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The Womb of Abraham - Depiction from the Hortus Deliciarum by Herrad von Landsberg (12th century)
Rembrandt : "The angel prevents the sacrifice of Isaac"
Meetings of Abraham and Melchizedeks, oil painting by Dierick Bouts
Abraham's source in Beersheba

Abraham ( Hebrew אֲבִירָם / אַבְרָהָם Avraham / Aviram folk etymology: "Father of the many [peoples]" [Genesis 17.4 f.] From אַבְרָם Avram "(The) Father is exalted", Aramaic ܐܒܪܗܡ Abrohom , Old Yiddish Awroham , Arabic إبرَاهِيم Ibrāhīm ) is the progenitor of Israel and a central figure in the Tanakh or the Old Testament . He is also considered the progenitor of the Arabs; the prophet of Islam, Mohammed ,is said to havedescendedfrom his son Ishmael (see Abraham in Islam ). Abraham's story is told in the biblical book Genesis or Bereshit ( Gen 12-25  EU ). According to this, along with his son Isaac and grandson Jacob, he is one of the patriarchs , from whom, according to biblical tradition, the twelve tribes of the people of Israel emerged.

Since Judaism , Christianity and Islam all refer to Abraham as their ancestor, they are also referred to as the three Abrahamic (world) religions .

Abraham in the Tanakh

In the Torah (instruction, teaching) of the Tanach (Jewish Bible ) the story of Abraham is told in 1. Book of Moses (Book of Genesis, Gen 11.27  EU –25.10 EU ). The Abraham story is pervaded by promises, at one point also confirmed as an oath (22:16). The main promises are as follows:

  1. Multiplication (12.2; 13.16: like dust; 15.5: like stars; 16.10; 17.2.4) and offspring (15.4)
  2. Blessings (12.2) and blessings mediation (12.3)
  3. big name (12.2)
  4. Land (12.7; 13.15.17; 15.7.18), also in the picture of "Delivering the oppressors" (14.20) or of the "Gate of the enemy" (22.17)
  5. God as his shield and great reward (15.1)
  6. Covenant (15.18; 17.2)
  7. Being with God / covenant formula (17.7-8)

Abra (ha) m the Hebrew is mentioned 44 times outside of Genesis 12–50, mostly in formulaic connection with Isaac and Jacob. In the Nevi'im (prophets) there are eleven references (Jos 24: 2, 3; 1 Kings 18:36; 2 Kings 13:23; Isa 29:22; 41: 8; 51: 2; 63:16; Jer 33.26; Ez 33.24; Mi 7.20). In the Ketuvim (writings) it occurs in Ps 47:10 and Ps 105, in Neh 9,7 and several times in the Chronicle .

Biographical key data

First, an overview of Abraham's key biographical data, as contained in the texts: The assignment of the first age information is associated with difficulties, as the texts are not entirely clear (you can either start from variant A or variant B). Keith N. Grüneberg presents both variants and decides in favor of variant A based on the following arguments:

  • If Terah had only begotten Abram at the age of 130, it is more difficult to explain why Abraham himself can hardly believe that he will have a child at the age of 100 (Gen 17:17).
  • If Terach is still alive at the time Abraham leaves Haran, then the absence of the Toledot formula in Gen 12 can be explained by Terach still being the head of the family.

On the other hand, the Bible ( Acts 7,4  EU ) testifies that Abraham only left Haran after the death of his father. He can therefore be born at least 75 years before Terach's death. This would lead to a confirmation of variant B.

Age Events Gene site
0 Variant A: the 70-year-old Terach fathered Abram and his two brothers 11.26
0 Variant B: the 130-year-old Terach is the father of Abram (this age of Terach results if the age of Abram when leaving Haran is subtracted from the age of his father, who according to the Acts of the Apostles had died when Abram moved out.) 11.32; 12.4
75 Variant B: Abram's 205-year-old father Terach dies, whereupon Abraham moves out of Haran because of the divine command 11.32; 12.4
75 Variant A: Abram moves out of Haran because of the divine command, even before Terach dies (here one attaches more trust to an assumed chronology of the conception of the three sons of Terah in 11.26 than the verse sequence of 11.32 and 12.4, the one then does not see it as a chronological sequence). Terach's age can then be calculated to be 145. The Acts of the Apostles are not taken into account in this assumption. 11.32; 12.4
135 Variant A: Abram's 205-year-old father Terach dies (Abraham's age of 135 results from combining 11.26 and 11.32) 11.32
85 Sarai gives her servant Hagar Abram 16.3
86 Ishmael is born the son of Hagar and Abram 16.16
99 Abram is renamed Abraham and Sarai is renamed Sara and the two receive a promise of sons, although Abraham does not believe that he will have a son at the age of 100 (17:17). But Isaac is supposed to be born in a year (i.e. with 100, cf. 17:21). At the age of 99, Abraham circumcised his foreskin (17:24) and the foreskins of all men in his house. 17.1ff
100 Isaac is born as the son of Sarah and Abraham 21.5
175 Abraham dies at a good old age 25.7f

