The Blood of Abel: The Violent Plot in the Hebrew Bible

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Mercer University Press, 1999 - Religion - 181 pages
Violence in the Bible has received a tremendous amount of attention in recent years. What has been lacking in many such studies is the kind of sustained exegesis of biblical texts that allows the Bible itself to set the agenda. This book begins with biblical texts and stays with them long enough to hear what they have to say, rather than using a collection of texts to support an argument. Part 1 traces the biblical story of Israel, focusing on tests at the turning points of the narrative. Violence enters the human community in the story of Cain and Abel. The thread of violence then runs through the entire biblical narrative. It appears prominently in texts where the status of Israel changes from free persons to slaves, to wanderers, to land-owning tribes, to citizens of a monarchy, to citizens of two monarchies, to exiles.

The interpretations of these passages expose their violent nature and then ask what they tell us about human violence. They reveal that violence is an inevitable part of human existence, which defies attempts to control it. They illustrate the ways violence alters the human identity, of both the victims and the perpetrators. Finally, these texts portray the ambiguous role of God in the midst of human violence.

Part 2 examines representative prophetic texts as responses to Israel's violent story, revealing that even these oracles accept the inevitability of violence and ultimately promote it. Even visions of peace and restoration are preceded by violent action which makes way for them. The conclusion looks at ways this concern about violence has shaped the Hebrew and Christian canons.

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Contents

Violence in the Bible
1
THE NARRATIVE FRAMEWORK OF THE BIBLICAL STORY
15
Violence Enters the Human Community Genesis 4116
17
Conflict among Brothers Leads to Captivity
31
Gods People Oppressed by Violence Exodus 1822
35
Conflict Between God and Pharaoh
47
Gods People Liberated by Violence Exodus 1111239
49
Gods People in the Wilderness
61
Conflict with Other Nations
103
Gods People Destroyed by Violence 2 Chronicles 361521
104
From Beginning to End
115
PROPHETIC RESPONSES TO THE BIBLICAL STORY
128
The Compassion of God Hosea 11111
130
INDEX
136
The Restoration of Gods People Ezekiel 37114
146
Peace on Earth Isaiah 11110
155

Gods People Acquire Land by Violence Joshua 6127
64
Tribes in Conflict
75
Gods People Becomes a Nation Because of Violence 1 Samuel 4122
77
Conflict over the Throne
89
Gods People Divided by Violence 1 Kings 12120
92
Conclusions
165
Bibliography
170
Indexes
Copyright

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Page 178 - They shall go after the LORD, he will roar like a lion; yea, he will roar, and his sons shall come trembling from the west; they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will return them to their homes, says the LORD...
Page 3 - Naming the Powers: The Language of Power in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984...
Page 8 - Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic Books, 1981).
Page 23 - In any given narrative event, and especially at the beginning of any new story, the point at which dialogue first emerges will be worthy of special attention, and in most instances, the initial words spoken by a personage will be revelatory, perhaps more in manner than in matter, constituting an important moment in the exposition of character' (The Art of Biblical Narrative, p.
Page 4 - McAfee Brown, Unexpected News: Reading the Bible with Third World Eyes (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1984), p. 13. "The strange new world within the Bible" is a term borrowed from Karl Barth.
Page 169 - My re-vision would produce an alternative Bible that subverts the dominant vision of violence and scarcity with an ideal of plenitude and its corollary ethical imperative of generosity.
Page 86 - The glory has departed from Israel!" because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. -And she said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.
Page 27 - Behold, you have driven me out today from the face of the earth; and I will be hidden from your face; and I will be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and anyone who finds me will kill me.
Page 21 - Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.

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