Re: Did man originally speak a single language?

john zimmer (
Tue, 03 Nov 1998 08:21:57 -0600

I would like to ask a question. Has anyone explicated the Genesis
stories as an oral tradition that belonged to a family, descended
from Adam, passing though Noah and then compacted with Abraham's
break with the rest of the family? It seems that the settlement
of Noah's children into different peoples could reflect a family's
point of view of the recruitment of Noah's children as religio-
political elites in locales outside the Tigris/Euphrates floodplain
where the Biblical flood (and flood of Sumerian lore - as Fischer and
others point out) occurred. If Noah had been an elite (as alluded
to in both the Bible and Babylonian lore) and if he has survived
a monumental flood by knowing ahead of time, then other "nations"
in the Sumerian sphere of influence would have recruited the kin of
the famous Noah in the pursuit of religiopolitical alliances. In
other words, Noah was probably some big-wig in Sumerian culture,
as Fischer's analysis of king lists indicates.

This above process was told in Noah's family tradition from the
family's point of view (as the individual's sort of starting the
other nations) then the story was compacted and encapsulated when
it passed through a bottleneck, Abraham and Sarah, who actually
broke away from the family tradition.

If so, the story might be regarded as ritually maintained in
Abraham's family, since the children of Abraham probably were not
aware of Abraham's, or at least Terah's, formerly elite status.
Consequently, interpretations of the settlement of Noah's
descendants (in terms of language/peoples dissemination) would
have to be based on conjectures consistent with the knowledge
of the time.

This means that the author, Moses, may have codified a set of family and
tribal oral traditions that stretched back over a thousand years.
Do you know of anyone who has been writing along these lines?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of this approach? I ask you,
whoever has read this far.


At 06:49 PM 11/2/98 -0600, you wrote:
>Hi George,
>At 10:26 AM 11/2/98 -0500, George Murphy wrote:
>> 3) A demonstration of the unity of human languages at some basic level
>>certainly be of great interest scientifically & might shed some light on
>Gen.11. But
>>the emphasis in the Babel story is not on the original unity of languages
>but on their
>Not wanting to start our great debate again, I will restrict my comments to
>this. It is NOT just Genesis 11 which is impacted by a common language
>origin. I agreed with Gordon when he pointed out that Babel might have
>affected only a small part of humanity. But there is still the earlier
>common language that Adam and Eve spoke. So, any evidence of a common
>language would impact Genesis 2 first; Genesis 11 secondly.
>Adam, Apes and Anthropology
>Foundation, Fall and Flood
>& lots of creation/evolution information