Cain and the Concept of Original Violence

Dr. Claude Mariottini - Professor of Old Testament

In her book The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism, Regina Schwartz says that the story of Cain and Abel, a story “that follows on the heels of the story of Adam and Eve, strikes me as especially appropriate for the violence that rends our world. . . . . The first brothers committed the first murder, and unhappily I do think that the devastating legacy of Cain is very much with us. We are the heirs of Cain because we murder our brothers.” Schwartz calls the murder of Abel the “original violence.”

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor
of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

Schwartz makes three important statements about violence. First, the murder of Abel is the first act of violence in the Bible. It is the “original violence,” a violence that explains and serves as the model for all human violence: “We are the heirs of…

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