Geographic stations

Abraham's most important stations (marked on a map from the 9th century BC)

The texts from Gen 11-25 name the following important stages: Abraham comes from Ur in Chaldea via Haran (11.31) to the north, south to Shechem (Gen 12.6), builds an altar there, and then moves to a place at Bethel (Gen 12.8: east of Bethel and west of Ai). After he moves further to the south (Gen 12,9), he goes to Egypt because of a famine (Gen 12,10). Then he returns to the Negev region (Gen 13.1) and Bethel (Gen 13.3). Following the land promise, Abraham builds an altar in Mamre near Hebron (Gen 13:18). The armed conflicts in Gen 14 lead Abraham to various places, including high in the north to Dan (Gen 14:14), which will not be discussed in detail. Some stories follow without any precise location information, until in Gen 18.1 Adonai appears to Abraham in Mamre. From there, Abraham accompanies the men to Sodom (Gen 18:16). After the discussion he returns "to his place" (Gen 18:33), and the next morning he goes back to the place where he spoke to Adonai to see the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18, 27f). In Gen.20.1, Abraham sets off again for the south, where he lives as a stranger in Gerar. Abimelech leaves Abraham free to settle anywhere in his territory (Gen.20.15). Abraham decides in favor of Beersheba, which is clear from the fact that Hagar wandered around there after her expulsion (Gen 21:14) and Abraham plants a tamarisk tree for the worship of God, which is located in Beersheba (Gen 21:33). In addition, Abraham and his servants return there after the binding of Isaac to Mount Moriah (this mountain is not localized in Genesis; 2Chr 3,1 identifies the place with Jerusalem) there (Gen 22:19). Then Sara dies in Hebron at the age of 127 (Gen 23.1) and is buried there near (east of Mamre / Hebron) in Machpelah (Gen 23.19). In the same cave Abraham is buried by Isaac and Ishmael after his death at the age of 175 (Gen 25: 9).

The geographical structure therefore divides the narrative cycle into three parts as follows:

  1. Part (Gen 11.27-19.38 + 21.1-7): Abraham and Lot move from Ur-Kasdim to Hebron (13.18; 18) and Sodom (13.12; 19). Chapters 14–17, which have different themes and interests, are inserted into this Abraham-Lot narrative.
  2. Part (Gen 20.1-22.19): Abraham stays in Gerar and Beersheba. Duplicates can be found in Gen 12 and 26. The birth of Isaac interrupts the two episodes of Abraham in Gerar. With Moria (Gen 22), similar to Salem (Gen 14), there is an allusion to Jerusalem.
  3. Part (Gen 22.20-25.11): The last station of the Archparents is the return to Hebron. Death and burial are reported here (23; 25: 7–11), which concludes the accounts of Abraham and Sarah. Through the list of Nahorids (22: 20–24) and Gen. 24, the next generation comes into view with Isaac.

Gen 11-12

Abram's father Terach moves from the city of Ur in Chaldäa - the south of today's Iraq - to Haran (near Edessa ) in today's Turkey to live there. He takes his son Abram and grandson Lot - whose father Haran has already passed away - and Abram's wife Sarai with him. Whether Abram's second youngest brother Nahor will also embark on this journey remains unclear in the book of Genesis. Terah dies in Haran, and Abram is asked by God to move to a country that he will show him. His descendants will be numerous and he will be a blessing to all peoples. At the age of seventy-five, Abram moved to Canaan with his wife Sarai and nephew Lot . They take the property and the people they bought in Haran with them.

