Building a Parody: Genesis 11:1–9, Ancient Near Eastern Building Accounts, and Production-Oriented Intertextuality
This study fills a lacuna in the scholarly discourse surrounding the generic profile of Genesis 11:1-9 (the famous “Tower of Babel” story) addressing the issue of the story’s appropriate (etic) genre, for the purpose of understanding the meaning of the text at the level of production. As the study focuses on the production level of the text, it provides a method that synthesizes both literary and historical methodologies into an intertextual-comparative approach. This approach was constructed to identify implicit references or allusions to extrabiblical materials for the purpose of understanding the rhetorical implications of Genesis 11:1-9.
Employing insights from previous studies on the building-account genre in the ancient Near East by Victor Hurowitz, and the comparative study of Gen 11:1-9 by Christoph Uehlinger, this study argues that Gen 11:1-9 functions as parody—a double-voiced text that adapts into its own message the precursor messages of Mesopotamian ideology in order to subvert them. Gen 11:1-9 achieves this parody through a sophisticated marking of precursor material structured around the common ancient Near Eastern genre of building accounts (Bauberichte).
Drawing upon modern literary theories of parody, this study addresses how an author manipulated the standard conventions of the genre and how the parody functioned for an intended community (or “ideal” audience). The analysis also orients the modern reader to the “horizon of expectations” for the parody allowing the reader to move closer to that intended community and participate with them in appropriating the parody’s powerful message.
PHD in Theology
Genesis, Tower of Babel
Missions and World Christianity
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