“God created humans in the beginning to be his vice rulers over the world.

That is part, at least, of what it meant that humans were made ‘in God’s image.’ The ‘image’ is like an angled mirror, reflecting God’s wise and caring love into the world, bringing order and fruitfulness to the garden where the humans were placed. That project was, of course, tragically twisted with human arrogance and sin. But it has never been rescinded. . . .

When humans take up their divinely appointed role, looking after God’s world on his behalf, this is not a Promethean attempt to usurp God’s role. It is the humble, obedient carrying out of the role that has been assigned. The real arrogance would be to refuse the vocation, imagining that we knew better than God the purpose for which we have been put here.” – N. T. Wright, The Case for the Psalms

Bruegel the Elder, Pieter. The (Great) Tower of Babel. Austria, Vienna. Kunsthistorisches Museum, 1563. Oil on panel..jpg
Bruegel the Elder, Pieter. The (Great) Tower of Babel. Austria, Vienna. Kunsthistorisches Museum, 1563. Oil on panel.

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“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.’ And the Lord put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him.” – Genesis 4:15 (NRSV)

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“If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” – Genesis 4:24 (NRSV)

4.24

“Τότε προσελθὼν ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν αὐτῷ κύριε, ποσάκις ἁμαρτήσει εἰς ἐμὲ ὁ ἀδελφός μου καὶ ἀφήσω αὐτῷ; ἕως ἑπτάκις; λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς οὐ λέγω σοι ἕως ἑπτάκις ἀλλ’ ἕως ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά.” – Κατα Μαθθαιον 18:21-22 (Nestle-Aland)

“Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.'” – Matthew 18:21-22 (NRSV)

“καὶ ἐὰν ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ καὶ ἑπτάκις ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς σὲ λέγων μετανοῶ, ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ.” – Κατα Λοφυκαν 17:4 (Nestle-Aland)

“And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” –  Luke 17:4 (NRSV)

Hemessen, Jan Sanders van. The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. 1556. Oil on panel.

Crumb, Robert, and Robert Alter. The Book of Genesis Illustrated.
Hemessen, Jan Sanders van. The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. 1556. Oil on panel.

Botticelli, Sandro. Violent against others. 1495.

“Non ti rimembra di quelle parole
con le quai la tua Etica pertratta
le tre disposizion che il ciel non vuole,
incontinenza, malizia, e la matta
bestialitade?”

“Have you forgotten, then, the words with which
your Ethics treats of those three dispositions
that strike at Heaven’s will: incontinence
and malice and mad bestiality?”

“‘Filosofia’, mi disse, ‘a chi la intende,
nota, non pure in una sola parte,
come natura lo suo corso prende
dal divino intelletto e da sua arte:
e se tu ben la tua Fisica note,
tu troverai, non dopo molte carte,
che l’arte vostra quella, quanto puote,
segue, come il maestro fa il discente:
sì che vostr’arte a Dio quasi è nepote.
Da queste due, se tu ti rechi a mente
lo Genesì dal principio, conviene
prender sua vita ed avanzar la gente;
e perché l’usuriere altra via tiene,
per sé natura e per la sua seguace
dispregia, poi che in altro pon la spene.”

“‘Philosophy, for one who understands,
points out, and not in just one place,’ he said,
‘how nature follows—as she takes her course–
the Divine Intellect and Divine Art;
and if you read your Physics carefully,
not many pages from the start, you’ll see
that when it can, your art would follow nature,
just as a pupil imitates his master;
so that your art is almost God’s grandchild.
From these two, art and nature, it is fitting,
if you recall how Genesis begins,
for men to make their way, to gain their living;
and since the usurer prefers another
pathway, he scorns both nature in herself
and art, her follower; his hope is elsewhere.”

“God creates nature, and human art springs from and imitates nature [Aristotle]. Usury thus offends both nature (God’s ‘child’) and art (His ‘grandchild’).”

“And to the man he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’”

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1. Botticelli, Sandro. Violent against others. 1495.
2. Dante Alighieri. La Divina Commedia. BUR Rizzoli, 2016.
3. Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy. Translator Allen Mandelbaum.
4. Dante Alighieri. La Divina Commedia. BUR Rizzoli, 2016.
5. Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy. Translator Allen Mandelbaum.
6. Notes by Peter Armour
7. Genesis 3:17-19 (NRSV).
8. Crumb, Robert, and Robert Alter. The Book of Genesis Illustrated.

Blake, William. Cerberus. 1827. Chalk, ink, pen, pencil, and watercolour on paper..jpg

. . . “Ciacco, il tuo affanno
mi pesa sì, che al lagrimar m’invita:
ma dimmi, se tu sai, a che verranno
li cittadin della città partita;
s’alcun v’è giusto; e dimmi la cagione
perché l’ha tanta discordia assalita”.

. . . “Ciacco, your suffering
so weighs on me that I am forced to weep;
but tell me, if you know, what end awaits
the citizens of that divided city;
is any just man there? Tell me the reason
why it has been assailed by so much schism.”

“Then Abraham came near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?”

18.23

Blake, William. Cerberus. 1827.
Dante Alighieri. La Divina Commedia. BUR Rizzoli, 2016.
Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy. Translator Allen Mandelbaum.
Genesis 18:23 (NRSV)
Crumb, Robert, and Robert Alter. The Book of Genesis Illustrated.