The discussion in class has made me think about the way Kierkegaard has interpreted the story of Abraham and Isaac. I think that one can interpret the story entirely in the realm of the ethical.
First of all, within the ethical realm there are some ethical principles that can trump others. For example, we are all taught as children not to lie. However, imagine you are hiding a Jewish friend and a Nazi asks if there is anyone in the house besides your family. It is obvious that the right thing to do is to lie to protect your friend.
Therefore, the moral of the Abraham story could be that whatever God says trumps or overrules any other moral law. Moral law states that it is important to help people, more important not to hurt people, and most important not to kill people. However, the purpose of this story could be to show that whatever God says overrules any other law. (Because clearly not everyone accepts this claim, we will say it is part of the Christian ethical realm).
I think that this interpretation still makes the Abraham story as disturbing as the Kierkegaard interpretation: God could command someone to steal, murder, or any number of awful tasks. However, I do not think that the Abraham story is an idiosyncratic event.
If God had said "squiggle" and Abraham had responded by jumping up and down for two days: that would be idiosyncratic. That story is completely meaningless and I am not able to understand it. However, one can understand what Abraham was asked to do and why it was difficult because this story is within the realm of the ethical.
Kierkegaard might respond by saying that Abraham was completely alone in his experience: that no one would believe he was sane or say that what he did was right. However, this "aloneness" is dependent on the fact that only Abraham heard God's commandment to kill Isaac. If a Christian was on the jury deciding whether to punish a man who had performed Abraham's task, he/she would be forced to punish the man because there is no proof of God's commandment. However, if a Christian (who believed that God's laws could trump other ethical laws) was asked by God to perform Abraham's task, then the Christian would take that commandment as the highest ethical law. In the same way, a mother might punish her child for lying but that does not mean that the child had to go beyond the ethical to find a reason for lying within the ethical.
I had just been thinking about this today and was wondering what everyone else thought about it.