Original Research - Special Collection: Bible 200

‘Ek is Kain’: ’n Hermeneutiek van weerloosheid as ’n antwoord op die dekoloniale diskoers

Gerrie F. Snyman
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 55, No 3 | a2738 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v55i3.2738 | © 2021 Gerrie F. Snyman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 February 2021 | Published: 13 July 2021

About the author(s)

Gerrie F. Snyman, Biblical and Ancient Studies, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


‘I am Cain’: A hermeneutics of vulnerability in response to decolonial discourse. Given the theological justification of apartheid by past influential theologians such as Totius, a hermeneutics of vulnerability is presented in response to the experiences of those who suffered heavily under apartheid in an attempt to render accountable those who benefited from apartheid. The effect of acknowledging the negative influence apartheid had on the black Other, places the white Bible reader in the position of an implicated evildoer or a sinful human being. The author wants to put this awkward position on the table by looking at Cain’s position and whether there is any empowerment in his story. In the first part of the article, after the introduction, a brief account is given of certain aspects of Reformed hermeneutics with which the author, as reader, wants to map himself. In the second part, Cain’s role is linked to whiteness under apartheid and colonialism, and to the German adaptation of the Holocaust in World War II under the rule of the National Socialist Party in Nazi Germany. Finally, the reader pays attention to the figure of Cain in Genesis 4 under the heading ‘I am Cain!’ As part of a final word, I seek to connect his interpretation to Reformed hermeneutics.

Contribution: With this, the author hope to draw attention to the role of whiteness (and masculinity) of the reader in the Bible reading process in a period where people within the Reformed religious tradition must reposition themselves in a post-apartheid and decolonial society. It makes the white male reader uncomfortable, but within a hermeneutics of vulnerability, it contributes positively to change.


Cain; Genesis 4; racism; whiteness; vulnerability; decoloniality; Holocaust.


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