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In het teken van Kaïn. Een theologische exegese van Genesis 4

H G L Peels

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 29, No 1 (2008), 172-193. doi: 10.4102/ve.v29i1.11

Submitted: 14 May 2008
Published:  03 February 2008


Present day reflection upon the burning questions of evil an violence increasingly dominate the agenda of modern society. Biblical scholarship can contribute meaningfully to this discourse by analysing biblical narratives in which the themes of violence and animocity occur. In this regard it becomes necessary to unmask the mechanisms of violence, and to examine the judgement of violence from a biblical-theological perspective. Violence and animocity are displayed very soon in the Old Testament. Genesis 4 recounts the well-known story of Cain and Abel. The story of the world’s first children turns out to be the story of the world’s firs murder. YHWH’s role in this process is of particular interest: his warnings (vss 6-7), his interrogation (vss 9-10), his sentence (vss 11-12) and his promise (vs 15). This article investigates Genesis 4:1-16 and focuses especially on the remarkable promise to Cain, the nature of Cain’s mark (vs 15) and the theological significance of YHWH as the keeper of Abel’s brother. Genesis 4 turns out to be a chapter with paradigmatic value for today.

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Author affiliations

H G L Peels, Theologische Universiteit, Netherlands



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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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