Recent scholarship has challenged traditional assumptions about the casting of the animals for the sacrifice. In The Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Heritage of the Binding of Isaac, John J. Collins argues that the Hebrew word used for `cast' (`'ônîm) does not always indicate that the victim was literally poured into an oven. The word can also mean that the victim was hung, but with the kônâ attached to the victim (as in the case of Eve, the hanging of whom was intended as a punishment for her disobedience in Genesis 3:13). Collins also notes that while animals are usually sacrificed as whole animals, the binding of Isaac narrative has Abraham consuming both the flesh and the blood of the animal that was offered as a sacrifice, a pattern that he finds unlikely if the sacrifice is entirely human. Collins concludes that the biblical narrative was constructed to have Abraham's act both be a sacrifice, and a test of Isaac's willingness to comply with Abraham's wishes. However, Collins rejects the rabbinic tradition that Isaac was a lamb, noting that the word for lamb (`êhéb) was not used for animals in Semitic languages. Collins also rejects any literal interpretation of the sacrifice as a test of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son on behalf of the world, because the sacrifice was intended to confirm Abraham's faithfulness to God's commands and to demonstrate that Abraham was not the one making the sacrifice. Instead, Collins argues that Isaac's obedience was itself the test of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice, and that the sacrifice was intended to strengthen both Abraham's faith and Isaac's obedience. Collins also rejects the suggestion that Isaac's obedience was necessary to fully complete the sacrifice, because the context of a sacrifice could not be established after the death of the victim. In addition, Collins rejects the suggestion that Isaac's obedience was absolutely necessary to the sacrifice, arguing that the original Hebrew text of the narrative does not require complete obedience to make the sacrifice valid. Collins concludes that the sacrifice was intended to persuade both Abraham and the world that Abraham was indeed the one making the sacrifice. Finally, Collins rejects any interpretation that suggests that the binding of Isaac was intended to be a foreshadowing of Jesus' sacrifice.
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