Greater Men and Women of the Bible by James Hastings: 009. Cain

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Greater Men and Women of the Bible by James Hastings: 009. Cain

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Almond, H. H., Christ the Protestant (1899), 40.

Brooks, P., The Law of Growth (1902), 115.

Burrell, D. J., The Church in the Fort (1901), 222.

Burrell, D. J., The Golden Passional (1902), 141.

Cottam, S. E., New Sermons for a New Century (1900), 93.

Darlow, T. H., The Upward Calling (1905), 288.

Dods, M., The Book of Genesis (Expositor's Bible) (1888), 28.

Elmslie, W. G., Expository Lectures and Sermons (1892), 164.

Lewis, E. W., The Unescapeable Christ (1907), 161.

Little, J., Glorying in the Lord (1912), 164.

McClure, J. G. K., Loyalty (1905), 71.

Momerie, A. W., The Origin of Evil (1885), 98.

Mortimer, A. G., Stories from Genesis (1894), 44, 59.

Peabody, F. G., Mornings in the College Chapel, 2nd Ser. (1908), 123.

Phelps, A., The Old Testament (1879), 137.

Thomas, J., Concerning the King, 74.

Waddell, R., Behold the Lamb of God! (1903), 15.

Williams, I., The Characters of the Old Testament (1870), 12.

Christian World Pulpit, xlii. (1892) 128 (A. H. Bradford); xlviii. (1895) 280 (M. G. Pearse).

Clergyman's Magazine, v. (1877) 336 (J. Neil).

Expository Times, iii. (1892) 209 (H. E. Ryle).


Cain was of the evil one, and slew his brother.- 1Jn_3:12.

Whether the narrative of Genesis presupposes acquaintance with facts which have not been narrated, or omits to give particulars of seemingly important elements in the story, the conclusion which we draw from the structure of the narrative is the same. The peculiarities of the structure are due to the purpose which the narrator had in view. That purpose is not to reproduce in full the whole substance of the early Hebrew traditions respecting the history of primeval man. His purpose is rather to select from them just such incidents as will most simply and effectively illustrate the teaching of the Israelite religion respecting the attributes of their God and the nature of man; such, too, as will exemplify the steps by which primitive man declined from his true calling into righteousness, and by which the selection of the chosen family and nation came to be ordained as the only means of the ultimate restoration of the human race. The narrator's purpose, both in selecting the story and in condensing or embellishing it, is a truly prophetic one; he makes known the “Torah” or teaching of the Lord, “being moved by the Holy Ghost.”

For this reason, the story is not to be regarded as having been preserved to us, either in its original fulness or in exact continuity with that which precedes and follows. On the other hand, if the claim be made that the actual origin of the story is to be traced back to the recollection, in the people's consciousness, of the unceasing collision between the agricultural and the pastoral elements in prehistoric man, and of the dominance asserted by the former, it is not part of our province here to investigate the merits of such a plea. Neither that nor any archæological clue, however interesting to modern ethnological research, was present to the mind of the Israelite narrator to whom we owe the preservation of the story. What his purpose was in selecting it and assimilating it to the requirements of his people's religion appears more or less clearly from the truths which the narrator so clearly brings to light. So clearly, indeed, do they stand out that they will have occurred to the majority of readers. The religious teaching conveyed by the story of Cain and Abel relates to the subjects of sin, man's fallen nature, and the attitude of the Almighty towards the sinner.