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One Story, Five Perspectives online with Aaron Koller

Tuesday, December 5, 2023 22 Kislev 5784

7:30 PM - 8:30 PMOn line

Four pre-recorded classes launching on October 17 with the fifth class being presented live on November 14.



Class description

This class will take us deep into the heart of the Binding of Isaac, the Akedah in the Hebrew Bible. We will begin by looking at how the story is told and the philosophical problems it raises, and then study how the story was understood by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim thinkers over the past 2500 years, including how it is retold in the New Testament and the Qur’an. Then we will turn to how modern philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Buber, and Soloveichik have used the Akedah in their own religious thought, and we will conclude with a study of one of the most profound of recent Jewish thinkers: Montreal’s own Leonard Cohen.


Breakdown of classes

Week 1: The Akedah within the Hebrew Bible: Storytelling and the philosophical problems

Week 2: The Akedah as martyrdom narrative for Christians and Jews

Week 3: (1) The Akedah in the Qur’an and the Jewish-Muslim conversation; (2) Criticizing Abraham in the Jewish tradition

Week 4: Modern philosophers on the Akedah: Kierkegaard and “Akedah theology”, and the ethical value of the story

Week 5: Leonard Cohen’s Akedah songs from the Vietnam War to a personal Kaddish



Aaron Koller is professor of Near Eastern Studies at Yeshiva University. He is the author of Unbinding Isaac: The Akedah for Modern Jewish Thought and Esther in Ancient Jewish Thought, among other books, and the editor of five more. Aaron has previously served as a visiting professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the University of Cambridge, and as a visiting researcher at the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, the Hartman Institute, and the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. He lives in Queens, NY with Shira Hecht-Koller and their children.


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Wednesday, February 28, 2024 19 Adar I 5784