The Sacrifice of Silence: Fear and Trembling and the Secret of Faith

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Abstract

This article examines the important hermeneutical and theological relation between silence and sacrifice in Søren Kierkegaard's (1813–55) divisively enigmatic Fear and Trembling. I contend that this relation becomes clearest when the silence of Abraham is explicated in relation to his esoteric proclamation that ‘God himself will provide a lamb for the burnt offering’. In Abraham's reply to Isaac, the secret of Abraham's faith is concomitantly revealed (as a trust in the notion that ‘with God all things are possible’) and concealed (as a paradoxically ‘impossible’ possibility which cannot be adequately conveyed to ‘the other’). This thereby proposes a qualitative distinction between Abraham's reverent silence before God and his aporetic silence before the other.

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