Sunday, April 21, 2024

My Brother's Keeper

In one fateful moment, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, violence invaded the human condition. That's where we were last Sunday. Cain rose in rage; Abel fell in blood. As succinctly as that, the Bible's given us our first murderer – and our first martyr. Now, of the two brothers who for decades had grown together, lived together, feasted together, one lies dead in body on the unforgiving earth, the other stands with a dead soul and bloody hands. The deed is done. There's no taking it back now, no healing or reversal, no holding out hope to wake from the nightmare. Cain's hope instead is that, when “someone is found slain, fallen in the field,” then often “it is not known who killed him” (Deuteronomy 21:1). Perhaps he tries to cover his tracks further, digging up the dirt to bury the body underneath, or letting a river wash it away downstream; maybe he convinces his parents Abel was just so good he moved back to the garden.1 Whatever measures he takes, Cain has handled death; he's unclean (Numbers 19:16). Yet he has no fear of the danger posed in the land by “innocent blood” (Deuteronomy 21:9).

It's unclear how much time passes from verse 8 to verse 9. After all, a shepherd could be away from his family for quite a while – not unlike a trucker today. But at some point, Abel's absence has to become conspicuous. At that point, God renews his attempted dialogue with Cain. And that's pretty remarkable, come to think of it. In the midst of Cain's death-impurity and the guilt of his monumental sin, the reaction of God is not to drop him like a hot potato. It's not to instantly pour out fire from heaven, or open up the mouth of hell beneath his feet, or send a whirlwind to sweep him away. God's reaction is to move in personally and engage Cain.2

And the LORD said to Cain: 'Where is Abel, your brother?'” (Genesis 4:9). God opens the dialogue, just like a couple verses before (Genesis 4:6), with a question. It's not a question God asks because he's mystified, as if he just can't piece together the puzzle and needs Cain's help. God is asking the question to get Cain to respond. And as we eavesdrop on this conversation, we should keep in front of our eyes a conversation from the chapter before it.3 There, too, a sin was committed – in that case, theft and consumption of forbidden fruit. And in the wake of the sin, God asked a question: “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). It's not that God didn't know Adam's coordinates. The question meant, why isn't Adam where he's supposed to be, rejoicing unashamed before the LORD? What has happened to put Adam out of his joyful and rightful place? Now, after another misdeed, God asks Cain not where he is but where his victim is. Why isn't Abel here where he belongs, Cain? What explains his absence from his rightful place? What, Cain, is preventing Abel from standing in the flesh before his Lord? What can you say?4

And in asking, God doesn't content himself to say, “Where is Abel?” He adds that cutting extra word: “your brother.” God highlights, by this word that's the climax of the question, the family ties that bind Cain and Abel as one flesh, one blood, one house.5 And with that simple word, barely two syllables, God effectively “presents him with the enormity of the crime, that he has killed a brother.”6 Over and over again in this chapter, Genesis hammers it home.7 Scarcely can Abel's name be heard without an immediate reminder that he's Cain's brother. Seven times overall is the word 'brother' attached to their relationship. What's happened between them is meant to horrify us. But Genesis is saying that this horror, Cain's fratricidal bloodshed, is the natural consequence of Adam and Eve's gluttonous gaffe in the garden: from wrongly bit to wrongly hit, 'til Abel's kicked the bucket.8

So God asks Cain the piercing question, the natural question: “Where is Abel, your brother?” Why does he ask it? Because “God, who is merciful..., desired to provide for Cain, as he had for Adam, an opportunity for repentance and confession,”9 to “give him an occasion to repent and explain.”10 For “if he repented, the sin of murder that his fingers had committed might be effaced by the compunction of his lips.”11 That is always how Christians have read this moment. Nothing Cain can do or say can give Abel his life on earth back. But Cain is not beyond the reach of forgiveness. If Cain confesses, he can be made clean. That's not to say there won't still be consequences for what he's done. Forgiveness doesn't mean no consequences. But it does mean there's hope for reconciliation, and for a day when those consequences fall away. Cain can be free from bloodguilt, today and alway.

It's not so much the crime, then, that matters; it's the response. When we're caught in our sin, how do we deal with what we've done? How do we regard it: as something to hide, or as something to own and expose? In this case, one saintly bishop of old said that God's sensitive questioning “should have brought [Cain] to his senses and to a cessation of his folly, admitting what had happened, showing his ulcer to the physician and accepting the remedies he had to give. But for his part, he aggravates the wound and renders the spread of the ulcer more serious.”12 Cain chooses, you see, the wrong path of response, making his wound of sin all the worse.

