The Image of Law and Love in Abraham’s Binding of Isaac
We live under the rule of law, and we take pride in that fact. The rule of law marks us out as a civilized nation and people; we devise a rule of law index to measure other nations and peoples on their compliance with the rule of law ideal. No event, actor or claim escapes the rule of law. But what does a lawful and law-filled life entail? By choosing to live under the rule of law, what have we sacrificed? What demands does the law make upon our affective lives? This presentation seeks to address these questions through a meditation on a biblical narrative and a visual portrayal of that narrative. This presentation will reflect on the image of law and love in Abraham’s binding of Isaac. In that narrative, God’s law is pitted against Abraham’s love for his son Isaac. Law encroaches upon the domain of love between Abraham and Isaac. God demands that Abraham offers up the love of his son in exchange for the law of God. Law demands the sacrifice of love. Abraham gives in to law’s demands and, ultimately, gives up. The image shows us the audacious claims that law can make on love; but it also reminds us that, in our Judeo-Christian political-theological imagination, alongside law, there is love.
Joshua Neoh is a Lecturer at the ANU College of Law. He received his LLB, with First Class Honours and the University Medal, from the Australian National University, and his LLM from Yale Law School. He has a research interest in the area of law and the humanities, especially legal theory and biblical theology.