Recently I’ve been reading the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22) and I came across Jordan Peterson’s lecture on this topic: https://www.jordanbpeterson.com/transcripts/biblical-series-xii/
If anyone is interested in digging deeper into this, I thought a good exercise would be to take 2 different understandings of the text and compare to see where the similarities and differences are.
For example, compare JP’s lecture above with Bruxy Cavey’s: https://youtu.be/QXQAAdXiCdk?t=302
They’re both canadian so we can rule out some variables there
There are some things I noted in Peterson’s lecture that were new to me. I hadn’t heard them explained like that before. However while many of them seemed reasonable and helpful, several of his statements and conclusions feel misplaced to me, based on my understanding of the broader narrative that this story is found in.
So I thought maybe there are some folks here with more insight into JP’s line of thinking that can help me understand better where he’s coming from, and the point he is trying to make with this.
I won’t list out all my notes here just yet (but happy to if anyone would like). If I had to sum up one of the biggest differences when comparing Cavey to Peterson in the links above, it would be around this question, and its implications:
- is the character of God, as described in the bible, that of a tyrannical ruler who must be appeased or bargained with, and who demands the sacrifice of the thing we love most in order to secure his favour?
or put another way, in more secular terms:
- is this story telling us that there is a time for “necessary evil” in order to reach our full potential?
I found this comparison thought-provoking because the two speakers give an opposite answer to the question.
Peterson says early on:
The way that you fortify your faith in life is to assume the best—something like that—and then to act courageously in relationship to that.
and yet, as far as I could tell, his interpretation of “the best” sometimes involves doing something on par with taking the life of your own child. To me that looks like the product of an imagination that has fallen short.
If there is one thing that reading the story of Genesis 22 does, it is to challenge one’s imagination. In my opinion Bruxy’s interpretation of the story does a better job of “assuming the best”.
I would love to hear from others: what stands out to you when you compare the 2 lectures posted above?