We remember, as we listen in, the response Adam gave when God asked him where he was: “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10). It was, at the very least, an explanation – one which Adam bungled further by trying to shift blame onto his wife (Genesis 3:12). What we find here is that Cain, on every score, manages to be worse than his parents. If Adam merely evaded and dodged, Cain is deliberately dishonest.13 “He said: 'I do not know.'” (Genesis 4:9). Cain claims to have no knowledge of Abel's whereabouts. He claims he's as mystified as anybody why Abel isn't where he belongs – as if Cain were no part of that explanation. It's an answer “at once foolish and arrogant,”14 “doubling his sin, as though he could render God ignorant.”15 The very man who murdered Abel, the one who could with ease lead a search party to the body, now blatantly and knowingly lies to God's face, “as if he had a mind to controvert the point and maintain his guilty cause against the great Searcher of Hearts.”16

Cain lies, he lies with an attitude of defiance and arrogance and selfishness, he lies in the face of whatever scrap or tatter may be left of his putrid conscience.17 But isn't that sort of denial under questioning just “so typical of an offender who knows very well what he has done and is attempting to evade punishment?”18 It's common in any court, in any jail, in any nation, in any home; and apart from these individual cases, light or heavy as they be, “all kinds of ideologies try to justify and disguise the most atrocious crimes against human beings.”19 We think that, through insistent denial, we can deceive and elude the justice of earth. But, as Philo put it, “everyone who thinks that anything escapes the eye of God is an outlaw and an outcast.”20 That's the mark of a wicked person, to sin and even murder and say in one's heart, “The LORD does not see” (Psalm 94:7). But “he who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?” (Psalm 94:9). “Do you suppose, O man..., that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:3). “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). There is no deceiving the justice of heaven; there is no hoodwinking God, who not only foreknew the crime but has now taken a witness statement from Abel's blood (Genesis 4:10).

All the more foolish, then, that Cain refuses to speak to God with any sense of honor and decorum. Here many readers have seen a further hardening of his heart in sin, given how grave it is “so audaciously and irreverently to answer the omniscient God.”21 But Cain isn't done making a mess of things. How could he be? To further deflect from the contrast between his guilty truth and his convenient lie, he pushes back with a question of his own, the first question the Bible pictures a creature asking the Creator. His tone is mocking and defensive, “an arrogant retort that shows utter contempt for God and complete indifference to the crime that has taken place.”22

Am I my brother's keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). That's what Cain asks, the sarcasm spilling from his lips. Here, for the first time, Cain openly acknowledges Abel as his brother. But he admits their brotherhood as a physical fact only in the process of denying its social and moral relevance for establishing a relationship between them. Cain thinks that a brother is just a born rival, a chief competitor smuggled within hearth and home.23 Just because the womb they started in is the same, just because they about half their DNA in common, just because they've known each other so long, why – Cain asks – should that make him Abel's keeper?

That word, 'keeper,' is an interesting choice on Cain's part. It's a common one in the Bible, and literally has the sense of being a 'watcher' or 'observer.' It's used in Judges to refer to spies sent out on a reconnaissance mission, sent to just observe and report back what they see (Judges 1:24). A military camp would post 'keepers' in the sense of watchmen, lookouts, to observe the camp and its surroundings (Judges 7:19). But from there, the word takes on a sense of someone who watches over something to guard it, protect it, defend it from trespass or harm. A city had 'keepers,' roving watchmen during night patrol who stood on the walls or strolled the streets, who not only observed what went on but personally intervened to set it right (Isaiah 62:6; Song of Songs 5:7). Similarly, the Levites “keep guard over the tabernacle of the LORD (Numbers 31:30); palaces likewise had 'keepers,' security personnel who prevent unauthorized trespass (1 Kings 14:27). And an Old Testament phrase for a bodyguard was “the keeper of my head” (1 Samuel 28:2), and every “shepherd keeps his flock” (Jeremiah 31:10). To be a 'keeper' means “watching over someone or something, providing sustenance and security.”24

