The Blood of Abel: The Violent Plot in the Hebrew Bible
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.
THE NARRATIVE FRAMEWORK OF THE BIBLICAL STORY
Violence Enters the Human Community Genesis 4116
Conflict among Brothers Leads to Captivity
Gods People Oppressed by Violence Exodus 1822
Conflict Between God and Pharaoh
Gods People Liberated by Violence Exodus 1111239
Gods People in the Wilderness
Conflict with Other Nations
Gods People Destroyed by Violence 2 Chronicles 361521
From Beginning to End
PROPHETIC RESPONSES TO THE BIBLICAL STORY
The Compassion of God Hosea 11111
The Restoration of Gods People Ezekiel 37114
Peace on Earth Isaiah 11110
Gods People Acquire Land by Violence Joshua 6127
Tribes in Conflict
Gods People Becomes a Nation Because of Violence 1 Samuel 4122
Conflict over the Throne
Gods People Divided by Violence 1 Kings 12120