Never before has the problem of evil been a more urgent subject for our reflection. The Yahwist confronts the issue through a sequence of stories on the progressive deterioration of the divine-human relationship in Genesis 2-11. In Genesis 4 he narrates the initial slaughter of one human being by another, and strikingly, it is described as fratricidal.
Onslaught Against Innocence: Cain, Abel, and the Yahwist provides a close reading of the Yahwist's story by using literary criticism and psychological criticism. It shows that the biblical author has more than an "archaeological" design. His characters-including God, Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel, plus minor characters-are paradigmatic. They allow J to proceed with a fine analytical feel for the nature of evil as performed by "homo" as "homini lupus." No imaginative "mimesis" of evil has ever been recounted with such an economy of means and such depth of psychological insight.
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