Chilton on his new book “Abraham’s Curse”

I came across this article today. I commented earlier on an interview with Bruce in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the same book. Having not yet read the book, my questions remain…

Q&A with: Bard College’s Bruce Chilton | | Poughkeepsie Journal

Q&A with: Bard College’s Bruce Chilton
Tell us about “Abraham’s Curse.”

“Abraham’s Curse” shows how human sacrifice has been incorporated within Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the story of the patriarch’s offer to kill his own son. Such sacrifice has been fundamental to who we are, from the Stone Age until the present day. But “Abraham’s Curse” also reveals the hidden wisdom within ancient texts that turns patriarchal violence into the promise of blessing.

What is the book’s fundamental message?

At base, I want to show both that human societies, especially in the Abrahamic traditions, resort too easily – and without reflection – to the sacrifice of their young, and yet that these traditions have also produced the means to overcome that curse.

Has writing this book affected your personal life?

The murder of a young woman on the doorstep of my church in 1998 made me realize my emotional engagement with the topic of sacrifice had to be expressed. The book has permitted me to see that once what seemed a purely intellectual interest in fact was grounded in a profound and troubling human atavism.

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