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'And Abraham Had Faith': But In What? Ephrem And The Rabbis On Abraham And God'S Blessings

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Chapter Summary

The figure of Abraham and the promises made to him by God are central to the formation of Jewish and Christian identities. Jewish literature of Second Temple period emphasizes Abraham's turn from idolatry to monotheism whereby his faith in God is more often than not expressed by obedience to the commandments. The letters of Paul too stress Abraham's faith and rejection of idolatry yet Paul is ambivalent about the significance of law for Abraham's righteousness, tending to stress faith without the law. This chapter illustrates how Abraham's promises and faith are understood in St. Ephrem the Syrian's Commentary on Genesis and midrashic collection Genesis Rabbah. This selection was based on the assumptions that these two sources are most likely to share a common idiom and in some way reflect an exegetical encounter between Jews and Christians, although not necessarily a direct encounter between the authors or editors of these works.

Keywords: Abraham; Christian; commandments; Commentary on Genesis; faith; Genesis Rabbah; God's blessings; Jewish; Rabbis; St. Ephrem



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