>Babylon: Its History and Art

>Photo: The Tower of Babel

The British Museum will open an exhibition on Babylon next month. In order to introduce the exhibition, Times Online has published a good article on Babylon, describing some of the myths and legends the city of Babylon has generated in history and in art. The following is an excerpt from the article:

No city has been demonised quite like Babylon, nor any king so denounced as the incarnation of evil as Nebuchadnezzar. Neither the scriptures nor the myths have spared them: for more than 2,000 years Babylon has been a byword for vice, excess and well-deserved ruin while legend has created a ruler consumed by pride, folly and cruelty.

Yet Babylon was once the cultured capital of a flourishing empire, majestic in its architecture, rich in works of art and peopled by thinkers who pioneered mathematical and astronomical concepts still valid today. Nebuchadnezzar, its greatest and most ambitious king, was a man who changed the course of world history from a capital whose ruins remain in the parched Iraqi desert.

The name Babylon still has the power to fascinate. We think of the Hanging Gardens, the Tower of Babel, the Babylonian Captivity and the city’s infamous fall. For more than 1,000 years, painters and story-tellers have embellished the biblical denunciations of the city in the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation with vivid warnings to the Western world. In 1498 Albrecht Dürer depicted the “Whore of Babylon” as a harridan riding a seven-headed beast.

The article seeks to study whether Babylon deserve its legendary reputation for depravity. Read the article by clicking here.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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