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Review: Abraham by Bruce Feiler

April 20, 2012

Abraham coverTitle: Abraham: A Journey Into the Heart of Three Faiths
Author: Feiler, Abraham
Length: 256 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, Religion
Publisher / Year: Perennial / 2002
Source: Bookmooch.
Rating: 3/5
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.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2012 10:43 am

    I am very familiar with the story of Abraham in the Christian faith, but not so much in the others. It would be really interesting to read what Feiler has to say about what he uncovered in this book. Very enticing review today, Amy! As someone who doesn’t read a lot of nonfiction about religious figures, I think this would be a very absorbing book!

    • April 25, 2012 4:15 pm

      I’m glad you like the sound of it zibilee. I was also aware of the story only generally through the Christian faith. The differences are fascinating.

  2. April 22, 2012 12:14 pm

    Nicely done! I’m glad you reviewed this. I’ve been thinking about reading this book ever since I read his America’s Prophet. In case you’re interested, here’s a link to my review:
    http://maphead.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/holy-moses/

    • April 25, 2012 4:16 pm

      Thanks for the link Mark! I definitely think you’d enjoy it, though you may find it a bit easier than your usual fare :)

  3. April 23, 2012 8:17 pm

    I had to go look up Abraham at my blog to see if I’ve read it. It sucks losing your mind. :) Anyway, yep, I’ve read it and enjoyed it. I thought so, just from reading your description. I really enjoy Feiler’s books but I’ve forgotten quite a bit and could probably stand a reread. I particularly love your final paragraph.

    • April 25, 2012 4:17 pm

      LOL yes, not sure where mine is many days either Nancy ;) Glad to hear that you also enjoyed this one.

  4. April 23, 2012 9:02 pm

    As an observant Jew I’m intrigued to get a fellow’s Jew take on Abraham as viewed through three different prisms. Due to lack of time and an abundance of books To Be Read I’m not so fast to pull the trigger on adding a book to my TBR list these days. Within seconds of reading your review of Abraham: A Journey Into the Heart of Three Faiths I pulled the trigger and put it at the top of my list. And that’s really saying something. Brava!

    • April 25, 2012 4:18 pm

      Woah, I feel special Howard! Thanks for adding the book to your list. This was a quicker and easier read – though still with the depth the topic demands. I think (hope!) that it will keep your interest as it kept mine.

  5. April 24, 2012 12:05 pm

    An insghtful review.

  6. April 24, 2012 5:42 pm

    Not my thing, but I can see this would be of major interest to many. Your reading is certainly wide, Amy!

    • April 25, 2012 4:19 pm

      Thank you Niranjana. I’ve definitely been reading a lot of random titles lately…

  7. May 8, 2012 6:02 pm

    I really enjoyed this afternoon read your post. Nice comments

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