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Cain And Abel As Character Traits: A Study In The Allegorical Typology Of Philo Of Alexandria

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Chapter Summary

The writings of Philo of Alexandria contain three extensive treatments of the Cain and Abel narrative: On the Sacrifices of Abel and Cain, The Worse Attacks the Better, and On the Posterity and Exile of Cain. This chapter argues that Philo's interpretation of Cain and Abel is typological, and that the types in question are both cosmological and psychological. The types of Cain and Abel are presented as two aspects of the human soul, representing the human capacity for good and the human capacity for evil. The chapter discusses the nature of typology and its relationship to allegory. It questions the claim that Philo does not engage in typological interpretation by considering Philo's interpretations and terminology. According to the author, Cain and Abel exemplify character traits, and their conflict exemplifies the conflict between these traits in every human soul.

Keywords: Abel; allegorical typology; Cain; character traits; human soul; Philo of Alexandria



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