“Am I my brother’s keeper?” – The place of identity in a fractured world (Gen 4)

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation only

Abstract

The story of Cain and Abel figures prominently in discourse on religious violence (Girard, Sacks), yet the important work of André LaCocque, Onslaught Against Innocence: Cain, Abel and the Yahwist, has received less attention. LaCocque, a long-time friend of and collaborator with Paul Ricoeur, offers a more hermeneutically nuanced approach to the story, considering the text from three angles: anthropological, psychological, and (in less detail) theological. His interpretation is rich, evocative, and thoughtful. In my narratological reading of Genesis 4, I shall contend however that LaCocque “overreads” and “underreads” the narrative. Regarding the former, he places too much confidence in (and so interpretative weight upon) the reader’s ability to ascertain the “disposition” of Cain and Abel. Regarding the latter, LaCocque pays insufficient attention to two matters: the narrator’s use of place and geography as a framework for construing the identities of Cain and Abel, and the intertextual echoes of lament literature. I propose that these three interpretative matters – the dearth of insight into Cain and Abel’s interiority, “the place of identity”, and the fractures of Lament – read in conversation with Lacocque’s insightful analyses, offer important insights into personal identity viewed from anthropological, psychological, and (now, in more detail) theological perspectives. The implications of reading the inaugural post-Edenic narrative, the archetypal “sibling rivalry” story, in this way have significance not only for the rest of Genesis but for broader conversations pertaining to sacred violence and theological anthropology.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventThe Australian and New Zealand Association of Theological Schools Annual Conference - Australian Lutheran College, North Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 09 Jul 201712 Jul 2017
https://anzats.edu.au/past-conferences/

Conference

ConferenceThe Australian and New Zealand Association of Theological Schools Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleKinship and Family
CountryAustralia
CityNorth Adelaide
Period09/07/1712/07/17
Internet address

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    Anstey, M. (2017). “Am I my brother’s keeper?” – The place of identity in a fractured world (Gen 4). Paper presented at The Australian and New Zealand Association of Theological Schools Annual Conference, North Adelaide, Australia.