There is a great conversation over at that other blog about that classically difficult story, Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac. Among the many excellent comments, this one from danithew stood out to me:
“In my Quranic Studies course today the professor talked about how one of the first things Islamic scholars used to do was look at a test and identify the problems/challenges/dilemmas that were imposed on the reader by the text.”
This concept seems as if it would be more at home among the reader-response-flavored lit critics than it would among Islamic scholars, but I am nonetheless intrigued by the idea and I can’t recall it being applied in an LDS setting. I think it has a lot of potential for expanding the (sometimes stale and shallow) practice of likening the scriptures unto ourselves. I think it might be a less-threatening way to introduce a subject to a class that might otherwise be controversial:
BAD: “I can’t buy the idea that God would want Nephi to violate a major commandment.”
GOOD: “When we read that the Spirit tells Nephi to kill Laban, what challenges does it place on us as readers of this story–and how do we resolve them?”
So, now that we have a new tool, let’s trot out our favorite dead horses and see what we can do with them: Judah and Tamar, Nephi and Laban, Abraham and Isaac, Abraham and Sarah’s identity in Egypt, Rebekah and the blessing.
I’m too pregnant and tired to think right now, so I’ll be heading over to www.geosense.net to waste some time and cultivate my feelings of ignorance, and leave it to y’all to get the ball rolling. I’ll add some comments tomorrow, maybe.