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An exercise in biblical inspiration: Did Adam live 900 years?


#62

It can be hard to wade through. I think the CCC is the “sure norm of the faith” and always a good starting point and solid reference point.

What is unfortunate is when a particular point of view that is perhaps weaker theologically than others (for you it’s the NAB) causes a person to throw baby out with bathwater in an effort to preserve the integrity of scripture (which needs no protection other than the Church…)


#63

@goout I like your perspective, and I find it basically mine as well.

You say:

God both breathes his life into Scripture, and it is expressed through fully human words, which are full of hidden meaning, contradictions, and scientific errors.

So what does it mean for the Bible to be fully inspired by God, and yet still have errors? Do we mean only errors in things that are not asserted by the authors?


#64

What does it mean that Christ is the eternal Son of God, and died a grizzly death at the hands of human torturers? I’m not trying to be obtuse, but if you grasp this, the nature of inerrancy will become clearer.
Contradictions and errors are not of God. God is God. Human beings are human. Our words are human. God works with us to accomplish his will despite the inadequacies of human language and thought.

It’s not either/or, it’s both/and.


#65

I won’t do that, thankfully. I seem to be masochistic and wade through even worse than this. Especially a lot of mainline/liberal Protestant writings (academic stuff). But every once in awhile, it’s worth it for the few gems. But I’m not going to alter my underlying faith or anything.

And I actually like the NAB in comparison… but Catholics need something better (note-wise). Not everyone is as masochistic as me.


#66

I have a great friend who’s denomination holds that the bible is just a narrative, and that the Gospel is constantly rewritten by the current experience of God. It’s gnosticism and I don’t think it transmits the faith in a durable way.

He’s a great loving person. But his stance is a reaction to fundamentalist protestantism. So while we hold this view of scripture to be in error, we must also understand how fundamentalism scandalizes these people.


#67

What does it mean that Christ is the eternal Son of God, and died a grizzly death at the hands of human torturers? I’m not trying to be obtuse, but if you grasp this, the nature of inerrancy will become clearer.
Contradictions and errors are not of God. God is God. Human beings are human. Our words are human. God works with us to accomplish his will despite the inadequacies of human language and thought.

I get the gist of this idea. Comparing the Incarnation and Scripture (and even the Eucharist) shed light on the nature of the other. But it’s mostly a construct of our own doing. There’s no inherent reason we should say the Bible is like the Incarnation. It’s certainly true in some sense, but there’s no one-to-one.

I’m getting so specific because if you read the various Vatican documents, they talk about inspiration covering ALL parts of scripture. Not going so far as to say dictation; nevertheless, the words themselves are in some sense God’s endorsement. “Only those things that God wanted” (paraphrase) are written down in Scripture. I think know what you are trying to convey, though

I like what you are saying about Inspiration, but many church documents seem to emphasize the universal nature of inspiration and inerrancy, to the extent we can’t simply say there are “errors” in Scripture.


#68

Yeah, it’s sad. The funniest thing about the trend in Gnosticism or Gnostic like thinking is it is actually more brutal than the Fundamentalism they’re fleeing. Gnosticism is rooted in Pythagoras and his mystery cults. “Levels” of learning and all that. It blatantly teaches a gospel of the Haves and the Have Nots. Which is primarily why the early church hated it so. It taught a Gospel where Jesus taught people one thing, but took a special, select few to the side to give them the true “Gnosis”. Like the forgeries done in Mary Magdalene’s name. People think it’s liberating that Jesus is giving special teachings to a woman, but the real teaching behind this is that Jesus likes to keep some people in the dark. So the church rejected it outright. There is one gospel and neither Jew/Gentile/Male/Female/Slave/Free matter.

Pythagoras is the same person who spawned Plato… who taught the same thing and segregated society.

Yet people now don’t see it for the brutal system it is. They flee from one master and jump into the arms of another.

