Volume 16, Issue 2, Spring 2012
Levinas and the Binding of Isaac
The biblical story of the binding of Isaac may have originally been written without the figure of the angel. As such, it reads strongly as an account of Abraham disobeying God’s direct command for the sake of Isaac. Interestingly, then, many interpreters since the time of the text’s final redaction read the binding of Isaac as an account of ethical disobedience despite the presence of the angel. In what follows, I consider Levinas’s account of religion, revelation and ethics for the way in which this can impact our reading of the biblical text. In this way, I hope to develop an account of the binding of Isaac which becomes an allegory for the need to mediate all modes of religious and/or political allegiance with concern for the well-being of other people.