In the opening of the Old Testament, two creation stories are set side by side. There are major differences in these two stories. What are they? Explain the significance.

In-depth Discussion
The First Murder: Abel is the keeper of sheep; Cain is a farmer. How might we read this story as allegory?

Allegory: A story in which persons, places, and things form a system of clearly labeled equivalents, standing for other definite meanings, which are often abstractions. For instance, Characters may be given names such as "Hope" or "Everyman" because they have few personal qualities beyond their abstract meanings.

1. Why did God turn to Abel's offering, but not to Cain's? One traditional approach discovers a deficiency in Cain's sacrifice: Abel brought the best of his flock; Cain did not choose the best of his "fruit of the ground." Therefore Abel's superiority was deserved, as was the divine rebuke delivered to Cain. True/ false.

2. Consider for a moment how this story changes if we suggest that God's decision to honor Abel over Cain is arbitrary. What if Cain was well-intentioned and anxious to show the father the achievements of his toil and labor in the fields? What if the fruit of the ground was the bounty of his entire harvest? Cain offers it all to the Lord. What is the message of the story in this case?

3. What might be the sin that "lieth at the door"? God says that Cain must rule over it. The meaning of "it" is obscure obviously, but what might you speculate is the meaning of sin in this story?

4. Is the mark of Cain a blessing or a curse?

Noah's Character; what is Noah like?

How do you come to terms with the fact that the author of genocide is none other than God?

1. In Genesis, The Living Conversation, Karen Armstrong says that she has a quarrel with Noah because he doesn't ask God about the other people. He doesn't try to save anyone. So what is righteousness? Is righteousness someone who keeps the rules? Or is righteousness something else?

2. Despite Speilberg's cinematic portrayal, Oskar Schindler was anything but righteous. Yet he saves others. Whom do you prefer, Noah or Schlinder? Why?

3. Perhaps Noah must be looked at in view of the later story of Abraham who pleads with God on the behalf of the people of Sodom. What is significant about the difference between Noah and Abraham?

4. Wouldn't you imagine that at least Noah would have some bad dreams? And he does get drunk after the flood. He exposes himself and then curses his son Ham. What conclusions can we make about Noah?

5. In the whole story, there isn't one peep from the victims. There is not so much as a cry of mercy left in the biblical record. What do you make of that silence?

6. The Bible does not offer us perfect heroes. They are not so much beyond the reach as models. What is the effect?

7. Can we see the story of the flood as the education and development of God?

8. Why do you think we refer to God as HE?

9. If you were reporting this story for a newspaper, What would the headline be?