We Are All Abel’s Heirs

  • Luigino Bruni
Part of the Virtues and Economics book series (VIEC, volume 4)


If the first murder in human history was a fratricide, then every murder is a fratricide. Elohim does not abandon Adam, but dresses him with skins. The human being does not depart in solitude: it is a family leaving Eden. The first human journey in the pains of history is not a solitary journey but a journey made together. In addition to the skins donated, there is the great gift of each other’s company for the journey to face the night time and the times of night. Even when you cross the hour of misfortune or error, the fact of being able to cross it with someone, ‘eye to eye’, is the piece of bread and sip of water that won’t let you die in the desert – even in the deserts of the crisis of work, of the company, and therefore of life. The blessing on the creation and on Adam does not get removed by disobedience. And a son, Cain, is donated to the human couple. Cain is a gift, even a future murderer will always remain a son. The second born is Abel. Abel is the same word that we find in the book of Qohelet: habel, vanitas, nothingness. Both become working men: Abel is a shepherd, Cain a farmer, and perhaps the narrative itself, too, contains an echo of the conflict among the last nomads and the first farmers, a conflict that was eventually won by the resident ones. Both make offerings to God, but, for reasons that remain mysterious, God did not like the gifts offered by Cain.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luigino Bruni
    • 1
  1. 1.GEPLI Department – EconomicsLibera Università Maria SS. AssuntaRomaItaly

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