Monday, April 16, 2012

The story of Cain examined

One of the biggest discrepancies with the Adam and Eve tale is found in the tale of Cain and Abel. The discrepancy I would like to address specifically is that of Cain's concerns after hearing the curse that God had imposed upon him for the murder of his brother Abel. In order to examine this discrepancy I will be citing verses relevant to this post from the book of Genesis chapter 4 and I will be citing exclusively from the New Jerusalem translation of the scriptures.

The first thing to note is that Adam and Eve did not have sex nor children according to the scriptures until they were cast out of the garden of Eden. Although, when they were first put into the garden they were given the instruction to be fruitful and multiply. The fact that this story is supposed to be a story of origins of all living things including the human race is evident in chapter 3 verse 20 which states:' The man named his wife 'Eve' because she was the mother of all those who live.' I mention this because one of my posters commented that the bible does not say that Adam's family were the only inhabitants of the Earth. He/she meant this as a lame defense of what will follow shortly in this post.

After being cast out of the garden the tale picks up again in chapter 4:1-2: 1 'The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. 'I have acquired a man with the help of Yahweh,' she said.2 'She gave birth to a second child, Abel, the brother of Cain. Now Abel became a shepherd and kept flocks, while Cain tilled the soil.' So according to these verses Cain and Abel were in fact the original couples first born sons. This confirms my statement in the second paragraph about them not having intercourse till they were first cast from the garden.

Now the biblical narrative states that Cain and Abel both came before the Lord each with his offerings and that God accepted Abel's offering but rejected Cain's. Why God rejected Cain's offering is not relevant to this post so I wont touch on that at this time. In a fit of rage Cain kills his brother in the field and when God finds out about it he imposes a curse upon Cain. Cain's response to this curse being imposed upon him is very interesting:'  Look, today you drive me from the surface of the earth. I must hide from you, and be a restless wanderer on earth. Why, whoever comes across me will kill me!' Genesis 4:14 Problem number one; who is Cain concerned about if his parents and himself are the only inhabitants of the Earth?

In Genesis 4:16-17 we have our second discrepancy with this story:16 'Cain left Yahweh's presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.17 Cain had intercourse with his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. He became the founder of a city and gave the city the name of his son Enoch.' That's right! It's pretty obvious what the discrepancy is here. How was Cain able to find a wife in another land if according to the scriptures his was the first family on the face of the Earth? This my faithful readers is the discrepancy I was referring to when I was speaking about the poster who claimed that the bible did not state that Adam's family were the only humans on the Earth. But as I have shown in Gen. 3:20 that is what the bible states. It says that Eve was the "mother of all who live."

I have two theories about how to explain this discrepancy. The first is pretty straightforward and simple: the story of human origins as depicted in Genesis is nothing more than local legends and myths not meant to be taken literally. By local, I mean that those people of that region held those beliefs and that those beliefs were unique to that particular culture. Although they may have borrowed some elements from other cultures that they might have previously been exposed to. The second solution is that whoever wrote chapter four regarding Cain, his curse, and subsequent lineage was not the same author of chapter 4 from verses 1-12. It's quite possible that verses 13-26 were a later addition to the story or as scholars like to call it an interpolation.

The two solutions that I have proposed above are in my opinion the only way that one can logically make sense of the discrepancy and blatant contradictory nature of the second half of the tale. Anything else would be speculation and based entirely on assumptions that have no ground to stand on and do not make any sense with the facts as outlined in the story.

In conclusion the Genesis stories about origins are nothing more and nothing less than just another one of many of the worlds creation myths. There is nothing historically true about these tales and the existence of its main characters is itself in question.  As in many ancient cultures that preceded science these tales were made up by the elders to help the people deal with the question; Where did we come from?

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