The story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar is one of the most potent in the Bible. With their jealousies and passions, doubts and anxieties, they are among the first western cultural icons to be racked by such modern ailments as self-doubt and inner turmoil. In this way their heirs are not only Jacob, Jesus, and Mohammad, but also Hamlet and Ahab, the Reverend Dimmesdale and Isabel Archer, Anna Karenina, Mrs. Dalloway, and Jane Eyre. What's more, the settlers' aggression in the West Bank, a president's reference to the "axis of evil," and Osama bin Laden's stated hatred of the West are just a few examples of how this myth lives on, how Hagar's children and Sarah's children struggle against each other, just as their mothers once did.
So how did this ancient tale, a creation story as important as the Garden of Eden, become one of the most frequently misrepresented of all western stories? Perhaps it's because it has been trumped by the Christian emphasis on the New Testament, or by the horrific tale of Abraham's near slaying of his son on Mount Moriah, or else it has been obscured by secular modernity's general contempt for Scripture. There is also the troubling fact that so many church fathers, rabbis, and Islamic scholars have traditionally downplayed the importance of women, and the love between men and women, in the shaping of each religion.
In addition to The Woman Who Named God: Abraham's Dilemma and the Birth of Three Faiths, Charlotte Gordon is the author of two books of poetry (When the Grateful Dead Came to St. Louis and Two Girls on a Raft), and Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Story of America's First Poet, the critically acclaimed biography of 17th-Century poet Anne Bradstreet.
Charlotte Gordon received her undergraduate degree from Harvard College and a Ph.D. from Boston University. As a post-doctoral fellow she taught Religion & Literature int he Department of Theology and was a lecturer in Elie Wiesel's seminar, "The Literature of Memory." She is currently a professor of English at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts. For more on Charlotte Gordon see www.charlottegordonbooks.com.