Reading the Akedah narrative (Genesis 22:1-19) in the context of modern hermeneutics
(This thesis is an attempt to apply literary criticism, specifically a narratological approach, to the reading of the biblical text.) There is an incongruity in the story of Isaac's (near) sacrifice by Abraham insofar as it is too economical with language in what is otherwise a complex set of important issues about obedience and sacrifice. Interpreters throughout the centuries have tried to resolve the textual difficulties created by the incongruity. Yet the variety of their conclusions are evidence of the impossibility of overcoming the ambiguities of the story. But these ambiguities are scarcely given any thorough investigation by the interpreters, whose assumed duties are commonly to clarify the story either for the sake of religious or moral obligation or, in the pursuit of intellectual satisfaction, as is apparent in many historical readings of the text. A closer look at the story reveals that there are many ambiguities that can be grasped from many angles. By using the focalization theory of narratology one can illuminate differing points of view involved in the process of narration. The narrator's voice should not be regarded as the only representation of the events as there are also the characters' ways of looking and the related events. One should be careful so as not to follow slavishly the narrator's voice while neglecting others' standpoints in the narrative which may contradict the narrator's voice. There should be communicative links seen amongst the voices or focalizations in the narrative which may or may not be verbally said. Here, it is proposed that reading is experiencing the multilayered world of the narrative. Reading is not necessarily and ultimately bound with the task of producing meaning, although it may mean a threat towards rational objectivity.