When a famine strikes the land, Abram and his clan move to Egypt. Because his wife Sarai is very beautiful and he fears that the Egyptians will kill him because of it, he passes her off as his sister - which is also true insofar as she is his half-sister ( Gen 20.12  EU ). As soon as Abraham's clan arrived in Egypt, Pharaoh found out about the beautiful woman and had her fetched. He gives your supposed brother great gifts. When God then begins to punish Pharaoh and his house, the latter lets Abram come to him and tells him his lie. He gives him back his wife and lets him go away with everything that belongs to him ( Gen 12  EU ). The Bible says nothing about returning gifts. However, in the next chapter it is mentioned that Abram is very rich ( Gen 13.2  EU ).

Gen 13-14

Abram and Lot have many sheep and cattle, and their shepherds quarrel. Therefore, Abram and Lot separate. Abram gives Lot the right to choose where to move. While Lot moves into the water-rich Jordan Valley (near Sodom and Gomorrah ), Abram continues to live in the land of Canaan near Hebron . After their separation, Abram receives from God the promise of rich descendants (so Gen 13.15–18  EU ) and large land holdings in Canaan. After his nephew Lot was captured by Elam as a result of a military involvement of Sodom by Kedor-Laomer , Abram and his men freed him - 318 in number. On the way back he is blessed by Melchizedek of Salem (i.e. Jerusalem ) and he pays him tithing ( Gen 14  EU ). He hands over all of the captured booty to the King of Sodom, although he wants to give him a present:

“I don't want to keep any thread or shoe strap or anything that belongs to you. You shouldn't be able to say: I made Abram rich. Only what my people have consumed and what is attributable to the men who moved with me, to Aner, Eschkol and Mamre, they should keep as their share. "

- Gen 14.23-24  EU

Gen 15

God then confirms the permanent promise of descendants and land through a solemn covenant rite ( Gen 15  EU ). Abraham doubts how the promises will be fulfilled:

“After these events the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward will be very great. Abram answered: Lord, my lord, what are you going to give me? I am going there childless, and the heir to my house is Eliëser from Damascus. And Abram said: You gave me no offspring; so my house slave will inherit me. Then the word of the Lord came to him: He will not inherit you, but your own son will be your inheritance. He led him out and said: Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can count them. And he said to him, Your offspring will be so numerous. Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted it as righteousness. He said to him, I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur in Chaldea to make this land your own. Then Abram said: Lord, my Lord, how should I know that I am getting it? "

- Gen 15.1-8  EU

At night, God speaks to Abram and lets him know that his descendants will be driven from the land and live in bondage for 400 years, but then come back to Canaan rich. The next day, God confirms his promise again:

"On this day concluded the Lord with Abram a covenant To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates , (the country) of the Kenites , the Kenasiter , the Kadmonites , the Hittites , the Perizzites , the Rephaim , the Amorite , the Canaanite , the Girgashite , the Hivite and the Jebusite . "

- Gen 15: 18-21  EU

Gen 16

Sarai, Abram's wife, is childless. She asks Abram in accordance with the legal custom, also otherwise attested, to take her young slave Hagar . With her Abram fathered his first son Ishmael ( Gen 16  EU ) after he had lived in Canaan for about ten years. When Hagar is pregnant, there are arguments between Hagar and Sarai. Hagar then flees into the desert, where an angel of God appears to her and tells her that she should go to Sarai again ( Gen 16.9  EU ) and that her son will produce a very large offspring. She is to name her son Ishmael, who will be a wild, contentious person. Abram was 86 years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.

Gen 17

Abraham is originally called Abram, in Hebrewאַבְרָם Avram , meaning "the Father is exalted" or "he is exalted in relation to his Father". The God of Israel changes the name to Abraham , which is interpreted in Gen 17.5  EU as "father of multitudes of peoples". This is not a literal translation, but a folk etymology . The renaming serves the biblical narrative as an indication of the beginning of God's covenant with the Israelites.

When Abram was 99 years old, God confirmed his covenant with him and from then on demanded the sign of circumcision from him and his descendants . God tells him that he will bless him and that he will be a father of many peoples, and gives Abram (אַבְרָם) and his wife Sarai (שָׂרַי) new names: Abraham (אַבְרָהָם) and Sara (שָׂרָה) ( Gen 17  EU ). God promises that he will bless Sarah and that she will have a son within a year. He also promises that peoples and kings will emerge from it. He should name his wife Sarah's son Isaac (“he laughs / smiles”), because God wants to establish his eternal covenant with Isaac. God also promises Abram to bless Ishmael and make him a great people.

