Sternberg on the Sacrifice of Isaac

“A close reading of the exchange between son and father (“But where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” – “God will provide himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son”) may enable us to fill in the gap and reconstruct the father’s thoughts after a fashion. (After a fashion, because the reconstruction will remain dim and fragmentary, even if it exploits the well-known ambiguity – between a vocative and an appositional reading of “my son” – in the response)” (Sternberg, Poetics of Biblical Narrative, 192).

A vocative reading of “my son” would be Abraham’s address to his son. The appositional would be an explanation of “the burnt offering”: “the burnt offering, [that is] my son”. Brilliant.

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