The Origin & Healing of Sin

Abel and Cain offer their sacrifice to God

Abel and Cain offer their sacrifice to God

Prudentius(1) in a work entitled The Origin of Sin demonstrates the Type – Antitype(2) Structure of Christian Biblical interpretation. He shows this through the story the murder of Abel by his brother Cain enraged that Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God and his was not.

Then a brother in jealousy of the goodness that was accepted arms his hand to commit parricide, and breaks his own brother’s neck with his bent hoe, staining the new-made world with unnatural bloodshed, a world to be purified late in time when it was already growing old, by the sacred blood of Christ whereby the destroyer fell.  Death first began with he wounding of one that was innocent, and passed away by the wounding of one that was innocent, and passed away by the wounding of one that was guiltless. Through sin it arose, by sin it was done away, in that afortime it smote Abel, and then Christ; it was itself  brought to an end in aiming at one who is without end.

The Origin of Sin: Prudentius
The Origin of Sin: Prudentius

The Type/Antitype typology speaks to the criticism that says the God of the Old and New Testaments are not the same God.  The old one is vengeful and the new one is don’t worry be happy.  This is really grossly over-simplified as the Hebrew Scriptures are full of the loving kindness and never failing mercy of God. While the Book of Revelation for one in the New Testament has plenty of judgement (thank you very much).

For me at least,  I see the difference as not about God’s character at all but rather about the development stage of humanity.  There is a story I remember reading about John Wesley (where I have no idea) who went to the mines preaching grace and the miners paid him no mind.  The next day he returned, this time preaching hell-fire and judgment.  That day they heard him.

The structure of Type & Antitype display the essential and deep harmony of the entire sweep of the Bible.  It is one story. The murder of Abel is the murder of our brother and the failure of Cain is the failure of our brother.  When that becomes true we will be a long way toward understanding the amazing grace of God’s steadfast love demonstrated in the saving acts of God in history.

ivory panel cain(1)Aurelius Prudentius Clemens was a Roman Christian poet, born in the Roman province of Tarraconensis in 348. He probably died in the Iberian Peninsula some time after 405, possibly around 413. Wikipedia

 (2)Type – Antitype
1. One that is foreshadowed by or identified with an earlier symbol or type, such as a figure in the New Testament who has a counterpart in the Old Testament.
2. An opposite or contrasting type.  Free Dictionary

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