Gen 18-19

Gen 18: The Mamre Episode

Andrei Rublev

God visits Abraham in the form of three men (Gen 18: 1–15). The description of Abraham's hospitality is followed by an announcement scene that contains five main aspects:

  • the announcement of a son for Sarah (vv. 9-10)
  • Sara's skeptical inner laughter (vv. 10-12)
  • Adonai's rebuke: "Why did Sarah laugh?" (Vv. 13-14)
  • Sara's denial (v. 15a)
  • Adonai's rebuke: "Yes, you laughed" (v. 15b)

First of all, Abraham is portrayed as the ideal host who gives the best he can (including foot washing, water, a calf, cream, milk, ...). The visitors reward Abraham's generosity with the promise of a son, but nothing is said about him except that he will be born. Laughter, which particularly emphasizes human doubts in divine promises, is a central motif in the scene and prepares the naming of Isaac (יצְחָק = he laughs). The reason for the doubt lies in the advanced age of the two future parents. It remains to be seen whether Abraham and Sarah believed the promise or not. The fulfillment of the child's promise is not told immediately afterwards, as is sometimes the case, but only in Gen 21.

Gen 18-19 Sodom and Gomorrah

God speaks to Abraham about the sins that happened in Sodom and Gomorrah . Abraham asked God to spare Sodom if righteous people lived there. First he asks that the city be spared if there are fifty righteous people there. When God agrees, he gradually trades the number down to ten righteous people. But a short time later Abraham had to watch the smoke rising like a furnace in the area of ​​Sodom and Gomorrah when the area was being destroyed by God ( Gen 18–19  EU ). Lot and his family are forcibly driven out of the city by two angels to avoid doom. While fleeing, Lot's wife froze into a pillar of salt because she did not obey the angels' command not to look around.

Gen 20

Abraham moves to Gerar with his wife. There he again (as in Gen 12) pretends to be his wife as a sister. Here, too, the king of the strange place, Abimelech, takes Sarah to himself. However, God appears to Abimelech in a dream to warn him. God also tells him the whole truth that Sarah is Abraham's wife. Abimelech emphasizes his innocence, which God also confirms for him. So God spares Abimelech, especially because Abimelech gives Sarah back to Abraham and makes him the generous offer to live wherever he wants in his country. Abraham's intercession heals Abimelech and the wives of his royal court from the inability to conceive or give birth. Finally, Abimelech and Abraham make a peace covenant with each other.

Gen 21

Adi Holzer : Abraham's Sacrifice 1997 (see picture description)

As predicted, Sarah becomes pregnant and gives birth to Isaac when Abraham is one hundred years old ( Gen 21: 1-5  EU ). Since Ishmael makes fun of Isaac, he and Hagar, at Sara's request, are sent away by Abraham. Sara does not want both sons to inherit together. At first Abraham is unwilling, but when an angel appears to him at night who confirms Sara's wish and promises him to turn Ishmael into a great people ( Gen 21: 12-13  EU ), he gives in and sends Hagar and Ishmael away with provisions .

Gen 22

The biblical narrative of Abraham climaxes in Isaac's bond when God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son. This will put Abraham's faith to the test. In fact, God sends a ram at the last moment, which Abraham sacrifices in place of his son, and confirms the earlier promises to him with an oath ( Gen 22  EU ). The "binding of Isaac" takes place on a mountain in the land of Moria. According to Jewish tradition, this is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem .

Gen 23-25

According to Gen 25.1  EU , Abraham takes Ketura as his wife. This gave birth to him Simran and Jokschan, Medan, Midian , Jischbak and Schuach ( Gen 25.2  EU ). Abraham dies according to Gen 25.7–10  EU at the age of 175 and is buried in the Machpelah cave , where he had previously buried Sara ( Gen 23  EU ).

Joshua 24

“2 Joshua said to all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel: Your fathers lived on the other side of the river, Terah, Abraham and Nahor's father, and served other gods. 3 So I took your father Abraham from across the river and made him go about all over the land of Canaan, increasing his family and giving him Isaac. "

- Joshua : 24 : 2-3 (Luther translation 2017)

There is also a historical review here. This time, Abraham's ancestors come first, as idolaters. With the mention of Terach, the genealogy from Gen 11: 27ff is taken up. The phrase “beyond the river” interprets Gen 12.1 from the perspective of 24.7. The various locations from Gen 12-13 are succinctly summarized here in the fact that Abraham wandered about in the land of Canaan. In addition, the promise of an increase is alluded to.


Isaiah 51

“Look at Abraham your father and Sarah of whom you were born. Because as an individual I called him to bless and increase him. "

- Isaiah : 51.2 (Luther translation 2017)

In Isa 51: 1-8 there is a divine speech that announces salvation. The focus is more on the subject of increase (and not so much the subject of land ownership as in Ez 33). Abraham becomes an example of God's saving act. A look at him is intended to ensure that a few can become many, as was the case with Abraham and Sarah. In this case, Sara is still in the process of giving birth, so God is just about to realize blessings and increase. In Isa 51 the unity of the people of God is emphasized, whose common identity consists in "your father" Abraham.

Isaiah 41

"But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you seed of Abraham, my beloved"

- Isaiah : 41.8 (Luther translation 2017)

In Isa 41: 8-13 the topic of election comes into play. Instead of the usual address Jacob-Israel, the term “seed of Abraham” (= offspring of Abraham) is used here. Abraham serves here as an exemplary stranger and thus becomes the model for the scattered. Just as he responded to the call to leave for the country, those displaced by exile should now return to their homeland. The “seed” is characterized by a special love of God, as Abraham's love of God was emphasized by his Torah piety (In Gen 18.6 he adheres to food regulations, in 14.20 he pays tithes, in 24 he shows consideration the prohibition of mixed marriages and also his obedience is particularly clear in 22 and 26,3.5).

Isaiah 29

22 Therefore saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, to the house of Jacob, Jacob shall no longer stand ashamed, nor shall his face turn pale. 23 For when they see the works of my hands - their children - in their midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify Saint Jacob and fear the God of Israel. 24 And those who err in their spirit will accept understanding, and those who grumble will be taught. "

- Isaiah 29 : 22-23 : (Luther translation 2017)

Isaiah 63

“You are our father; for Abraham knows nothing of us, and Israel does not know us. You, Lord, are our Father; "Our Redeemer" has been your name from time immemorial. "

- Isaiah : 63.16 (Luther translation 2017)

In the prayer Isa 63,7-64,11 a critical position is taken on the fatherhood of Abraham and Jacob Israel: One knows about the descent, but wants to break away from it and bind oneself only to God, who is more useful as Exodus-Redeemer-God seems like the fathers who don't look after their sons.

Ezekiel 33

In Ez 33,23-29 a speech from God is presented in the style of a disputation against the Judeans. The Judeans want to confirm their claim to ownership of the land via the identity figure Abraham, but the divine speech refuses to do so.

“23 And the word of the LORD came to me: 24 Son of man, the inhabitants of those ruins in the land of Israel say: Abraham was a single man and took possession of this land; but we are many, the land has been given to us to own. 25 Therefore say to them, Thus saith the Lord GOD: You have eaten blood, and lifted your eyes to idols, and shed blood, and you want to possess the land? 26 You rely on your sword and do abominations, and one desecrates the other's wife - and you want to own the land? 27 Say to them, Thus saith the Lord GOD: As I live, all who dwell in the ruins shall fall by the sword, and who are in the open field I will give to the beasts to eat, and to those in the fortresses and caves are to die of the plague. 28 For I will completely devastate the land and put an end to its pride and power, so that the mountains of Israel will become so wild that no one will pass through it. 29 And they shall know that I am the LORD when I devastate the land because of all their abominations which they have committed. "

- Ezekiel : 33.23-29 (Luther translation 2017)

This probably reflects the conflict between the Judeans who remained in the country and claim it for themselves, citing Abraham, and those who, through deportation to Babylonian exile, form a Gola community and dispute the claim to the land for those who remained.

Micah 7

"18 Where is such a God as you are, who forgives sin and remits the debt to those who have remained as the remainder of his inheritance; who does not cling to his anger forever, for he takes pleasure in grace! 19 He will have mercy on us again, trod our guilt under our feet, and throw all our sins into the depths of the sea. 20 You will be faithful to Jacob and show grace to Abraham, as you swore to our fathers of old. "

- Micah 7.18-20 : (Luther translation 2017)

Psalm 105

“6 You family of Abraham his servant, you sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! ... 8 He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he promised for a thousand generations, 9 the covenant he made with Abraham and the oath he swore to Isaac. ... 42 For he remembered his holy word and Abraham his servant. "

- Psalm : 105 : 6.8 - 9.42 (Luther translation 2017)

In Ps 105, in addition to the election motif, God's covenant with Abraham appears. All popular history is presented as the product of God remembering the covenant. The land promise to Abraham here becomes the decisive engine of popular history.

Nehemiah 9

"Lord, you are God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur in Chaldea and called Abraham"

- Nehemiah : 9.7 (Luther translation 2017)

In the historical review of the penitential prayer from Neh 9, Abraham is taken up. However, it seems to be less relevant to the topic of increase and more to that of land grabbing following the Exodus. The designation of the father for Abraham is also avoided in this context. Of the patriarchs only Abraham is mentioned.

2. Chronicles 20

"Didn't you, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and gave it to the descendants of Abraham, your friend, forever?"

- 2 Chronicles 20,7 : (Luther translation 2017)

Historical classification

There is no evidence of the existence of Abraham outside of the biblical narratives and the traditions that depend on them. The historical circumstances mentioned in the Abrahamic narratives do not allow any clear conclusions to be drawn about the historical background of the biblical narratives. The archaeologists Israel Finkelstein and Neil A. Silberman point to some anachronisms in the text that suggest that the stories may have been written at a later time. The time in which the tales of Abraham in the Tanach take place is generally estimated at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. d. Z. scheduled.

family tree

Ruben Simeon Levi Judah Issachar Zebulun Dina Joseph Benjamin Dan Naftali Gad Ashtray

In Christianity

In the New Testament

Russian icon (17th century)

Abraham is listed in two different lineages of Jesus in the New Testament . The Gospel according to Matthew ( Mt 1, 1–17  EU ) names 41 names, the Gospel according to Luke Lk 3, 23–38  EU names 56 or 57 names, depending on the version. In addition, Abraham appears in many places as a model and “father of faith” ( Mt 3,9  EU ).

The Gospel according to Luke presents Abraham in the parable of the rich man and the poor Lazarus as the father of those disadvantaged in life ( Lk 16 : 19–31  EU ). After his death, poor Lazarus is received “into Abraham's bosom ” ( Lk 16.22  EU ).

In the Gospel according to John ( Joh 8,33-58  EU ) the right relationship with Abraham divides the spirits between the Jewish Jesus and some opponents who persecute him.

In Paul's letter to the Romans ( Rom 4.1-25  EU ), Abraham becomes tangible as a key figure in Pauline theology . According to Paul , Abraham received the divine promises not because of his "works of law" but through "righteousness of faith" ( Rom 4:13  EU ).

In addition, the figures of Sarah and Hagar in Paul's letter to the Galatians have also become the occasion for detailed explanations on the subject of “law and freedom” ( Gal 4 : 21–31  EU ). In it, Ishmael, the son of Hagar, is associated with bondage and carnal existence, while Isaac, the son of Sarah, is seen as a "child of promise" and freedom. Isaac stands for liberated Christianity, but Ishmael for Judaism, which continues to exist in bondage.

In the letter to the Hebrews ( Heb 11 : 8-19  SLT ) the author presents Abraham as a witness of faith who never doubted the power of faith in his life .

