This is the fourth article in a twelve-part series that develops a theology of language by examining what the Bible says about this topic.
Language distinguishes and divides people. In Matthew 26:73 Peter was recognized as being a Galilean because his accent gave him away. Judges 12:4-6 records a pronunciation test that the Gileadites used to distinguish between their people and the Ephraimites. In Peter’s case, his accent caused him to be despised because it revealed that he was from Galilee, a region which was not held in very high regard. The Ephraimites who were caught by the pronunciation test were killed because their accent revealed who they were. I believe that language-related divisions are a result of the man’s fall, as was discussed in the second article in this series. As was noted, all the people of the world at one time spoke the same language. I do not know if different dialects existed before Babel, but I am inclined to think that all language-related tensions are a result of Babel. Because mankind pursued evil when they shared a common language, so they now experience the effects of the Fall in the strife and contention that results from language differences.