Do you take the Tower of Babel story literally?


I used to…that’s what I was taught…but now…


I’m not sure. I do, however, think it explains why the language differences around the world, in a literary sense.

Man was too full of himself, convinced he could, without God, raise himself to the Heavens by building a tower…mixing the languages made this view of himself as master of his own destiny a bit more troubling, and humbling.

And, the reason, I can except it as an explanation from the anagogical sense, is that when God sent the Holy Spirit down at Pentacost, he gave man the ability to understand each others languages…not for the glory of man, but so that man could do the will of God, and glorify Him!

Peace and all good!


Yes, and history has a way of repeating itself. I don’t think it is just a simple allegory.


I tend not to. The Catechism says the first 11 chapters of Genesis are not strict history, but recount real events using symbolic language.

So did the people really decide to build a big tower, or is that story being used to show what happened to mankind as it tried to exalt itself apart from God? To me, the second makes more sense, but I’m not opposed to a literal reading either.


Yes, the Tower of Babel was a real place. However we don’t know the time or style of the building. It might have been a pyramid or ziggurat.


Perhaps something like this…


I think the point is pretty clear and applicable.





Why would you not believe it?

Do you think God is incapable of scattering people all around the world?


I believe it. It seems as if there was a time not too long ago that Bible scholars started feeling peer pressure from skeptics, who made them ashamed to say that they believe in miracles of the Bible. So they found a “solution” for that with German higher criticism and also calling every passage in the Bible that had a miracle as being allegorical.


I was just wondering if there was an actual tower, how it could reach to the heavens, how, since it was built, nothing would now be impossible for man, and how was the situation so drastic, that God would have to take the measures he took.

I do believe that God could have scattered the people and overnight changed their language: he can do all things.


No. But this is an American conservative site, so you get a lot of scriptural fundamentalism here. The Church treads a fine line in modern times, speaking in veiled terms and carefully parsed phrases to allow both fundamentalists and modernists to think they are correct.


In a certain sense, as long as we get the message that God intended us to get from the story, “fundamentalists and modernists” are both correct… :wink:

Is the Babel story in Genesis because God wants us to understand that He smacks down attempts to build tall buildings? Nah. If so, the efforts of early humans absolutely pale in comparison to those of modern man.

But… is the Babel story in Genesis because God wants us to see that He is “the name” (ha-shem)? Is it in Genesis because He wants us to see that He is the one who who defines that his holy lineage comes from His Shem, and not that of some nameless technocrats? Yep. That’s more like it.

If we get that meaning, it suddenly is a whole lot less critical to debate whether there is a Tower of Babel somewhere… :shrug:


Sigh, no. It is never unimportant, because somewhere a person is learning about linguistic history and realizes the story is a fable, and unless they understand that the Church agrees, one more barrier is placed between a soul, and the faith.


Based on my research, I would say that is not correct. What has changed, for some, is there is research that gives good answers. The answers the Church has taught for a long time. Then there is the tendency for others to get quick answers, even if they are in error, and avoid doing the necessary research. It is very easy, on the internet, for a series of opinions to gradually change into facts or be accepted as facts. That needs to change. After all, getting the true, accurate answer, as the Church teaches it, is of the greatest value. I think it frustrates some that their idea of what the Church teaches does not match up to the reality of what the Church teaches. If we value the truth and wish pass the truth on to others, that means finding out what the right answer is, and that usually takes more time than some care to take.

For example, some just can’t accept what the Church teaches because, more so now than in the past, if it doesn’t match up to what science tells us at present then that idea or passage is allegory. It can’t be literal. But there are no peer-reviewed scientific papers on any book of the Bible. Scientists cannot study the immaterial or miracles, aside from them falling into the ‘unexplained cure or event’ category and stopping there.



I think you’re responding to me.

You have a magisterial reference that says “Babel is a fable”? Just curious… 'cause I’ve never seen that yet… :wink:


No, and as a Catholic who is watching atheism ascendant and seeing the failure of the new evangelization to…well, to do anything, I am concerned. We have needed something clearer than Dei Verbum for a long time now. Here’s hoping.


Too much babbling here…


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