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Fear and Trembling - Søren Kierkegaard, Alastair Hannay What was it that made Abraham's "test" such a remarkable event? We are already aware of the great faith that Abraham exhibited through his trust in God's promise (before the birth of Isaac) that his seed would produce a great nation despite his advanced age and his wife's barrenness. His "test" wasn't in obeying God's order to sacrifice his beloved son, no matter how difficult or distasteful, nor was it in believing that God would not ask him to commit an "unethical" act such as murder, nor even in what must have been the agonous eternity of those three days riding on an ass with Isaac to the place of slaughter. The heroic aspect exhibited by Abraham on the slopes of Moriah, according to Kierkegaard, was that his faith transcended understanding and rose above the rational to enter into the "absurd." The paradox of God's request required Abraham to believe that God's promise of a future nation founded upon his seed (Isaac) would still exist untainted even while God demanded he offer that very seed in sacrifice; that God would give him the happiness of "having" his son while also taking him away, not in hoping that God would change his mind at the last minute. Kierkegaard imagines Abraham's anxiety as he raised the blade over his son and it was the overcoming of this "Fear and Trembling" that made Abraham a true hero and a "knight of faith."

"So either there is a paradox... or Abraham is done for."

I've read snippets of Kierkegaard over the years but this is the first complete work I've tackled. I'm glad I did. It's a thoughtful insight by a thoughtful man trying to make sense of the insensible. While I have separate issues with Kierkegaard's version of Christianity (Lutheranism), it's a pity to me the twisted turns that later men and women took with his ideas in the ensuing madness of atheistic existentialism and absurdism later exemplified by the likes of Camus and Sartre.