I caught a bit of Ideas on CBC Radio One. I see now that it’s an interview with Susan Neimann, author of Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-up Idealists (sounds like just the book for me). I’ll have to listen to the podcast of the full program later, but she talked about some interesting things in those 5 minutes or so in which I was listening.
She noted in the Sodom story that Abraham pleads with God on a moral basis even though the Law as Jews and Christians would know it did not exist. On what did Abraham base his ethics? On something other than the written (Mosaic) law.
While Abraham pleads for Sodom on ethical grounds, Abraham says nothing to God later on when God tells him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Clearly, Abraham could have taken issue with this on an ethical basis as well.
In the first story, she says, Abraham was acting on reason and in the second he was acting on faith.
(I didn’t hear if she thought one was better than the other, but I suspect she will not give either one priority. I also don’t know if she pointed out that God still destroys Sodom, because it didn’t meet even Abraham’s minimal requirements. However, in the story of Isaac, in which Abraham says nothing, God spares Isaac in the end. Not sure if any of those things have anything to do with her topic either. I must listen to the podcast later.)
I always enjoy seeing scripture through fresh or different eyes. Growing up with the Bible and its stories it’s easy to take them (or the way you have always read them) for granted. And I rarely take the time to sit down and really contemplate a passage of scripture, but this sort of interesthing tends to be the result.