Author: Archie C. C. LEE, Distinguished Professor, Center of Judaic and Inter-Religious Studies, Shandong University
cholars have long noted the difficulties of the conventional reading of the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 as mainly an account of the diversity of language and human dispersion in the world. Such a reading undermines the multiplicity of languages and plurality of cultures, treating them as divine punishment for human hubris. The paper will start first with the contextual issue of how the colonial and triumphal reading of the Tower of Babel story interpreted by the Protestant missionaries rendered the Chinese culture they encountered a rebellious and idolatrous other. The main body of this article will re-interpret the three repetitions of “Come, let us” (Gen 11: 3, 4, 7) and suggest that they represent three groups of speakers: the migrating community, the oppressing empire builder and the divine adjudicator who decides to intervene in the human world. Readers are invited to revisit the Tower of Babel from post-colonial perspectives and listen to the different voices articulated in the story.
Biblical interpretation, The Tower of Babel, Post-colonial Perspectives, Missionary readings of the Bible in China, Babylonian ziggurats
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