just in case you wonder

November 28, 2016

the bible

Yes, I take the bible literally.


At first sight the fifth chapter of Genesis appears to be nothing more than a list of names interesting only to historians and theologians. But there is a recurring theme which is of profound interest to every human being. The theme is: “he lived … then he died.” It is important to remember that man has been given only two things to master: “how to live” and “how to die.” Despite his ability to conquer space and disease and other massive challenges it is ironic that he still struggles with the problems associated with living well and dying nobly.



There are two preliminary matters which need to be addressed concerning the fifth chapter. First, the longevity of these remarkable gentlemen and, secondly, the period of time which elapsed during their lifetimes. Methusaleh lived to the ripe old age of 969 and his forebear Jared lasted only seven years less. We hear occasionally of remarkable people living in remote areas of Siberia whose age far outstrips the life expectancy of other groups, and, of course, considerable attention has been paid to their diets and lifestyles to see if we can learn their secrets. Apparently a steady diet of yogurt has played a major part in their unusual health and vigor! But their lives are infant compared to the antediluvians.



Some scholars have suggested that the ages are not to be taken literally or perhaps that the life spans related not only to a person but also to the family that sprang from his loins. Others wonder if “years” were calculated differently in those long ago days. While keeping our minds open to what researchers may discover in these areas we see no reason to doubt that these men were probably an exceptionally hardy breed.



The other question relating to the time which elapsed during this period is important. Scholars like Ussher took these genealogies seriously when they tried to calculate the date of the creation. They assumed, understandably, that the genealogies were complete and that if they added up all the ages of the antediluvians they would arrive at an accurate figure for man’s first appearance on earth. Modern science has shown their calculations to be inaccurate and modern research has shown that the lists are by no means complete.

We now know that it was normal genealogical practice to omit whole generations so that the person who “begat” somebody else could as easily be his great, great, great grandfather (ad infinitum) as his father! Therefore we conclude that while these are real men who lived real lives of a stated duration we are not obliged to assume that the antediluvian period lasted for a period of time equaling the sum total of the ages recorded in Genesis 5.

God bless and have a great week from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com


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