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Joseph Laycock: The Legend of Cain and Vampires in the Bible

Joseph Laycock continues to demonstrate that he is the up and coming religion and vampire scholar for the next generation. He recently wrote an article for Religion Dispatches titled “Vampire Bible: Will Smith and The Legend of Cain.” The article begins with the recent announcement that Will Smith will play the Old Testament biblical character of Cain as a vampire. Laycock then discusses the various articulations of the idea of Cain as vampire, including that in the role-playing game Vampire: the Masquerade, as well as expressions of literature, both historic and modern.

Apparently something of a controversy has arisen as a result of The Legend of Cain, not because of the film itself, but because of the idea that the biblical Cain may be the source of the vampire in folklore. One aspect of the controversy comes from Christians who are up in arms over the idea that the Bible has anything to do with vampires. After his analysis, in his conclusion Laycock writes:

As for the accusations of sacrilege, perhaps we should look at the link between vampires and Cain not as a revision of a biblical story, but a testament to this story’s enduring effect on the Western imagination.

The accusation of sacrilege is interesting. It’s not as if there has not been a fantastic element associated with the early chapters of Genesis. For example, in popular Protestant fundamentalism and evangelicalism there is a belief that the “Nephilim” mentioned in an obscure reference in Genesis 6 are a race of giants produced through a sexual union between human woman and demons. It is difficult to see why this is more palatable than the idea that Cain became a vampire, but perhaps its because this fantastic idea is connected to a figure Protestants often equate with the sinister and the esoteric, and for them this is a connection being made by outsiders rather than one they see within their own religious tradition.

At any rate, I agree with Laycock in this assessment, and hope that Christians will be more cautions before alleging sacrilege in this latest instance of friction with the fantastic in popular culture.

Related posts:

“Joseph Laycock: Vampires Today”

“Joseph Laycock: Vampires and Eclipse”

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There are 2 Comments to "Joseph Laycock: The Legend of Cain and Vampires in the Bible"

  • Justin says:

    What I find interesting about the fact that Will Smith has been cast to play Cain is not so much that he will be portraying Cain as a vampire – that makes perfect sense with vampires being so in right now – but that Cain will be portrayed as African-American. As I’m sure you know John, just as there is a long history connecting Cain to vampirism there is an even longer history connecting Cain and his cursed “mark” to blacks. Many Christian slave owners once justified the enslavement of blacks on the basis that they were descended from Cain, cursed with black skin, and thus less than whites. Even today here in the South you can still hear white, Christian racists espouse such theologically based bigotry. So, my question is, why does Cain being cast as black mean for this movie?

  • An excellent point, Justin. Questions exist as to why an African-American is being cast in this part, and why an African-American would want to play such a part. Perhaps lack of awareness on Smith’s part?

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