By John Byron
The tale of Cain and Abel narrates the primeval occasions linked to the beginnings of the realm and humanity. however the presence of linguistic and grammatical ambiguities coupled with narrative gaps supplied translators and interpreters with a few issues of departure for increasing the tale. the result's a few good demonstrated and interpretive traditions shared among Jewish and Christian literature. This booklet specializes in how the interpretive traditions derived from Genesis four exerted major impact on Jewish and Christian authors who knew rewritten models of the tale. The objective is to aid readers savour those traditions in the broader interpretive context instead of in the slender confines of the canon.
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Additional info for Cain and Abel in Text and Tradition: Jewish and Christian Interpretations of the First Sibling Rivalry
The story was interpreted as a declared preference for sheep herding over farming by defining Cain’s actions as forcing things from the earth. Cain was depicted as one unable to avoid his own destiny since his name “possession” means that he attempted to own everything and was willing to force it from the ground if it fit his needs. On reflection, Cain is as much a victim in the story as is Abel. The lack of detail associated with Abel combined with the grammatical and linguistic ambiguities associated with Cain added to his notoriety as the first murderer and meant that Cain was destined to become the archetypical scapegoat for generations of interpreters.
44 Translation is taken from Kugel, Traditions of the Bible, 149. See also E. A. W. , The Cave of Treasures (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1927), 69. like father, like son 29 The source of the brother’s dispute is usually understood to be Cain’s rejected sacrifice which is also assumed to be his motivation for killing Abel. But the above texts give a more earthy reason as an explanation for the dispute. The first sibling rivalry was over a woman. 45 But even with the addition of one or more twin sisters, Cain and Abel are limited in their possible choices of women they could marry.
52). 55 As with the etymology of Cain’s name, interpreters used the meaning of Abel’s name to develop aspects of the story. 56 Although the canonical version of Cain and Abel left out details about their names, ancient interpreters were happy to fill in those gaps through their own interpretive reading. By reading the story this way, exegetes could demonstrate that even the names of Cain and Abel communicated a message about their lives and the way that God works in the world. With Cain in particular, the connection of his name with greed became a peg on which later exegetes could hang interpretive traditions about him.