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Babel’s Dawn and the Primeval Language. Between Translation and Narrative, or the Syriac Version of an Old Jewish Tradition

Author(s): Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala

Journal: Humanities
ISSN 2076-0787

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 104;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Book of Genesis | Babel | primeval language | translation | narrative | tradition | Syriac | Michael the Syrian

The story of the Tower of Babel in Gn 11:1–9 gave rise to a rich literary tradition, in which the topos of the primeval language emerged. Whereas the interpretative tradition originating among the Jewish commentators upheld that the original language was Hebrew, in the heart of the Eastern Christian communities some authors supported this theory, but others stated it to be Aramaic. The aim of the present article is to show how a celebrated chronicler like Michael the Syrian (12th c. CE) composed his version of the account narrated in Gn 11:1–9 by echoing different textual sources, but at the same time by combining both translation and narrative techniques in composing his text.
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