The Other I

March 19, 2008

The strange story of Cain and Abel

Filed under: Catholicism and other questions of religion,Life as a Nun — theotheri @ 10:29 pm

I got out my Jerusalem bible today, the one I read in the convent once, after years of agitation, we were no longer forbidden to read it privately.  The last time I opened it I was looking for the story of Mary Magdalen when she washed the feet of Jesus to be read at my sister Mary’s memorial service in 1995.  I was looking for this particular story because it was apparent that my sister had an ample supply of perfumes, a good heart, and was not even acquainted with the inside of her local church.  So her sisters thought Mary Magdalen might be a fitting reading.

Today I got it out because I wanted to re-read the story of Cain and Abel.  I wanted to study it as a result of a trailer for a television programme in which biblical academics try to make sense of the story.  The bible doesn’t actually say why God rejected Cain’s sacrifice of grain while accepting Abel’s lamb, and it is unclear from the bible how to recognize the”mark of Cain” which is supposed to identify all Cain’s descendants. 

Most intrigueing – and I wonder why I never asked this obvious question before – who, in a world with a population of four, are the “people” Cain feared in the desert?

None of these questions poses a real conundrum for me, because I think many biblical stories are meant to be symbolic, a kind of story that is much more exalted and capable of communicating a much higher truth than a merely historical, literally accurate recounting of events.  So historical errors and impossibilities do not seem to me to reduce the legitimacy of biblical stories.  On the contrary.

I also found in my bible a picture of a young Black couple I had come to know well when I was working as a nun in Paterson, New Jersey.  I have thought of them more than once with pain and regret, and wonder what became of them.  I will write about Geraldine and John in my post tomorrow.  

1 Comment »

  1. I dont think their were only four people during those times as it was mentioned in Gen.5:4 “And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat SONS and DAUGHTERS.” I just want to share this link which someone asked our preacher, Where did Cain get his wife? I asked the same question before until I listened to Bro. Eli’s TV program back then. Here’s the link about the question, and his blog if you have other question regarding the bible. Thanks for the space in your blog.


    Comment by danny — March 21, 2008 @ 7:59 am | Reply

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