Saturday, March 08, 2014

Cain and Abel (A Story about Priests and Prophets?)

What do Abegg, Flint and Ulrich Have to Say in The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible?

The Dead Sea Scrolls bible has for Genesis 4:2 (page 8); "[And a]gain [she] gave birth to his brother A[*bel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain wa]s a tiller of the ground."  It would seem at first sight, according to other biblical texts, that this is correct.  The text "Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was" has been interpolated by the authors. (The square brackets [] indicating that the text was missing from the Scroll manuscript.)  So the text could have been in the order "[*bel. And Cain was a keeper of flocks, but Abel wa]s a tiller of the ground."  Also Cain comes before Abel in the order of their births and the order of their offerings.     

Genesis 4:3,4 has: "3. And in the course of time C[ain] brought an offering to the Lord [*from the fruit of the ground.]  4. And Abel also brought of the first[*lings of his flock and their fat portions. And]"  Again there are author's interpolations for the missing text.  The text about what Cain and Abel brought  could have been in the order  "3. And in the course of time C[ain] brought an offering to the Lord [*from the firstlings of his flock and their fat portions] 4. And Abel also brought of the first[*fruits of the ground.]"  Also "offering" goes with the offering of an animal for sacrifice.

I conclude that the missing text (identified with an * of verses 2,3 and 3,4) was neatly deleted by someone.  The authors were then able to interpolate the missing text to match the other biblical accounts. I find it astonishing that the missing text of the original manuscript can be so deliberately manipulated.  Why was the text missing at these four critical points of the text?  


What does Josephus Have to Say in Antiquities?

-In his preface to Antiquities the Roman editor of the writings attributed to Josephus (the original Antiquities were not written by Josephus) wrote: "However, those that have a mind to know the reasons of every thing, may find here a very curious philosophical theory, which I now indeed shall wave the explication of; but if God afford me time for it, I will set about writing it after I have finished the present work."  "A very curious philosophical theory" - I wonder what he was referring to!  Did the writer ever explain this?  And why did he defer the explanation? Did he explain it in terms of the so-called Jewish War?  That would be the simplistic explanation probably adopted by most scholars.  But was War propaganda for Vespasian?  In which case, what was the real explanation for "a very curious philosophical theory"?   

The original writer attributes this part of Antiquities to Moses.  Moses established the priests and the prophets.  The writer thinks that Moses taught that God formed man out of dust from the ground and then gave man an animating spirit.  God commanded Adam and Eve to take care of the plants.  It seems that God was biased towards prophets who were agriculturalists.  Adam and Eve lived happily in obedience to the commands that they received directly from God.  God spoke by his Spirit.  This was not a matter of obeying the written Law, but of obeying God's Spirit.  But they disobeyed the commands of God.  Terms such as "soul", "sin", and "evil conscience" were later.          

Have you ever wondered why and when the story of Cain and Abel was written? Was the story about Cain and Abel derived from the conflict between priests and prophets?  Was Antiquities originally written by a prophet?  It has clearly been interfered with.  Abel was meant to be a farmer, an agriculturalist, growing plants, not rearing/taming animals.  Why do I say this?  The text says of Abel that he brought as an offering "what grew naturally of its own accord".  Exactly the same is said of "Banus" in Life 2 - He "used no other clothing than grew upon trees, and had no other food than what grew of its own accord."   "Banus" was a strict vegetarian. 

So Cain must have reared animals (forcing the ground indeed!) and he brought one to sacrifice.  The text plainly says that Cain offered sacrifice.  

After Cain murdered his "brother" Abel, God said that he "used to observe them conversing together".  I suggest that this was a prophet writing, recalling the time when priests and prophets talked to each other.  God then pressed Cain, "as resolving to know what the matter was".  Cain replied, "he was not his brother's guardian or keeper", recalling the deep split between priests and prophets.  

Ant.1.1.2. "Moreover, Moses, after the seventh day was over begins to talk philosophically; and concerning the formation of man, says thus: That God took dust from the ground, and formed man, and inserted in him a spirit [and a soul]."  

Ant.1.1.3."Moses says further, that God planted a paradise in the east, flourishing with all sorts of trees; and that among them was the tree of life, and another of knowledge, whereby was to be known what was good and evil; and that when he brought Adam and his wife into this garden, he commanded them to take care of the plants." 

