Cain and Abel

Albert-Nagy Ákos István: Cain and Abel. History of interpretation and dramaturgical reception. Kolozsvár: Kolozsvári Protestáns Teológiai Intézet, 2019. 125 pp. Szaktanár: Czire Szabolcs.

In this thesis we summarize how views about the of exegesis of the story of Cain and Abel have changed over history. In addition to this we analyze two dramaturgical receptions in this theme.

In the first part we follow the historical paradigms, how ancient biblical translations interpret the story, followed by the readings within the Christian Church in antiquity. After this we assess the views of Reformation, arriving to the third paradigm: the paradigm of humanism, where biblical exegetes start to use the tools of the developing science in approaching the myth. During the 20th and 21st centuries, the paradigm of historical criticism uses the means of linguistic studies, among others literary criticism, linguistics, textual criticism and semiotics. These paradigms show a diversity of interpretations throughout history in relation to the deeds of Cain, the personality of Abel, but also with respect to the judgement of God as well.

The second part sums up a wide range of interpretations within arts – visual arts, film, music, poetic and literary works. We chose two famous dramas about the Cain-Abel story to show how it is interpreted in dramaturgical receptions. The first drama is Lord Byron’s Cain, which greatly influenced the thinking of his era concerning this story. We consider this piece of work a milestone in the interpretative history which changed not just the secular but also the theological approaches.

As a second piece of reception history, we chose András Sütő’s 20th century drama, Cain and Abel. We have several arguments to support our choice. This modern work is not just part of the Hungarian heritage, one of the most recent interpretations. We are interested in Sütő’s work because of its unique interpretation, how he unfolds through the biblical theme the problems of rebellious people in the communist era.