Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths


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Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths by Bruce Feiser

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Author
Back Cover
1st Chapter
Editorial Reviews

World Religions

Amazon.com
At a time when conflicts among three of the world's major religions--Islam, Judaism, and Christianity--are in the global spotlight, Bruce Feiler offers a stunning biography of the one man who unites all three religions: Abraham. "The most mesmerizing story of Abraham's life--his offering a son to God--plays a pivotal role in the holiest week of the Christian year, at Easter," writes Feiler. "The story is recited at the start of the holiest fortnight in Judaism, on Rosh Hashanah. The episode inspires the holiest day in Islam, 'Id al-Adha,' the Feast of the Sacrifice, at the climax of the Pilgrimage. And yet the religions can't even agree on which son he tried to kill." Herein lies the irony and perfection of Feiler's timing. As we struggle to find a path to peace among these three religions, all warring in Jerusalem, near the stone where Abraham brought his son for sacrifice, this captivating biography speaks to Abraham as the metaphor he is: the historically elusive man who embodies three religions, a character who has shape-shifted over the millennia to serve the clashing goals and dogma of each religion.

Anyone seeking to understand the roots of tension in the Middle East need look no further than the final half of this book, where Feiler interprets the meaning of Abraham as seen through the prism of each religion. Surprisingly, the book is as entertaining as it is thoughtful: Feiler is a masterful writer with a warm, humorous voice, a dazzling way with metaphors, and an underlying intelligence that comes through in every passage. Abraham deserves the highest of recommendations. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly
Feiler, who penned last year's bestseller Walking the Bible, once again offers a winning combination of history, travel and spiritual memoir. Arguing that Abraham, the purported "father" of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, "holds the breadth of the past and perhaps the dimensions of the future in his life story," Feiler sets out to recover Abraham as he is portrayed in all three religions. The book's first half addresses what the Bible and Koran say about Abraham, his call to monotheism, and his sons Isaac and Ishmael. Particularly fascinating are Feiler's discussions of how the three religious traditions invented stories about Abraham to supplement the rather skeletal canonical version and even borrowed these stories from one another, as when Muslim traditions about Abraham and Ishmael began appearing in eighth-century Jewish commentaries. The second half very poignantly delves into each faith tradition and discusses how the Abraham narratives relate to contemporary religious and political conflicts. No one writes description quite like Feiler. His claim, for example, that "the Holy Sepulcher is to a church what Picasso is to a portrait a cubist vision of fractured beauty" is an arresting and perfectly imagined analogy, and he mellifluously depicts the Arabic language as "flowing, evolved, [and] sculpted, like a dune." More important than Feiler's masterful wordsmithing is his passionate engagement of the subject matter. Italics are everywhere, yet they don't feel overused; Feiler has a keen sense of what is at stake when these three religions claim Abraham as their father. This is a joy to read.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal
Looking to reconcile the three monotheistic religions, the author of the best-selling Walking the Bible goes on a journey (literally slogging through the desert) to uncover their shared progenitor.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

From AudioFile
Bruce Feiler has a warm, welcoming voice that adds a personal touch to the reading of his second book on biblical ideas. In this memoir, he visits ancient shrines, churches, and mosques; shares tea with rabbis, imams, and Greek Orthodox priests; and explores the Bible, the Koran, and commentaries of three faiths in order to understand the biblical character of Abraham and his importance to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Feiler's enthusiasm is infectious, although the decision to squeeze all 240 pages of the book into a six-hour recording results in a hurried pace and haphazard pronunciation. S.E.S. © AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist
*Starred Review* The first monotheist (and, Feiler argues, the first martyr), Abraham serves as a patriarch for three very different faiths--Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Feiler begins with Abraham as we meet him in Genesis: old, married to Sarah, fatherless, and childless. But the old man fathers Ishmael through Sarah's servant Hagar, and then Sarah becomes miraculously pregnant with Isaac. This is the symbolic beginning of the rift between Jews and Muslims (Jews trace their lineage through Isaac, Muslims through Ishmael), and much of the book explores how Jewish, Christian, and Islamic understandings of Abraham have expressed historic and contemporary interfaith disagreements. Feiler discusses dozens of "Abrahams," from the Abraham used to justify pacifism to the one seen as a model of sacrifice, the patriarch of martyrs. Along the way, Feiler poses some fascinating theological questions, but this isn't dry reading at all. Like his hugely popular Walking the Bible (2000), Feiler keeps our interest by mixing theological meditation with adventurous travelogue and sly wit. And this quietly brilliant examination of Abraham, which begins as part lit-crit thesis and part theological treatise, becomes, in the end, a passionate and prayerful argument for peace between faiths. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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