Article Title

When Isaac Was a Priest

Document Type

Faculty Essay


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"On his deathbed, the patriarch Isaac received the important men from the city to talk to him. Among these men was an unnamed priest of God who requested Isaac to tell him a word (T. Isaac 4.8). In this moment, the Testament of Isaac11 depicts Isaac as a priestly authority who is able to instruct priests. If you have not read ancient narratives in which Isaac plays a role, but have only read Genesis, you might be confused: Why does it represent Isaac in this manner? Was Isaac a priest? Nonetheless, the Testament of Isaac does not make up this representation of Isaac from out of nothing. In what follows, I sketch out relevant events from Isaac’s narrative tradition to show that there was a tradition of Isaac as a priest that makes this representation not unexpected.12

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