The roots of modern Christian belief traces back to the wealth of Jewish heritage, much has not been said about the true nature of the Hebrew traditions. The general consensus on the Jewish tradition has either been discussed passively or effortlessly. However, much can be learned about the stories of Jewish figures sets out standards and moral norms that have come to be part of modern moral philosophy.
Primarily, the significance of Abraham lies in the fact that he is considered the forefather of a tradition that made the people of Israel believe in God. Accounts in the book of Genesis suggest that Abraham is a model of a virtuous life for the Israelites and Abraham’s prominent lineage established notions on how God envisioned Israel and the world, how relationships between people have been formalized, and how the promised Kingdom of God is founded.
Abraham is generally believed to be a Semite from the lineage of Noah’s son Shem. Relevant chapters in the book of Genesis entail that Abraham is personally called by God to establish an eternal covenant with His chosen people, the Israelites (Wilson, 1989). Particularly, God introduced himself to Moses by saying “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3: 6, New International Version), Moses’ experience in the book of Exodus then furthers the fact that Abraham is the prime example of a faithful person as God used Abraham to formally call on His new servant Moses.
Being the father of all nations, Abraham has come to be established as the ancestor of numerous tribes. Being the father of Isaac, Abraham is considered the chief ancestor of the Israelites who uphold the centuries-old traditions of Judaism. The titular role of Abraham would also become the foundations of the concept of faith that Jesus Christ entail in the New Testament’s canonical gospels (Wilson, 1989).
As previously mentioned, the Christian allusions to Abraham served as the avenue for the coming of salvation through God’s promised Messiah. The first chapter in the Gospel of Matthew bequeaths that the Messiah, the Son of God, came from the descendants of Abraham. Similarly, in preaching about a concept of faith, Jesus described God as the God of the living and not of the dead (Mark 12: 27, New International Version), a conceptual thought derived from Abraham’s notion of faith. John the Baptist meanwhile also offers a similar perspective on Abraham’s exemplary faith as John implied that Christianity is open to people from all walks of life.
Likewise, Christian doctrines also promote the concept of total obedience to God through the disrupted binding of Isaac. Christians adhere to the fact that Abraham’s obedience is a blatant display of faith in the most extreme sense of the term. The Pauline Epistle to the Hebrews entails that “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death (Heb 11: 17-19, NIV).”
The concept of faith is generally summarized as believing without seeing, given the difficulty of convincing people during Abraham’s time or even the time of Genesis’ authorship, the author of the book of Genesis appears to strengthen the idea of faith by using Abraham as an example. As such, the story of Abraham as the father of all nations and as the model for the piously faithful metaphorically relates the concept of faith to future generations by establishing him as the archetype for faithfulness (Wilson, 1989).
In a modern context, the faithfulness exemplified by Abraham is still practical, even during a time when prevalence of secular and liberalist ideologies have taken over the morals and precepts established by early religious sects while suggesting that the concept of faith is absurd. Living in a world where there are diversities of concepts and beliefs, the concept of faith is most needed, primarily as a defence against violent bloodshed, against the different facets of injustice, and against the plagues of prejudice.
A particular premise of modern philosophy is that logic and reason gives an explanation of how things happen. However, recovery from hopeless circumstances like cancer cases or AIDS infections cannot simply be explained by medical science or logic. Clare Carlisle (2006) writes that Soren Kierkegaard uses the story of Abraham to establish the concept of faith as an “enormous task” and a rare achievement. Kierkegaard implicates that faith is placed in a pedestal higher than ethics or other moral philosophies, therefore, faith should not concern any form of intellectual reflection and should only focus on the concept of the thought itself. However, Abraham’s concept of faith is only to be admired if one has total comprehension of the value of faith.
The Story of Abraham, regardless of its accuracy, remains to impart the essence and context of faith. Even if it is not used in a religious undertaking, Abraham constitutes the essence of faith to individuals across the world. Although there are some who challenge the examples constituted by Abraham, prevalent consensus among the world’s major religions concur with the idea that faith, in its broadest is not to be explained thoroughly, its just inside people who believe, even without seeing.
Carlisle, C. (2006). Kierkegaard: A Guide for the Perplexed. New York: Continuum International Publishing.
Wilson, M. (1989). Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing