Kunsthistorisches Museum – Vienna
This article is the answer to what appears in the Biglino’s blog about the Tower of Babel. This article is excerpted from the book of Alessandro and Alessio De Angelis, Oltre la mente di Dio.
The authors believe that the Bible copied the Tower of Babel’s story from the so called Sumerian tablets. Here I offer an interesting article by an eminent scholar that you can find online (see the links a the end of the article).
It is surprising that the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) is not found in any of the existing fragments of the chaldean historian Berossus, or in the works of any other greek author who had access to Babylonian traditions. The mention of the Tower of Babel would be instead present in one of the so-called Sumerian tablets, in the British Museum (click here) in a state of very precarious condition and with a very incomplete text. It has been translated for the first time by George Smith in his Chaldean Account of Genesis (p. 160) and William St. Chad Boscawen, Records of the Past, vol. II, p. 129. This is the most significant text:
[ … ] of them the father
(The thoughts) of his heart were evil,
[ … ] the father of all the gods he turned from
[ … ] Babylon corruptly to sin went
Small and great mingled on the mound,
[ … ] Babylon corruptly to sin went,
Small and great mingled on the mound.
The king of the holy mounds, [ … ]
In front and .Arm lifted up [ … ]
To the good god4 his father.
Then his heart also [ … ]
Which carried a commands [ … ]
At that time also [ … ]
He lifted it up [ … ]
Their (work) all day they founded.
To their stronghold in the night
Entirely an end he made.
In his anger also the secret counsel he poured out,
To scatter abroad his face he set,
He gave a command to make strange their speech,
[ … ] their progress he impeded.
The story seems to speak of a building built in Babylon by order of the king. The enterprise offended the gods who destroyed it at night. The translation of the Sumerian words – which would offer a parallel with the Bible – stronghold and speech – are as Smith himself admitted, very dubious, as it was observed by the great scholar of Oriental languages Franz Delitsch who translated into German the book of Smith. In fact, stronghold in Sumerian is tazimtu translated by Delitsch as lament while speech is melik which Delitsch translates as advice.
Moreover among the ruins at at Borsippa H. Rawlinson in 1854 found the cylinders of Nebuchadnezzar’s time that describes the restoration of the Temple of the Planet, which is the Tower of Babylon. It was built with baked bricks, the material used in most of the Babylonian buildings. Although some have found parallels with the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel, it is important to note two things: the first is that the cylinder would contain a tradition dating back to the time of Nebuchadnezzar (VI century BC.) and therefore much later than the period of the biblical account of the Tower of Babel; the second is that in the translations of two eminent scholars (H. Rawlinson, Herodotus, ii, p. 485 and H. Fox Talbot, P.R., vii, 73) there is no support to the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel:
The Temple of the Seven Planets,
which is the tower of Borsippa,
Which former kings had built;
And raised it to the height of forty-two cnbits,
Bnt had not finished its upper parts,
From extreme old age had rotted away,
The watersprings beneath it had not been kept in order; The rain and the tempest
Had rnined its buildings:
The slabs that covered it had fallen off,
The bricks of its wall lay scattered in heaps.
This is the description of one of the many buildings that at the Nebuchadnezzar times were in almost in ruins. There is no reference to the flood, or the confusion of languages, nor finally to any violent destruction of the building. M. Oppert, who had translated the text with references to the biblical account, later officially retracted its wrong version in the light of the new version of Rawlinson and Talbot.
Two things are surprising in the article of De Angelis. The first is that he didn’t quote the Oppert’s wrong translation of the Temple of Planet that would have provided a parallel with the biblical account of the Tower of Babel
The second, is that the author speaks about plagiarism using a concept related to the modern copyright.
The third strange thing is that De Angelis don’t quote the authors from which they took their informations.