Greater Men and Women of the Bible by James Hastings: 013. Abel

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Greater Men and Women of the Bible by James Hastings: 013. Abel

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

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

Crawford, T. J., The Atonement (1874), 273.

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

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

Fox, W. J., Works, xi. (1868) 140.

Jowett, B., Sermons Biographical and Miscellaneous (1899), 20, 130.

McIlveen, J., Christ and the Christian Life (1911), 61.

Matheson, G., The Representative Men of the Bible, i. (1902) 45.

Peabody, A. P., King's Chapel Sermons (1891), 317.

Rankin, J., Character Studies in the Old Testament (1875), 1.

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

Whyte, A., Bible Characters: Adam to Achan (1896), 44.

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

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


By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.- Heb_11:4.

If we accept the Bible as authentic history, it carries us back into the ages prior to the Flood, right back, in fact, to the very starting-point of human life. Of course other nations, in fact almost all nations, have their stories of life anterior to the Deluge, and they no doubt represent more or less truthfully the facts. If any one says that these early stories of Genesis are, like the others, myths, that does not affect in the slightest the essential truths they contain. The parables of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan are not true in the sense that ordinary history is true. They are true only in the sphere of the soul, in the inner regions of human nature; and so it is possible to regard these early stories as Divine allegories, and still hold the great truths that lie in the heart of them.

The purpose of the author of the story of Cain and Abel is unquestionably a religious one. The number of things that will not fit together and the amount of difficulties that cannot be explained in it, prove that the writer had no intention of giving a complete and exact account of historical events. The same thing is true of all those early chapters in Genesis. If we read them right through, and allow our mind to take in the real impression that they are fitted to leave upon it, we will not doubt for a moment that the purpose of their construction is to declare great truths about God and the human heart. It is in this light that we now study the story of Abel.