Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cain and Abel: Some of my work now available online

As some of my readers know, I have been looking at the story of Cain and Abel for several years. I have published several articles and a monograph on the topic. My interest is not in the story in Genesis so much, but what later interpreters did with the story. 

Since most of my work is in academic journals and a very expensive book, it is not always as accessible as I would like. But over the last few few weeks I presented some of my work at a conference and had an essay published that I can now make available online.

The paper I gave at the Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society looks at the problem of sin and death in the world. In Romans 5 Paul lays the blame at the feet of Adam. But I demonstrate that other interpreters blamed Cain. You can download an audio file of my talk here

I also had an essay published  in Craig A. Evans, Joel N. Lohr, and David L. Petersen, eds., The Book of Genesis: Composition, Reception, and Interpretation (VTSup 152; Leiden: Brill, 2012). The title of my essay is Cain and Abel in Second Temple Literature and Beyond. In this essay I provide an overview of some of the ways that the story was interpreted by Jews and Christians. You can read the essay here

Also, I gave a talk back in January on Rewritten Bible in which my work on Cain and Abel was central. You can watch that here.

Finally, an article I published in Biblica in 2007 is also available online. This article looks at the mention of Cain in 1 John 3. Read it here

I would be glad to hear any comments or reactions to my work. 


  1. Hey John,

    Cool! Thanks for making these available. The Cain / Abel narrative has always been a fascination for me, not least because of Augustine's deployment of it in De Civitate Dei. Can't wait to listen to, and read your material!

    Hope you're well bro.

    May hair always be on your head.



  2. John, thanks very much for the paper. I found it edifying.

    When I see the NT make reference to OT characters and events, giving details that weren't originally present in the OT, I always feel puzzled and wish I knew their sources. This applies, of course, to Cain and Abel, but also, for example, to Abraham (wherein Hebrews 11 tells us that he was willing to sacrifice Isaac because he believed God would perform a resurrection - a highly relevant point not showing up in Gen 22). Your paper identifies sources from which the NT writers possibly received their additional knowledge about Cain and Abel and is thus helpful.

    One point this paper did not address (because it would have been out of scope) is the degree to which all the writers you identified who added details to Gen 4 did so by selecting from the same broad oral tradition. Or did they "invent" the details? Or were they given insight by the Holy Spirit? Or, if a combination of all three, how much was which? This, of course, would be a very difficult set of questions to answer. Probably impossible.

    Lastly, I may be bringing coals to Newcastle but here is a link to another blog that sought to demonstrate parallels between Gen 4 and Is 1. I appreciated it and wanted to pass it on:

    Thanks again for your generosity in publishing the paper. These academic anthologies are very expensive, and inaccessible to many of us who don't live near large theological libraries.