[NetBehaviour] The Doubter's Mysteries: Cain and Abel

Edward Picot julian.lesaux at gmail.com
Fri Nov 9 20:31:01 CET 2018


What an interesting response! In answer to your first point, I'd love to 
see these performed some time, but I'll concentrate on getting them all 
online first, and into book form after that.

Some of the points of interpretation you raise I'm familiar with from 
browsing the stories online. I try not to get too much into the 
exegetical stuff, however, for fear that it'll cloud my own responses... 
and of course I'm coming at this from a sceptical/Christian perspective 
rather than sceptical/Jewish... but I do find the interpretations very 

Also very interesting to get this insight into your own background!

Thanks again for taking the time to respond,


On 09/11/18 07:13, Alan Sondheim via NetBehaviour wrote:
> Hi Edward,
> Really like these/this. A couple of things - I wonder if some of this 
> might not be put to music/ritual of some sort - in a way paralleling 
> the mystery plays?
> And then I wonder what Rashi etc. has to say about this. You've 
> inspired me to look it up -
> Part of the interpretation is that with Abel it was from*/his /*flock 
> - in other words the sacrifice was something personal; with Cain, he 
> "made no idivudal sacrifice and did not go out of his way to select 
> the best of his personal possessions." Rashi also says Cain brought 
> from the fruit of the ground - in other words, not his own, but 
> otherwise. So this is an anti-ecology; it's Abel's possession over the 
> earth itself, in a way, that wins out in the end.
> (Interpretation from Nehama Leibowitz (I studied with her!), Studies 
> in Bereshit / Genesis.)
> You do well to bring out the distinction between meat and non-meat of 
> course - and Jewish law has endless to say on kashrut in this regard.
> There's also from Malbim, "He revealed unto him [Cain] that the Lord 
> took no pleasure in gifts, but only in obedience. (goes on to quote 
> "to obey is better than sacrifice") - i.e. "The main thing is that you 
> should better your ways. You did not bring a worthy gift. Improving 
> the gift will not help matters." etc.
> Leibowitz was the best teacher I ever had; she was unusual, an 
> Orthodox Jew who theological interpretations brought everything into 
> play; at the time (early 60s) she was considered, at least by people I 
> knew, the leading religious biblical authority.
> Thanks for the text!
> Best, Alan
> On Thu, Nov 8, 2018 at 8:11 PM Edward Picot via NetBehaviour 
> <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org 
> <mailto:netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>> wrote:
>     Dear all,
>     'The Doubter's Mysteries' are an attempt to write a short cycle of
>     Mystery Plays - ie. plays based on Bible stories, like the Medieval
>     Mystery Plays of York, Chester and Wakefield - from the point of
>     view of
>     a sceptical modern audience; an audience which either doesn't
>     believe in
>     God, or can't work out what he's playing at.
>     There are fourteen of these plays, and the third is now online: 'Cain
>     and Abel'.
>     http://edwardpicot.com/mysteries/03cainandabel.html (or for the full
>     series so far, visit http://edwardpicot.com/mysteries)
>     - Edward Picot
>     http://edwardpicot.com - personal website
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