Archive for the ‘Tower of Babel’ Category

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New book available: Living On The Edge

October 22, 2013

Living On The Edge: a book for doubting Christians

Today Christians in the Western world are typically living in a post-Christian society. Christian beliefs are met with skepticism, and people see little reason to believe. Christians are confronted with daily challenges to their faith, and often struggle to understand the relevance of Christianity to modern life. Professional surveys indicate the following reasons why young Christians lose their faith.

  • Overprotective churches
  • Shallow church experience
  • Antagonism towards science
  • Simplistic teaching on morality
  • Christianity seems exclusive
  • Not treating doubters kindly

This 600 page book (written in English), addresses those concerns, providing evidence upholding and defending Christian beliefs and values, and proving they are relevant to the modern world. It is aimed at Christians struggling with faith and re-assessing their beliefs, as well as Christians who are interested in building a stronger faith. It is also useful for Christians who want a book to show their non-Christian friends that the Christian faith is reasonable.

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Article: The Tower of Babel (3/3)

April 24, 2007

The Tower of Babel: Outside The Bible

In addition, there is a specific time duration in which this tower must have been built. Archaeological evidence proves that such a ziggurat must have been built no later than 2,400 BC:

We see then that the archaeological facts coalesce around the dates 3500 to 3000 B.C. The building of a city not just a settlement, the use of baked brick, the use of bitumen for mortar and the fact that a ziggurat is being built all dovetail in date. This remarkable agreement makes it highly probable that the earliest date to which we can ascribe the tower of Babel as described in Gen 11:1-9 is c. 3500 to 3000 B.C.

But, what is the latest date to which we can ascribe its building? There is a text saying that Sharkalisharri restored the temple-tower at Babylon c. 2250 B.C., and another text indicates that Sargon I destroyed Babylon c. 2350 B.C. [24]

This suggests that there was a city established at Babylon efore 2350 B.C.; so, allowing a modest 50 years of city history, we can set 2400 B.C. as the terminus ante quem for the first ziggurat built in Babylon. [25]

We can thus date the building of the tower of Babel sometime between 3500 and 2400 BC.

[24] CAH3 1:1:219; Evelyn Klengel-Brandt, “Babylon,” OEANE 1:254.

[25] Ziggurats began as elevated temples and did not become “true ziggurats” until c. 2100 B.c., after which they continued to be built or at least rebuilt until the fall of Babylon in the sixth century B.C.’

Paul H Seely, ‘The Date Of The Tower Of Babel And Some Theological Implications’, page 19, originally published in Westminster Theological Journal 63 (2001) 15-38

This detail provides evidence that the Biblical record of the tower of Babel must itself be very old. Many modern scholars (especially secular academics), wish to argue that the Pentateuch was written at a very late date, supposedly during the Babylonian captivity (6th century BC), though incorporating some earlier material from no earlier than the 10th century BC.

It must be asked how even a 10th century writer living in Israel could possibly have such a precise knowledge of these specific details of religious buildings constructed over 1,400 years before he lived, during a kingdom long since ended, in a geographical area he had never visited.

Article here.

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Article: The Tower of Babel (2/3)

April 23, 2007

The Tower of Babel: Outside The Bible

Archaeological evidence proves that the Bible’s description of the tower of Babel is historically accurate on the following points:

* The description of the building
* The time at which it was built
* The specific materials from which it was constructed
* The order of the construction process
* The motives involved in its construction

The Bible describes the tower of Babel using a term which is historically appropriate:

‘Gen 11:4 tells us that the settlers in Sumer decided to build “a city and a tower.” The word used for tower is ldgm (migdal). Since this word is often used in the OT for a watchtower or a defensive tower (e.g., Judg 9:45, 51; 2 Kgs 9:17; 17:9; Isa 5:2) and nowhere else refers to a ziggurat, what reason is there to believe that in Gen 11:4 it refers to a ziggurat?

The first reason is that the setting is in Babylonia where the ziggurat was the most prominent structure in a city – both visually and ideologically. [18]

Secondly, the tower in our text was designed to bring fame and glory to the builders (“so that we may make a name for ourselves”). Mesopotamian kings often took pride in building ziggurats, but no such pride was taken in defensive towers which were simply parts of the city wall. [19]’

‘As for the use of the word migdal, one wonders what other choice the Hebrews had for a word to refer to a ziggurat? Since they had no ziggurats in their culture, they would either have to borrow a word or use the closest word they could find in their own language. As Walton has pointed out, the word migdal is not inaccurate and has a similar etymology to ziggurat, being derived from gedal (to be large), while ziggurat is derived from the Akkadian word zaqaru (to be high). [22]’

‘There is very good reason then to believe that the tower in our text refers to a ziggurat and not just to a defensive tower. The vast majority of scholars agree that a ziggurat is intended.

[18] Elizabeth C. Stone, “The Development of Cities in Ancient Mesopotamia,” CANE 1:236, 238.

[19] Singer, A History of Technology, 1:254-55; Forbes, Studies, 1:68.

[22] John Walton, “The Mesopotamian Background of the Tower of Babel Account and Its Implications,” BBR 5 (1995), 156’

Paul H Seely, ‘The Date Of The Tower Of Babel And Some Theological Implications’, pages 18-19, originally published in Westminster Theological Journal 63 (2001) 15-38

The Biblical account of the tower of Babel comes just after the record of the flood, and since it has been demonstrated that the flood occurred around 3,000 BC, we know that the events surrounding the tower of Babel must have taken place not long after this date.

Article here

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Article: The Tower of Babel (1/3)

April 20, 2007

The Tower Of Babel

The record of the tower of Babel is one of the most well known but most misunderstood passages of the Bible. People remember in general terms the great tower, man’s challenge to God, and the confusion of language, but they usually remember the specific details imperfectly.

It’s a short record, so let’s read it now so we know what it actually says:

Genesis 11:
1 The whole earth had a common language and a common vocabulary.
2 When the people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” (They had brick instead of stone and tar instead of mortar.)
4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens so that we may make a name for ourselves. Otherwise we will be scattered across the face of the entire earth.”
5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people had started building.
6 And the Lord said, “If as one people all sharing a common language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be beyond them.
7 Come, let’s go down and confuse their language so they won’t be able to understand each other.”
8 So the Lord scattered them from there across the face of the entire earth, and they stopped building the city.
9 That is why its name was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the entire world, and from there the Lord scattered them across the face of the entire earth.

It is a surprise to most people to realise that the Bible does not present the narrative of the tower of Babel as an explanation of how all the languages of the world came about, though many people wrongly believe it says this.

Article here.