‘Marks of Cain’ Gets Low Grade ♦ ♦ ◊ ◊ ◊

English: The Story of Cain and Abel; as in Gen...

Cain, left, wasn't feeling the love for brother Abel. ... Image via Wikipedia

Moderate hopefulness followed, in the end, by a sense of disappointed resignation. That’s how I felt after I recently finished the novel The Marks of Cain by Tom Knox.

For those who are unfamiliar with Knox, he’s a writer living in London who, though he doesn’t yet have the name recognition of top sellers such as James Rollins and Dan Brown, is a bit of a rising star in the subgenre that I’ll here refer to as “religious thriller” (see also: Black Order by Rollins, and The Da Vanci Code by Brown). Like Rollins and Brown, Knox spins a pretty good yarn; also like Rollins and Brown, unfortunately, his forays into religion-related storytelling seem to always end distinctly in the anti-Bible camp.

The Marks of Cain begins in promising fashion, as do many books in this subgenre; in this case it isn’t long before the reader is introduced to a couple of attention-grabbers: a young man inheriting $2 million that he didn’t know his grandfather had, and a series of grisly but intriguing murders. Connections become apparent to the reader as the story builds, and curiosity mounts ever higher as Nazis, eugenics, Genesis, the Catholic Church, and the Basque and Cagot people groups are introduced and expounded upon. What it all builds to—and I admit that this is engaging stuff to a lover of adventure and conspiracy such as myself—is a secret pact between Hitler and the Catholic Church concerning certain embarrassing and provocative genetic “truths.”

I’ll leave the details of said pact and said “truths” to your discovery; what’s more of interest (and concern) to me is yet another misreading of the Bible—or, to put it another way, an understandable but lazy “reading into” of Scripture (that is, reading into the text things that aren’t there). Oh, and a distinct dose of anti-Semitism.

Granted, The Marks of Cain is a work of fiction, but ideas have consequences—always—and you can add this book’s premise to the large and ever-growing stack of Biblically inaccurate theories that nonbelievers love to hook on to. In this case, the “bad idea-ness” is twofold: that Eve had sexual intercourse with the Devil, thereby producing a branch of mankind containing, well, some really bad stuff in its DNA (this idea is called “the Serpent’s Seed”); and that Cain found his wife from among another group of humans that God allegedly created in addition to the Adam-Eve group.

Both of these ideas are as false as false gets.

Nowhere does the Bible say that Eve had intercourse with the Devil; instead, God says to the Devil (in Gen. 3:14-15, wherein Satan is in the form of a serpent):

“Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

And of Eve, God says (Gen 3:16):

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

So, yeah, no mention there (or anywhere else in the Bible) of Eve and Satan getting it on.

As for the idea that Cain got his wife from a different group of humans: The question of “Where did Cain get his wife?” is understandable considering the wording of this story in the Biblical text (see Gen. 4, particularly verses 15-17), but there’s a perfectly good explanation—it’s just that many people (atheists and skeptics, in particular) don’t bother (or don’t want) to closely study the text in question and some key surrounding passages, and so they come up with these anti-Biblical, anti-Gospel, anti-salvation-for-all-mankind tall tales. I may create a separate post on this topic at some point, but here, in a nutshell—relying solely on Scripture—is the answer to the mystery:

  • God created Adam, then He created Eve. “Eve” means “mother of all living,” so just the fact that Adam gave her this name suggests that there were no other people groups besides the line of humans that came from Adam and Eve.
  • A bit later (Gen. 5:4), we’re told that Adam “had sons and daughters”; we’re also told (Gen. 4:16-17) that after Cain killed Abel, Cain left his parents and “dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch.” Notice that nowhere does the Bible say that Cain met his wife in another land, but that he had sexual relations with her and got her pregnant in another land. Combine this with the fact that Cain had at least two sisters (remember, Gen. 5:4 mentions Adam having “daughters” [plural]), and it’s plain to see that Cain married one of his sisters.
  • Even though marrying close relatives is taboo and outlawed now, it was neither back then. God didn’t outlaw it until the time of Moses, and the only reason He did it at all was because by that point in time, there was a large enough buildup of harmful genetic mutations in people to warrant concern about birth defects. Before that, though, there was no such danger, and in fact God was just fine with close relatives marrying before then.
  • It’s also important to note that “Nod” means “wander,” and since Cain (in Gen. 4:14) expressed concern about being a vagabond (a wanderer) on the earth, it’s likely that Cain gave Nod its name—another clue that there wasn’t already another people group in existence (if there had been, they surely would already have given the place a name).

And now, the anti-Semitism you’ve been waiting for. Giving a detailed explanation of this would give away too much of the plot, so let me just say this: within the context of the story, certain genetic activity could have led to the Jewish people becoming a higher form of human, and when a certain character learns of this possibility, said character makes a snide remark to the effect of, “Oh, those Jews would have just loved to have that information; they would have used it to oppress others who lived in their country.” You know, basically just presuming that the Jews would’ve been just as bad as Hitler and the Nazis had they been given the opportunity. Sorry, there’s enough hatred of Jews in the world already.

On the whole, The Marks of Cain is just another promising premise that fails to deliver, just like every other secular effort in “religious thrillers” I’ve ever read (though The Da Vinci Code was a good read, despite the falsehoods it promotes). I’m doubting I’ll ever read another Tom Knox novel, because I expect it will just be more of the same. I certainly can’t recommend this one.

P.S.: Readers of this novel should be prepared for a smattering of cussing, some sex, and a whole lotta English jargon.

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