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I mean, if someone hits you, offer him your other cheek to strike again! It is the madness of a view to the uttermost depths of humanity. Anyway, the temptation with the story of these patriarchs is to see them as all too modern. But they weren't. The world of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was almost incomprehensibly different from our own. From the brilliance of the stars in a sky of crushing darkness, through to the caprice of kings unbound by any sorts of laws and the walking of a world thick with gods and demons, it was a time utterly unlike our own, rule bound, desacralised era.

The physical and the spiritual were bound so tightly together that an oath before God might be made by cupping one's testicles, the seed of the future - or having someone else hold them as pledge and troth! It was a world so strange as to be all but incomprehensible. But people are people, whatever the gulfs of culture. What Buechner does here is hold in creative tension the chasm and the closeness, making these strange people, the fathers and mothers of nations, understandable without ever minimising the huge gulf in understanding that separates them from us.

Jacob means Heels but he is renamed, in the course of the book and the Bible, Israel, which means he who wrestles with God. No more apt description of the Jewish people has ever been written: for they are the people who wrestle with God. The struggle continues. Most Biblically-inspired literature is full of pious platitudes. Son of Laughter is full of the fierce strangeness of the book that inspired and informs it. So, if you can't bring yourself to sit down and read the Bible, read Son of Laughter for an insight into the fractured, fracturing meeting point of the human and the divine.

In the book, Jacob's name for God is the Fear. That is the beginning of wisdom. Oct 15, Emily rated it really liked it. This is my second time reading this beautiful book. Luck, blessing, dreams, love, life, death, trickery, cleverness, betrayal I am interested to see what my book club thinks of it. Jun 09, Tabitha rated it it was amazing Shelves: poignant , contemporary-lit , well-written , 1st-person , biblical-fiction , lots-o-sex.

I first became acquainted with this book after reading an excerpt of it in another book, and decided then and there to read it.


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The Son of Laughter is a retelling of the story of Jacob and by extension, Issac, Joseph, and even maybe Abraham - his life, his family, and his encounters with God. Frederick Buechner is, first of all, a fantastic writer. His prose is elegant. His retelling is delightfully detailed and imaginative, while still faithful enough to the Biblical text enough to to satisfy I first became acquainted with this book after reading an excerpt of it in another book, and decided then and there to read it.

His retelling is delightfully detailed and imaginative, while still faithful enough to the Biblical text enough to to satisfy the most literalist of fundamentalists. The characters are sympathetic and relatable, despite the fact that their culture s could be considered radically alien to our own.

I may be a bit biased in favor, however - I love ancient anthropology, but I could understand if other readers are turned off by the mindsets and mannerisms of the characters. It made me want to do more research, just to see how accurate all the depictions were. And not in a sexy way; this is old-timey, ancient world, superstitious, temple-prostitute, polygamist, people-getting-horny-with-sheep kind of sex, sex that had little to nothing to do with love and everything to do with reproduction.

We see that reproduction and lineage was so fundamental that the most important and binding of oaths were sworn by guys cupping each others balls English translations of the Bible put it more delicately with the euphemism "placing the hand under the thigh" , that infertility was everyone's worst nightmare, that child-sacrifice was not considered to be cruelty, but rather the highest and most dreadful act of devotion.

It is steeped in this culture that God makes his promise to Abraham, that his seed would outnumber the stars, that Sarah would have a child in her old age, and instructs that every male be circumcised in reminder. It is in this culture that God reiterates the promise to Jacob, after he is fleeing from his own brother after stealing his father's blessings of fruitfulness. When the common gods are made from wood and clay and metal and are tied to their land, gods who can be cajoled into bestowing their favor, we realize how strange it is for there to be a god without an image, a god with "no dwelling place," whose promises and favor seem arbitrary.

This is a possible depiction of early Judaism at its very earliest. I will definitely keep my eye out for more Buechner in the future. View 1 comment.

The Son of Laughter

Oct 07, Emily rated it it was amazing. This book was an incredible read. I rarely encounter a book draws me in to a familiar world and so thoroughly changes how I see that world. This is a creative telling of the life of Jacob, the biblical patriarch. For someone accustomed to Sunday School Old Testament lessons, Beuchner's story telling did not gently expand my imagination- he exploded it with force and beauty and some terror too. After reading this book I am floored by the grace and mystery of God.

