The God of the New Testament is a much murderous god than that of the Old In the Old, Abraham is asked to sacrifice Isaac, but God stops him from doing so In the New, God has Jesus killed in a slow, painful, tortuous death What kind of god thinks a blood sacrifice to the death makes up for anything I listened to this book rather than read it because I can t stand Saramago s idiosyncratic punctuation or lack of it, like But the voice of both the narrator and the author, the smarminess, the all knowingness which was part of the book just irritated me I have loved almost all Saramago books I ve read, but not this one I got within spitting distance of the end, but dnf d it, just had enough and so I m out of step with almost everyone else who loved the book. A Portuguese MidrashSaramago s Cain is a traditional Midrash, a meditative, speculative commentary on the Torah, the first five books of the Jewish and Christian bibles Despite its often comedic, mostly polemic assessment of the God of the Torah, conventionally ascribed to Moses, Saramago isn t the first or the most strident critic to take seriously the personality of Yahweh and what it might imply for humanity and the rest of creation The most remarkable aspect of the work isn t its content but its use of a time travelling Cain who can peek in on various biblical episodes from Abraham s preparation to murder his son Isaac, to the annihilation of the residents, children included, of Sodom and Gomorrah, to Joshua s divinely sanctioned genocide of the Midianites and their neighbours, to the pointless torture of Job, to all of the gore and dispossession in between Cain therefore has a sort of synoptic view, to anticipate the New Testament term, from which he reports the violence, irritability, irrationality, ruthlessness, injustice and simply arbitrary imposition of misery on the world by the Lord.The character of the God of the Torah has been problematic since at least the time of Christ For Christians, because the intellectual and moral chasm between the perpetually vengeful Yahweh and the perpetually loving Father of Jesus appears to be unbridgeable For Jews, because by the time of Christ the rabbinate was preaching a sermon of love and forgiveness almost indistinguishable from the gospels of Jesus From time to time, theologians have attempted to square this divine circle by claiming mitigating circumstances the distinctly illiberal caste of ancient cultures, for example, or the possible inability of human minds to deal with the full monty of revelation all at once None of these rationalisations work out terribly well, mostly they just open the way for a free for all interpretation of inerrant scripture and further heresy or they promote the equally worrisome idea of continuing revelation which neither dogmatic Jews or Christians with the exception of the Mormons can tolerate.The second century heretic Marcion took some understandable action not long after the publication of the love imbued and anti semitic Gospel of John by simply rejecting the Jewish scriptures in their entirety The Protestant reformer, John Calvin, took the opposite tack and preached the justified vengeance of a wilful and arbitrary God on a sin infected, unworthy creation The only time the controversy subsides is when believers simply choose to ignore the all too obvious contradictions Catholics do this as a matter of principle, accepting both divine love and vengeance as a mystery , thus putting the problem beyond recognition much less discussion Liberal rabbis generally grab for the nearest shibboleth on the inscrutability of the divine mind.And this equivocation is something Saramago will not tolerate The God of the Torah is clearly insane This would be only a dogmatic issue of sectarian importance if it weren t for the fact that this God has been a perennial role model of leadership from Joshua to Donald Trump you re with me or against me there is no qualified loyalty nothing stands in the way of achieving one s personal objectives ruthless persistence at any cost is a virtue, etc This is a God who justifies violence and deceit and patent injustice as a matter of divine right Cain summarises the situation Burning sodom and gomorrah to the ground had evidently not been enough for the lord, for here, at the foot of mt sinai, was clear, irrefutable proof of his wickedness, three thousand men killed simply because he was angered by the creation of a supposed rival in the form of a golden calf I killed one brother and the lord punished me, who, I would like to know, is going to punish the lord for all these deaths, thought cain, lucifer was quite right when he rebelled against god, and those who say he did so out of envy are wrong, he simply recognised god s evil nature This is the God of War and very little else Saramago wants us to remember this. The lord, also known as god, created adam and eve, but due to tiredness of the act of creation or perhaps other minor distractions forgot to bestow them with the gift of speech, so to remedy that just stuck unceremoniously his tongue into them However it seemed bizarre it worked excessively well but what adam did with his new art, Let s go to bed, he said to eve Typical Ok, ok he probably couldn t say how lovely dressed you are since they were naked, but still, though they hadn t bed too, I guess Anyway, they went to bed and had children cain, abel and set, though about the latter we mention only from chronicler duty since he is neither here nor there in that story.And Cain killed Abel what is commonly known even to these