to slaughter his beloved only son?
Contemporary Christian ethicists, faced with such dilemmas, are often tempted to treat the Hebrew Bible in a limited, distanced, and even dismissive way. Yet Emily Arndt here argues that those ancient scriptures can be a vital resource for Christian ethical studies.
She focuses on a close analysis of the akedah - the story of Abraham's near-sacrifice of Isaac - to demonstrate the power of even the most troubling and uncomfortable Old Testament narratives to teach valuable lessons and develop in us the disposition and skills we need to relate authentically and ethically to others.
What can we learn today about human relationships from reading the Hebrew Bible, filled with such ancient stories as that of a father who raised a knife to slaughter his beloved son?
Contemporary Christian ethical discussions tend to treat the Hebrew Bible in a limited, distanced, and even dismissive way. Emily Arndt here argues that ancient scriptures can be a vital resource for Christian ethics. Focusing on a close analysis of the akedah -- the Genesis account of Abraham's near-sacrifice of Isaac -- Arndt demonstrates the power of even the most troubling and uncomfortable Old Testament narratives to teach valuable ethical lessons. The act of placing ourselves in relationship to such complex, challenging, perhaps unresolvable sacred texts, she says, is in itself a practice that can help us learn to relate authentically and ethically to others.
Emily Arndt (19712007) was assistant professor of theology at Georgetown University.
University of Notre Dame
"The sadly posthumous appearance of Christian ethicist Emily Arndt's Demanding Our Attentionmarks a brave attempt, and one rare among professional ethicists, to cross over from her own discipline to that of the biblical specialist, and to do so by engaging in a close and sustained reading of one of the most famously challenging and subversive texts in the Hebrew Bible. In choosing the binding of Isaac (Genesis 22) as her case study . . . Arndt illustrates the transformative possibilities latent in the act of close, attentive, and imaginative reading of biblical narrative in effect, a different way of doing ethics."
"This is a fully formed, sophisticated, and beautifully written book, offering an important contribution to the field of theological ethics. . . A fitting tribute to a scholarly career that was cut short all too soon."
"Arndt offers an important contribution to the field of theological ethics."
Studies in Christian Ethics
"A wide-ranging book. . . . The book should be fascinating to all interested in either the Hebrew Bible or Christian ethics, and is essential reading for anyone trying to combine the two."
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
"Arndt's book is informative, thought-provoking, and an easy read."