Babel: History, Mythology, and Meaning (Video)

Episode 2 is now up. This time, it’s about the Tower of Babel story and how it fits into both the biblical narrative and the typical patterns of Near Eastern mythology. It’s broadly based on this article about Babel that I wrote several years ago, but I have some new material and a new approach to the topic that I think many of my readers will find interesting. The YouTube description also links to a transcript if you prefer to read that instead.

The video’s YouTube page is here. As usual, it’s best in a large window or full-screen on your device of preference.

4 thoughts on “Babel: History, Mythology, and Meaning (Video)

  1. This was a great video! I loved Hendel’s idea that Israel saw herself as the “little sibling” to the older, more established Babylonian culture, leading to the recurring theme in Genesis of younger brothers being elevated to primary inheritor. I’m definitely going to check out “Cultural borrowings and ethnic appropriations in antiquity” when it’s available at my classics library. Thanks for all the info in the video, and it was wonderfully presented!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s worth mentioning that Genesis 11 is also the last time–in the entire Bible!–that God speaks in the plural, and the dispersal of people goes along with the idea of Genesis 32:8-9 that each deity was assigned a certain land and people. I briefly discuss this idea, which comes from Richard Elliott Friedman, in this Reddit thread: Friedman’s video lecture mentioned in that thread — which can be found at –discusses the plurals of Genesis starting at around the 34:11 mark, but I highly recommend viewing the entire lecture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, John, I’ll check out the video. It’s interesting that God only speaks in the plural in the primeval history. There might be something to Carr’s idea that the primeval J source is different from the J source of the rest of Genesis.


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