- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (July 28, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 031611474X
- ISBN-13: 978-0316114745
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#1,288,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #337 in Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Bible Study & Reference > Old Testament > Biography
- #1171 in Books > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Sacred Writings > Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)
- #1737 in Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Bible Study & Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Old Testament
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The Woman Who Named God: Abraham's Dilemma and the Birth of Three Faiths Hardcover – July 28, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
The story of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah stands at the threshold of the three great Western religions—Christianity, Judaism, Islam—although each appropriates the story differently. Although God's command of Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, is an oft-told story, his expulsion of his concubine, Hagar, and the son he had by her, Ishmael, is often ignored. In this sometimes provocative, though often pedestrian, rereading of the Hagar story, Gordon (Mistress Bradstreet) gives new power to a woman often left in the shadows. Focusing on Hagar's vision of God in the desert (Genesis 16:13), Gordon argues that Hagar is a prophet and a mystic who names God El-Roi, or the God of my seeing. Because of her experience of God, Gordon argues, Hagar's relationship with God is one that Abraham might envy, for God offered Hagar clear and direct guidance, while God offered Abraham no clarity or guidance about his future but simply expected Abraham to obey. Although her prose is often plodding, Gordon provides some glimpses of the power of Hagar's story for modern religions. (July)
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"Thoughtful...Gordon examines all the familiar features of the story but pays particular attention to the human feelings of jealousy and distrust that affected the trio....She offers perceptive insights into an ancient story whose consequences continue to reverberate."―Judith Chettle, Richmond Times-Dispatch
"A unique look at the Old Testament relationships between and among Abraham; his wife, Sarah; and his mistress, Hagar....Most interesting is Gordon's focus on the exiled, shamed, and shadowed Hagar, whom Gordon elevates to a mystic and prophet....Complex and multilayered....The story speaks to the 21st century....General readers with even a casual interest in religion and its impact on history, as well as on current events, will appreciate the lens through which the author peers."―C. Brian Smith, Library Journal
"Here and there on the front lines of the clash of civilizations, we can glimpse a few pockets of compassion....Gordon implores her readers to ask one of those "what-if" questions that reframe all of our conventional wisdom: "What if Abraham had chased after his mistress and firstborn son, begged Sarah to forgive his betrayal, and urged Hagar to forgive Sarah's jealousy, so that they might raise their sons together? Would we be any better at living in peace?" Gordon's provocative question hints at a more intimate aspect of the story of Hagar. .....The Bible, it has been said, is the least-read best-seller of all times. But there is a whole literature devoted to reconsidering the ancient text, a literature that is full of shocks and surprises, wholly unexpected cross-wirings of religious traditions, and illuminating flashes of insight and wisdom. On that shelf you will find Gordon's book, a superb example of how to approach the Bible."―Jonathan Kirsch, truthdig.com
"A refreshing viewpoint...Gordon focuses on the roles of Sarah and Hagar, Abraham's wife and concubine, and mothers to two great nations. Acknowledging the short shrift given these two remarkable women, the author provides a closer examination of their roles....Gordon adds something new to an already full body of scholarship on Abraham."―Kirkus Reviews
"Provocative...Gordon gives new power to a woman often left in the shadows. Focusing on Hagar's vision of God in the desert, Gordon argues that Hagar is a prophet and a mystic who names God El-Roi, or "the God of my seeing"....Gordon provides some glimpses of the power of Hagar's story for modern religions."―Publishers Weekly
Praise for Mistress Bradstreet:
"Gordon tells Anne Bradstreet's gripping tale, including hardships and delights, in a clear, lively style."―M.S. Mason and Rebecca Salomonsson, Christian Science Monitor
"A thorough, occasionally whimsical, and hearteningly feminist take on the life of early Puritan pioneer and pundit Anne Bradstreet.―Kirkus Reviews
"A vibrant, engaging, realistic portrayal of early colonial
"Gordon has a clear engagement with Bradstreet, and the major accomplishment of this lively biography is in showing that she is as exceptional a person as the 17th-century
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What this book is not:
1. A fictionalized, light-weight story: Rather, the author discusses different possibilities for how those involved might have felt. She also brings together well-known and obscure texts to give the reader an idea of what may have occurred.
2. Focused primarily on Hager: This book devotes only a few chapters to Hagar - the majority of the book discusses Abram and Sarai.
3. A definitive, final answer on the truth: The author presents various opinions and the reasons why these opinions have developed. She does not discuss why one might be more accurate than another.
What this is:
1. An extremely interesting read: The writing is very good and does not distract at all from the pleasure of reading. It is academic, but it written in an easy-to-read manner.
2. Very informative: This book gives a good background on how these figures play into the three religions that branched off from their story: Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Also, as I mentioned, the book often discusses more obscure texts and stories so that the reader is really able to try to figure out for themselves what may have happened.
3. Very well researched: I feel that the author did a significant amount of research and was very familiar with the topic.
4. A great starting point: This author made me want to explore some of the stories and ideas she presented.
I highly recommend this book to understand this important story from various points of view.
I have been reading the Bible and teaching Sunday School for many years and found the research and interpretation to be excellent. This is a crucial time and set of stories in the history of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Oral and written traditions from all three faiths are carefully explained, then combined to render thoughtful and fascinating interpretations of individual words and stories that make up the similarities and subtle differences between the faiths. All this may sound very "heavy," but the stories and reflections are done so well that the book is very readable and enjoyable. I recommend it highly and hope it will make you think about religion and the Bible in new ways.