Origen Against Celsus by Origen
Chapter XXI. But I do not understand how he can imagine the overturning of the tower ofà
But I do not understand how he can imagine the overturning of the tower (of Babel) to have happened with a similar object to that of the deluge, which effected a purification of the earth, according to the accounts both of Jews and Christians. For, in order that the narrative contained in Genesis respecting the tower may be held to convey no secret meaning, but, as Celsus supposes, may be taken as true to the letter, the event does not on such a view appear to have taken place for the purpose of purifying the earth; unless, indeed, he imagines that the so-called confusion of tongues is such a purificatory process. But on this point, he who has the opportunity will treat more seasonably when his object is to show not only what is the meaning of the narrative in its historical connection, but what metaphorical meaning may be deduced from it. Seeing that he imagines, however, that Moses, who wrote the account of the tower, and the confusion of tongues, has perverted the story of the sons of Aloeus, and referred it to the tower, we must remark that I do not think any one prior to the time of Homer has mentioned the sons of Aloeus, while I am persuaded that what is related about the tower has been recorded by Moses as being much older not only than Homer, but even than the invention of letters among the Greeks. Who, then, are the perverters of each other's narratives? Whether do they who relate the story of the Aloadæ pervert the history of the time, or he who wrote the account of the tower and the confusion of tongues the story of the Aloadæ? Now to impartial hearers Moses appears to be more ancient than Homer. The destruction by fire, moreover, of Sodom and Gomorrah on account of their sins, related by Moses in Genesis, is compared by Celsus to the story of Phæthon, -- all these statements of his resulting from one blunder, viz., his not attending to the (greater) antiquity of Moses. For they who relate the story of Phæthon seem to be younger even than Homer, who, again, is much younger than Moses. We do not deny, then, that the purificatory fire and the destruction of the world took place in order that evil might be swept away, and all things be renewed; for we assert that we have learned these things from the sacred books of the prophets. But since, as we have said in the preceding pages, the prophets, in uttering many predictions regarding future events, show that they have spoken the truth concerning many things that are past, and thus give evidence of the indwelling of the Divine Spirit, it is manifest that, with respect to things still future, we should repose faith in them, or rather in the Divine Spirit that is in them.