The Missiological [re]Interpretation of Abraham’s Offering, As a Potential Paradigm-Shift in [post]Modern Philosophical and Theological Reasoning. Consideration has to be taken in new view of the striking and in many ways mysterious and scandalous narrative of Abraham’s offering his son, Isaac on the mountain of Moriah. It was with Kierkegaard that this Old Testament story came to the forefront of philosophical investigations. The Danish philosopher marvelled on the obedience of the Patriarch in not even wavering (although certainly accepting the deadly burden of the angst which entails this action) to act without really understanding why Yahweh has asked for such a terrible sacrifice. Abraham is eulogized as the ‘knight of faith’, but Levinas has a different view of the story, more closely of the ‘Kierkegaardian Abraham,’ and as such opts more for a kind of ‘knight of action’ in a responsible undertaking of compassion and empathy toward the Other human being, and of the act of looking into the God-given image of the Other One. Thus he seems to put the emphasis on the second part of the narrative when God’s Angel intervenes and Levinas marvels (and opts) for this second kind of obedience based on a second Word coming from the same Yahweh, which, curiously enough, could not take Abraham by surprise, despite the seemingly contradictory demand of the God of Israel this time. In Levinas we face the embodiment of concern and responsibility as the ultimate ethical demand, when the father looks into the face of his son, and the face of the Other, as that of Abel and tells him: “Thou shalt not kill!” This inherent ‘categoricus imperativus’ reflecting on the human face of the Other is the ethical stage, and Levinas criticised Kierkegaard for replacing this ethical stage illegitimately by the religious one. The uncritically embraced neo-Kantian patterns are still lurking with both philosophers, despite the post-modern claims made especially by Levinas. The story still serves as a paradigm-shift taking place at the borderline of modernity and postmodernity, which of course will survive for long concomitantly in contemporary reasoning and in ongoing moral debates both locally (I am critically evaluating to some extent in this study Tavaszy’s philosophy as well on the matter as it emerged locally), as well as globally. Yet, the interpretation of the ‘akkedah’ of Abraham seems not to be near of completion neither with neo-Kantians and existentialists, nor with theological hermeneutics listed above. The narratives of the Moriah event, as well as the whole Genesis context of it, and beyond, the whole Old Testament-context of the Abrahamic Covenant serves us with a new missiological challenge, as Abraham and successively Israel, and finally the Messiah-Seed plays the role of a ‘missionary priesthood’ in order to bring all the nations under the blessings of salvation promised to Abraham exclusively and fulfilled through him inclusively in the whole world. After twenty centuries of Systematic theology engaging itself exclusively in a dialogue only with Western philosophy, the post-modern age might be in due time kept opened up at last to a different kind of dialogue, such as with missiology. The challenge of a new paradigm-shift emerging out of this dialogue is expected to determine the theology of mission in order to become the very mission of theology itself. That impulse would bring Christian theology and theistic ethics back again to its real and primordial state.
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Horváth Levente publikációi
Református Szemle 116.3 (2023)