An addendum: I have done what I sometimes accuse others of doing – taking a literal approach to a biblical story. If I were to interpret the Abraham story as metaphorical, I would say that the ‘child’ is a representation of attachment, an idea which can be found in the Buddhist traditions. “Taken together, the four types of attachment are the main problems that Buddhists need to understand. The four types of attachment are: 1) sense objects; 2) opinions and views; 3) rites and rituals; and 4) self-hood.” Thus, Abraham is symbolic of the ego, which must detach from the self in order to release desire and thus, suffering.
In the western world, the idea would be to ‘give oneself to God’ which is the ultimate sacrifice. Personally, I must interpret the story this way, lest I continue to believe that Abraham was in a hypnotic trance, about to perform a reprehensible act.
A quote of which I am particularly fond iterates, “Having a child is like having your heart outside of your body.” The child in this parable, therefore, must be the ego, and when it is said that we must ‘die to the self’, it is meant that we must relinquish the ego to the universal spirit in order to know true peace, true love, oneness with all that there is. I’m just guessing here. But it sounds…right.