one not familiar with Genesis and what is not known is the way Saramago retold the story of hapless Cain, the first assassin in world history According to Saramago Cain was condemned to wander for ever about the world and due to that could participate in stories described in Old Testament and see with own eyes burning of Sodoma and Gomora, for what he did hate the Lord wholeheartedly, destroying the Babel Tower, sacrificing Isaac by Abraham or trials of Job to finish his journey on the Noah s Ark And all the way he would challenge and undermine God s authority and his decisions The history of mankind is the history of our misunderstandings with god, for he doesn t understand us, and we don t understand him Novel, written in typical for Saramago style with long digressive sentences without punctuation and unconventional approach to the subject is witty, wonderfully quizzical, filled with blasphemous statements And though that looks like some light reading nonetheless it leaves us with some uncomfortable questions and unwanted truths It challenges us to consider nature of good and evil, free will, morality, determinism and responsibility for own deeds God from Old Testament is neither kind hearted nor forgiving old fellow He is demanding and punishing, vengeful and unjust Given the terrible lot of Sodoma and Gomora, burnt to the ground, did Lord find women guilty too, and if so, what about the children, Cain would ask Your mistake is to assume that guilt is understood in the same way by god and by men.If God is that omniscient how is it even possible the world is as it is, we could ask Are we only a plaything in his hands, a wager in his neverending struggle with Satan the innocent are now accustomed to paying for the sinners, The lord seems to have a very strange idea of justice. The life of a god isn t as easy as you think, said God to Cain.When Cain meets an angel and enters into an argument about the oblation god has ordered Abraham to make of his own son, the angel, feeling trapped, mutters under his breath, Oh no, a rationalist, and tries to sneak away to complete the divine mission with which he s charged The angel might have turned a deaf ear to Cain s cold logic, but you, the angelic reader, have no recourse but to subject yourself to his grilling.The hero or anti hero of this story, depending on one s point of view, is none but Cain, Adam s other son, the first murderer, the embodiment of evil, transformed for the purpose into the author s rationalist alter ego, shredding to bits the moral fabric Biblical history is made of, with the confidence of a devil and the precision of an infallible angel Saramago s purpose here is not to tell us something new we have heard all that before Nor is there an attempt to engage the rationalist and the religionist on a profounder philosophical level Instead, he takes to task the sacred and the revered through the felicitous agency of satire, just that this time it is caustic, hilarious, direct, with no attempt at subtlety, with a delicious tongue smacking of an irreverent blasphemer, the title he earned for writing this story In any case, it s guaranteed to amuse you or enrage you, depending, again, on your point of view As I read on I couldn t help recalling Voltaire s Candide in which chance compels a young and intelligent man to traverse the earth in search of some universal dicta that would help him answer questions about life Likewise our protagonist Cain, carrying a curse by god as punishment for unjustly killing his brother, is condemned to travel between places and ages, and like Machado de Assis Br s Cubas, he goes beyond the confines of human time to meet various Biblical characters and sees the history, as crystallised in the Old Testament, unfold before his sinful eyes Be it Moses genocidal campaigns on god s behest or the gambler s wager between god and satan for Job s test of patience, whether it s the total annihilation of Sodom Gomorrah for guess what homosexuality or the essentially immoral tale of god, like an insane ruler, ordering Abraham to put to sword his own son as a test of his faith, the Cain goes around the evidence he sees of god s wickedness and irrationality, amazed at the games he plays with humans he created to prove his superiority and uniqueness, perhaps in a bawdy attempt to escape his own ennui or to placate his inflated divine ego On the last stop in Cain s journey before the curtain falls he meets Noah and hears of god s grand plan to destroy all of humanity except Noah s family and those who manage to clamber upon the ark Turning over in his head the mountain of evidence of god s evil ways Cain tells NoahI have learned one thing, What s that, That our god, the creator of heaven and earth, is completely mad, innocent are now accustomed to paying for the sinners, the lord seems to have a very strange idea of justice, the idea of someone who hasn t the slightest notion of what human justice might beAll in all, there are lots of chuckles and gasps to be had here, in signature Saramago style August 2015 The Mark of CAIN SaramagoI enjoyed revisiting Genesis accompanying Saramago s Cain With this rebellious murderer who, after all, is a man who seeks justice, we are offered to time travel with him through that first Book of Everything We jump forwards and jump backwards in the genesis narrative, and every time there is a change in gear the reader is given a jolt And a new breath and freshness sweeps over this reverted genesis.Saramago s Cain is a disappointed man And it is his disappointment that has created all