In the beginning, Adam was put in the garden “to work it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). But now they live outside the garden, where Cain is “a worker of the ground” (Genesis 4:2). Is there anything for him to 'keep' outside the garden? Cain seems awfully certain what he's not on this earth to keep: his brother.25 So Cain “said that he was not his brother's guardian to keep watch over his person and his actions.”26 In Cain's rhetoric, being Abel's keeper would mean putting Abel under 24/7 surveillance, investing all his energies in Abel's protection, feeding Abel like a little baby and not a grown man.27 Cain's a farmer, not a shepherd, so how much less should he be a shepherd's shepherd?28 It's ludicrous to Cain that he should be Abel's babysitter, Abel's full-time keeper, so he treats it as absurd of God to ask him to explain Abel's absence. Through the rhetorical power of the false dichotomy, Cain reasons that since he can't take full custody of Abel, he therefore has no responsibilities to or for Abel at all.29 So Cain “declares that the care of his brother is a matter of no concern to him.”30

In all this, Cain illustrates our own “intuitive desire to repudiate responsibility for others..., the desire to live, to some extent, aloof, alone, regardless of others, indifferent to their claims,” as one English preacher put it.31 We excuse that desire in all sorts of ways. We appeal to our liberties, refusing to be shackled by someone else's needs or wants. We blame others for their misfortunes, saying they'll have to learn at the school of hard knocks. We dismiss their sufferings as a brute fact of life, an unalterable law of nature in which it would be pointless or wrong to intervene. We make up somebody supposedly more important who'd be hurt if we help those we already dislike. We claim it isn't our place to care, that we have no right to concern ourselves in what our brother does or endures. So maybe we shake our head or shed a tear, but we cross the road, keep to ourselves.

That old preacher said that “so many individuals... do nothing, repudiate their responsibilities, and take sides with Cain the murderer, as they self-protectingly ask, 'Am I my brother's keeper?'”32 And still as this last century closed, it was said that in hearing Cain's words, “we cannot but think of today's tendency for people to refuse to accept responsibility for their brothers and sisters.”33 Cain sounds as modern and timely as we could fear. He also sounds, if I dare say it, American. A hundred years ago this week, an Australian paper lamented that “no country [other] than the United States... has... so consistently adopted the 'Am I my brother's keeper?' attitude.”34 Whether you hear Cain as a plain conservative – “If Abel wants to be here, then he'll just have to pull himself up by his bootstraps and tough it out” – or in a more liberal accent – “Oh, it's not for me to judge Abel, Abel can be where he wants, let's be tolerant, it's really no business of mine” – Cain sounds too familiar.

The heart of Cain's question, as St. Ambrose saw, was that “Cain shirks his duty to be his brother's keeper as if this were beyond the bounds of nature's laws.”35 But in spite of his best efforts, Cain actually does raise a real question. By the bounds of nature's laws, how are we supposed to relate to each other? What do we owe each other? What does it mean to be a brother? And who is our brother, anyway?36

But Cain's question also has a darker sense still, one which becomes more visible as we read more of the Bible. Later in the Bible, we start to hear about God as the 'Keeper' of his people. “Your Keeper will not slumber!” promises the psalmist. “Behold, He-Who-Keeps-Israel will neither slumber nor sleep! The LORD is your Keeper!” (Psalm 121:3-5). “Lest anyone punish it, I keep it night and day,” he says (Isaiah 27:3). We hear that “the LORD keeps the simple,” that is, he preserves them and takes care of them (Psalm 116:6), and similarly that “the LORD keeps the sojourners” (Psalm 146:9), that “he will keep the feet of his faithful ones” (1 Samuel 2:9), that “the LORD keeps all who love him” (Psalm 145:20). In that hope, Israel's priests said constantly, “the LORD bless you and keep you” (Numbers 6:24). After all, “unless the LORD keeps the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1) – human keeping avails nothing without divine keeping.

