In the western canon there are two paradigms for making the absent present and the present absent, one grown out of the Odyssey and the pictures of Greek polytheism, the other rooted in Genesis and the stories of Judaic monotheism. The classical treatment is in Erich Auerbach's magisterial Mimesis, a work deeply influenced by the historicism of Giambattista Vico and the idealism of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. The story of how God first summoned and then tested Abr(ah)am plays a pivotal role in all monotheistic religions. This strange sojourner who at the outset was called Abram, not Abraham, was already seventy-five years old when he entered into a covenant with the Lord. Although God's order to leave is non-negotiable, nothing is said about the final destination. At issue in Abr(ah)am's story is the issue of trust.
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