The First "Textual" Humans

I’m curious. Do we know that all “textual humans”, meaning those mentioned by name in the bible, are descended from Adam and Eve? Are, for example, the various ancient Egyptians descended from them? How do we know? Are all the textual humans mentioned after the flood descended from Noah?

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The first textual humans are described textually far before the Genesis story in the Bible. There are written and oral human creation stories thousands of years before the Hebrew bible story.

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Once we get past Genesis 11, it seems they assume everyone in their world (which was not global) is a descendent of Adam and Eve. After just 1,500 years or so, that probably was true. Either way, it is not theologically important till New Testament theology.

Which means they are not the humans of the Genesis text.

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What is the textual basis for “it seems”? Who are “they”?

That is the second longest chapter in my book. I’m not reproducing it here.

Are you supposing that the Babel story represents a real event?

I do not make a statement about it. This thread (and the linked article) give some of my thoughts on this, The Tower Of Babel. It is essentially orthogonal to the GAE, and not nearly as important as Adam and Eve in theology.

Why does the Genesis text get a privileged position in defining humanity?

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In the Christian world the Bible is authoritative (divinely inspired) and Genesis is the origin story.

I think @swamidass’s big point here is that it’s an origin story, but that doesn’t mean it’s a biological origin story, but rather the origin of a particular relationship between God and a people. That people started with Adam & Eve, but the unfolding story of that ongoing relationship is what the Bible is all about. To me it’s a beautiful framing of the whole book.


It must be important, because it appears to mark the dividing line after which all people in the text are textual humans (meaning descended from A&E). That’s why you brought it up, right?

Now I would consider it to be a story with two points: 1) don’t get above yourself (literally) and 2) here’s a just-so story about why there are different languages. I don’t think it has anything to do with the rest of Genesis. Then again, I think Genesis is a collection of stories many of which don’t have anything to do with each other.

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That is a possible position, though I did not bring up, not me. The only possible leaky point is the reference to Nephilim in Numbers 13:33…

I do not read it that way. It is not meant to explain different languages, because languages are not “confused.”

So the Tower of Babel comes up in Acts 2 again. Turns out there are deep parallels between all these supposedly unrelated stories.


I know that this is the opinion of @Jonathan_Burke.

But I didn’t realize you agreed with that view.

Seeing as how the text says this, could you explain what you think the story is really about?

Genesis 11:9
“That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”

[FN: Babel “That is, Babylon; Babel sounds like the Hebrew for confused.”]

It isnt about the origin of all langauges, but how God ensured they would spread out across the Earth when many (though not likely all) refused to do so, building ziggurats instead.

While technically one might say that the anecdote is about “spreading out the [existing] languages” rather creating these languages, I don’t think you can make the anecdote carry the structural load in this way.

Yes… we could say there are already the many languages… but if they were all joined together in making a construction … and had to suddenly stop because something changed in their communication…

… this implies that there was a COMMON language in addition to the different languages… and that suddenly the workers could no longer understand the common language.

This is far less plausible than simply going with the original idea:

Everyone spoke one language… and then various groups suddenly had their own language.

How else would you describe it, @swamidass?

Now I’m very confused, likely because of your apparent policy of providing minimal explanation.

What does that mean? Who assumes it, how would you know, and what would their world encompass?

Of course they are. You know that foreigners are confused because they make odd sounds that don’t appear to mean anything in the real language, and they don’t understand real language no matter how loud you shout. When their languages are “confused” it means they can no longer talk to each other; instant new languages.

I don’t think a slight similarity in subject counts as a deep parallel. But of course the author of Acts would have had access to Genesis and may have been influenced by the Babel story. Still not a deep parallel. But we digress.

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And in every religion, their text is authoritative (divinely inspired) and their creation story is the origin story.

Their’s is just a myth, right? And Genesis is the only truly divinely inspired, right?

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Something like that.

13 posts were split to a new topic: The “One Less God” Argument for Atheism

Just after we discussed the Tower of Babel, I chanced to pick up a book of short stories by Ted Chiang, Stories of your Life and Others, and the first story in that book is entitled “Tower of Babylon”. It’s actually about the construction of the tower (though the confusion of tongues does not feature). But what are the odds of that? It must be one of those miracles that proves the hand of God is at work, right?