Eve's Children: The Biblical Stories Retold and Interpreted in Jewish and Christian Traditions

Eve's Children: The Biblical Stories Retold and Interpreted in Jewish and Christian Traditions

Eve's Children: The Biblical Stories Retold and Interpreted in Jewish and Christian Traditions

Eve's Children: The Biblical Stories Retold and Interpreted in Jewish and Christian Traditions

Synopsis

This volume is devoted to the biblical stories about Eve's children, Cain, Abel, and Seth, and to the rewritings and explanations of these stories in a variety of early Jewish and Christian sources (Old Testament Apocrypha, Philo of Alexandria, Targumim, the New Testament, Rabbinic and Kabbalistic texts, Christian-Gnostic and Patristic Literature). Attention is given also to post-biblical stories speaking about Eve's daughters and to traditions in which Cain is viewed as the son of the Devil. Three essays examine how the biblical stories were re-used and evaluated in modern fiction, from Clemens Brentano and Lord Byron to John Steinbeck's East of Eden.

Excerpt

The fifth annual symposium of the Department of Biblical Studies, University of Groningen, held in June 2001, was devoted to the reception of the biblical stories of Cain, Abel and Seth in various Jewish and Christian traditions. In accordance with the previous conferences, the emphasis was on early rewritings and interpretations, both within mainstream Judaism and Christianity and within marginal or sectarian groups. The proceedings are contained in this book, the fifth volume in the series Themes in Biblical Narrative.

The opening essay draws attention to the first mention of Eve's childbearing in the sentence which God pronounced on the woman after her transgression, and to interpretations of this sentence in biblical and early Jewish texts (Jacques van Ruiten). The studies by Florentino García Martínez, Lieve M. Teugels, and Marcel Poorthuis discuss further questions related to the coming into being of the second generation. They explain how the crime committed by Cain could lead commentators to believe that Eve's first child might not have been Adam's son but an offspring of the serpent, a wicked angel, or the Devil himself. Ancient interpreters were also puzzled by the fact that the Bible does not mention females of the same age as Cain and Abel. The articles show how the missing daughters were added in the Targumim, in rabbinic sources and in later speculations.

Several contributions deal with the tragic relationship between the first two brothers, Cain and Abel. The subject is introduced by Jan N. Bremmer who discusses fraternal relations, more particularly tensions between brothers and the theme of fratricide in Israel, Greece and Rome. Ed Noort analyses the Genesis account of Cain's killing of his brother in the light of the judicial texts of the Hebrew Bible. Hindy Najman argues that Philo's typological interpretation of the Cain and Abel narrative should be understood as an exercise in moral psychology and pedagogy. The somewhat enigmatic references to the voice of Abel in the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews are discussed by Ton Hilhorst, who concludes that the author presents Abel as the earliest example of true faith and as a prophet of future justice and salvation. Rick Benjamins offers a critical examination of two different interpretations of the Cain and Abel story in the works . . .

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