Our theme music this week is Ted Leo’s “The Sons of Cain,” from 2007’s Living with the Living. Does it remind anyone else of Hey Dude for some reason?

General Introduction
– A month of Christian
– What’s on the blog?
– Nathan axe crazy
– Like us on Facebook!

Cain, the Sons of Cain, and the Lex Talionis
– Cain takes his revenge
– Cain fears his revenge
– The Mark of Cain
– The mercy of the Law
– The days of Lamech
– Orestes and the Furies
– The city of refuge

Achilles’ Revenge
– Revenge within revenge
– Humiliation atop revenge
– Plato’s Christian Bookstore
– Euripides and Seneca get ugly

Jesus Throws It All Off Balance
– But first, Paul quotes Leviticus
– Purification ritual or apocalyptic cruelty?
– Interpreting Matthew 5
– Pacifism? Law? Ignoring insults?
– What do the Anabaptists say?

Christians Breaking the Rules
– Grendel stands with the sons of Cain
– Mrs. Grendel takes revenge
– Beowulf as divine avenger and magistrate
– Stiletto heels for a proper vendetta
– Seeking revenge with Arthur’s knights
– Good revenge and bad revenge
– Explaining Monty Python

The English Renaissance
– The Seneca revival
– Shakespeare’s balancing act
– Why your high-school English teacher was wrong
– Claudius’s bedroom prayer
– F.O.B.

A New Kind of Revenge Tale
– Spoiler alert
– How Dimmesdale ruins Chillingworth’s revenge
– Who’s the protagonist?
– Updike’s twisting of the already twisted
– Captain Ahab’s quixotic revenge quest

Pop Cultural Manifestations
– Why do Christians get more uneasy about revenge in some genres?
– Dream time
– Justice vs. Achillean rage
– The racial component
– How explicit is it?
– The Biz Never Sleeps
– Where’s the critique?
– A tale of two Eastwoods


Aeschylus. The Oresteia: Agamemnon; The Libation Bearers; The Euminides. Ed. W.B. Stanford. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin, 1984.

Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. Malcolm Heath. New York: Penguin, 1997.

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. Trans. Seamus Heaney. New York: Norton, 2001.

Euripides. Heracles and Other Plays. Trans. John Davie. New York: Penguin, 2002.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Seattle: CreateSpace, 2010.

Homer. The Iliad. Trans. E.V. Rieu. New York: Penguin, 2003.

Kyd, Thomas. The Spanish Tragedy. New York: Book Jungle, 2007.

Malory, Sir Thomas. Le Morte d’Arthur. New York: Norton, 2003.

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. New York: Norton, 2001.

Plato. The Republic. Trans. Desmond Lee. New York: Penguin, 2007.

Seneca. Six Tragedies. Trans. Emily Wilson. New York: Oxford UP, 2010.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. London: Arden, 2006.

Updike, John. A Month of Sundays. New York: Ballantine, 1996.

—. Roger’s Version. New York: Ballantine, 1996.

—. S. New York: Knopf, 1988.

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