• Lloyd Graham deposited From Bethel to Pentecost: The Tower of the Tarot deck as the Tower of Babel in the group Group logo of History of ArtHistory of Art on Humanities Commons 2 months, 1 week ago

    Images of the Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9) in illustrated Christian manuscripts are suggestively similar to representations on the Tower card in many versions of the Tarot deck; both genres show the Tower being destroyed from above, with oversized persons falling head-first from it. In terms of connections between heaven and earth, the antithetical relationship between God’s holy stairway at Bethel – the “House of God” (Gen 28:10-19) – and mankind’s cursed simulacrum at Babel (Gen 11:4-5) could justify early identifications of the Tower card as the “House of the Devil” or “House of the Damned.” The Tower’s builders were punished for their hubris by having their single language split into the different tongues of the world. The New Testament parallel to this linguistic division – which befell Jesus’s apostles at Pentecost – was characterised by tongues of flame descending from heaven (Acts 2:3-4), so it would be natural to apply the same visual cipher to the event at Babel. Such celestial fire would readily have been integrated with the existing iconography of the Tower being destroyed from above, whereupon it could easily have become “normalised” as a conventional lightning bolt.