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3 years ago  ::  May 03, 2012 - 10:49PM #31
JAstor
Posts: 3,957

May 3, 2012 -- 9:26AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


I am personally persuaded that the Qur'án implicitly clearly implies Ishmael.



Why didn't you say so in the first place?


May 3, 2012 -- 9:26AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


P.S. ffb, since we're at it, I must share one more point which I find rather profound. Bahá'u'lláh (the prophet-founder of the Bahá'í Faith) writes that even if God were to have initially said it was Isaac, and later told us all that it was Ishmael, in the spirit of Abraham's obedience none should question God's decision.



In the words of an intelligent person whose words I respect: "There's no way to put it nicely, so: What utter hogwash! :)"

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3 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 2:03AM #32
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,922

:)


But seriously I think it's much less of a hogwash to surmise that the story of the sacrifice was from the start intended as a mere parable which has later been recorded as a literal historical narrative. Hence the unnecessary dispute.


Personally I conclude that Abraham existed and so did probably Ishmael and Isaac. But the rest is pretty much conjecture. I don't think God was "talking" to Abraham, nor was any altar ever built or a knife raised to kill anyone. Perhaps an animal was sacrificed. Abraham was simply a God-fearing man par excellence and he was ever ready to do God's Will, no matter what it may be. Hence he offered the parable of the sacrifice of his son as a spiritual lesson of true obedience to his hearers. No sacrifice was ever made, nor a God-given instruction to kill his son ever issued. The parable conveys the spiritual archetype of obedience and sacrifice. And it is powerful. But it is just a parable.


Since I think it is just a parable, it doesn't really matter to me which son's name is used to convey its message. For the audience Abraham was speaking to, the spiritual lesson was better conveyed by using the name of Isaac as the near-sacrificed son in his parable, whereas for the audience Muhammad was speaking, the spiritual parable worked much better by an implicit reference to Ishmael.


What's so unreasonable about this view as opposed to the more extreme view that we must take these spiritual lessons as factual historical narratives that compete with one another and only serve to pit religions against each other?


Kind regards,


LilWabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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3 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 8:40AM #33
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,929

BS"D


To me, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (as well as Ishmael) are all real though not necessarily historical figures.   The significance IMHO is not who they are or what they did, but what we do based upon what we are taught about them.


If we want to make a god of somebody, another faith has already done that.  That is what we are to expressly avoid in Judaism.   We do not make a person in the narrative into a god.  Neither do we make the narrative itself into a god.  The god we follow is the god that is in our presence in the here and now, not some mental construct that we pretend allegiance to out of fear of losing our lives like another religion that decrees death to the "unfaithful."  That, too, we are to expressly avoid in Judaism.


Pie-in-the-sky religion is NOT Judaism nor ever should be IMHO.  

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3 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 10:05AM #34
Ibn
Posts: 5,006

May 3, 2012 -- 9:16AM, ffb wrote:


I have been involved in an interesting discussion on the DI board about the question of the Koranic view of the torah text and I have learned a lot. The issue of Isaac Vs. Ishmael is not so clear. I'll try to restate some of the things which I have seen, though there seems to be a diversity of opinion and a range of beliefs so the establishing of a monolithic "they" to plug into "they say" is impossible.


  1. the koran never explicitly says that it was Ishmael not Isaac



The Qur’an never explicitly says that it was either Ishmael or Isaac. The nearest it comes to identifying Ishmael is when it tells the story and then immediately after the the story it tells us that then G-d gave the news of Isaac to Abraham.


The above indicates to me that Abraham was tried when Ishmael was about 13 or just before and Ishmael was the only son of Abraham at the time. The event does not fit in at any other time when the story is read in Genesis. For example:


(a)   Ishmael was the only son of Abraham for about 13 years.


(b)  Isaac was never Abraham’s only son at any time.


