The Captivity of Innocence: Babel and the Yahwist
In this study-the third panel of a trilogy on J's tales about evil and innocence in the primeval era-the author turns to Genesis 11:1-9, another parable, this time on the so-called "Tower of Babel." The Captivity of Innocence analyzes a systemic robotization of society as a way of keeping innocence behind bars, contending that innocence never fails to offend, never fails to stir envy and hate. Here, evil is not wrought by an individual like Cain or Lamech, but by "all the earth," so that the summit of evil is now reached before Abraham's breakthrough in Genesis' following chapter. The present analysis uses a variety of techniques to interpret the biblical text, including historical-critical, literary, sociopolitical, psychoanalytic, and deconstructive approaches. The inescapable conclusion is that "Babel" is the "Kafkaesque" image of our world and is a powerful paradigm of our hubristic contrivances and constructions-"Des Tours de Babel," says Derrida-in order to deny our finiteness. Then innocence is trampled upon, but it is not overcome: Babel/Babylon's fate is to crumble down, and to bring up from her ashes the Knight of Faith.
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Abraham Adam ancient arrogant axis mundi Babel story Babel/Babylon Babelians Babylon Babylonian become Bible biblical text bricks builders building Cain called Cassuto chap chapter confusion construction contrast creation criticism culture death deconstruction Derrida descend Deut Deuteronomistic discourse dispersion divine Eliade erected Etemenanki evil exile Exod expression Fokkelman Freud Genesis 11 Genesis 2–3 Gerhard von Rad God’s Gunkel heaven Hebrew Hiebert hubris human Ibn Ezra Icarus innocence interpretation Israel Israelite Jacques Derrida John Van Seters Judean Jung LaCocque LaCocque’s language literary Manguel means Mesopotamia mountain mythic narrative Nimrod Noah NRSV oflanguages original parallel Paul Ricoeur perspective provided phallic plural primeval history prophetic psychoanalysis psychological reality religion Ricoeur šam says scattered šem Seters Shinar speaks story of Babel symbol tale tion Tours de Babel Tower of Babel tradition translation unconscious unity universal verb Verse whole earth words Yahwist YHWH ziggurat