- RULE OF DEFINITION Define your terms (by the Bible) and then keep to the terms defined. The interpreter should conscientiously abide by the plain meaning of words. The author confines the definitions strictly to their literal or idiomatic force; which, after all, will be found to form the best, safest, most solid basis for theological deductions. - RULE OF USAGE One is to regard the whole Bible as written for the Jew first . . . words and idioms are to be rendered according to Hebrew and Aramaic usage. Christ accepted the usage He found existing in His time. One must interpret phrases and histories of the N.T. in the sense of understanding the hearers and onlookers: according to the custom and common dialect of the nation. - RULE OF CONTEXT Many sentences derive their point and force from the connection in which they stand. One must understand Bible words according to the requirements of the context. Bible words when used out of context can prove almost anything. Every word understood in light of words before and after it. - RULE OF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Our primary interest in the past is for the light it throws upon the meaning of the text. The strictest historical scrutiny is indispensable to all Biblical theology. - RULE OF LOGIC (could be called the rule of common sense) One must interpret the Scriptures because they were written by people thousands of years ago, from different languages, cultures and lifestyles. What is meant in one culture can mean something much differently in another. Interpretation is the use of logical reasoning. Logic means clear, consistent and reasonable. The Bible comes to us in the form of human language and appeals to our reason. One must understand the Scriptures on fair principles of interpretation such as would be admitted in a court of justice. - RULE OF INFERENCE In the law of evidence, an inference is a fact sensibly implied from another fact. It is a logical consequence. It is a process of reasoning. One derives it as a conclusion from a given fact or premise. - RULE OF GRAMMAR Never violate the laws of syntax (the order of words in a sentence) and structure. Be aware and careful about misplacement of punctuation or misunderstanding the structure of a sentence. - RULE OF PRECEDENT We must not violate the known usage of a word and invent another for which there is no precedent. The first thing a judge does is to compare the case before him with any precedents (past cases which are similar). - RULE OF UNITY (Also known as the Rule of Analogy) It is fundamental to an accurate interpretation of Scripture that the parts of a document, law, or instrument are construed concerning the significance of the whole. It is best to interpret Scripture by other Scriptures rather than by some external source. Any interpretation that creates a conflict or contradiction with other Bible passages should be scrutinized in the light of the whole of Scripture.
Babylon and Babel are often synonymous in Hebrew. both are indicators of an oppressor figure that expected Jews to assimilate into the dominant monoculture. what might that say about modern globalization and exporting our own western values overseas?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_myths - The Ennead, in which Atum arose from the primordial waters (Neith), and masturbated to relieve his loneliness. His vomitus and saliva became Tefnut (moisture) and Shu (dryness), respectively. From Shu and Tefnut, were born Geb (earth), and Nut (sky), who were born in a state of permanent copulation. Shu separated them, and their children were Ausare (Osiris; death), Set (desert), Aset (Isis; life), and Nebet Het (Nephthys; fertile land). Osiris and Isis were a couple, as were Nepthys and Set. - The Sumerian creation myth, the oldest known, was found on a fragmentary clay tablet known as the "Eridu Genesis", datable to ca. the 18th century BC. It also includes a flood myth. Where the tablet picks up, the gods An, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursanga create the Sumerians (the "black-headed people") and the animals. Then kings descend from the sky and the first cities are founded - Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larsa, Sippar, and Shuruppak.
pronunciation: - (genesis) bersheit, strong&#x2019;s #7225 - (void) bo&#xB4;-hoo; from an unused root (meaning to be empty); a vacuity, i.e. (superficially) an undistinguishable ruin:&#x2014;emptiness, void.
in the face of the other mesopotamian myths, this unique account arises. can we assume that such a contrasting narrative was subversive? did it serve to differentiate (both for Jews and for their neighbors) one people from another?
pronunciation: (woman) &#x2018;iesha in the face of the other mesopotamian myths, this unique account arises. can we assume that such a contrasting narrative was subversive? did it serve to differentiate (both for Jews and for their neighbors) one people from another?
