Tower of Babel



Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Scripture Reference: Genesis 11:1-8. Such a short lesson, it may be easiest to just read it aloud, each student taking a verse in turn around the circle. Why did the people build the tower? Why did God confuse their languages?


  1. Service References: St. Andrew of Crete, in his canon sung the first week of Great Lent, laments: “You, my soul, desire to build a tower as a fortress for your lusts, as the people of Babel erected a tower to increase their strength. But as He did with them, so will the Creator also overthrow your desires and shatter all your plans.”


It comes as no huge surprise that the confusion of the languages at the tower of Babel is compared by the Church with the speaking in tongues of Pentecost. “Of old there was confusion of tongues because of the boldness of the tower-builders. But those tongues have not uttered wisdom for the glory of divine knowledge. There God condemned the infidels to punishment, and here with the Spirit Christ illuminated the fisherman. At that time the confusion of tongues was designed for vengeance, but now the unison of tongues hath been renewed for the salvation of our souls.” The practice of “speaking in tongues” is discussed by Paul as a “gift of the Spirit” and is still practiced today. In some Pentecostal denominations, the ability to speak in tongues is considered proof of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What does the Orthodox Church teach about this “gift”?


  1. Discussion:

If you’re an actor (or actress) or can recruit one, this would be the perfect

time for a cross-cultural experience. Suddenly start talking another language (or nonsense syllables, they won’t know!) and doing strange things (greet them with a foot-shake, sit in your chair strangely, click your fingers yes instead of nodding your head, tap your thumb on your ear for “no”) – i.e., create a whole, new culture and language. Keep this up for about 5 minutes, trying all the while to get the class to do a certain something like sit in a row instead of a circle. Frustrating? After you return to English, compare and contrast their experience with the builders of the tower of Babel.

Not an actor? Perhaps then use Tower of Babel Bingo in 5 languages to simulate the experience. Can they identify which marker to place?