Panel Discussion of Abraham’s Silence at the Society of Biblical Literature, November 2022

My book Abraham’s Silence: The Binding of Isaac, the Suffering of Job, and How to Talk Back to God was published by Baker Academic in November 2021.

There will be a panel discussion on the book at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) in Denver, on November 21, 2022. There will be six reviewers, three Jewish biblical scholars and three Christian biblical scholars.

The panel discussion in Denver is jointly sponsored by two SBL program units: The Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures and The National Association of Professors of Hebrew.

I will give a response to the papers. As part of my response, I am considering sharing a “script” I have written of what Abraham might have said to God in place of the silent obedience recorded in Genesis 22 (we could think of it as the Aqedah in an alternative timeline).

If you will be in Denver, you are cordially invited to attend the session, 4:00–6:30 pm, Monday, November 21, 2022.

I have been pondering the topic of suffering, and appropriate prayer in the face of suffering, for a very long time, primarily through studying various biblical passages that address this issue. My focus has been on the lament psalms, the book of Job, and Abraham’s strange silence in Genesis 22.

I’ve given many talks and papers over the years on lament, Job, and Genesis 22, but I began working on integrating my reflections on these topics during my 2016 sabbatical in Australia. Everything came together in the last couple of years, resulting in the final form of the book.

You can access the Table of Contents and the Introduction of the book here (provided by the publisher).

An Earlier Panel Discussion on the Book

I was also privileged to be a respondent to a (virtual) panel discussion on Abraham’s Silence at the annual meeting of Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society in March 2022. There were four reviewers.

Reviews of Abraham’s Silence

The book has begun to be reviewed in journals and on the internet. Here is a link to some reviews.

Book Reviews of Abraham’s Silence

My book Abraham’s Silence: The Binding of Isaac, the Suffering of Job, and How to Talk Back to God (Baker Academic, 2021) has now received a number of reviews in journals, magazines, and blogs.

I’m heartened by the fact that most reviewers have been appreciative about my argument that God desires a vigorous dialogue partner, even if not everyone has been convinced fully by my interpretation of Genesis 22.

Interestingly, so far no-one has disputed my interpretation of Genesis 22 on exegetical grounds (by showing that I misconstrued or missed something in the text). The critiques (both in published reviews and in email responses) that I have received tend to be theological, based on a priori assumptions about what the text means, often derived from reading the New Testament.

I was planning on addressing the New Testament references to Genesis 22 in the book, but there wasn’t space (given the publisher’s guidelines). If there is a second, revised edition, I would try to include a section (perhaps an appendix) on this.

In the meantime, I am working on an article that would address all explicit references and possible allusions to Genesis 22 in the New Testament.

Here is a sampling of the reviews Abraham’s Silence has received.

Glenn Kreider (theologian) in Criswell Theological Review (19.2, 2022).

Carmen Imes (OT scholar) on Goodreads website (July 12, 2021).

David Neville (NT scholar) in St. Mark’s Review (2022).

Holly Rossi (freelance writer) in Publisher’s Weekly (Nov 5, 2021).

Brian Walsh (theologian) in Christian Courier (April 27, 2022).

Andrew Arndt (blogger) on Mere Orthodoxy blog (February 2, 2022).

Anthony Philips (OT scholar) in Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (46.5, 2022).

Ben McFarland (professor of chemistry) in Christian Scholar’s Review (August 5, 2022).

David Lyle Taylor (blogger) on Nephy Style blog (November 18, 2021).

Travis Bott (OT scholar) on The Living Church website (April 29, 2022).

Byron Borger (blogger and bookstore owner) on Hearts and Minds website (November 23, 2021).

Randal Rauser (blogger) on The Tentative Apologist blog (May 15, 2022).

Jeremiah Rood (blogger) in Foreword Reviews (November/December 2021).

There will be a panel discussion on the book at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) in Denver, on November 21, 2022. For more information, see this blog post.

From Despair to Hope in Psalm 77

I will be presenting a paper on Psalm 77 this November at the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) in the Biblical Hebrew Poetry program unit. This lament psalm has come to have special meaning for me, since it has helped me in my own journey of faith.

The psalmist begins in despair, crying out to God, and reflects on the good old days, which simply makes him more despondent. The turning point occurs when the psalmist brings to mind the parting of the Sea when Israel was fleeing Egypt. It is a particularly vivid vision, where the Sea stands for the psalmist’s chaotic life. But the psalm is (intentionally) unfinished, allowing the reader to write the final line.

I recently wrote a meditation on the psalm for Light + Light magazine, in advance of the SBL session. This meditation is meant for a non-technical audience, but it isn’t dumbed down. I take the reader through the flow of the psalm, pointing out its structure and relevance for our lives. My starting point is the psalmist’s inability to sleep, possibly due to regrets overwhelming him.

The meditation on Psalm 77 was published online in two parts, Part 1 on September 30, 2022 and Part 2 on October 10, 2022. My own translation of the psalm was included with each part.

Memory Raises Troubling Questions: Nighttime Distress in Psalm 77:1–10

Your Way Was Through the Sea: The Shift from Despair to Hope in Psalm 77:11–20

If you would like to download PDFs of the meditation, Part 1 is available here and Part 2 is available here.

Spanish translations were also posted.

La memoria plantea preguntas inquietantes: Angustia nocturna en el Salmo 77:1–10

Tu camino fue a través del mar: El cambio de la desesperación a la esperanza en el Salmo 77:11–20

For those interested in the SBL session, it will be held on Sunday, November 20, 1:00–3:30 pm.