Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

Either/Or: On Kierkegaard and Kafka's Different Interpretations of Abraham

Author: SHANG Jingjian, Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Liberal Arts, Renmin University of China



“The Binding of Issac” highlights the paradox of faith and the dilemma of ethics, and great thinkers throughout history have tried to interpret its logic or reasoning. In Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard considered Abraham as a representative of the religious stage of life. Kierkegaard believed that only through “fear” and passion, and through the “teleological suspension of the ethical,” could Abraham attain an absolute state beyond infinite renuncia-tion; and that Abraham’s action exemplified the power of “individual” and of “choice”. Kafka, on the other hand, was suspicious of Abraham’s ability to respond to God and ironically casted Abraham as a quixotic, ridiculous figure, revealing the limitation of human beings in a negative way and reflecting on the finite nature of Abraham. This essay argues that Kierkegaard and Kafka’s different interpretations of Abraham as “either/or” are due to their different beliefs and religious perspectives.



Kierkegaard, Kafka, Binding of Isaac, Abraham, "either/or"


Full Text (International Version):

SHANG JingjianSCN JSCC.pdf


Full Text (Simplified Chinese Version): 

SHANG JingjianSCN JSCC.pdf