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Shared Stories, Rival TellingsEarly Encounters of Jews, Christians, and Muslims$
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Robert C. Gregg

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190231491

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190231491.001.0001

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Cain and Abel Christianized

Cain and Abel Christianized

(p.41) Chapter 2 Cain and Abel Christianized
Shared Stories, Rival Tellings

Robert C. Gregg

Oxford University Press

Several references to the Cain–Abel clash occur in the New Testament. Because of Abel’s righteousness Cain murdered him (c.f., 1 John 3:12) and in Matthew 23:29–36, Jesus predicts that scribes and Pharisees will continue their ancestors’ murders of God-sent prophets, and recalls the “the blood of righteous Abel.” These are seeds of a Christianization of the story in which Abel the innocent victim whose voice lives on and inspires, is an ante-type of Christ, while Cain is the murderous resister of God’s will. These characterizations stimulated Irenaeus to include anti-Jewish polemics within his attacks on Marcion and others he counted as gnosticizing heretics. A considerable part of this chapter concerns the artistic Cain and Abel interpreters whose works appear in fresco paintings in Rome’s Via Latina catacomb and in sarcophagus images of the brothers’ offerings. Finally, three writings treating relations in the household of Adam and Eve are investigated.

Keywords:   catacomb paintings, Irenaeus, Gnostics, Marcion, anti-Jewish, Passion Sarcophagus, Seth

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