We return now to Michael Breen’s, Modern Myths: Stories from the Bible, with synopses of his stories. So as not to be a spoiler, I will avoid discussing the end of any of these short works.
An Evening at the Club
This science fiction-like short fictional piece imagines the gods of humanity as members of a divine club called the Cosmogony Society meeting on a distant planet. The treasures of the club are modern and prehistoric hunting trophies, living tapestries, and its polyglot library with precious original religious and philosophical masterpieces. The main speaker, a god named Hadad,1 recounts in brief the narrative of the Old and New Testaments. We are told that when the gods divided up Earth, JHWH insisted he would create humans as immortal beings (by their eating fruit from the Tree of Life) in a separate paradise (Eden). Hadad mocks JHWH who was repetitively surprised by human disobedience which he punished by driving them out of paradise and forcing them deeper and deeper into the realms of the other gods where they become progressively morally depraved. However Hadad seems to express admiration for JHWH’s solution of sending a deus ex machina2 to redeem mankind.
The Mark of Cain
This remarkable story, the author’s favorite, retells the story of Cain and Abel from Genesis (4:1-24) including God’s act of marking Cain on the forehead to protect him from the violence of his fellow humans. However Breen expands the story after Cain’s expulsion to Nod beyond the mere chronicle of his descendants listed in the Bible. At one point, Cain comes upon Adam’s image originating from Sheol 4 but seen in a pool of water at the root of the mountain, Ekur.3 Their conversation is perhaps the most poignant of Breen’s entire book as Adam pleads with Cain to find a means of redemption and hope for humanity in the face of inevitable sin, death, and damnation. It is also here that Cain asks Adam about the mark on his forehead and is told, “It is a strange mark, it is one I have not seen before. I do not know it. Did God place it on you? If He did, then joy and sorrow and day and night are yours.”5 There is so much to this rich story, including the unfolding significance of Cain’s mark of opposites, but I will leave it for the reader to discover this treasure for himself of herself.
1Hadad, whose name derives from the Semitic word for “thunder” was the Western Semitic god of thunder and storms, often called Ba’al in the Bible (from Wikipedia).
2deus ex machina in ancient Greece and Roman drama, a god introduced into a play to resolve the entanglements of the plot. Also means any artificial or improbable device resolving the difficulties of a plot. (Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary)
3Sheol is the Hebrew word for the abode of the dead or departed spirits, equivalent to the Greek Hades or Christian Hell.
4 Ekur also known as Duranki is a Sumerian term meaning “mountain house.” It was the site of the assembly of the gods, a divine paradise (parallel to Mount Olympus in Greek mythology). The actual structure was the most revered sacred building of ancient Sumer (from Wikipedia).
5Breen Michael, Modern Myths; Stories from the Bible. Self-published, 2018. ISBN 978-0-692-14254-7, page 35.