Center for Interdisciplinary Study of Monotheistic Religions(CISMOR)Doshisha University

> Public Lectures > Who had been sacrificed? -The three monotheistic religions about Akedah

Public Lectures

Who had been sacrificed? -The three monotheistic religions about Akedah

Date: 2017/11/01 16:50-18:50
Place: Divinity Hall Chapel, Imadegawa Campus
Lecture: Dr. Sik-ping Choi , Associate Professor, Bible Seminary of Hong Kong
In the beginning of the talk, Choi explained that according to the Koran, Ramadan commemorates the sacrificial festival dedicated to Abraham's son. When one compares the three monotheistic religion, especially the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it becomes clear that the Koran does not indicate who the son this sacred festival is dedicated to. According to the Old Testament and the   Tanakh, the individual depicted is clearly Isaac. Furthermore, according to the Koran, this passage emphasizes Abraham’s obedience. However, in the Old Testament and the Tanakh it is his faith that is extolled.
The presentation was divided into six subtitles which included “the status of Abraham”, “Isaac’s identity”, “Ishmael’s successor”, “Carrying out sacrifices”, “God’s covenant”, “the meaning of sacrifices and its present-day interpretations”. Analysis of the appropriate passages in each sacred text of the three religions was carefully presented.
First of all, in Islamic texts it is emphasized that Mohammed is a descendant of Abraham. This great ancestor’s act of submission to God is shown as a model for the following generations and their descendants. The early Christians between 50-150 AD evidently regarded Abraham as the human ancestor who followed God. Both his obedience and faith in God are emphasized.
With regards to Isaac, according to the Muslim perspective he is one of the righteous prophets, whereas in Christianity he is primarily seen as a character belonging to Christian typology which exhibits familiar characteristics such as a miraculous birth and the fact that he was the only son in the family. The sacrifice on Mt. Moria by the father is also narrated. The resurrection on the third day is also a common theme. Finally, the idea that a life could be sacrificed for the sake of others is a possible parallel.
Furthermore, there seems to be a difference in interpretation between the Old Testament and Koran over the only son whom Abraham was required to sacrifice. In Islam, this individual is Ishmael, the eldest son of a slave Hagal. By contrast, according to the Christian interpretation, this individual refers to Isaac who was the second son of Sarah who was definitely not a slave.
From the Muslim perspective, sacrifice is seen as a faithful act of the believer, whereas in Judaism it is a manifestation of faith and obligation which is ultimately signified through God’s relation with Israel. According to the Christian tradition, since Jesus sacrificed himself, the world can be reconciled to God without human sacrifice.
With regards to God's promise to Abraham, there are some basic differences between the three religions. According to Muslims, through Ishmael, God guaranteed it to the Arab peoples. The Jewish interpretation is that God guaranteed it to the Israelites through Isaac. According to Christian interpretation, through Jesus, God guaranteed his promise universally and spiritually to humanity.
When one considers the past narratives of sacrifice and its modern implications, in Islam it is seen as an act that welcomes Allah. This practice is manifested in the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj). In Judaism the sacrificial lamb represents comparable significance in the body of the animal that is offered up during Passover. By reading Genisis 22 and passages related to Yom Kippur as well as playing the shofar during the New Year’s celebrations (Rosh Hashanah), the Jewish people are commemorating the sacrificing of Isaac. For Christians by receiving of Holy communion which is practiced in the Catholic mass, they associate Isaac’s sacrifice with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ which brought about great love and immeasurable blessings.
In conclusion Choi concluded his talk by stating that in some cases the texts of the texts of the three religions compliment each other. They are derived from different sources and formats. Thus, respecting and coming to terms with these disparities marks a significant step in the comparative analysis.

Translated by
Jonathan Augustine (Ryukoku University)
*Admission Free, No Reservation Necessary.
*Lecture in English , interpretation will be provided.