As far as I can remember, my mother was the first one to teach my brother and I about the Cain and Abel story. She inferred in her reading (which was the traditional understanding) that Abel gave the better sacrifice, the very best lamb he had. The question is, for me, where is this in the text? No where in Scripture does it say, in Genesis 4 that Cain gave the worst of his crop (as the children’s bible illustrations tried to teach me). This story always eluded me. For post-modern readers, like Brian McLaren and Marjorie Suchocki, they offer Abel and Cain as part of the meta-narrative of the Fall to violence, that Abel was one of the world’s first scapegoats (after his mother Eve of course), and Cain leads the world into death, rage, and eventually Nimrod’s empire.
At first, this would seem to be an appropriate reception of Genesis 4, but it still does not bother to ask, why is Abel favored over Cain?
For more, see Mosala’s Postcolonial Reading of Genesis 4.