Son: in Hebrew &#x201C;Ben,&#x201D; in Arabic &#x201C;Ibn&#x201D;
how do agriculture and pastoralism differ? might cain have had proto-nationalist property ownership expectations? abel, a shepherd, would have no need for land permanence, as Cain would, and would not be moved to exclude others from wealth that was tied to a specific location
mite the sin be envy?
pronunciation: (slay) yahargee
pronunciation: (slay) yahargee
1. YHWH’s Shalom in the
Midst of Man’s Violence
Reseting the Foundations of Violence in the
Creation and First Family Biblical Narratives
*Artwork by 19th century French artist Gustave Dore
2. Violence in the Bible
Ever present, from Genesis
What can we legitimately
infer from the text, if
Important to understand
what the original authors
were saying to their original
3. Principles of Interpretation
Important concepts to remember about historical
interpret themselves (later works base
themselves on what already exists)
are culturally speciﬁc (you must enter their
world, they won’t enter yours)
contain author bias (does not negate
authenticity, but must inform interpreters)
4. Righting the Foundation
Numerous Scholars, using literary criticism, suggest that the
ﬁrst time many oral Hebraic traditions were recorded was during
the 1st Diaspora, under Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon
This exilic period occurs after politically autonomous rulership
of Saul, David, and Solomon (about 120 years in total)
A key reason many Psalmists reference Babylon as a literary
device to represent their oppressors
What beliefs were they exposed to as they began to record
their own oral traditions into written form?
5. Babylonian Creation
Marduk v. Tiamat; gods
quarrel with their own
offspring, creating the earth
and sky from Tiamat’s halved
Humans created as a slave
race by the blood of Tiamat’s
assassinated husband, Kingu
6. Mesopotamian Creation
What other creation myths
may the ancient Israelites
have come across?
Genesis” (kings descend
to rule from heaven)
(divine loneliness and
7. Contrasting Creations
God and Earth
Creation of order and
symmetry from “void”* (no
between order and chaos)
Includes no overt violence
(divine spirit hovers over the ty™Iv
waters and must only speak
to bring material into being)
*…(wh$Ob) Hebrew Strong’s # 922, occurs 4 times
in the Bible
8. Contrasting Creations
h¡DÚ God and Humankind
Man co-creates with the god
(names creatures, provides
material for subsequent
sympathetically, with humans
Focus on rest and enjoyment,
not labor and subservience
9. Expulsion from Eden
Not a violent act, but a
consequence of the
arrogance of pursuing
Adam and Eve are provided
for and sent off into the
world, which has responded to
their disregard for the created
order by sprouting “thorns
and thistles” - Gen.3:18
10. Violence as Fratricide
The story of Cain and Abel contains the ﬁrst
instance of violence in the Judeo-Christian
cannon. It is against this backdrop that that all
other Biblical violence may be considered
In ancient semitic cultures, the ﬁrst of something is
representative of the whole; this fratricidal event is
the basis from which all others ﬂow (all murder is a
failure to see our kinship with fellow human beings)
11. Cain’s Imperative
The catalyst for Cain’s action is God’s refusal of his offering
(which he gave prior to Abel, Gen.4:3-5). The import of the
narrative must not be overlooked:
If God’s refusal of Cain’s offering was
arbitrary ,the source of violence is found
in God. However, if fault may be found
with Cain, then the root of violence lies
with him (and humankind).
12. Blood Brothers
At birth, his mother sings praises
Primogeniture: ﬁrstborn males would...
receive the largest inheritance (a double portion)
become ﬁgurehead in the patriarch’s absence
adopt the family business*
More importantly, the text says God “rejected Cain AND
his offering” - Gen.4:5 (it wasn’t just the fruit of the soil
YHWH disapproved of, but the grain of his character too)
* In this case, agriculture (Gen.4:2)
13. Blood Brothers
Literal meaning of Abel’s name in Hebrew translates to
“worthlessness, meaninglessness, emptiness*” (can you imagine
your parents naming you “worthless?”)
Conception mentioned as a byline of his older brother’s nearly
epic birth narrative - “Later she gave birth to his brother Abel”
Of the 10 times he is referenced in Gen.4:1-12, over two thirds of
the time it is as his murderer’s brother (“his/your brother Abel”)
God is the only character to even acknowledge Abel’s presence!
* Hebrew Strong’s #1892
14. Precursor to Murder
Cain gives an offering of
“the fruit of the soil” that he
Abel, an offering of “the
choicest of the ﬁrstlings of
his ﬂock” that he tends
What gives? Cain
thought the idea up,
Abel was just following
15. Precursor to Murder
required human or
animal blood to be
shed to be
recognized as legit
Wealth was often
measured by ﬂock
size, not crop size
16. Precursor to Murder
A nomadic Abel would be
much more dependent on
divine providence for his
sustenance - giving a
whole sheep meant he
went without food!
afforded more geographic
stability and longevity -
and instilled a sense of
17. Precursor to Murder
Cain’s ego is hurt,
but God notices
Cain may “master
the sin crouching at
[his] door” - Gen.
