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Joel Mayward

La Fille Inconnue / The Unknown Girl (2016)

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Evan C   
5 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

FWIW, the Hebrew root word for "keeper" is shamar, which has the various meanings of keeping an eye on, guarding, watching over, being careful or caring for, etc., such as "The  Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." So, while the greater sin involved in Genesis 3 is murder (just like the greater tragedy in in The Unknown Girl is the unnecessary death of the unknown girl), there is something in the story of Cain and Abel about responsibility for one's actions towards caring for others. Cain is being sarcastic or snarky in his response to God--am *I* responsible for people, o deity who is supposed to be responsible for everything?--but one can draw the conclusion that, yes, being responsible for others' well-being and flourishing is, in fact, part of what it means to truly be human.

That's the definition of keeper I was taught and always assumed for that passage, not someone who keeps and controls animals, and the passage was used to teach we have a social responsibility to care for others, and this film seemed to be a continuous series of failures in that regard.

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Joel Mayward wrote:
: Cain is being sarcastic or snarky in his response to God--am *I* responsible for people, o deity who is supposed to be responsible for everything?--but one can draw the conclusion that, yes, being responsible for others' well-being and flourishing is, in fact, part of what it means to truly be human.

Is that how shamar is used, though? (The word is used in 440 verses, apparently, and I haven't got time to go through them all now. But most uses of the word on the first page at that site seem to revolve around "keeping the commandments" and things of that ilk, though Genesis 2:15 features God telling Adam to "keep" the Garden of Eden, and Genesis 30:31 has Jacob offering to "keep" Laban's flock, and Exodus 21:29 talks about "keeping" an ox to ensure that it doesn't pose a danger to anyone, etc.)

FWIW, back when Obama was running for president and he said something like "the Bible tells us to be our brother's keeper", I asked a listserv populated by Canadian theologians if the Bible actually says this, and I made the point I made in this thread about "brother's keeper" being a sarcastic, disparaging expression within the biblical context, and at least one of the scholars on that listserv told me I was correct (and I don't believe any of them told me I was wrong).

So the point is not that Cain is asking am *I* my brother's keeper, but that he is asking am I my brother's *keeper*? Which, in the context of a story in which Cain has just murdered his brother partly because his brother was a keeper of animals (and Cain was not) is not insignificant, I think.

Evan C wrote:
: . . . the passage was used to teach we have a social responsibility to care for others . . .

Wow. Seriously? Genesis 4 was taught that way? Society practically doesn't even *exist* yet in that passage -- there's just Adam, his wife, and their two sons. The point of that passage, surely, is not that Cain should have *taken care* of Abel, who was obviously grown-up and capable enough to look after flocks, but that you shouldn't *murder* anyone.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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