The Genesis story of Cain's murder of Abel is often told as a simplistic contrast between the innocence of Abel and the evil of Cain. This book subverts that reading of the Biblical text by utilising Giorgio Agamben's concepts of homo sacer, the state of exception and the idea of sovereignty to re-examine this well-known tale of fratricide and bring to the fore its political implications. Drawing from political theory, philosophy, and psychoanalysis, this book creates a theoretical framework from which to do two things: firstly, to describe and analyse the history of interpretation of Genesis 4:1-16, and secondly to propose an alternative reading of the Biblical text that incorporates other texts inside and outside of the Biblical canon. This intertextual analysis will highlight the motives of violence, law, divine rule, and the rejected as they emerge in different contexts and will evaluate them in an Agambenian framework. The unique approach of this book makes it vital reading for any academic with interests in Biblical Studies and Theology and their interactions with politics and ethics.
This book offers a new framework for reading the Bible as a work of reason.
For few verses in the Bible is the relationship between scripture and the artistic imagination more intriguing than for the conclusion of Genesis 4:15: And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, that whosoever found him should not kill him. What was the mark of Cain? The answers set before us in this sensitive study by art historian Ruth Mellinkoff are sometimes poignant, frequently surprising. An early summary of rabbinic answers, for examples runs as follows: R. Judah said: He caused the orb of the sun to shine on his account. Said R. Nehemiah to him: For that wretch He would cause the orb of the sun to shine! Rather, he caused leprosy to break out on him.... Rab said: He gave him a dog. Abba Jose said: He made a horn grow out of him. Rab said: He made him an example to murderers. R. Hanin said: He made him an example to penitents. R. Levi said in the name of R. Simeon b. Lakish: He suspended judgment until the flood came and swept him away. After a review of such early Jewish and Christian exegesis, Mellinkoff divides physical interpretations on the mark into three groups: A Mark on Cain's Body, A Movement of Cain's Body, and A Blemish Associated with Cain's Body. Her discussion of these groups is the heart of her study and offers its richest examples of interplay among medieval art and imaginative literature, on the one hand, and biblical exegesis, on the other. Thus in one remarkable tour de force, she shows us how a poetic misprision of Genesis 4:24 - Sevenfold vengeance will be taken for Cain: but for Lamech seventy times sevenfold - made Lamech the murderer of Cain; how there then grew up the legend that Lamech, a hunter, had killed Cain when he mistook him for an animal; how from that, the notion that the mark of Cain was a horn or horns on Cain's head arose (in the poignant formulation of the Tanhuma Midrash: Oh father, you have killed something that resembles a man except it has a horn on its forehead!); and how from that, in the maturity of the legend, there flowered Cornish drama, Irish saga, and stunning reliefs of a dying, antlered Cain in the cathedrals of Vezelay and Autun. Like Genesis 4:15 itself, 'The Mark of Cain' is suggestive rather than comprehensive. Concluding chapters on Intentionally Distorted Interpretations of Cain's Mark and Cain's Mark and the Jews bring the history down to our own day, but Mellinkoff does not claim to have said the last word on the subject. Her achievement is neither documentary nor exegetical but rather demonstrative: she shows us with brilliant economy how the artistic imagination functioned in a world whose intellectual definition was a closed canonical text.
The Curse of Cain confronts the inherent ambiguities of biblical stories on many levels and, in the end, offers an alternative, inspiring reading of the Bible that is attentive to visions of plenitude rather than scarcity, and to an ethics based on generosity rather than violence. "[A] provocative and timely examination of the interrelationship of monotheism and violence. . . . This is a refreshing alternative to criticism-biblical and otherwise-that so often confuses interpretation with closure; it is an invitation to an ethic of possibility, plenitude, and generosity, a welcome antidote to violence, as important for its insights into memory, identity, and place as for its criticism of monotheism's violent legacy."—Booklist "Brilliant and provocative, this is a work demanding close attention from critics, theologians, and all those interested in the imaginative roots of common life."—Rowan Williams, Bishop of Monmouth "A stunningly important book."—Walter Brueggemann, Theology Today "Artfully rendered, endlessly provocative."—Lawrence Weschler, New Yorker
Do you know a Cain at work? The back-stabbing liar who steals credit for your ideas... The a**-kissing co-worker who worries about "face time" while you stay late working hard... The gossipy colleague who spreads rumors just to create drama in the office. If any of these people sound familiar, watch out: a Cain is lurking, ready to sabotage your job, your promotion, and even your reputation at work. Written by two veteran media and political strategists, Cain and Abel at Work will help you survive the ultimate political arena—the office—and prepare you for the real-world interpersonal dynamics they don't teach you in business school. In the Old Testament story that serves as the beginning metaphor for this book, backstabbing Cain kills the honorable Abel out of jealousy, and despite being punished with banishment, he goes on to marry, have a son, and build a city around him. All of a sudden, Cain gets to be a father, real estate developer, and probably the first politician of his day, while Abel's life is over in a flash. Authors Gerry Lange and Todd Domke have discovered that this type of injustice is still alive and well in the modern competitive workplace. Together, they have decades of personal experience and first-hand encounters with scheming, calculating Cains, and now they're giving readers an invaluable guide for coping with and combating Cain at work. Using real-life case studies to illustrate how Cains operate, Cain and Abel at Work will teach you how to: Identify the Cains before they make you their victim Recognize the tactics Cains use to gain status and power Win out over Cains without stooping to their level With compelling new insight into human behavior and competition developed from the authors' experience in the political, media, and business arenas, Cain and Abel at Work explains what motivates both Cains and Abels at work. Not only does this book explore and deplore the behavior of Cains, it also explains how the simple naïveté of Abels allows Cains to get away with their shenanigans. If anyone has ever stolen an idea from you or grabbed credit for your work, if they've taken advantage of or walked all over you, you need this book. Cain and Abel at Work is an office survival guide no well-intentioned Abel should be without. From the Hardcover edition.
