BY FAITH ISAAC by Elsa Henderson


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Isaac does not often receive as much attention as other Judeo-Christian patriarchs, but Henderson (Wise Men Seek Him, 2011) explores the significance of his tale in her religious fiction novel.

The first part is told through flashback. A young Isaac asks his father about Yahweh and the covenant made with his family. Abraham answers Isaac's questions by revealing his own journey of faith, describing both spiritual highs—when he left his homeland at God's prompting, when he trusted God to help him defeat Kedorlaomer's army. But he also reveals his spiritual lows—when he referred to Sarah as his "sister" instead of his "wife," when he attempted to rush the covenant promise by conceiving a child with his wife's maidservant. Isaac's first opportunity to commit to his own faith comes when he demonstrates his willingness to become a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. From then on, the book shifts into the present and focuses on Isaac. His major challenge is believing that Yahweh will build his nation through Jacob, the second-born twin, rather than Esau, the firstborn. Since Yahweh conveyed this message to Isaac’s wife instead of Isaac himself, Isaac has a difficult time believing that the message is real. It takes him until the moment he is tricked into blessing Jacob before he learns to accept and fear God's will, thereby fully maturing his faith. Henderson successfully brings this section of biblical history to life by fleshing out the characters involved. Without additional perspective, it can be difficult to see biblical heroes positively when they act in unbecoming ways. The author also strengthens her presentation by demonstrating thorough research about the era's customs. Details about cultural practices, like the rules governing how nomads use land, give the book a solid backbone. This stability is only occasionally upset when a misplaced idiom, like "kick the bucket," is introduced, jarring the reader out of the ancient Middle East. Such stumbling blocks are minor, though.

The story may not be fresh, but the detail is rich and elaborate enough to make for a worthwhile read.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1490811246
Page count: 370pp
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Program: Kirkus Indie
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