So when Cain asks God, “Am I my brother's keeper?” (Genesis 4:9), hear the question he's insinuating: Isn't that your job?37 “You interrogate me,” says Cain, “as if I were Abel's keeper. But I call God to the stand! Aren't you supposed to be Abel's keeper? Don't you, God, owe an account to me for my brother? As his keeper, weren't you watching him? As his keeper, why weren't you defending him, protecting him, guarding him from all harm? Where were you, God, when a hand lifted itself up against him? Where were you, God, when Abel yelped in pain? Where were you, God, when Abel was bleeding? And where were you, God, when the lights went out? If you could've stopped Abel from dying but didn't, then shouldn't I conclude his death was simply your unavoidable will – that, at the very least, you didn't care to keep him? And if you don't care, why should anyone? Where are you in the suffering and the senselessness and the sorrow, in the agonies and the crises, in the darkness and violence of a nature red in tooth and claw? Where are you, God, in the waywardness and woe of man? Oh, in the face of evil, evil everywhere, where is God in this silent heaven and this blackened earth?”38

People talk a lot about the 'problem of evil.' And sometimes, in our suffering, we have something to say. Other times, we readily manufacture the problem of evil as a diversion, an attempt to distract attention from our own derelictions of duty, by pointing the finger at God. But if God picks up on Cain's confrontational charge, Cain's insinuation that God must render an account to man, God doesn't dignify that claim, no more than he explains himself to the lamentations of Jeremiah or the oozing tears of Job. For God is not obliged to sit as defendant in any court of human esteem. God owes no explanation; in the gracious dark of night, he simply sends salvation. Here, conversing with the Cain who's at last found something to say, God responds with a cutting outcry of horror, a question that refocuses things back where they belong: “What have you done?” (Genesis 4:10).39 “In the face of evil, evil everywhere, where are you, O man? Where are you, man, in the waywardness and woe of your brother? Where are you, man, in his suffering and in his sorrow? Are not your hands guilty? Are not you the one red in tooth and claw? What is it you've done? And where does that, O man, now put your brother?”

The error of Cain is at once called to account – in him and in us. Who, exactly, is our brother? The Law of Moses is clear that brotherhood is more than the literal children of your mom and pop. In the Law, given to a nation which acted like a loose federation of tribes at best, every Israelite is treated as a brother to all the others. God refers to “your brothers, the whole house of Israel” (Leviticus 10:6), with no regard for tribal boundaries, for privilege of office, for any other consideration. Carrying this forward, Christians are defined, from the very first moment, as simply “the brothers” (Acts 1:15). Paul constantly writes to various churches as “my beloved brothers” (1 Corinthians 15:58), and Peter reminds Christians about “your brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:9). Every Christian is a brother or sister to every other Christian who was or is or will be, thanks to the grace of God.

But that grace is completing what's naturally there already. Paul reminds us also that God “made from one every nation of mankind to live on the face of all the earth” (Acts 17:26). Only those born again in Christ are brothers and sisters in Christ by grace, but all people are brothers and sisters in Adam by nature. It's not just those nearest in your family tree, or the people of your state or color or country. It's just a scientific fact that all people belong to “our interconnected human family.”40 The Adam family may be billions big these days, but, however distant, in it we find every man our brother, every woman our sister.

And that makes every person relevant to you and to me. Four centuries ago this year, there was an English poet who was very sick. And as he lay in bed, he was close enough to the neighborhood church that, every time they rang the bells for a funeral, he could hear it clear as day. Even unsure which neighbor had died, he felt it deeply. He wrote meditations from his sickbed, explaining why he couldn't ignore the message of those bells.

All mankind is of one Author, and is one volume... No man is an island, entire of himself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thy own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee.41

Think about that: if mankind is one family, one book, one natural body, then what happens to any member has an impact on all. Killing Abel doesn't make Cain bigger; it makes Cain smaller, because Cain – whether he likes it or not – is involved in mankind, same as Abel. And that's why our brothers and sisters – every human, of whatever age, whatever race or nation, whatever belief or persuasion or habit – cannot help but be our concern. We are natural members of the body of humanity, where “if one member suffers, all suffer together,” whether we know it or not (1 Corinthians 12:26). To that end, it's been said that we must be “placed here on earth to be keepers of each other. Is it not one of the laws of nature that we look to each other for counsel and protection? And is there not a monitor within which tells us, 'Watch over thy brother for his good?'”42

What do we, then, owe to our brothers? We owe them whatever's for the common good. We owe them what they need in order to get to where they ought to be in life. And where, then, ought our brother be? Flourishing, alive, in community with us, before the face of the Lord, that's where.

