By Phillip Michael Sherman
In 'Babel's Tower Translated,' Phillip Sherman explores the narrative of Genesis eleven and its reception and interpretation in numerous moment Temple and Early Rabbinic texts (e.g., Jubilees, Philo, Genesis Rabbah). The account of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) is famously ambiguous. The which means of the narrative and the activities of either the human characters and the Israelite deity defy any effortless rationalization. This paintings explores how altering ancient and hermeneutical realities altered and shifted the which means of the textual content in Jewish antiquity.
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Additional info for Babel's Tower Translated: Genesis 11 and Ancient Jewish Interpretation
Adam; St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2001), 10. 33 See Jud 6:29, 10:18; Ps 12:3; Mal 3:16; 1 Kgs 8:31 for additional examples of this phrase. 31 28 chapter one or some group of people who suggested the idea of beginning a building program. The building of a city and an enormous tower takes planning. The people must have had their reasons and motivations. The text, however, is deafeningly silent concerning this. An additional puzzling aspect of the text follows the call to produce bricks. There is marked interest in the building materials themselves.
54 For historical-critically minded readers, the notion of the descent of Yahweh is often used to argue for the alleged ‘primitive’ origin of the narrative. There remains here, as elsewhere in the Primeval History, quite an anthropomorphic understanding of the divine. Yahweh, not unlike many deities in the ancient Near East, appears as a curious god who must be on-scene if he wishes to be informed about human activities. A similar situation occurs in the narrative of the Garden of Eden when Yahweh seems unclear as to the whereabouts of Adam and Eve (Gen 3:9) or in the account of Cain and Able as Yahweh enquires of Cain as to his brother’s location (Gen 4:9).
An earlier generation of scholars was especially concerned with identifying the historical referents or background for the Tower of Babel. 15 Where historical questions have guided critical interpretation of the narrative, they will be of interest. Generally speaking, however, early Jewish exegetes were not historical-critical in their interests or approaches. I attempt, therefore, to remain resolutely literary in my analysis. 14 These remarks are from a pre-publication version presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature.