Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Babylon ComplexTheopolitical Fantasies of War, Sex, and Sovereignty$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Erin Runions

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823257331

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823257331.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use (for details see www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 18 April 2019

From Babel to Biopolitics

From Babel to Biopolitics

Josephus, Theodemocracy, and the Regulation of Pleasure

Chapter:
(p.46) One From Babel to Biopolitics
Source:
The Babylon Complex
Author(s):

Erin Runions

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823257331.003.0002

This chapter looks at how the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 becomes a facilitator of biopolitics. The Jewish historian and Roman apologist Josephus, writing in the first century of the Common Era, is the first to turn the story into one about proper modes of governance. The political ideals that Josephus conveys in his version—drawn from Greek and Roman ideals—were largely transmitted via Christianity and have indelibly marked transmission of this story. This chapter shows that Josephus’s version, including his addition of the tyrant Nimrod, carries with it a suspicion of ancient democracy as an impious and tyrannical locus of pleasure and moral dissolution and a threat to established hierarchies. Josephan allusions to the Babel story can still be heard in U.S. partisan politics, from Nimrod name-calling, to fear of Tocqueville’s “soft despotism” and demands for self-sacrifice. Both sides of the partisan divide use the story to promote theodemocracy: They require faith in the Christian God, democracy that preserves social hierarchies, and heteropatriarchal sexual regulation. The chapter shows how theodemocracy works to promote (bio)political subjectivity (the subject of interest), to secure the free flow of capital, and to control its distribution.

Keywords:   Babel, biopolitics, Genesis 11, Josephus, Nimrod, soft despotism, subject of interest, theodemocracy

Fordham Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .