The Akedah and the Oedipus Myth
This chapter deals with the ethic of inner retreat in light of the biblical myth dealing with the akedah (the binding of Isaac). Ostensibly, this text reflects a worldview antithetical to the ethic of inner retreat. The akedah story empowers the active subject, as sovereignty attempts to do, but is far more drastic in that it is concretized in the negation of the other’s very existence. Moreover, it comes forth in the unique relationship between father and son. Contrary to this accepted view, I claim that the akedah myth is one of the earliest expressions of the ethic of inner retreat. In its role as a text constituting culture, this myth illustrates the stages of the course the individual must pass through—from exaggerated self-empowerment as subject up to a retreat enabling the other, in this case the son, to be present. The myth is not an ethical theory and its language is thus descriptive rather than articulated in philosophical terms. The interpreter’s role is thus to rescue the theoretical position from its implicit formulation in the story.