Review: Abraham by Bruce Feiler
Title: Abraham: A Journey Into the Heart of Three Faiths
Author: Feiler, Abraham
Length: 256 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, Religion
Publisher / Year: Perennial / 2002
Why I Read It: I enjoy reading books about religion.
Date Read: 25/03/12
Although many are unaware, the story of Abraham has been interpreted in a number of different ways through the centuries. Feiler is Jewish, but in this book he looks at all three of the monotheistic faiths ‘of the Book’ and examines how the story of Abraham has been interpreted and used by each through history. Each of the faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam share the story of Abraham, but each have interpreted it in remarkably different ways which has resulted in each claiming Abraham as meaning something particular to them and attempting to exclude the meanings found by those of the other faiths.
Through the book Feiler’s Jewish roots are evident at the Jewish interpretations and the Torah is given slightly more time and space, but he does still provide a great discussion of Abraham in Christianity and Islam as well. He talks with leaders of all three faiths about the ways in which Abraham has been co-opted and what this means for the religions themselves and the particular ways in which the religions interact with each other. A key point throughout is the ways the interpretations affect the interactions of each faith.
In his interpretation and full explanations of the story of Abraham, Feiler brought up a large number of really interesting points that I’d not considered before. His theological take on the story was fascinating and interesting reading. The discussions with leaders of other religions also provided a lot of insight into the ways in which we prioritize what is important to us to the exclusion of others.
In the end, Feiler brings us back to the original inclusivity of Abraham and his story and urges us to work together to find a new interpretation of Abraham for our time. This new interpretation could bring us back to the original views of working together and of Abraham being the shared father of all three faiths, thus uniting rather than dividing, as the various interpretations do at present.