What we owe our brothers is to do no injustice to them, no harm to them. If “you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor,” as the Law says (Leviticus 19:16), how much less may we stand against the life of a brother! And yet how often brothers in Adam harm each other to death! Israelis and Palestinians, Russians and Ukrainians, to say nothing of the bitter battles within so many countries – and so many neighborhoods. So far should we be from harming a brother that we should defend a brother: stick up for, speak out for, stand in the gap for our brother under threat, whoever he may be, for “a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

What we owe our brothers is to never exploit them in their hardships. God's people were warned seriously that if their brother fell on hard times, they could not buy his labor at unfair wages, could not treat him like a slave (Leviticus 25:39), could not charge him interest on loans (Leviticus 25:36-37; Deuteronomy 23:19), in general that they could not treat their brother's loss as a source of gain. Would that someone would preach this to our nation, which so loathes to forgive, which cannot dream of a day without profit, which institutionalizes the exploitation of brother by brother! So far should we be from exploiting a brother that we should provide for a brother. “You shall not see your brother's ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them; you shall take them back to your brother” (Deuteronomy 22:1). The New Testament takes it a step further: “If anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). “We ought to lay down our lives for the brothers!” (1 John 3:16).

What we owe our brothers is to not divide them from our unity, to not drive them away, to not mislead them or abandon them. Paul tells us that “it is good not to... do anything that causes your brother to stumble” (Romans 14:21) – something that pressures or persuades your brother to turn toward sin. “Sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak,” the Apostle says, “you sin against Christ” (1 Corinthians 8:12). So, he says, “decide never to put a scandal or hindrance in the way of a brother” (Romans 14:13). So far should we be from scandalizing a brother that we should appeal to our brother. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1). “Whoever brings a sinner back from his wandering will save his soul from death” (James 5:20). So “exhort one another every day... that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).

And in this, Cain's question is resolved. God is our Keeper, and he chooses to keep us through our watchful and protective and provident love of one another. For in the sense of helping, defending, providing, seeking good for them, “every human is every other human's keeper, to the extent our own circumstances and abilities will allow.”43 How much more for us who claim to know the grace of the God Who Is Love? A hundred years ago, a preacher lamented: “We, we Christians, ought to be aflame with the desire for righteousness, consumed with a passion to recover the fallen, to save the slipping, to bind up the broken, to save souls alive; and yet constantly we confine our spiritual and our physical energies just to ourselves and to an immediate circle, and when the claims of the outcasts, the outsiders, the fallen, the down-and-outs are pressed upon us, we cry, 'Am I my brother's keeper?'”44 How often all our excuses and rationalizations and self-justifications boil down to that question. But St. Augustine reminds us that “one who keeps Christ in his heart does not say what Cain says.”45

For Christ, God the Son, eternally the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, elected in time to adopt himself into the human family, and “that is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers” (Hebrews 2:11). The Bible says it: Jesus looks at you and sees his little brother, his little sister. And “he had to be made like his brothers in every respect,” sharing our flesh and blood, “so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). Christ could not be any less like Cain. Not only did he choose humans as his brothers and sisters, he became our royal-priestly-prophetic keeper, insisting that he “lay down his life for his friends,” for his whole human family in each of its members (John 15:13).  That's just what the heart of Christ is: love that knows no limit, neither life nor death.  If you would simply keep Christ in your heart and in your life, “concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love... all the brothers,” all your brothers in all the world (1 Thessalonians 4:9). Amen.

1  Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 1.55, in Loeb Classical Library 242:27; Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Genesis 3.5.1-2, in Fathers of the Church: A New Translation 91:126-127; Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis 4:9, in Luther's Works 1:282.

2  James B. Prothro, “Patterns of Penance and the Sin of Cain: Approaching a Sacramental Biblical Theology,” Nova et Vetera 21/4 (Fall 2023): 1385.

3  Matthew R. Schlimm, From Fratricide to Forgiveness: The Language and Ethics of Anger in Genesis (Eisenbrauns, 2011), 139.

4  David Fohrman, The Beast That Crouches at the Door: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Beyond (Maggid Books, 2021), 93.

5  Joseph E. Coleson, Genesis 1-11: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (Beacon Hill Press, 2012), 158.

6  Didymus the Blind, Commentary on Genesis 4:9, in Fathers of the Church: A New Translation 132:123; cf. Martin Sicker, Reading Genesis Politically: An Introduction to Mosaic Political Philosophy (Praeger, 2002), 53.

7 Pamela Barmash, Homicide in the Biblical World (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 17; Matthew R. Schlimm, From Fratricide to Forgiveness: The Language and Ethics of Anger in Genesis (Eisenbrauns, 2011), 139.

