For centuries, the mystery of the biblical message excites the imagination. Sometimes it’s really difficult to understand the biblical message that seems to be filled with bad ideas like the destruction of an entire nation (Great Flood Gn 7,1-24) or the hatred to the aggressors (in Exodus).
For many Christians, it’s really difficult to read the Bible not as the history book, but as the book of moral lessons. Many of us want to know if the bible stories are true or not.
But if we will be plunged deep in thought, does it really important if we were all conceived from Adam and Eve or not?
Thanks to God, the modern Catholic Church doesn’t require anymore to take seriously as the absolute truth all the Bible. This comprehension of the Bible is dangerous and completely false. Because the books that were written by different people and communities were written to give ethical and moral lessons for real people. For example, the story of Cain and Abel (Gn 4,1-15), what does it mean to the person that lives in the 21st century?
When we read this story today, for the first time we are thinking about how it is awful to kill a brother and to be punished by God after that. The moral lesson of the person that reads the Bible as the history book is that we shouldn’t kill our brothers and to be kind to them. If we are not, we will be punished by God. It’s an easy and comfortable way for the ignorant persons… But if we begin to reflect on this story, we discover that the story of the rivalry between the brothers and the sisters, the families, and the friends are everywhere (without the murder).
The problem of the relationship between Cain and Abel begins already when they were born. The name of Cain given by his mother Eve means the son of God in Hebrew. He is loved by his mother because he is the firstborn. Abel was just a son that came after his favorite son. His name means smoke in Hebrew. In the Middle East culture, the smoke means nothing, something not important.
At all times, God couldn’t tolerate injustice. For this reason, he decides to meddle in other people’s business.
Regardless of the rules of the family that Cain always occupies the first place and his brother is just his shadow, God recognizes the donation of Abel and his personality.
God hopes that Cain will finally see that he has a brother and will love him. But God couldn’t imagine that Cain has a very jealous heart and he would decide to kill his own brother… After the crime, God punished Cain but we shouldn’t forget that God gives him protection from the evil people that could attack him. After the punishment, Cain becomes free from the love of his mother that wants him always with her without his own life and opinion. From the beginning of the life of Cain, his mother wanted compensation for her relationship with Adam that wants to dominate her. Cain is a perfect son for that purpose. She grows up an egocentric man that is loved too much by his mother.
Nevertheless, God always loves his children and gives to Cain a second chance to live his life by his own.1
The method used for the interpretation of this story is called narratology. It’s one of the methods used in exegesis. I adore the narratology of biblical texts for two reasons.
- You shouldn’t verify the veracity of the stories.
- You analyze the text in the language of the text. For example, here the analysis is done from the Hebrew version because the books of the Old Testament (apart from some books in the Catholic version) were written in Hebrew.
The purpose of this analyze is to understand what moral and ethical lessons we should understand and apply in our life.
If you don’t understand the Biblical Hebrew or Greek, it’s not a tragedy, you can make a good translation of the Bible and analysis it intelligently. You should just decide what is your purpose. In the Bible, we can find all the responses to our questions, we should just search them in the right places. The Bible can be analyzed from the psychological, political, literary point of view. The most important is not to search for something that doesn’t exist.
1 André Wénin is one of the reference for the narratology.