Essay on The Holy Bible - Comparing Identity in the Tower of Babel and Creation Stories

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Identity in the Tower of Babel and Creation Stories

God recognizes that human beings are not specifically good the moment He creates them; for unlike His other creations, He does not pronounce them as such. But also unlike His other creations, they are the only ones created like something else, like God, in His image. If they are truly to exist and be good, they must become separate from God, as the other creations are separate and categorized. It takes some human action to get them out of the Garden of Eden--specifically, the woman and the man eating the fruit. Unfortunately, they can't do everything on their own. They need some interference from God, namely the flood, to distance themselves further from Him and to separate them
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Beautiful! Such is the power of language, or at least the power of language in the hands of God. At the beginning of the Babel story, all the people of the earth journey together to a new land and begin to build a city. "Let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth," they say, after they have prepared the mortar, and it is not clear whether they mean a name for themselves or a name for the city (Gen. 11:4). But whatever the object of their identification, it is important to note that they see a certain inherent power in both the act of naming and the very name itself. By naming themselves, they can exercise the power of self definition. And also, they believe that a name will protect them from getting "scattered"--a fate which they seem to fear, probably because they also see a certain power in group solidarity.

But since all the people of the earth are together in one spot, speaking the same language and pursuing a common goal, there is no need to name their city or themselves; it has already been done. They are "humans," distinct from animals and, we hope, distinct from God; and they live on Earth, separate from Heaven. If there are no cities different from theirs there is no need to name it. And if there are no groups of people separate from their own there is no need to name themselves. God Himself shows that distinctions require contrast: "And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night" (Gen.

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