August 30, 2009

Bible questions and answers from readers

April 1, 2001

I would like to know where Cain’s wife (Genesis 4:16-18) came from?

First of all, I have to mention that my answer will be from a Catholic point of view. We take the story of Cain and Abel as a kind of parable or “teaching story.” Like many others in the Bible, they are meant to make a point and not to be taken as history. There are many literary forms in the Bible and each is subject to the limits of its type.
So it is an unanswerable question for me, because it assumes Cain to be literally the son of Adam and Eve, and not a character in a parable.

You may want to ask a minister of a fundamentalist Christian church so you can get another view. They take this Scripture literally.

If you would like to read more about the Catholic Church’s view of the Bible, you can visit:

It gives a very brief overview.

I should mention that the Catholic Church makes no official claim about whether Cain was a “historical” person, but that doesn’t mean a Catholic couldn’t believe he was. We are free to choose whatever makes sense, and I am clearly biased toward interpreting the first chapters of Genesis as parables. Most Catholic scholars (orthodox ones anyway) agree.

My apologies if any of this is offensive to your beliefs. We try to answer every question, but have to go with our beliefs and leave others to explain their own.

How would you restate in your own words Matthew 5:28 from the Bible? How do you perceive this verse?

It has to be understood as one in a series of teachings, all with the same underlying theme. Each part is in the form: “You have heard it said… but what I tell you is…”
In verse 17, Jesus says he has come, not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill, and each of these sections follows this theme.
1) The Law (which was incomplete) said not to kill, but the new way is to not hate or be angry.
2) The old way was to observe physical purity, but the new way is to be pure inside and out.
3) The old way respected marriage as a social institution, but the new way sees it as a sign of God’s love for us (and so divorce is unthinkable).
4) The old way was to swear to the truth sometimes, but the new way is to be so truthful that swearing is unnecessary.
5) The old way allowed revenge and imperfect human justice, but the new way is love, even for enemies.
And then the payoff verse: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The old way was imperfect, the new way is to love as God does, as impossible as this sounds. It is a good thing we have been given the command and the grace to go with it.
Anyway, I think the idea overall is to truly become children of God and not just in appearance. I hope this helps!

Leave a Reply