Wednesday, March 26

Abraham, a study in faith

"Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you, all the families of the earth will be blessed." So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran." Genesis 12:1-4 (NAS)

Everyone knows who Abraham was and the great story of the testing of his faith with Isaac, the promised offspring of God's covenant with Abram. This patriarchal figure spans the gap between denominations and even major religions. He is known in Jewish, Christian, Islamic traditions, and even the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) hold claim to the name, if not the historical and biblical facts of this founding father of many nations.

The Israelites, Ishamelites, and Edomite people claim him as their founding patriarch and the spawning of generations of "True Arabs" and "Arabized Arabs" (to mention a few) follow their lineage back to him. The Judeo-Christian faith is based on the lineage traced back to Abram and the promise made to him and point to Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of that promise.

But who was this great man that Christianity and many other religions claim to be their own?

As always, man has a desperate need most of the time to prove the faith of Judeo-Christians either perfectly truthful or flawed by inconsistencies. This is usually done with a historical 'check' into the background of the individual or the context in question. Abraham is no different and as his descendent, Jesus Christ, has been maligned and torn apart in an effort to make him a fictional character to the world.

Historically, there is enough non-biblical and biblical evidence to prove that such a figure walked on the earth. Of course, it is up to you to believe whether this or that scholar is correct and ultimately up to you as to whether or not such historical evidence is a linchpin to your faith. But, let's look at this rediscoverer of the monotheistic faith in God.

According to non-biblical evidence, such as Josephus in the 1st century, we find that Abraham came from Ur of the Chaldees which was located at that time in Northern Mesopotamia (modern-day Turkey) or the nearby Urkesh that is often identified as the "Ur of the Chaldee". Josephus isn't the only Jewish authority to claim this, Maimonides and others do as well, and they all seem to be in agreement. Since the Jewish lineage is traced back to Abraham, it would seem to be a valid conclusion to find agreement between the Torah and historical accounts. Christian scholars believe that Abraham came from the Chaldean City of Ur, also, but place the modern day equivalent in Iraq. Even the Islamic faith have this specific location, Ur of the Chaldee, as Abraham's birthplace. If we look around the countryside of Haran, we find cities with the names of Peleg, Serug, Nahor, and Terah that are the forefathers of Abraham . This would also lay additional evidence, logically, that such a man came from this area.

There is evidence that the Kings that Abraham fought against to reclaim his nephew Lot were also in existence during his lifetime and in the areas mentioned in biblical accounts. But there has been such disparity between scholars on what to believe and how that I will only mention that such claims exists and are widely varied.

In conclusion, there seems to be enough evidence to point to a man named Abram/Abraham existed in that time and culture. Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions point to this patriarch as an important figure in their faiths. But beyond the historical, each have different views on the life and character of this man of faith.

I will look at the differences between the faiths in my next blog.

This was a series I did on the Biblical Heroes mentioned in Hebrews 11. I have been asked to lead a bible study in this series I gave as a sermon, and so looked into a deeper understanding of the characters mentioned. I will blog my discussion as I have time.

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