It’s a simple story (just nine verses) found in Genesis 11: people start to build a tower and God punishes them. It’s also fun to read: full of inversions, word plays, ironies, and puns. The story has caught the imagination of philosophers, painters, and writers. We will do a close textual reading, and examine some rabbinic interpretations, focusing on one particular dilemma raised by the story: diversity. We’ll also look at two paintings from the Renaissance that offer their own interpretation.

Michael Nutkiewicz was executive director of Oasis Albuquerque from 2010-2014. He now teaches and publishes on topics in Jewish and general European history and philosophy. Besides university teaching, he has held executive positions with agencies that work with refugees and victims of political violence. He received his PhD in history from UCLA.