(c)   There were two covenants made with Abraham (in Genesis); one when he was around 86 and the other when he was around 99 years old. The sacrifice event could only have taken place between these two times and not another 13 years later unless there was a third covenant with Abraham when he was around 113 years old.


(d)  Ishmael or his mother was nowhere to be found in the tent or around the tent when the news of Isaac was given to Sarah. They were already somewhere else.  


(e)  Abraham had to be 100% certain that he had only one son if his faith was to be genuinely tested in losing his only son that he was given in his old age. The only time that was so is when the news of Isaac was not yet given to Abraham.


(f)    The news of the everlasting covenant with Isaac and his generations to come had been given to Abraham well before the birth of Isaac. That clearly implies that Abraham had already been told that Isaac will live and have descendants through him. Therefore, in case of Isaac, Abraham already knew that Isaac will never be sacrificed before he had married and have had children. Going through a son’s sacrifice event under that circumstance was nothing short of play acting rather than a serious trial of Abraham’s faith.


It is not the Qur’an that has created doubt about Isaac being the subject of sacrifice but the text of Genesis itself.    


May 3, 2012 -- 9:16AM, ffb wrote:


2. koranic thinking seems to be that the textual reference to isaac as "only son" must be inaccurate because ishmael, not isaac, had part of his life as being Abe's only son.


2a. this is answered through talmudic texts vis-a-vis jewish thought.


It is not “koranic thinking” but thinking of many Muslims that is not based on any explicit mention of Ishmael. The Jewish thought is obviously linked to the text in Genesis and explicit mention of Isaac. There has to be some explanation of inclusion of Isaac or else Judaism could be in big problem. Islam does not depend on Ishmael being the subject of sacrifice as Islam concentrates on the strengths of the faith of Abraham. Islam moves away from the tribal link or blood relationship to the link with the Creator of heavens and earth and all that is in and between them.  


May 3, 2012 -- 9:16AM, ffb wrote:


3. the claim is often NOT that the torah, itself, is problematic but:


3a. the written text as a codification of an earlier perfect oral/experiential revelation contains errors


or


3b. the written text as a codification is incomplete, or subject to revision


or


3c. the written text has elements which are not the codification of pure, divine revelation, but written by man/men and these sections were subject either to initial inaccuracy, or later corruption (intentional or not)


or


3d. the current written text is not a specifically divine codification of revelation so what is in it is subject to critique.



3e. Even if some words have been changed from their places somehow (intentionally or not) or the whole of the very original Torah has not been recovered after the captivity, there is enough of the Torah still in our hands not to discard it as corrupt. G-d of the Qur’an has not declared it “corrupt” or commanded us to discard it. It is still “pretty good” for the Judaism to be based on it. I believe that G-d does want the Jews to observe the Torah even if they are not willing to accept any part of the Qur’an. Command of discarding the Torah would have been discarding the whole of the Judaism. I don’t believe that that was ever the plan of G-d.   


May 3, 2012 -- 9:16AM, ffb wrote:


The distinction between the torah content and the content of a torah scroll seems important to many on the DI board and the rejection of that distinction provides the tension in discussions. I invite you all to peruse the thread there and see if I have missed or misrepresented the contents.


The Qur’an does not say that the Torah in hand today is different from the Torah scroll or that it has been changed so much that it no longer is of any use. Instead the Qur’an concentrates more on what has been done to the commands in the Torah and whether those commands are being observed or not. The main emphasis is on not observing the Torah given to Moses and not obeying the commandments properly as well as not obeying the commands (in the Qur'an0 from the same G-d.


I read the Torah in hand today because we (Muslims) are required (as part of our belief) to believe in the revelation to Moses. Therefore, I need to know what was revealed to Moses. The best way for me to find that out is by reading both the Qur’an and the Torah. And I certainly have learnt quite a bit from reading the Torah. For example, why we circumcise our male babies (is not in the Qur’an). This way I have learnt much positive about Judaism that is somewhat enlightenment to me as far as I my understanding is concerned.  

I know one thing: There are a billion Islamic people in the world today, and there will be about 2 billion by the time we're dead. They're not going to give up their religion.
(Chris Matthews)
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3 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 10:14AM #35
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,929

May 4, 2012 -- 10:05AM, Ibn wrote:


...


I read the Torah in hand today because we (Muslims) are required (as part of our belief) to believe in the revelation to Moses. Therefore, I need to know what was revealed to Moses. The best way for me to find that out is by reading both the Qur’an and the Torah. ....




BS"D


If that is the case then I am afraid you got it wrong.  If you want to and are required to know what was revealed to Moses you will not find it in Torah.  Torah was not given to you.  It was given to the Jewish people.  If you want to know what was revealed to Moses you can only learn it from the Jewish people.  Reading our text will not reveal it to you or it would have been given to you in the first place.  Do you see the problem with your approach or are you convinced in your own abilities to speculate?

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3 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 3:29PM #36
JAstor
Posts: 3,957

May 4, 2012 -- 2:03AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


:)




May 4, 2012 -- 2:03AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


But seriously I think it's much less of a hogwash to surmise that the story of the sacrifice was from the start intended as a mere parable which has later been recorded as a literal historical narrative. Hence the unnecessary dispute.



I look at it this way. I accept the axiom that there is an all-powerful God who created the universe. And I accept, as the Torah describes, that at times He works through outright miracles. To me, there does not have to be a naturalistic explanation how early humanity lived extremely long lives. God made it so.


Nevertheless, if there is a naturalistic explanation I will certainly consider it. And the fact is that modern genetics has isolated an aging gene -- a gene that causes us to age. Without that gene we would not age. We would live, if not forever, extremely long lives (barring those pesky little human interventions called war, murder, as well as disease and natural disaster). 


In the case of your contention, I find it much harder to surmise because you are making God fickle. You have him changing a name as if He is going senile or trying play games with people. To me, that's, to use your term, hogwash (a very unJewish, term by the way). 


May 4, 2012 -- 2:03AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


Since I think it is just a parable, it doesn't really matter to me which son's name is used to convey its message.



That's one of the places we disagree. I agree the message is the main thing, but when God told it to Moses (it existed as Oral Tradition, but we believe God retold the earlier chapters too) He told it the way it happened, with Isaac, not Ishmael. It happens to be that there are numerous theological and spiritual repercussions to that, which I won't go into now, but I don't see these as just messages and no external truth or essential relevance. 

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3 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 4:10PM #37
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,922

May 4, 2012 -- 3:29PM, JAstor wrote:


In the case of your contention, I find it much harder to surmise because you are making God fickle. You have him changing a name as if He is going senile or trying play games with people.



Actually I'm not saying that at all (you're harping on something I passingly remarked in brackets rather than addressing my actual position expressed in my previous post). You are not understanding my previous post. No changing of names for actual historical facts. Only the same parable recounted to different audiences by using different names that work the best to those audiences. The same parables would work by even using imaginary names of imaginary people, but they wouldn't be as powerful. Instead, they're using real names for an imaginary story to convey a spiritual lesson. Napoleon met St. Peter at the gates of heaven and was handed a persona non grata sticker and instructed to book a room at Motel 666. Hitler met St. Peter at the gates of heaven and was handed a persona non grata sticker and instructed to book a room at Motel 666. Real names of real historical persons, but an imaginary parable to convey a point.


All in all I would say that my position which I articulated in my previous post is more reasonable than yours. And no, I'm not claiming reasonability as a sole criterion of truth. Your position is more literalist. But I fully respect your literalism and would rather that you're a literalist and the good person that you seem to be than a non-literalist and an offensive idiot.


To me, that's, to use your term, hogwash (a very unJewish, term by the way).



I never claimed I'm kosher. Tongue Out


All in all, I think we've pretty much covered both of our positions already. It's been fun!


