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About the Book

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI


Vol.6:  Time and Eternity

Part V


Table of Contents

Chapter 1.   The Original Unity of Languages
Chapter 2.   The Original Speech of Mankind
Chapter 3.   The Confusion of Language: Ancient and Modern


Publishing history:
1961:  Doorway Paper No. 8, published privately by Arthur C. Custance
1977:  Part V in Time and Eternity, vol.6 in The Doorway Papers Series, Zondervan Publishing Company
1997:  Arthur Custance Online Library (html)
2001:  2nd Online Edition (design revisions)

     pg 1 of 3      




     THIS PAPER is concerned with the circumstances surrounding an event which has this unique feature: it proved to be the last experience to form the basis of a tradition thereafter shared by all nations and subsequently carried by them to the ends of the earth. All nations have in common traditions of Eden and the Fall and of the Flood and of the building of the Tower of Babel and the Confusion of Tongues. But after this, they seem to have parted company and shared no more. Clearly Scripture is recording something here that profoundly affected human history.
     Certain questions arise, which are the subject of this Paper. These questions may be summarized as follows:

1. Is there any evidence that mankind did at any time within the last few thousand years share a single language, as seems to be clearly implied by the wording of Genesis 1 1:1?

2. If mankind did for several thousand years from Adam to Noah speak one language, have we any way of determining either from Scripture or elsewhere what particular language it was?

3. Is there any indication that the "confusion" of which Genesis speaks did actually take place suddenly, as opposed to what seems to be a more or less normal tendency for languages to diverge from one another in the course of time?

     pg.2 of 3     

4. If such evidence exists, does it shed any light on the nature of the confusion that occurred, because confusion could have arisen in two distinctly different ways. A people could still be speaking the same language and using the same word forms, but could have begun suddenly to attribute different meanings to the words they used -- for example, when the modern biologist speaks of a cell he means something very different from the same word as used by a prison guard. Thus, the word itself has remained common to both, but each has attributed a different meaning to it; in this sense, the "confusion" is in the mind, not in the tongue. The other alternative is that individuals would continue to think of the same things -- for example, an opening in the wall -- but one would begin to call it une fenêtre, and the other a window. Unless each knew the other's language, their conversation would come to a halt -- and with it cooperative effort. In this case it is not a confusion of mind, but a confusion of tongue. In short: which took place, or did both occur and was the whole human race involved, or only a segment of it?

     These, then, are the basic topics of this Paper.

     pg.3 of 3     

Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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