Summer 1965

Page 92

Sin 203

!rated, with the typically restrained pathos of Scripture, in chapter four of GenP_si• whif:'h nArrAtes thll story of Cain and Abel. Here we find brother set over against brother, a brother slaying his own brother. The sinner's question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" rings down the corridors of history, all too often to receive only the sinner's negative reply. The pattern for every war is revealed here; every war is essentially civil or rather brotherly. The story of Cain and Abel reveals in unmistakable terms the divisive character of sin, which, having set man against God, of necessity sets man against his brother. This truth about sin is proclaimed over and over again in the Old Testament. The story of the tower of Babel (Gen 11 :l-9) provides us with a particularly striking example. All the men of the world, bound together by a common language, come together to build a city and a gigantic tower, both of which will serve as monuments to man's genius and which will also serve to estahlish once and for all the unity of the human race. The pattern of the original sin is obviously being repeated, now at the collective level. And this collective sin will have precisely the same effect, .. 1. •

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introduces division, a division symbolized by the babel of mutually conflicting and unintelligible languages. All through history these dispersed nations will be at one another's throat, each vying with the other for hegemony, at one time triumphing, at another time succumbing. Even within the midst of the chosen people of Israel we find conflict and division, represented, for example, in the separation of the Northern and Southern kingdoms and in the Exile. There is a certain parallel between the Exile and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden. Eden represented a homeland, a place of identity, the external extension of man's interior life of peace. To be exiled meant to be an alien, a wanderer; it meant to lose one's sense of identity. The flaming sword posted at the entrance to Eden and preventing our first parents from approaching the tree of life was a dramatic symbol of separa-