his troubles Granted, there was jealousy in the deed for which he is known But at the root of the jealousy there was a drive towards god And there lies the disappointment The story then becomes a quixotic quest for there is always an explicit quixotic element in Saramago s characters part of Saramago s mark as Cain searches through the holy book for the presence of the love and justice that he expects out of his god And the search turns out to be quixotic indeed.Saramago s mark can also be felt in one s ribs not the one from which Cain s mother originated , but because humour and laughter always spring out of his writing. Saramago 100%,. Dup Ce I Ucide Fratele Ntr Un Moment De Frustrare, Cain Ajunge La O N Elegere Cu Dumnezeu I Scap Cu Via , Condamnat La Ve Nica Pribegie, Cu Un Sac De Merinde I Av Nd Drept Tovar Un M Gar Cutreier Nd Lumea I Timpurile, C L Torul F R V Rsta Perturb Pove Tile Unei Ntregi Distribu Ii De Personaje Familiare Noe, Moise, Isaac , Schimb Nd Pentru Totdeauna Cursul Legendelor N Drumul S U Pe Tar Mul Biblic Cu Caracterul S U Nevolnic I Cu Des V R Ire Uman, Cain Se Str Duie Te S N Eleag Ideea Credin Ei, Socotelile I Faptele Unui Dumnezeu De Nepatruns I get Saramago s genius Way late , yeah, but I FINALLY GET IT cue to me running barefoot downhill, waving arms, surrendering to literary genius at long last Sacrilegious, funny the prose finally twines itself with my alert reader s sensitivity the cascade of commas, the deficit of paragraphs, capitalizations, periods all the magician s tricks finally seem to me to be EARNED Previously, I ve been uninspired by The History of the Siege of Lisbon and The Double the acrobatics leading to nothing but small stories with tiny miracles in em But, at last, the subject seems to fit the writer s own predilections of making long streaming sentences a trick of Garcia Marquez as well build entire tableaus in the roving mind.And the tableaus here range from ghastly to heavenly, as god and satan himself notice the lack of capitalization, as if everything, EVERYTHING biblical has a shadiness of apocrypha battle it out This one reminds me of Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice indeed, her newer Angel Time also deals with alternative presents the various adventures that Cain, not the killer of society but the independent hero, experiences Finally, the hokeyness of Saramago a.k.a time travel of biblical figures is minimized to accessible levels Ironically, writing about these grand themes finally becomes his most personal worthwhile work CAIN s his final novel Ukoliko razmi ljate u dogmatskim okvirima, ova knjiga nije za vas, i bolje je nemojte itati nego da joj dajete jednu ili dve zvezdice Ako i pro itate po ele ete da spalite ovu knjigu ili da vidite njenog autora na loma i Zaobi ite je i zanemarite ove silne zvezdice ova knjiga nije za vasKao to napisah u jednom usputnom komentaru ova knjiga je brutalna, otrovna, ironi na, satiri na Saramago kao da se kroz ovo satiri no sagledavanje Starog zaveta pita da li ove anstvo, od samog svog postanka, pogre no tuma i ili shvata boga ali ne samo boga ve i one koji se pona aju kao bogovi Saramago je bio veoma politi ki anga ovan Ide li ove anstvo stranputicom koja se ini poput puta zato to ju je neko pro irio da bi li ila na put koji vodi u sigurnost, a koji zapravo vodi u propast Saramago poru uje da je budu nost napisana, ali da je ove anstvo previ e slepo i ograni eno da bi umelo da je pro ita Kain je Saramagov amar svima onima koji misle da ivot ne mo e bez ustaljenih normi, principa, slepog verovanja, krutih ablona i da se svaki korak mora napraviti na utabanoj stazi koju su napravili oni koji mo da i nisu pametniji od nas. Jos Saramago is certainly not the first writer to question the logic of the old testament, the legitimacy of the Lord s pronouncements, and the merits of the prophets who interpreted those pronouncements for the benefit of the descendants of Adam and Eve, and sometime later, for the benefit of descendants of the very small gene pool of Noah s family who survived the Flood and repopulated the earth when everyone else was drowned, but Saramago is possibly one of the most creative and original to treat the subject in his very distinctive style which, in this case, is very averse to the use of conventions like the full stop or quotation marks as if they might have been ordained for our use by the Lord and therefore may not be used in this piece of writing which, after all, is a challenge to all the laws laid down to regulate the lives of the chosen people, but oddly enough, he, Saramago, that is, and not the Lord, has retained the use of the humble comma which he uses well and often so that once we have accepted this, the narrative of Cain s wanderings over the ancient world and across the centuries of the Old Testament, interfering here and there with the Lord s decisions while also keeping an eye on the Devil s activities and generally applying Saramago s brand of no nonsense reasoning to the various episodes he encounters in his peregrinations, all of which are entertaining in an odd way even while they underline the shaky foundations of Old Testament wisdom, leads the reader entertainingly and finally to a full stop.
Jos Saramago Foundation is currently based in Casa dos Bicos, a Portuguese landmark building in Lisbon Saramago s house in Lanzarote is also open to the public.Jos Saramago, together with his wife Pilar, were the subject of the award winning documentary
- Mass Market Paperback
- 160 pages
- José Saramago
- 27 October 2017 José Saramago