Ant.1.1.4." God therefore commanded that Adam and his wife should eat of all the rest of the plants, but to abstain from the tree of knowledge; and foretold to them, that if they touched it, it would prove their destruction. But while all the living creatures had one language, at that time the serpent, which then lived together with Adam and his wife, shewed an envious disposition, at his supposal of their living happily, and in obedience to the commands of God; and imagining, that when they disobeyed them, they would fall into calamities, he persuaded the woman, out of a malicious intention, to taste of the tree of knowledge, telling them, that in that tree was the knowledge of good and evil; which knowledge, when they should obtain, they would lead a happy life; nay, a life not inferior to that of a god: by which means he overcame the woman, and persuaded her to despise the command of God. Now when she had tasted of that tree, and was pleased with its fruit, she persuaded Adam to make use of it also. Upon this they perceived that they were become naked to one another; and being ashamed thus to appear abroad, they invented somewhat to cover them; for the tree sharpened their understanding; and they covered themselves with fig-leaves; and tying these before them, out of modesty, they thought they were happier than they were before, as they had discovered what they were in want of. But when God came into the garden, Adam, who was wont before to come and converse with him, being conscious of his wicked behaviour, went out of the way. This behaviour surprised God; and he asked what was the cause of this his procedure; and why he, that before delighted in that conversation, did now fly from it, and avoid it. When he made no reply, as conscious to himself that he had transgressed the command of God, God said, "I had before determined about you both, how you might lead a happy life, without any affliction, and care, and vexation of [soul] {spirit}; and that all things which might contribute to your enjoyment and pleasure should grow up by my providence, of their own accord, without your own labour and pains-taking; which state of labour and pains-taking would soon bring on old age, and death would not be at any remote distance: but now thou hast abused this my good-will, and hast disobeyed my commands; for thy silence is not the sign of thy virtue, but of thy [evil conscience] {disobedience}." However, Adam excused his [sin] {disobedience}, and entreated God not to be angry at him, and laid the blame of what was done upon his wife; and said that he was deceived by her, and thence became an offender; while she again accused the serpent. But God allotted him punishment, because he weakly submitted to the counsel of his wife; and said the ground should not henceforth yield its fruits of its own accord, but that when it should be harassed by their labour, it should bring forth some of its fruits, and refuse to bring forth others.  Eve deceived by her spirit of deceit or darkness.

Ant. ADAM and Eve had two sons: the elder of them was named Cain; which name, when it is interpreted, signifies a possession: the younger was Abel, which signifies sorrow. They had also daughters. Now the two brethren were pleased with different courses of life: for Abel, the younger, was a lover of righteousness; and believing that God was present at all his actions, he excelled in virtue; and his employment was that of a [shepherd] {farmer}. But Cain was not only very wicked in other respects, but was wholly intent upon getting; and he first contrived to [plough the ground] {rear/tame animals}. He slew his brother on the occasion following: - They had resolved to [sacrifice] {bring an offering} to God. Now [Cain] {Abel} brought the fruits of the earth, and of his husbandry; but [Abel] {Cain} brought milk, and the first-fruits of his flocks: but God was more delighted with the [latter oblation] {former offering}, when he was honoured with what grew naturally of its own accord, than he was with what was the invention of a covetous man, and gotten by [forcing the ground] {sacrificing an animal}; whence it was that Cain was very angry that Abel was preferred by God before him; and he slew his brother, and hid his dead body, thinking to escape discovery. But God, knowing what had been done, came to Cain, and asked him what was become of his brother, because he had not seen him of many days; whereas he used to observe them conversing together at other times. But Cain was in doubt with himself, and knew not what answer to give to God. At first he said that he was himself at a loss about his brother's disappearing; but when he was provoked by God, who pressed him vehemently, as resolving to know what the matter was, he replied, he was not his brother's guardian or keeper, nor was he an observer of what he did. But, in return, God convicted Cain, as having been the murderer of his brother; and said, "I wonder at thee, that thou knowest not what is become of a man whom thou thyself hast destroyed." God therefore did not inflict the punishment of death upon him, on account of his offering sacrifice, and thereby making supplication to him not to be extreme in his wrath to him; but he made him accursed, and threatened his posterity in the seventh generation. He also cast him, together with his wife, out of that land. And when he was afraid that in wandering about he should fall among Wild beasts, and by that means perish, God bid him not to entertain such a melancholy suspicion, and to go over all the earth without fear of what mischief he might suffer from wild beasts; and setting a mark upon him, that he might be known, he commanded him to depart.