Faith in a Hidden God

Luther, Kierkegaard, and the Binding of Isaac

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Elizabeth Palmer
Emerging Scholars
  • Minneapolis, MN : 
    Fortress Press
    , December
     344 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Samuel Kessler forthcoming.


The story of the binding of Isaac presents problems and opportunities for people who seek to live faithfully in relationship with a God who surpasses our understanding. This book examines how Luther and Kierkegaard read Genesis 22 in lively ways that both challenge and edify the life of faith. Luther uses the concept of resurrection to sanitize the story of its horror, portraying God as a loving (albeit testing) father and Abraham as a model of trust. Kierkegaard emphasizes the unintelligibility of both God and Abraham, showing that faith—whatever it is—is not easily spoken of. Yet, both interpretations are anagogical: they move their readers in the faith of which they speak. Luther’s exegesis helps readers flee from the horror of a hidden God toward the comfort of trusting in the mercy of God, promised and revealed through Christ. Kierkegaard’s interpretation drives readers toward the abyss and leaves them hovering there, on the cusp of faith active in love. At once a history of exegesis and a theological exploration of the meaning of faith in the face of suffering, this book demonstrates how the way we read the Bible is crucial to the life of faith.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Elizabeth Palmer is the books editor at Christian Century magazine. An ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, she served as the Lutheran campus pastor at the University of Chicago for eight years and has also worked as a hospital chaplain. She has a PhD in theology from the University of Chicago Divinity School. 

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