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The Perspectives of the Jewish, Christians and Muslims, Research Paper Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1578

Research Paper

The book ‘Hagar, Sarah and their children’ is a composition of article by different authors who conduct a survey on three religions, which are Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The authors attempt to trace the historical, scriptural, and traditional developments examining the similarities and differences between the three religions. An examination of the articles reveals that the focus is on the story of Abraham. The readings in the book depict the different ways in which Christianity, Judaism, and Islam attempt to trace the beginning to Abraham. This is by using the stories of his two wives and their children.

An examination of the article ‘Hagar and Sarah in Jewish Christian and Muslim traditions’ written by Reinhartz and Walfish, examines the Jewish interpretations in the second century Before Christ until the contemporary period. The two authors examine Josephus and Philos treatment of the story of Sarah and Hagar and the medieval and rabbinic references of Sarah and Hagar. The authors try to evaluate some of the moral issues in the story of Sarah and Hagar from the bible. According to these authors, the non-Jewish nations tend to have a misconception about Hagar’s birth to Isaac. They feel that the non-Jewish nations examine this as an ironic echo of Sarah’s hope of having a son through her maidservant (Trible and Letty 109). The authors attempt to evaluate the implications of the relationship that existed between Sarah and Hagar. They feel that, in an attempt to rectify the misunderstanding that existed between Sarah and Hagar, God used a drastic miracle. According to them God’s relationship with Sarah was not to manifest using prayer and response. Instead, God used a miraculous birth. They also examine the interpretations of the Midrash when Sarah insists that Abraham asks God for a son using a plural noun ‘we’. According to them, this shows that whether a woman was Israelite or not, could not connect with god through but through the mediation of their husbands.

The other article ‘the Interpretive Fate amid Church Fathers’ written by Elizabeth Clark examines that patristic exegesis from the beginning of the second century to the sixth century.  Clark concentrates on the patristic exegesis to examine the interpretive fate of Sarah and Hagar. According to her, the ecclesiastical and theological reasons caused the fathers of the church to deploy the narrative in a way that was callous to the contemporary leaders. For example, Clark illustrates that Sarah and Hagar were codes of the Church and the Synagogue respectively. She reveals that allegory was used in order to asceticize the story. The author uses the example of Clement of Alexandria who depicted Sarah and Abraham as an asexual couple. An example is shown from the book of Genesis chapter 20 verse 1, when Abraham claimed to Abimelech who was the king of Gerar that Sarah was his sister. This show how Clement revealed the issue on the chastity of wives. Clark reveals that when the visitors told Sarah she would bear a son, Sarah laughed. This was not a sign of disbelief, but a sign of  being ashamed of sexual intercourse. According to Clark, the Church fathers eschewed the ascetically inclined interpretations. An example is illustrated from the case of Ambrose of Milan, whom despite using the different treatises that extolled virginity examined the wives of Patriarchs as exemplars of the qualities of marriage. Clark reveals that the interpretation of Ambrose of Milan shows that an aged woman like Sarah could bring forth a child. According to her, this is meant to convince future generations, for example, Mary that even a virgin can give birth to a child. Clark also uses Ambrose story of Abraham when he tried to pass off Sarah to pharaoh. This depicts a moralizing tale illustrating that reason conquers passion (Trible and Letty 132). This is because Abraham allowed his duty to God to prevail over the fear of Sarah’s chastity. The author reveals that God’s punishment to pharaoh and the preservation of Sarah depicts how much God guards and loves chastity.

Clark’s review of Hagar, Sarah and Abraham’s narrative illustrates how most writers tried to exert the superiority of Christianity over Judaism using their interpretations. Clark laments that none of the interpretations are based on critical race theory or the feminist interpretations. For instance, she reveals that the church fathers failed to examine Hagar as a symbol of exploitation, rejection, oppression, and slavery. The example given by Clark reveals that most fathers of the church were apologists and theologians, who were concerned in their context with defending the truth instead of the narrow feminist exegesis.

