Suppose every man is a sculptor and his mouth and mind, his chisel. A story is then not the work of one man, but the magnum opus of many. Handed to and fro, a story is quick to lose its original silhouette and men are quick to forget it. No better example perseveres than the oldest and most influential story of all: The Bible. The Bible is literature, art, and most importantly, a source of fundamental morality that has driven men to war, persecution, and pilgrimage. It persists in every person’s life, Christian or not. Of this collection of stories one of the most infamous is that of Cain and Abel. But after centuries of being communicated away from the explicit text, the story of Cain and Abel has been distorted to characterize its subjects to moralistic extremes.
The notoriety of Cain and Abel can be attributed to its rather severe content. In no more than sixteen verses, the story of Cain and Abel is relayed with unforgiving conciseness. Cain and Abel are born to Adam and Eve. Cain, the elder brother, is a farmer and Abel, a shepherd. As time passed, the two brothers eventually came to make offerings to God: Cain offered the Lord the fruit of his harvest and Abel, the firstlings of his flock. “And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had no respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell (Genesis 4: 4-6).” Later in the fields, Cain “rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”
It is crucial to remember that The Bible is a religious text and its stories are meant to reflect its intended scruples. Nevertheless, The Bible has grown up and out of itself. Its stories are no longer bound by its covers and are instead shared actively by mouth and other adaptations and allusions. These diversions from the text do two things: they spread the word and more often than not, caricaturize it. Lessons of good and evil are exaggerated, contorted in order to convey morality as effectively and...
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