19 juli 2010

Deed hij het nu wel of niet?

Is het verhaal van Abraham die bereid is om zijn zoon Isaak te offeren nu wel of niet echt gebeurd? Persoonlijk denk ik dat het authentiek is en niet slechts symbolisch. Maar het lijkt een ongebruikelijke uitzondering te zijn op de norm. Dat zien we wel vaker in het Oude Testament wanneer God zijn profeten taken opdraagt die we nu als on-Bijbels zouden kwalificeren. Wat centraal staat in de geschiedenis van Abraham is zijn geloof. Zonder deze component zou Abraham niets meer zijn dan een potentiƫle moordenaar. Maar met dat bijzondere geloofscomponent krijgt het verhaal een andere lading. Soren Kierkegaard heeft hier een intrigerende verhandeling over geschreven in "Fear and Trembling." Ik laat hem hier zelf aan het woord. Sorry dat het in het Engles is maar de tijd ontbreekt om het te vertalen.

"Now the story of Abraham has the remarkable property that it is always glorious, however poorly one may understand it; yet here again the proverb applies, that all depends upon whether one is willing to labor and be heavy-laden. But they will not labor, and yet they would understand the story. They exalt Abraham — but how? They express the whole thing in perfectly general terms: "The great thing was that he loved God so much that he was willing to sacrifice to Him the best." That is very true, but "the best" is an indefinite expression. In the course of thought, as the tongue wags on, Isaac and "the best" are confidently identified, and he who meditates can very well smoke his pipe during the meditation, and the auditor can very well stretch out his legs in comfort. In case that rich young man whom Christ encountered on the road had sold all his goods and given to the poor, we should extol him, as we do all that is great, though without labor we would not understand him — and yet he would not have become an Abraham, in spite of the fact that he offered his best. What they leave out of Abraham's history is dread; for to money I have no ethical obligation, but to the son the father has the highest and most sacred obligation. Dread, however, is a perilous thing for effeminate natures, hence they forget it, and in spite of that they want to talk about Abraham.
How is one to explain the contradiction illustrated by that orator? Is it because Abraham had a prescriptive right to be a great man, so that what he did is great, and when another does the same it is sin, a heinous sin? In that case I do not wish to participate in such thoughtless eulogy. If faith does not make it a holy act to be willing to murder one's son, then let the same condemnation be pronounced upon Abraham as upon every other man. If a man perhaps lacks courage to carry his thought through, and to say that Abraham was a murderer, then it is surely better to acquire this courage, rather than waste time upon undeserved eulogies. The ethical expression for what Abraham did is, that he would murder Isaac; the religious expression is, that he would sacrifice Isaac; but precisely in this contradiction consists the dread which can well make a man sleepless, and yet Abraham is not what he is without this dread. Or perhaps he did not do at all what is related, but something altogether different, which is accounted for by the circumstances of his times — then let us forget him, for it is not worth while to remember that past which cannot become a present. Or had perhaps that orator forgotten something which corresponds to the ethical forgetfulness of the fact that Isaac was the son? For when faith is eliminated by becoming null or nothing, then there only remains the crude fact that Abraham wanted to murder Isaac — which is easy enough for anyone to imitate who has not faith, the faith, that is to say, which makes it hard for him."
Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (London: Everyman's Library,1994), 20-2

Het blijft echter mistige materie. Wat als dat geloof van Abraham hem op het laatste moment in de steek zou hebben gelaten? Zou hij, zoals Kierkegaard voorstelt, op het laatste moment dan het mes in zijn eigen borstkas hebben gestoken? We kennen allemaal eigentijdse voorbeelden van mannen en vrouwen die met de beste bedoelingen bijzondere geloofsclaims uitten maar toch geen ram in de bosjes kregen aangespeeld; de onverwachte ontsnapping uit een hels dilemma.

Rest ons het geloof dat zich eerder uit in een stil en kalm vertrouwen dat God groter is dan de geschiedenis en de toekomst, rustend in de belofte dat hij met de verzoeking ook de uitkomst zal geven.

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