The other article depicting the difference in scriptures of different religions is ‘Islamic Hagar and her Religion’ by Riffat Hassan. Hassan concentrates on the normative Islamic view of Hagar and Sarah.  Hassan acknowledges that despite the two wives of Abraham not having been mentioned in the Quran they are discussed in the different collections of Hadith, which are sayings by Prophet Muhammad. He also mentions that quranic exegesis known as the tafsirs also speak about the wives of Abraham. According to Hassan, the post scriptural traditions did not reveal the existence of tension between the matriarchs. Hassam illustrates that the post-scriptural traditions did not mention anything concerning Sarah requesting Abraham to throw out their maidservant and her son. Hassan shows that God commanded Abraham to leave Ishmael and Hagar in the desert. Hassan attempts to illustrate the complete trust that Hagar had in God. According to him, Hagar is portrayed as a steadfast believer who overcame emotional challenges and hardships. Hassan reveals that Hagar’s faith caused the angel Gabriel to show her the spring of Zam-zam where she could survive with her son. This is different from Clark’s portrayal of Hagar. Clark in her article reveals that Hagar was seen a symbol of oppression, exploitation, rejection and slavery. After this incident, Ishmael grows up and marries a Jurhum. Ishmael also helps his father in building the Ka’bah and a sanctuary in Mecca (Trible and Letty 150).

Hassan’s story according to the Islamic view portrays Hagar as a triumphal woman. This is different from the Jewish and the Christian perspectives. This is because despite having been left in the wilderness with a child and no water, he frantically looked for water and never gave up for death. Hassan reveals that, Hagar’s story is commemorated during hajji, when the pilgrims run and walk seven times in the Marwa and Safa hills drinking from the waters of the Zam-zam. The Muslim’s also link Hagar’s story to the notion of Hijrah, this means going to exile for God’s sake (Trible and Letty 151).

An examination of Hassan’s narrative depicts the appreciation of other women who have faced oppression apart from the Muslim daughters of Hagar. His story does not only concentrate on the women, but he also examines the men. Other than evaluating the classical Muslim texts in relation to Hagar, Hassan examines the role of Abraham and the sacrifice of Ishmael. This is an event commemorated by Muslins throughout the world during Eid-al-Adha. Hassan reveals that Muslims in the modern world assume that God told Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael. This is different from the Christian and Jewish traditions that illustrate that God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.

The other article in the book illustrating the strategies employed by sacred texts is the article ‘Hagar in African American Biblical Appropriation’ by Dolores Williams. The author reveals that, for many years, the African Americans have normally appropriated the biblical figure of Hagar. Williams examines the construction of the womanist theology. According to her, the primary audiences are the African Americans, despite the introduction of other groups into the dialogue. In her interpretative framework, she depicts Hagar as a symbol of the womanhood seen in the African American community. Williams demonstrates how Hagar’s plight resembles the experiences of the African American women. This is seen when she states, “like Hagar African American slave women experienced upper class white women taking their children” (Trible and Letty 181). Despite this protogesis focusing on the experiences of the African Americans, it does not provide a clear distinction from the interdisciplinary categories of exegesis, for example, those pressed in constructive theology.

The other article ‘the story of Hagar, Sarah and their children’ by Russell, illustrates Russell’s confession over the enmity that has been symbolized by the story throughout the ages. Russell examines Sarah and Hagar as women who were trapped into competition because of the patriarchal social structures that were oppressive. According to her, the actions of Sarah when she cast out Hagar depict how Christian women have used stereotypes to oppress the Jewish and Christian women (Trible and Letty 196). According to Russell, both Hagar and Sarah are victims the patriarchal social structures that are oppressive. Russell attributes Sarah’s wielded power over Hagar to the feelings of inadequacy, powerlessness and jealousy. According to her Hagar had power over Sarah because she was fertile and could get pregnant (Lovat 91). Russell shows that the assumptions that Ishmael and Isaac struggled against each other contributes to the misreading of biblical texts. Russell feels that the bible does not mention warfare or competition between the two brothers. She feels that the sibling rivalry between Isaac and Ishmael was not divinely ordained, and it is not explicit in biblical narratives.

Works Cited

Lovat, Terry. Women in Islam: Reflections on Historical and Contemporary Research. Dordrecht: Springer, 2012. Internet resource.

Trible, Phyllis, and Letty M. Russell. Hagar, Sarah, and Their Children: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005. Print.

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