In this study-the third panel of a trilogy on J's tales about evil and innocence in the primeval era-the author turns to Genesis 11:1-9, another parable, this time on the so-called "Tower of Babel." The Captivity of Innocence analyzes a systemic robotization of society as a way of keeping innocence behind bars, contending that innocence never fails to offend, never fails to stir envy and hate. Here, evil is not wrought by an individual like Cain or Lamech, but by "all the earth," so that the summit of evil is now reached before Abraham's breakthrough in Genesis' following chapter. The present analysis uses a variety of techniques to interpret the biblical text, including historical-critical, literary, sociopolitical, psychoanalytic, and deconstructive approaches. The inescapable conclusion is that "Babel" is the "Kafkaesque" image of our world and is a powerful paradigm of our hubristic contrivances and constructions-"Des Tours de Babel," says Derrida-in order to deny our finiteness. Then innocence is trampled upon, but it is not overcome: Babel/Babylon's fate is to crumble down, and to bring up from her ashes the Knight of Faith.
"Breaking free from the compartmentalized exegesis of traditional commentaries, LaCocque suggests some lively, diverse, and somehow splintered leads of interpretation for Babel. Giving up the illusion of producing the meaning of the text, juxtaposing instead various approaches and ways to translate and understand it, he echoes the teaching of this moral tale : men's calling is to understand each other without denying their differences, without submitting to any unifying tyrant."
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris-Sorbonne)
"There are few scholars in the world today who can combine expertise in Hebrew and biblical scholarship with intimate familiarity with leading figures in theory and philosophy. The range of disciplinary languages brought together in this new Babel is deeply impressive; the conversation is genuine, rich, and insightful."
Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies
University of Glasgow
André LaCocque is Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Chicago Theological Seminary. He is the author of The Trial of Innocence and Onslaught against Innocence (Cascade Books); The Feminine Unconventional; Romance, She Wrote; Esther Regina; and a commentary on Ruth. He is also the coauthor (with Paul Ricoeur) of Thinking Biblically: Exegetical and Hermeneutical Studies.
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About the Author
Andre LaCocque is Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Chicago Theological Seminary. He is the author of The Trial of Innocence and Onslaught against Innocence (Cascade Books); The Feminine Unconventional; Romance, She Wrote; Esther Regina; and a commentary on Ruth. He is also the coauthor (with Paul Ricoeur) of Thinking Biblically: Exegetical and Hermeneutical Studies.
Table of Contents
Foreword Wayne G. Rollins ix
1 Prologue 1
2 Construction 25
3 The Story of Babel as Myth-Tradition History 69
4 A Psychological Approach to Genesis 11:1-9-Psychological Biblical Criticism 89
5 Translation 127
6 Deconstruction 131
7 Conclusion 157
Index of Names 179
Index of Ancient Documents 183