In The Mark of Cain, Katharina von Kellenbach draws on letters exchanged between clergy and Nazi perpetrators, written notes of prison chaplains, memoirs, sermons, and prison publications to illuminate the moral and spiritual struggles of perpetrators after the war.
Here, for the first time, in his new book The Rage Against God, Peter Hitchens, brother of prominent atheist Christopher Hitchens, chronicles his personal journey through disbelief into a committed Christian faith. With unflinching openness and intellectual honesty, Hitchens describes the personal loss and philosophical curiosity that led him to burn his Bible at prep school and embrace atheism in its place. From there, he traces his experience as a journalist in Soviet Moscow, and the critical observations that left him with more questions than answers, and more despair than hope for how to live a meaningful life.With first-hand insight into the blurring of the line between politics and the Church, Hitchens reveals the reasons why an honest assessment of Atheism cannot sustain disbelief in God. In the process, he provides hope for all believers who, in the words of T. S. Eliot, may discover “the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Looks at the wisdom of nature and of man as seen through an interpreation of the book of Genesis.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were tempted to take a bite out of an apple that promised them the "knowledge of good and evil." Today, a shiny apple with a bite out of it is the symbol of Apple Computers. The age of the Internet has speeded up human knowledge, and it also provides even more temptation to know more than may be good for us. Americans have been right at the forefront of the digital revolution, and we have felt its unsettling effects in both our religions and our politics. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite argues that we long to return to the innocence of the Garden of Eden and not be faced with countless digital choices. But returning to the innocence of Eden is dangerous in this modern age and, instead, we can become wiser about the wired world.
In the most radical rereading of the opening chapters of Genesis since the Zohar, David Kishik reveals the post-secular and post-human implications of an ancient text that is part of our cultural DNA.
Discusses the problem of evil, the Bible narrative, and the teachings of Jesus in the light of the age old conflict between God and the Devil.
The Bible is fundamental to Western culture. Political philosophers from Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau to modern political theorists such as George H. Sabine, Leo Strauss, and Sheldon S. Wolin have drawn upon biblical examples. American political leaders, such as Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, and William Jennings Bryan all drew heavily upon the Bible. Today, most contemporary politicians display less familiarity with Scripture although many proudly proclaim themselves to be born-again Christians. Politics in the Bible has a simple goal: to help readers to think critically about how the Bible illuminates understanding of justice, leadership, and politics. For a political scientist, there are great advantages to studying the Bible. Students of the Bible have short texts to analyze, but they have a history of two thousand years of Jewish and Christian scholarly discussion. In that tradition, Paul R. Abramson analyzes stories drawn from eighteen of the thirty-nine books of the Hebrew Bible and fifteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. Abramson argues that the Bible is a book that should be read even by those who do not believe it has any transcendent significance. One can choose to read it as the revealed word of God, as a source of Western morality, as a compilation of interesting stories, poetry, and history, or as a work of great literature. Although this book discusses selected stories that have political implications, it also considers parts that have literary merit. This unusual volume may stimulate new thinking about the Bible as a source of insight into political ideas.
The biblical account of Cain and Abel is echoed in the history of two generations of the Trask family in California.
As soon as it appeared, How to Read the Bible was recognized as a masterwork, “awesome, thrilling” (The New York Times), “wonderfully interesting, extremely well presented” (The Washington Post), and “a tour de force...a stunning narrative” (Publishers Weekly). Now in its tenth year of publication, the book remains the clearest, most inviting and readable guide to the Hebrew Bible around—and a profound meditation on the effect that modern biblical scholarship has had on traditional belief. Moving chapter by chapter, Harvard professor James Kugel covers the Bible’s most significant stories—the Creation of the world, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the flood, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and his wives, Moses and the exodus, David’s mighty kingdom, plus the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the other prophets, and on to the Babylonian conquest and the eventual return to Zion. Throughout, Kugel contrasts the way modern scholars understand these events with the way Christians and Jews have traditionally understood them. The latter is not, Kugel shows, a naïve reading; rather, it is the product of a school of sophisticated interpreters who flourished toward the end of the biblical period. These highly ideological readers sought to put their own spin on texts that had been around for centuries, utterly transforming them in the process. Their interpretations became what the Bible meant for centuries and centuries—until modern scholarship came along. The question that this book ultimately asks is: What now? As one reviewer wrote, Kugel’s answer provides “a contemporary model of how to read Sacred Scripture amidst the oppositional pulls of modern scholarship and tradition.”
Is there a place for religion in politics? In this insightfully written book, Paul Marshall argues that Christians can and should approach politics in a way informed by faith. Drawing on traditions of both Catholic and Protestant political thought, Marshall analyzes the ways in which religion influences our understanding of power, justice, and democracy. In an age when the relationship between politics and religion is becoming ever more important--and ever more blurred--both in America and beyond, God and the Constitution is an indispensable guide for Christians interested in exploring how they can interject their religious convictions into their political actions.
The Dawn removes the book of Esther from the realm of fairy tale, translating the biblical narrative's political thought into teachings of the utmost relevance today. It reveals Esther's ideas of the good state, how effective leadership makes decisions for the welfare of its people, and what modern-day Jews can learn about how to stand up to their enemies and maintain Jewish faith and nationhood even as God's face remains hidden from His people.
BACK IN PRINT with a new preface and a new chapter