Son Of Laughter was very help Wow. Son Of Laughter was very helpful for helping me develop a more robust theology that goes far beyond Sunday School, yet stays within the bounds of what I think is faithful Bible reading. Jan 05, Dylan rated it it was amazing Shelves: general-fiction. When another person puts into words what I want to say better than I ever could on my own, I have no qualms quoting them. And so here is Joel's review: "Whenever he applies his re-imagination to the story of a saint or of characters in the Bible, Buechner always manages in his own way to 1 capture how radically foreign these characters are to my own perspective, experience and sensibilities, and 2 to work out in a ramshackle way what it could look like to embody what it means to be God's bles When another person puts into words what I want to say better than I ever could on my own, I have no qualms quoting them.

And so here is Joel's review: "Whenever he applies his re-imagination to the story of a saint or of characters in the Bible, Buechner always manages in his own way to 1 capture how radically foreign these characters are to my own perspective, experience and sensibilities, and 2 to work out in a ramshackle way what it could look like to embody what it means to be God's blessing to the world. This re-crafting of Jacob's story from the book of Genesis is a shining example. Jan 22, Janyre Tromp rated it really liked it. It's obvious why Buechner was nominated for a Pulitzer.

His descriptions are inventive with startling clarity even inside their unfamiliarity. My only complaint is the author's jump to Joseph's story at the end Jacob's dreaming of his son's life is so vivid and detailed that it loses the dream sense and merely tells the story from Joseph's point of view. Dec 16, George rated it it was amazing. Be wary of God's blessings Sep 02, Jim rated it did not like it. Here's a tip. Don't waste your time. If you want a better and the true story of Joseph read your Bible.

How do these crap recommendations keep showing up in my Goodreads Historical Fiction feed? Aug 31, Stephen Case rated it really liked it. The beautiful always surprise us. Godric remains a favorite. This latest, The Son of Laughter , was recommended by a good friend, and it tells the story of the Biblical patriarch Ja The beautiful always surprise us.

This latest, The Son of Laughter , was recommended by a good friend, and it tells the story of the Biblical patriarch Jacob, the son of Isaac whose name means laughter , the son of Abraham, who was a friend of God. The story is familiar—or at least the bones of the story are—to anyone who has read the Old Testament account. But what is truly wonderful about this book is the way Buechner takes the familiar Sunday school account and restores the foreignness and the strangeness that our familiarity with the story has worn away.

Buechner takes the reader back to the earthy, alien, near-savage, almost pagan reality of a dusty tribe of desert nomads who have a peculiar relationship with an unusually singular deity. And he does this while remaining true to the source material yet simultaneously resisting the urge to color the entire account with an obvious Christological teleology as would no doubt be the case in your standard Family Christian Bookstore retelling.

Surprisingly, this helps explain some things like circumcision that seem inexplicable to our modern sensibilities. The moon is a shepherd with a pitted face. He herds the stars. Yet this portion remains integral to the story, because the consummation of the promise is so wrapped up in what happens to Joseph in Egypt. The book ends without any sentimental reassurances about God or his promise to Israel. Buechner leaves the reader with only the glimmer of a greater hope on the horizon. Along the way though, he expertly shows the story of the patriarchs through eyes that make them simultaneously incredibly alien and richly alive.

The Fear gives to the empty-handed, the empty-hearted. Trust him though you cannot see him and he has no silver hand to hold. Trust him though you have no name to call him by, though out of the black night he leaps like a stranger to cripple and bless. Aug 02, Jonathan Hiskes rated it it was amazing. Buechner retells the action-packed Biblical story of Jacob. The novel is bawdy, salty, funny, vivid, violent, crude, heartbreaking--exactly what I needed to rescue the saga from the over-familiarity of Sunday School versions.

I've read this novel, my favorite from one of my favorite authors, three times or so, and it's been as life-giving as any an preaching, imagining, analyzing, or parsing of Scripture I've ever found. Even with Buechner retells the action-packed Biblical story of Jacob.

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The children were everywhere. They were into everything. One by one they learned to crawl and walk. They learned to talk after a fashion as well as to scream and to make your ears ring with their shrill laughter. They learned to poke and pinch and slap. Before they learned to take care of their needs outside, the house stank worse than the narrow, sun-baked streets of Haran with their little mounds and puddles. They shattered the nights with their wails.

I was like a man caught out in a storm with the wind squalling, the sand flailing me across the eyes, the chilled rain pelting me. The children were the storm, I thought, until one day, right in the thick of it, I saw the truth of what the children were. Three of them were trying to shove a fourth into a basket. Dinah was fitting her foot into her mouth.

The air was foul with the smell of them. That is what I suddenly saw the children were. I had forgotten it. They were the dust that would cover the earth. The great people would spring from their scrawny loins. Mar 17, Israel Drazin rated it it was amazing. The book is about the three patriarchs. I can understand why some religious people who accept what the Bible states literally and who prefer to see the biblical figures in the best possible light, even totally sinless, may dislike the book because Buechner depicts the patriarchs in a human way, with many faults.

