Great book. Challenging, but great.
Now...on to something a little more mindless for a while.
Abraham gets as much credit out of the sacrifice of Isaac as he does from his own adventure on the altar--he had already risked his own life countless times; how much dearer to him in his old age was the life of his only son and heir! And since the two sacrifices typify the same thing, nothing is lost to Abraham and much is gained for Isaac by omitting the earlier episode from the Bible. But that episode left an indelible mark in the record. The learned Egyptologist who in 1912 charged Joseph Smith with reading the sacrifice of Isaac into Facsimile 1 and the story of Abraham was apparently quite unaware that ancient Jewish writers of whom Joseph Smith knew nothing told the same story that he did about Abraham on the altar. The important thing for the student of the Book of Abraham is that the sacrifice of Abraham was remembered--and vividly recalled in non-biblical sources--as a historical event. This makes it almost certain that it was a real event, for nothing to the supreme glory of Abraham would do definite damage to Isaac's one claim to fame. If the binding on the altar...was to be the "unique glory of Isaac," it was entirely in order to quietly drop the earlier episode of Abraham that anticipates and overshadows it, just as it is right and proper to forget that the hero was once called Abram.
When Israel finally returns to God and goes to Abraham for instruction, we are told that instead of teaching them himself, he will refer them to Isaac, who will in turn pass them on to Jacob and so on down to Moses--it is from the latest prophet of the latest dispensation that the people receive instruction. On this principle the only words of the Father in the New Testament are those which introduce his Son and turn all the offices of the dispensation over to him.
Edwin R. Bevin noted long ago that the ancients have left us not a single instance in which men were supposed to have conversed with Zeus (in contrast with Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses, who each conversed with God); all revelation came to the gentiles through voices, letters from heaven, natural objects, omens, inspired utterance (dreams, fits, etc.). In the late times we hear of messages from the oracle of Ammon of both the Egyptians and the Greeks, but they were all delivered by sortes (lots, dice, books, moving statues, etc.). It is important to bear this in mind, lest we fall into the error of supposing that the religion of Abraham and Israel was simply another tribal superstition or an offshoot from the archaic order. Between the gospel and the numerous spin-offs from the pristine faith taought by Adam to his children, there is all the difference between light and darkness--and the Egyptians felt the difference most keenly. (pg. 234)
But Abraham's most famous lesson in tolerance was a favorite story of Benjamin Franklin, a story which as been traced back as far as a thirteenth-century Arabic writer and may be much older. The prologue to the story is the visit of three angels to Abraham, who asked him what he charged for meals; the price was only that the visitor "invoke the name of God before beginning and prasie it when you finish." But one day the patriarch entertained an old man who would pray neither before eating nor after, explaining to Abraham that he was a fire worshiper. His indignant hose thereupon denied him further hospitality and the old man went his way. But very soon the voice of the Lord came to Abraham, saying: "I have suffered him these hundred years, although he dishonored me; and thou couldst not endure him one night, when he gave thee no trouble?" Overwhelmed with remorse, Abraham rushed out after his guest and brought him back in honor: "Go though and do likewise," ends the story, "and they charity will be rewarded by the God of Abraham." In the oldest version of the story the Lord says, "Abraham! For a hundred years the divine bounty has flowed out...to this man: is it for thee to withhold thy hand from him because his worship is not thing?" One is strongly reminded of the Nephite law, which declared it "strictly contrary tot he commands of God" to penalize one's neighbor if he does not choose to believe in God (Alma 30:7)