Tower of Babel Real? (Reflection for 11/17)

While reading book 12 of Milton’s Paradise Lost, I was captivated by the Tower of Babel story. I’ve heard of the tower, but never really knew the story behind it. I started to read the biblical context of the Tower of Babel to see how it compares to Milton’s version. Unsurprisingly, like the rest of the stories, Milton did a really good job at comparing/tieing in the biblical Tower of Babel story to his own story. 

To mark thir doings, them beholding soon,/ Comes down to see thir Citie, ere the Tower/ Obstruct Heav’n Towrs, and in derision sets/ Upon thir Tongues a various Spirit to rase/ Quite out thir Native Language, and instead/ To sow a jangling noise of words unknown:/ Forthwith a hideous gabble rises loud/ Among the Builders; each to other calls/ Not understood, till hoarse, and all in rage,/ As mockt they storm; great laughter was in Heav’n.” (Lines 50-59)

I was going to leave the story here and just applaud the creativity of Milton. That was until I came across Paradise Lost 11/17–Daily Question by psustudent64. In their article, they ask “What is the importance of knowing stories of God through different cultural lenses?”. What an important question to ask when talking about the Tower of Babel since it’s all about different cultures being disbanded from one another essentially. I immediately went into research mode. The article The Tower of Babel Story: A Cross-Cultural Tale gave a lot of insight on how different cultures view/understand the Tower of Babel story. For example, the article says Islam sees the story as “In the Islamic tale, the story takes place in Egypt, and it is the Pharaoh who orders a minister named Haman to build a tower that reaches the heavens.” One of many different variations of the story, but still similar in the same vein. To answer the question, I think it’s important to understand the story through different cultural lenses not only to expand your knowledge of different cultures, but that the similarities in the Tower of Babel story almost gives it credit since it comes from so many different stories. Obviously there is a lot of scientific evidence why there are different languages throughout the world, but I wouldn’t discount the possibility of the Tower of Babel being real to some capacity.

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