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Religious Perspectives on the Near Sacrifice of Abraham’s

The near sacrifice of Abraham’s son has held an important place in the great religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. The Samaritans from late antiquity also use the story as a part of their self-identity in distinction from Judaism. The point of this activity is not to “win” but to understand how the near sacrifice of Abraham’s son functions in Judaic, Samaritan, Christian, and Islamic faiths.

Part One
Read and complete questions on the following interpretations of the near sacrifice of Abraham’s son: (A) Judaic, (B) Samaritan, (C) Christian, (D) Islam. While this can be completed by an individual it will probably work better as part of a group study. After completing part one part two can be worked on in a small group.
Part Two
Create a friendly yet direct conversation about the near sacrifice of Abraham’s son between four friends who represent four different faiths (Judaic, Samaritan, Christian, Muslim). The conversation may be laid out like a script. You may imagine that each of the four were brought up in devout, practicing, moderate families. None of the four are extremists, and each thinks that people of faith should respect those of other religious persuasions, even while they each believe their faith tradition is the only true way to relate to God. Try to keep the invented conversation on track as these four friends discuss in direct and clear terms the function of the near sacrifice of Abraham’s son in their own faith traditions. In this conversation none are trying to convert the others; they each want to understand their friends even while clearly explaining themselves.

[1] From The Sacrifice of Isaac (1601-2) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) ( [accessed 3/27/08]).

Thank you to Krystal Griffiths for typing several pages of this activity.
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