I think I just read a passage in Hebrews that incidates that God is a great father, similar to Abraham… UPDATE: I promise this post is more than just noodling around with Greek grammar. Probably more worth reading than my other Hebrews posts.
In the NRSV, Hebrews 7 is translated as “Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline?” The word used for “treating” is προσφέρω, which has a variety of meanings but has occurred frequently in the letter in the sense of “offering a sacrifice.” Indeed, it occurred in chapter 11 in the description of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac: “By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up [προσέφερεν] his only son” (11:17). (Weirdly, “was ready to” seems to be supplied by the translation. The author is saying Abraham really did offer Isaac up, and then he figuratively received him from the dead, i.e., Isaac was as good as dead when the angel intervened.)
Earlier in chapter 12, the author says his readers haven’t yet endured to the point of shedding blood, and obviously Christ’s blood is a huge deal in the chapters leading up to this. It appears that the author is thinking that we’re to follow the “pioneer of our faith” all the way, ideally to the point of death — then we prove ourselves to be “children of the promise” whom God (like Abraham) will receive back from the dead.
Hebrews may be trying to “deconstruct” or render “inoperative” the logic of sacrifice, but by setting his readers free from the necessity of animal scapegoats through Christ’s “once and for all” sacrifice, he is paradoxically pushing the logic of sacrifice onto them. We’re set free from the logic of sacrificing others, so that we can then completely sacrifice ourselves. In fact, all our sufferings will perfect and complete the sufferings of the heroes of faith! (Perhaps one should hear a reference to Paul’s notion of completing what was lacking in Christ’s suffering.)
This may be the point in the New Testament where the Christian logic Nietzsche critiques, whereby God’s self-sacrifice proves to be a “consolidation loan,” takes shape most clearly. To me, it’s a pretty appalling vision. Perhaps the strategy of trying to escape sacrifice by redoubling the sacrifice… simply redoubles sacrifice.