18. The Dastardly Deed
`Eg√rAhÅ¥y Cain leads his younger
brother to “the ﬁeld,”
his own home turf
Details do not emerge
from the text, we only
know that Cain kills his
19. The Dastardly Deed
God immediately asks
“to kill” the elder Cain where
his brother is (hey,
isn’t God omniscient?)
Do you have younger
siblings? Did your
parents ever pose the
same question to you?
Cain seems to insist he is not, in fact, his brother’s
“Keeper,” or that he did not know of this duty
this word in Hebrew, shomer (r¶EmOv*) denotes
“guardian and protector,” something that would
have come as second nature to the eldest son
Primogeniture demanded that Cain be his brother’s
shomer, and his coy response only reveals his own
*Hebrew Strong’s #8104
God expels Cain from his land, almost a second “fall,”
another forbidden knowledge
In punishing this second generation, God again
provides protection, a mark, to make sure Cain does
not fall victim even the very crime he introduced!
kind of contradicts the old “eye for an eye”
22. Questioning Violence
What does all this say
How does resetting the
about Biblical violence
alter readings like
Joshua, Judges, etc.?
23. Nonviolently Ever After?
If the ﬁrst murderer is supposed to be the antagonist,
then where is the protagonist?
Does the text just leave us at that? Is it really that
ambiguous, or is there a model provided for us to
emulate over and against the model set by Cain?
Of course, you will only ﬁnd the answer if you keep
reading (the Bible, that is, not necessarily my slides)
24. Nonviolently Ever After?
Hebraic cultures focused very heavily on genealogies
(why do you think there are so many in the Torah?)
From Cain and Abel, how does the narrative develop?
Let’s look ﬁnally at the contrasting genealogies of
Cain and perhaps the most under represented
Biblical ﬁgure, his new brother Seth!
Abel’s “replacement,” Gen. 4:25
25. Nonviolently Ever After?
2.Cain 2.Seth (“God has provided”)
3.Enoch (also the name of the ﬁrst city, 3.Enosh (“human being.” “it was
built by his father) then that men began to call on The
4.Irad (“fugitive”) Name of the Lord” - Gen.4:26)
5.Mehujael (“struck by God”) 4.Kenan (“to be sanctiﬁed”)
6.Methusael(“where is God?”) 5.Mehalalel (“praise of God”)
7.Lamech (ﬁrst to have multiple wives, 6.Jared
also tried to justify his own violence on 7.Enoch (“walked with God” and
the protection God offered Cain) did not die - Gen.5:22&24)
9.Lamech (not the same guy)
*Meanings of names are underlined
26. Nonviolently Ever After?
Notice in the text:
Seth, not Cain, is said to be “in the likeness of Adam (who similarly,
has the “likeness of God” - Gen.5:1&3)
Seth’s line includes 10 generations (a ‘complete’ number in Judaism),
while Cain’s only lasts 7 generations before The Flood wipes it away
generated because the earth was “ﬁlled with violence” - Gen.6:11
Israel emerges later as descendants of Seth’s lineage (thru Noah)
Lifespans of Seth’s lineage mimic the ancient Sumerian King List
Based on the original intent, do we ﬁnd violence reﬂected upon
favorably, even ambiguously?
Given the circumstances in which Genesis was written it is clear
that the author/s of Genesis made apparent their disapproval
of Cain and his unique contribution to humanity
Furthermore, considering the setting for its transcription, it is
worth considering that an Hebraic view of violence
contradicted foundational assumptions present in neighboring
cultures, such as the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Assyrians
The most basic misunderstanding of violence in the
Bible is whether it is prescriptive or descriptive
Prescriptive - suggested as what should/can be
Descriptive - merely indicated as having existed
The issue, then, is when are things being prescribed
and when are they merely being described?
there are indeed prescriptive claims made, but they
are not in support of violence
must not read between the lines in the midst of
merely descriptive elements (especially in histories
such as 1&2 Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles)
Adele, Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler. The Jewish Study Bible.
New York: Oxford University, 2004.
Eliger, Karl. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Stuttgart:
Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1990.
McDonald, Patricia M. God & Violence: Biblical Resources for
Living in a Small World. Scotsdale: Herald, 2004.
Uittenbogaard, Arie. Meaning, Origin and Etymology of Bible
Names. 2007. Abarim Publications. 8 Oct. 2009. <http://