God’s promise to give “all the land of Canaan” to Abraham’s descendants fills the aged patriarch with hope—and despair. He has no heir! The tension created by God’s pledge and Abraham’s lack of an heir drives the story related in Genesis 11–25. But when Abraham attempts to ease his situation by finding himself an inheritor, one obstacle after another thwarts his plans; the tension merely increases as God rejects Abraham’s choices. Only through faith in God, Abraham ultimately perceives, will the covenant be fulfilled, writes Larry Helyer in “Abraham’s Eight Crises—The Bumpy Road to Fulfilling God’s Promise of an Heir.” Helyer’s conclusion, and Philip Davies’s more playful, not to say iconoclastic, treatment of the same text in the last issue of BR (“Abraham & Yahweh—A Case of Male Bonding”), remind us of the myriad possibilities of interpreting biblical stories.
A Baptist minister, Helyer is professor of biblical studies at Taylor University, in Upland, Indiana. His publications include Yesterday, Today and Forever: The Continuing Relevance of the Old Testament (Sheffield, forthcoming) and Jewish Literature of the Second Temple (Inter-Varsity, forthcoming).