In the Protestant literary criticism

Blum: The composition of the father's story

Sketch of literary-critical hypotheses on Abraham

The Protestant Old Testament scholar Erhard Blum has dealt extensively with the literary criticism of the history of the father. Blum assumes three stages for the Abraham story:

  1. predeuteronomistic composition
  2. D machining
  3. priestly layer

The pre-Deuteronomic composition

He counts the Abraham Lot stories (Gen 13; 18–19) as a pre-exilic composition. When it comes to the dating of genes 12.10-20 (endangering the ancestor), Blum does not specify exactly, but he assumes that genes 12.10-20 are older than the other two variants in genes 20 and 26th gen 12: 10-20 he treats together with the Ishmael narratives and Genesis 22 in the chapter on the pre-Deuteronomistic exilic composition. The story of Hagar in Gen 16 serves as a pre-narration of the expulsion of Ishmael in Gen 21: 8ff. Due to the parallels between Gen 21.8ff and Gen 22, Blum assumes that Gen 21.8ff is related to Gen 22: The expulsion of Ishmael is then a kind of “dress rehearsal” for the binding of Isaac in Gen 22. In Gen 16 they are Verses 3 and 16 later additions by P with the chronological information typical of the priestly scriptures. Gen 16:15 does not have a P character, but is still a later addition. Gen 16: 9-10 are later additions by the editor who has to insert a return from Hagar in order to create a prerequisite for Gen 21: 8ff. The promises in Gen 16: 11f do not match previous promises, but for Blum they are not in the same layer as Gen 16: 9f. For Blum, Gen 16: 11f contains the aetiological scope of those whose ethnic reality includes the Ishmaelites. Blum believes that Gen 22 will originate before the 7th century as unlikely; he reckons with the late royal period at the earliest, at least before the systematic deuteronomic tradition. Finally, Blum classifies the itinerary notes on whereabouts and altar building notes (12.4–9; 13.18; 21.33) in the pre-Deuteronomic composition. For Blum, the notes on the altar are not aetiologies because Abraham does not make sacrifices, but only invokes the name Adonais. This reflects the experience of a time after 587, in which one no longer has one's own sacrificial sites.

D arrangements: Blum includes the promises (Gen 12.1–3.7; 13.16b; 15.1–7.18; 16.10; 21.13.18b; 22.15–18) among the D arrangements, as well as 22, 20-24 and Rebekah (Gen 24). In addition, Blum Gen 18.17–19.22b – 32; 20; 21,22ff on texts that are close to the D tradition.

The priestly layer : In addition to Gen 17, Blum belongs to P the Toledot frames (Gen 11.27ff Toledot Terachs; 25.12ff Toledot Ishmaels).

Blum counts the exodus references in Gen 15: 13-16 and the list of peoples in Gen 15: 19-21 to be very late addenda.

Gese: The composition of the Abraham story

Hartmut Gese distinguishes himself from Blum insofar as Gese clings to the Yahwist (J) and Elohist (E) as pre-exilic sources of classical source theory. In contrast to Blum, Gese pulls texts forward (before exile and, for Gese, mostly on J): Gen 12.1–4a.6–9 as Jakobsprolepse (anticipation of the Jacob tradition, which gives weight to Shechem and Bethel) , Gen 12.10–13.2 as Exodus prolepse (anticipation of the exodus tradition, which also moved from the Pharaoh from Egypt to Canaan), Gen 13, including v. 13–17 as Eisodus prolepse (anticipation of the later land grant) and Gen 22, 1–14.19 as Zion Prolepse (anticipation of animal sacrifice in Jerusalem). Gese assumes that 12: 10–20 is the oldest variant of the ancestral endangerment, so Gen 20 is younger. In Gen 21 the Jehowist brings a late variant of the Hagar Ishmael story, so that Gen 21 relates to Gen 16 as Gen 20 relates to Gen 12: 10-20.

The argument for pre-exilic Abraham traditions is Ez 33:24: Gese dates the passage to 597 BC. Chr .; this passage implies pre-existing Abrahamic traditions.

Gese calls the deuteronomistic treatment Jehowist (Je). Gese Gen 15 counts to it as a Sinai prolepse (anticipation of the divine appearances in smoke and fire at Sinai through the torch that passes between the animals divided by Abraham). Also various introductory parts for the variants in Gen 20f. Gese agrees with Blum that the second angel's speech to Abraham when Isaac was bound (22.15-18) fell out of the actual narrative and should be classified as a later addition.

Deviating from Blum 16: 1, 15, the priestly scripture in Gese also contains the necessary front end for Gen 17, and the birth of Isaac, the acquisition of Machpelah and the high age of Abraham's death are also explicitly included in P.

Finally, Gen 24 is added, which “does not represent an early structure in tradition”.

