Photo by Erich Lessing

ON THE COVER: Abraham turns his troubled face aside as he draws back Isaac’s hair and presses a knife blade against his beloved son’s bare neck. Although most depictions of the sacrifice of Isaac illustrate the moment when God commands Abraham not to “lay [his] hand on the boy” (Genesis 22:12), this marble statue carved by Donatello and Nanni di Bartolo in 1421 portrays the tense instant before God releases the patriarch and his son. Abraham’s furrowed brow and Isaac’s fearful gaze reveal their anguish. The near sacrifice is only one in a series of crises that increase the tension created by God’s promise to make Abraham’s “offspring like the dust of the earth” (Genesis 13:16) and by Abraham’s lack of an heir, writes Larry R. Helyer in “Abraham’s Eight Crises—The Bumpy Road to Fulfilling God’s Promise of an Heir”. Only God’s intervention and Abraham’s faith can resolve the conflict, Helyer asserts.