Children of Abraham – World Religion Essay
Bruce Feiler is a journalist and author of several books, including Abraham: a Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths and Walking the Bible. His books explore Abraham, the common patriarch of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Abraham was born sometime between 2100-
1500BCE southeast of present day Baghdad. His given name was Avram and later changed by God to Avraham or as we spell it Abraham. His new name meant “the father of a throng of nations”. His wife also changed her name from Sarai to Sarah. The new names that each of them were given were meant to be an expression of praise for a new status they had gained and a level reached. They were also meant as blessings for what should come in their futures.
At 75 years old God spoke to him to Abraham telling him that he will “I will make of you a great nation. All of the families of the earth will bless themselves by you.” As it reads in Geneses 22 this is when God chooses Abraham and Abraham chooses God.
Abraham turned his back on idol worship, which was the current religious practice of the day and chose to worship only one God.
Abraham and his wife Sarah moved to what is now the considered the West Bank where God told them they would have a child. Abraham, 99 at this time and Sarah in her 90’s gave birth to Isaac who later give birth Jacob. Jacob was considered the first Israelite. Abraham already had a son Ishmael from Hagar, an Egyptian slave. Muslims believe Ishmael to be their direct link to Abraham. An early Christian belief was that all people could become a child of Abraham only later would they become more exclusive in their belief.
Bruce Feiler, was a traveler and journalist before he became fascinated with the middle east. Not in search of a spiritual quest but as simply modern news interest linked directly to the events of 9-11. Feiler went to Israel and was amazed that he could experience the places and events of scripture are still able to be experienced. As a non-practicing Jew this seemed to hit Feiler with a connection to his own past and the various rituals he had been involved throughout his youth. Suddenly they had more meaning. The bible was suddenly a living breathing story that anyone could go and experience.
After 9-11 the news media hyped the events with stories entitled “Who are they?” and “Why do they hate us?”. Feiler thought that Abraham could be a figure that could unite us all but what happened is that he found 250 different Abrahams. All religions try to make Abraham him into their religion or their icon. He gives many examples of how different religions have claimed that their rituals have come from Abraham and often times giving associated date; however Abraham was not born at the time they claim. So more or less a game is being played to try and outdate other groups.
Abraham is the center of the greatest feud in the history of the world, particularly of our time. So much so that Bob Dylan and Louis Armstrong both wrote hit songs that tell the epic stories. God, Politics, and Land are defining stories of the Hebrew bible and the Qur’an. This discussion is happening here. A lot of people who are believers get the connection with land. However most westerner’s miss these stories when we read holy text as simply metaphor. However those native to the land carry those places inside of them and what happens there affects them at the core.
In the end it is important to remember that this is a family feud that affects us all and that Abraham is central to us all, even if it is just the idea of Abraham. The idea that God chose Abraham and that Abraham chose God seems to be a very important theme because we as individuals can accept Abraham without accepting the religions that have twisted his life for their own needs. Abraham is fully human and fully apart of us.