Cain and Abel in Text and Tradition: Jewish and Christian by John Byron

By John Byron

The tale of Cain and Abel narrates the primeval occasions linked to the beginnings of the area 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 tested and interpretive traditions shared among Jewish and Christian literature. This booklet makes a speciality of how the interpretive traditions derived from Genesis four exerted major effect on Jewish and Christian authors who knew rewritten models of the tale. The aim 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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Extra resources for Cain and Abel in Text and Tradition: Jewish and Christian Interpretations of the First Sibling Rivalry

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37 A creative approach to the birth of Abel and the related issue of sisters in the Genesis account is found in Targum Pseudo-Jonathon. Here we are not told the name of the daughter nor is it ever mentioned if she became Cain’s wife. But what is emphasized is that the daughter is Abel’s twin sister and, thus, not related to Cain. This specificity is communicated by making two additions to the Hebrew text of Gen 4:2a. Then, from Adam her husband she bore his twin sister and Abel (Tg. -J. Gen 4:2) Prior to this statement the translator has already added the claim that Cain was the result of a sexual encounter between Eve and Sammael.

As noted above, in Gen 4:17 Cain takes a wife who bears him a child. But where did this woman come from? So far Genesis has only named four members in the first family. By interpreting the birth narratives as including twins, the exegetes were able to solve this problem. Cain’s wife was his sister. Rabbi Miasha said: Cain was born, and his wife, his twin-sister, with him. Rabbi Simeon said to him: Has it not already been said, “And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter and see her nakedness; it is a shameful thing”?

G. P. Luttikhuizen Leiden: Brill, 2003), 113, 115; John Byron, “Living in the Shadow of Cain: Echoes of a Developing Tradition in James 5:1–6,” NovT 48 (2006): 265–66. 17 Josephus does not use these two terms. He describes both brothers as offering a θυσια. But Josephus does agree with Philo that the difference between Cain and Abel’s sacrifice was that Cain was a greedy individual who forced it from the ground (Ant. 53–54). 44 chapter two Was it a problem of timing? While some interpreters focused on the quality of the offering Cain presented to God others questioned whether it was a problem of timing that caused God to reject Cain’s sacrifice.

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