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The Curse of Cain

The Violent Legacy of Monotheism

The Curse of Cain confronts the inherent ambiguities of biblical stories on many levels and, in the end, offers an alternative, inspiring reading of the Bible that is attentive to visions of plenitude rather than scarcity, and to an ethics based on generosity rather than violence.

"[A] provocative and timely examination of the interrelationship of monotheism and violence. . . . This is a refreshing alternative to criticism-biblical and otherwise-that so often confuses interpretation with closure; it is an invitation to an ethic of possibility, plenitude, and generosity, a welcome antidote to violence, as important for its insights into memory, identity, and place as for its criticism of monotheism’s violent legacy."—Booklist

"Brilliant and provocative, this is a work demanding close attention from critics, theologians, and all those interested in the imaginative roots of common life."—Rowan Williams, Bishop of Monmouth

"A stunningly important book."—Walter Brueggemann, Theology Today

"Artfully rendered, endlessly provocative."—Lawrence Weschler, New Yorker

Read an interview with the author.

228 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1997

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Religion: Comparative Studies and History of Religion

Table of Contents

Introduction: Rebuilding Babel
Identity and Violence
1. Inventing Identity: Covenants
Imagining Israel
Cutting Covenants
The Blood of the Covenant
2. Owning Identity: Land
Possessing Land
Exodus and Conquest
Polluting the Land
Whores in Exile
3. Natural Identity: Kinship
Exogamy, Endogamy, and the Foreigner
Rape and the Other
Incest Is Best
Kinship, Race, and Property
God the Father and Homosexuality
4. Dividing Identities: "Nations"
Nationalism in the Discipline
Nations in the Bible
Defining Israel
5. Inscribing Identity: Memory
Remembering the Exodus
The Politics of Memory
Joseph (He Adds)
Typology and Totality
Living Memory

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