Kind regards,


Wabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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3 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 4:29PM #38
JAstor
Posts: 3,957

May 4, 2012 -- 4:10PM, Lilwabbit wrote:


May 4, 2012 -- 3:29PM, JAstor wrote:


In the case of your contention, I find it much harder to surmise because you are making God fickle. You have him changing a name as if He is going senile or trying play games with people.



All in all I would say that my position which I articulated in my previous post is more reasonable than yours. And no, I'm not claiming reasonability as a sole criterion of truth. Yours is more literalist. But I fully respect your literalism and would rather that you're literalist and a good person that you seem than a non-literalist and an idiot.



I once thought like you, so I understand where you are coming from. Then one day it dawned on me that, despite my belief that I knew what the Torah was, I had never actually read it in its original and tried to understand on my own what it said. In my ignorance I once thought believing the Torah for what it is was a form of small minded literalism. Then I actually started learning it, and found that I was ignorant; that I didn't know enough about it to know what was literal and what was not. What I thought was literal was actually someone else's assumptions that I had assumed to be true.


In any event, it now seems obvious to me that the the majority of people (maybe not you) are actually ignorant of the Torah, and it is that lack of learning the text in its original form without translations and interpretations that often leads them to presume the Torah to be merely parables and non-historical. 

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3 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 4:40PM #39
JAstor
Posts: 3,957

Just a note: I began on BNET in 2001 by going to the Islam board and asking them to share their beliefs about Isaac and Ishmael. The thread went on for more than 2,000 posts (they don't allow that any longer). The main thing I learned from that experience was that the Quran ignored two crucial chapters Genesis (21 and 22), which clearly identified Isaac as the seed of Abraham (i.e. the heir to his spiritual heritage) and the one God told Abraham to bring up on an altar ("your son, your only son, the one whom you love,  Isaac").


At first I entertained the possibility that it was an oversight, but I eventually concluded it was not; it was intentional. The Quranic authors knew too much to suddenly have a gap in their knowledge. And the reason they did so is because of the very serious theological ramifications that Genesis 21 and 22 have, ramifications that essentially made it impossible for the Quran to claim what it claimed. Therefore, it chose to gloss over and/or be extremely vague about the content of these chapters. 

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3 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 4:47PM #40
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,922

May 4, 2012 -- 4:29PM, JAstor wrote:


May 4, 2012 -- 4:10PM, Lilwabbit wrote:


May 4, 2012 -- 3:29PM, JAstor wrote:


In the case of your contention, I find it much harder to surmise because you are making God fickle. You have him changing a name as if He is going senile or trying play games with people.



All in all I would say that my position which I articulated in my previous post is more reasonable than yours. And no, I'm not claiming reasonability as a sole criterion of truth. Yours is more literalist. But I fully respect your literalism and would rather that you're literalist and a good person that you seem than a non-literalist and an idiot.



I once thought like you, so I understand where you are coming from. Then one day it dawned on me that, despite my belief that I knew what the Torah was, I had never actually read it in its original and tried to understand on my own what it said. In my ignorance I once thought believing the Torah for what it is was a form of small minded literalism. Then I actually started learning it, and found that I was ignorant; that I didn't know enough about it to know what was literal and what was not. What I thought was literal was actually someone else's assumptions that I had assumed to be true.


In any event, it now seems obvious to me that the the majority of people (maybe not you) are actually ignorant of the Torah, and it is that lack of learning the text in its original form without translations and interpretations that often leads them to presume the Torah to be merely parables and non-historical. 




I've never disputed that the Torah account on Isaac's near-sacrifice reads literally. I've only disputed that it's an actual historical narrative. I have no doubt that if I knew Hebrew and read the account, it would come across even more literal and historical. But regrettably I do not accord the same mysticism to Hebrew as the only true language of the Torah inasmuch as I do not accord any mysticism to Arabic as the only true language of the Qur'án.


But off to bed now and looking forward to new discussions with you at some future juncture.


Best regards from your Wabbit Buddy,


Wabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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