Köckert: The history of the Abraham tradition

The Berlin Old Testament scholar Matthias Köckert dates considerably more material to the Persian period than Blum and Gese. This applies to Gen 14, which, according to Köckert, must be from the Persian period, since there is no evidence of the tradition of tithing at the time of the first temple. a. the covenant in Gen 15, the binding of Isaac (Gen 22), the Ishmael and Abimelech episodes, and the courtship for Isaac around Rebekah (Gen 24).

Remembrance days and liturgical reception

Memorial days

The so-called Abraham's Day , which is simply a name for the 50th birthday of a person, does not fall under the memorial days . There is also the Abrahamic ecumenism .

Abraham in the evangelical pericope order

Compared to the old pericope order, the new one includes considerably more texts from the Abraham story:

genesis Pericope order from Advent 2018 Pericope order until Eternal Sunday 2018
12: 1-4a: Abram's calling and procession to Canaan 5. after Trinity IV (AT) 5. after Trinity IV
13: 1-12 (13-18): Abram and Lot separate (Adonai repeats his promise to Abram) 21. after Trinity (sermon text) -
14.17–20: Abram is blessed by Melchizedek Reminiscences (further text) -
15: 1-6: God promises Abram an offspring 15. after Trinity (sermon text) and 3.7. or 21.12. Apostle Thomas (further text) -
15: 1-18: God promises Abram offspring and land, which is confirmed by a covenant Easter vigil (further text) -
16: 1-16: Hagar flees and gives birth to Ishmael Miserikordias Domini VI (sermon text) -
17: 1-5 (6-8) 9-13 (23-27): God made a covenant with Abraham and commands circumcision New Years Day III (AT) New Years Day (further text)
18: 1–2.9–15: Son promise in the Mamre episode 4th Advent III (sermon text) -
18: 16–33: Abraham's discussion with Adonai on the way to Sodom Rogate (further text) 3. after Trinity VI
21: 8-21: The expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael 29.9. Archangel Michael III (AT) 2nd Advent (further text)
22: 1-14 (15-19): The Binding of Isaac Judika VI (AT) and Easter Vigil (further text) Judica III

In Islam

Writings attributed to Abraham

Abraham Apocalypse

Probably from the 1st – 2nd The Abraham apocalypse dates back to the 19th century and describes the ascension of Abraham. The originally Aramaic or Hebrew material is Jewish with Christian revision and is one of the non-canon Judeo-Christian scriptures.

Abraham's testament

The Testament of Abraham is a pseudepigraphic script that was probably created in the 2nd century and tells of a journey through heaven that Abraham is said to have undertaken before his death.

Book of Abraham

The book of Abraham is part of the Pearl of Great Price of Latter-day Saints Church of Jesus Christ .



Christian glossaries

Web links

Commons : Abraham  - Collection of Images
Wikiquote: Abraham  - Quotes
Wiktionary: Abraham  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Thomas HiekeAbraham. In: Michaela Bauks, Klaus Koenen, Stefan Alkier (Eds.): The Scientific Biblical Lexicon on the Internet (WiBiLex), Stuttgart 2006 ff.
  2. More precisely: Gen 11: 27-25: 11.
  3. a b c d e f g h i j Matthias Köckert: The history of the Abraham tradition . In: André Lemaire (Ed.): Congress Volume Leiden 2004 . S. 103-128 .
  4. Keith N. Grüneberg: Abraham, Blessing and the Nations. A Philological and Exegetical Study of Genesis 12: 3 in its Narrative Context . 2003, p. 155-156 .
  5. Cf. also Raschi's commentary on Gen.12.32.
  6. a b Stuart A. Irvine: 'Is Anything Too Hard for Yahweh?' In: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament . 2018, p. 295-296 .
  7. See Ri 13; 2 Kings 4: 8-17; Lk 1,11-20.26-38
  8. P. Weimar: Abraham , in: Neues Bibellexikon Vol. 1, Zurich 1991, Sp. 18-19
  9. ^ Israel Finkelstein , Neil A. Silberman : No Trumpets Before Jericho. Beck, Munich 2002, p. 49 ff.
  10. Erhard Blum: The composition of the father's story . 1984.
  11. Hartmut Gese: The composition of the story of Abraham. In: Ders .: Old Testament Studies. Mohr, Tübingen 1991, pp. 29-51.
  12. ^ Register of the pericopes. Retrieved March 23, 2019 .