Jacob, “Son of Laughter”

He even imagines members of the family not getting along with others, even Rebecca frequently finding fault with her husband Isaac and saying she should be beaten for her bad behavior. On the other hand, the story is interesting. For example, Buechner suggests that Jacob preferred to give Ephraim the better blessing than he gave to his older brother Menashe because Ephraim looked like his beloved dead wife Rachel. And although readers may dislike thinking thoughts such as Abraham having bad breath, the story and the way it is told makes readers think.

I'm not totally sure what to think of this book, but I like it. It's raw! The Bible already pulls no punches, but this the story of Jacob told while the censors were at lunch.

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It's the Biblical narrative with the cultural color commentary added showing Isaac, Jacob, Esau, and I'm not totally sure what to think of this book, but I like it. It's the Biblical narrative with the cultural color commentary added showing Isaac, Jacob, Esau, and all their attending family and cohorts as crude and blunt and culturally shocking as they probably really were. They grab each other's testicles to make oaths on their seed, one or two of them have sex with sheep, they throw dung at each other like monkeys, and they have a very unsure and immature relationship with God whom they call "The Fear".

They really knew so little of God in those early days of revelation and they were people of dirt, sand, rocks, animal husbandry, polygamy, leftover polytheism, and tent-dwelling, so I think this book gives us a good unfiltered look into their story. Yes, is no flannel-graph Sunday school lesson of Jacob and his 12 sons, but it makes you think and it makes these forefathers of ours more real than I've ever felt them to be. Abraham is shown about to sacrifice Isaac while the latter stands or kneels on the ground beside the altar. Sometimes Abraham grasps Isaac by the hair. Occasionally the ram is added to the scene and in the later paintings the Hand of God emerges from above.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the name, see Isaac name. For other uses, see Isaac disambiguation. Isaac digging for the wells , imagined in a Bible illustration c. Abraham father Sarah mother. Esau Jacob. Main article: Binding of Isaac. Main article: Isaac in Islam. Judaism portal Christianity portal Islam portal.

Evans; Joel N. Lohr; David L. Petersen 20 March In Singer, Isidore ; Adler, Cyrus ; et al. Jewish Encyclopedia. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews Marshall. Morgan and Scott, pp. American Journal of Archaeology. Adam to David according to the Bible. Names in italics only appear in the Greek Septuagint version. Prophets in the Hebrew Bible. Israelite prophets in the Torah.

Mentioned in the Former Prophets. Italics indicate persons whose status as prophets is not universally accepted. Prophets in the Quran.

The Son of Laughter - PDF Free Download

Idris Enoch? Nuh Noah. Hud Eber? Saleh Salah? Ibrahim Abraham. Lut Lot. Ismail Ishmael. Yaqub Jacob. Yusuf Joseph. Ayyub Job. Shuayb Jethro? Musa Moses. Harun Aaron. Dhul-Kifl Ezekiel?

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Daud David. Ilyas Elijah. Al-Yasa Elisha. Yunus Jonah. Zakaria Zechariah. Yahya John. Isa Jesus. Muhammad Muhammad. Yet another factor leading to the belief that the Bible is bereft of humor is that people fail to understand the context of the passages they read. This opening article in our best humor in the Bible series explores the first few occurrences of the rarely used word "laughter" or variation thereof found in Holy writ.

Its initial use is related to the ratification of God's important covenant with Abram Abraham. We will discover how humor played an active role in the Lord fulfilling his promise to Abram Genesis - 5 that he would ultimately produce a child with Sarah. It will be through this miraculous "son of laughter" that Abraham's descendants will ultimately number as the stars in heaven verse 5! The first time laughter is referenced in the Bible is in Genesis Abraham is informed by the Lord that he and his wife Sarah, who is barren Genesis , will produce their first son.

When this promise is made the "father of the faithful" is ninety-nine years old Genesis , 17 and Sarah is eighty-nine. Sarah had already experience menopause many years prior and Abraham's body was too old to procreate Romans Abraham, after he is promised a son, finds humor in the fact that the Lord waited until he and his wife were quite old before making it possible for them to conceive!

He laughs Genesis , not because he doubts the Eternal's power Romans - 21 , but out of joy that he will be a father when he turns ! Abraham's laughing is noticed by the Lord, who also finds humor in the miracle.


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  • God, no doubt in response to his friend's joy, decides to perform the rare act of naming the child himself! He declares the son's name will be Isaac, which in Hebrew means, "he laughs" or " laughter " Genesis The Lord, taking the form of a man, a short time later visits Abraham in the plains of Mamre.