8  Kenneth A. Mathews, Genesis 1-11, Christian Standard Commentary (Holman Reference, 2023), 230.

9  Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus 2.29, in Robert M. Grant, Theophilus of Antioch: Ad Autolycum (Oxford University Press, 1970), 73.

10  Epiphanius of Salamis, Ancoratus 38.8, in Fathers of the Church: A New Translation 128:117.

11  Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Genesis 3.6.1, in Fathers of the Church: A New Translation 91:127.

12  John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis 19.7, in Fathers of the Church: A New Translation 82:25.

13  James McKeown, Genesis, Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary (Eerdmans, 2008), 41; Joseph E. Coleson, Genesis 1-11: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (Beacon Hill Press, 2012), 158; John Day, From Creation to Abraham: Further Studies in Genesis 1-11 (T&T Clark, 2021), 88.

14  Bede, On Genesis 4:9, in Translated Texts for Historians 48:115.

15  Optatus of Milevis, Against the Donatists 7.7, in Translated Texts for Historians 27:148.

16  Sylvanus Conant, The Blood of Abel and the Blood of Jesus Considered and Improved (Edes and Gill, 1764), 10.

17  Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis, JPS Torah Commentary (Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 34.

18  Pamela Barmash, Homicide in the Biblical World (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 15.

19  John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 8 (25 March 1995).

20  Philo of Alexandria, That the Worse is Wont to Attack the Better 18 §61, in Loeb Classical Library 227:245.

21  Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies 3.23.4, in Ancient Christian Writers 64:107.

22  James McKeown, Genesis, Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary (Eerdmans, 2008), 41.

23  Martin Sicker, Reading Genesis Politically: An Introduction to Mosaic Political Philosophy (Praeger, 2002), 55.

24  Matthew R. Schlimm, From Fratricide to Forgiveness: The Language and Ethics of Anger in Genesis (Eisenbrauns, 2011), 142.

25  Mari Jørstad, “The Ground That Opened Its Mouth: The Ground's Response to Human Violence in Genesis 4,” Journal of Biblical Literature 135/4 (2016): 710.

26  Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 1.56, in Loeb Classical Library 242:27.

27  Joseph E. Coleson, Genesis 1-11: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (Beacon Hill Press, 2012), 158.

28  Leon R. Kass, The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis (Free Press, 2003), 142 n.26.

29  John Day, From Creation to Abraham: Further Studies in Genesis 1-11 (T&T Clark, 2021), 88.

30  Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis 4:9, in Luther's Works 1:275.

31  William N. Manning, “Am I My Brother's Keeper? The Answer of Christianity,” Western Morning News (3 October 1925): 4.

32  William N. Manning, “Am I My Brother's Keeper? The Answer of Christianity,” Western Morning News (3 October 1925): 4.

33  John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 8 (25 March 1995).

34  “The Keeper of the World's Conscience,” The Newcastle Sun (23 April 1924): 3.

35  Ambrose of Milan, Cain and Abel 2.9 §28, in Fathers of the Church: A New Translation 42:429.

36  Iain W. Provan, Seriously Dangerous Religion: What the Old Testament Really Says and Why It Matters (Baylor University Press, 2014), 191.

37  Johnson T.K. Lim, Grace in the Midst of Judgment: Grappling with Genesis 1-11 (De Gruyter, 2002), 156; Joseph E. Coleson, Genesis 1-11: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (Beacon Hill Press, 2012), 158; John Goldingay, Genesis (Baker Academic, 2020), 99.

38  Leon R. Kass, The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis (Free Press, 2003), 142.

39  Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis, JPS Torah Commentary (Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 34.

40  David Reich, Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past (Oxford University Press, 2018), 22.

41  John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, and Several Steps in My Sickness (Thomas Jones, 1624), 412-416.

42  Jedediah Holcomb, temperance address given 4 July 1837, in Vermont Telegraph (16 August 1837): 4.

43  Joseph E. Coleson, Genesis 1-11: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (Beacon Hill Press, 2012), 159.

44  William N. Manning, “Am I My Brother's Keeper? The Answer of Christianity,” Western Morning News (3 October 1925): 4.

45  Augustine of Hippo, Answer to Faustus, a Manichean 12.10, in Works of Saint Augustine I/20:131.

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