What You Know
Cain and Abel were the first two sons of Adam and Eve, granting them the dual distinction of being the third and fourth humans to grace planet Earth and the first and second to be squeezed out of a woman's loins. You may also know them as the perpetrator and victim of the first murder. As the story goes, the two brothers entered a field one day to offer up their gifts to God, and after God liked Abel's gift better, only one brother was left. That was Cain.
Naturally, God got pretty pissed at Cain for inventing murder, but He didn't want to kill him, since that would technically classify Him as the world's first copycat killer. Instead, Cain was branded and forced to wander the world as a hobo, eventually settling east of Eden in a land called Nod.
What You Didn't Know
While God was none too pleased with Cain, He apparently hadn't quite gotten the hang of that whole "wrath" thing just yet. According to the rest of Genesis 4, after taking away his favorite hobby and booting him out of Eden, God then went to great lengths to bless Cain along the way. First he assured Cain that nobody would ever kill him, which by Old Testament standards is like winning the friggin' lottery. Then Cain found himself a sexy wife in Nod, had a kid named Enoch, and founded his very own city, which he also called Enoch. (Apparently originality hadn't been created just yet.)
OK, we're starting to not trust the artist very much now.
In short, Cain didn't just wander the world like Caine in Kung Fu -- he wandered the world like someone who wanted to be the next mayor of SimCity, and he begat a pretty impressive family along the way to back him up. The Bible mentions children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, one of whom appears to have invented the guitar.
So in hindsight, it would seem that all God's pet Abel ever accomplished was to please God one day and then get his ass murdered. That's pretty small potatoes compared to his original sinner father, the Sower of Seeds, or his murderous brother, the Founder of Cities. We'll let you come up with your own moral to this story.
What You Know
You could stay a hundred miles away from every religious text in the world and you'd still know this story by heart, thanks to holiday decorations alone: Jesus was born in a manger to a virgin named Mary. His Earth-dad taught him to be a carpenter at some point, and after he started a social charity club on the side, he was crucified by some particularly uncharitable Romans. Three days later, he was resurrected from the dead, at which point he rose up to heaven.
"Wait, Jesus! You forgot your many bags of shoes!"
What You Didn't Know
The Gospel of John never quite gets to that "rose up to heaven" part. John 21 describes Jesus showing up on the shore after his death and making fish appear for his hippie pals. They proceed to have themselves a feast on the beach, and then Jesus asks Peter to follow him and go ... well, we don't know where they went. It ends with John 21:25, which says:
"Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."
Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
"And in the fourth month of our Lord, Jesus did catch some wicked air."
And that's it. That's where the Gospel of John ends, and Acts opens with Jesus strapping himself to a cloud and bottle-rocketing it straight up to heaven. We tend to think of Jesus' ascension closely following his resurrection, but apparently there's an Earth-sized ellipsis in between those two events where God knows what took place (literally).
This gives a whole new perspective to those "What Would Jesus Do?" bumper stickers. What would Jesus, newly resurrected from his own brutal slaying, do? (We can think of several things we'd do, but they're not very Christian-like -- more revenge-movie-like.) And, perhaps more importantly, why didn't any of his disciples feel it necessary to share any of those events with us? Was nobody taking notes? Were they afraid it would make the Bible too long? We're picturing Jesus feeding another crowd or walking on another body of water and his biographer standing there, like "Eh, they've got the idea by this point."
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"Maybe do it in lava? Juggle sharks? There has to be something that can keep their attention."
Follow Jacopo della Quercia on Twitter and at Man Cave Daily for his ongoing This Badass Day in History. Douglas A. McDonnell has no Twitter or cave to refer you to; he's just lucky to be here, and thankful, too.
For more insanity on a biblical scale, check out The 9 Most Badass Bible Verses and 5 Real Deleted Bible Scenes in Which Jesus Kicks Some Ass.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The 4 Least Anticipated TV Shows of March 2013.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover what happened when Jesus oil-wrestled Moses.
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