||May 9 2001
Barnes & Noble.com
A radically different view of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, caught in a deadly love triangle, nearly culminating in the sacrifice of Isaac, the son of Sarah, who is portrayed as a high priestess serving Inanna, the goddess of Love and War.
The fast-paced, provocative, biblical novel explores the turbulent love triangle involving Abraham, his emotionally distant wife, Sarah, and her handmaid, Hagar, “the other woman,” who is assigned to give Abraham a son and becomes the love of his life.
The book culminates with Abraham’s near-fatal sacrifice of Isaac, the son born finally to the childless Sarah. The paperback novel, about the “First Family” of Jews, Christians and Muslims, offers an unconventional interpretation of the biblical story, with Sarah portrayed as a high priestess in service to Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of Love and War, while Abraham responds to the call of a new, single, invisible God.
The story is set against the pagan practices of the times, including Canaanite Moloch-worship, with its child sacrifices, and the erotic Sacred Marriage Rite performed by Sarah in Sumer, Egypt and Canaan.
Intriguing, Unconventional, Daring
Anyone who has ever been bothered—morally or ethically—by some of the events in the Bible may want to read “Abraham, The Dreamer.” Rolf Gompertz manages to examine the doubts and questions we have all felt when reading the story of Abraham and the near sacrifice of his son, Isaac.
Gompertz uses time-honored midrash-- the telling or retelling of a legend-- to achieve that end. He has examined the story of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, and their sons, Isaac and Ishmael as it is told in the Bible. Then he has studied interpretations by biblical philosophers, psychologists and other experts, and so given the ancient story new life, new meaning without losing any of its authentic qualities.
As Gompertz examines the possible motivations for the actions of the characters, the Biblical tale comes to life for even a casual reader looking for a good read. After all, as Gompertz says, his “primary concern is to shed light on the human condition.”
This biblical novel offers an intriguing, unconventional and daring interpretation of the life of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, the “First Family” of Jews, Christians and Muslims.
The biblical text tells us little about Sarah, but Gompertz’s version boldly suggests that Abraham’s wife is a high priestess serving Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of War and Love. Sarah, who has become pregnant when her religious order forbids that, orders the child killed.. Abraham revolts against this practice and, in that moment, hears the call of a new, singular, unseen God who tells him to go forth to a new and different land. Ironically, he is also told that he will become the father of a multitude.
Later, Sara feels alienated from her husband--spiritually, emotionally and physically. In desperation, she offers Abraham her handmaid, Hagar. It is her hope that they could have the child that had been denied to her. When she does so, she is unaware of the attraction that has already developed between her husband and the lovely young girl who is part of their household.
It is a matter of Biblical record that Hagar gives birth to Ishmael. When the jealous Sarah gives birth unexpectedly to Isaac, she breaks up the idyllic relationship between Abraham and Hagar, driving Abraham’s “other love” and her son, Ishmael, away forever.
Abraham has his difficulties trying to understand the will of his new God. In his despair over losing Hagar, he falls back on pagan sacrificial practices, and proceeds to sacrifice Isaac, believing that this is what his new God has asked of him. Ultimately, the book asks the difficult question: How can we ever know the will of God with certainty? In the final showdown between Abraham and Sarah, the author offers a surprising and startling answer to this question.
It should be noted that this Jewish author uses explicit language in his effort to meld the meanings of spiritual and physical love and how those relate to one’s life of worship. I appreciated that, though it was explicit, I never found it offensive.
I also found that reading about these people in the context of a love triangle made me look at many Biblical stories in a different light. The time, the place, the culture, and the evolution of religion all influence the thoughts and actions of people, then, now and forever more. We ought not forget that.
For Bible scholars the bibliography alone will be worth the price of the book.
About the reviewer: Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the award-winning “This is the Place” and the soon to be published “Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered.” Both books are set in Utah where the author was born and raised. Lern more about her and her books here on the authorsden web site:
Biblical Characters Come Alive
Rolf Gompertz has written a powerful, modern midrash on the life of Abraham, giving it a contemporary ring that makes the Biblical characters come alive and become very human. It has been meticulously researched and bears the mark of a master storyteller.
--Rabbi Moshe J. Rothblum, Adat Ari El, North Hollywood, CA
Lovely, Powerful, Important
Oh! Wow to the tenth power, Wow to infinity! You were born to write Abraham, the Dreamer! It is a wonderful gift that shows the story from the most human and the most authentic cultural dimension.
The psychological astuteness of the distance between Sarai (Sarah) and Abram (Abraham) resulting from their unresolved grief over that first lost child — then finding sweet resolution and reconciliation at the end, in addition to motivating the horrifying (Mt.) Moriah scene — (is) simply stunningly brilliant and plausible, in every way. Thank you for that! Rolf Gompertz, you are an angel of DAVAR (words). Thank you for being open to the courage to create this tender work. Blessings over your new, lovely, powerful and important book. I bet this one becomes a movie!
--Rev. Alla Renée Bozarth, Ph.D., Episcopal priest, author-poet, therapist, Sandy, Oregon. Author of The Book of Bliss and At the Foot of the Mountain (www.amazon.com)
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