/rant off …Sorry… had to do it


#69

There were many within the teaching body of the Church who didn’t have a problem with Adam living 930 years. So it’s perfectly orthodox to believe so.


#70

There were many within the teaching body of the Church who didn’t have a problem with Adam living 930 years. So it’s perfectly orthodox to believe so.

I’m not sure if anyone on here is saying that a faithful Catholic cannot believe this to be literally true.

But I would ask, regarding the teaching body of the church, when was this the case? Are we speaking prior to the various scientific data (evolutionary theory and so on)? Are we talking about today?


#71

Today the Church doesn’t have a position.


#72

Scripture states that those born before the Flood had lifespans between 900 and 1000 years, but after the Flood, this number is cut in half. It’s cut in half again after the Tower of Babel (contemporary with Peleg, “in whose days the world was divided”). Upon his arrival in Egypt, Jacob notes that his 130 years were few compared to his ancestors, and while he did live for a few years in Egypt, he still died younger than Abraham and Isaac, who in turn died younger than the generations from Peleg to Terah. Interestingly, there is a scientific explanation for this: population bottlenecks would tend to concentrate genetic problems. In the first generation after the Flood, everyone was first cousins or closer. Similarly, the scattering of the nations at Babel would have caused people to marry those more closely related to them than the population in general. It was one thing for the children and grandchildren of Adam and Eve to marry each other, because harmful mutations hadn’t had much time to accumulate, but it’s quite reasonable that the subsequent periods of inbreeding took its toll on the human genome, causing us to age much faster than in Genesis times.


#73

Actually Scripture is one unified reality with the Incarnation.
Notice how the CCC weaves this together in the section dealing with scripture.

THE PROFESSION OF FAITH

SECTION ONE
“I BELIEVE” - “WE BELIEVE”

CHAPTER TWO
GOD COMES TO MEET MAN

ARTICLE 3
SACRED SCRIPTURE

I. CHRIST - THE UNIQUE WORD OF SACRED SCRIPTURE

101 In order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words: "Indeed the words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men."63

102 Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely:64

You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time.65
103 For this reason, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God’s Word and Christ’s Body.66

104 In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, “but as what it really is, the word of God”.67 "In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them."68

The Trinity and the Incarnation are essential Christian realities that shed light on everything else.


#74

Is Adam living 900 years any less likely a possibility than Sarah giving birth at age 99? Or is it any less likely than a Virgin conceiving a manchild? Or any less likely than a Crucified victim rising from the dead?

The problem with “demythologizing” the Bible - where do you draw the line?


#75

Well, Catechism and learned church mean tell me the first few chapters of Genesis are a certain sort of genre. I let them draw the line, and then, when there is freedom, to follow what other experts say.

The Catechism says Genesis uses “figurative language” and says that the description of man’s formation is expressed “symbolically.”

The Church is there for guidance. But precisely because the Church tells me to believe in the Virgin birth of Christ, but not a literal 900 year ago of Adam, I see a difference and a safeguard as to what is essential Catholic Faith.


#76

How many Doctors of the Church believed Adam didn’t literally live to be 900?

To my recollection, 0.

I’d rather trust the consensus of all the Doctors of the Church than modern skeptics.


#77

And?

How many doctors of the Church had extra-biblical (historical, scientific, etc.) reason to say otherwise?

How many doctors and fathers of the Church believed that Earth was the center of the Cosmos?

Neither of these points make up essential Catholic Faith.


#78

When you start demythologizing the Bible it becomes a slippery slope…

Maybe Mary wasn’t actually a Virgin?


#79

Look to what I said above ^

The Church teaches Mary is a Virgin.

The Church does not teach we have to believe Adam literally lived to 900 years old. In fact, elsewhere it seems the teaching authority and office of the Church has led to a different understanding. Again, “figurative language.”


#80

not everything in the bible is meant to be taken literally. you have to also take in account the author’s intention


#81

I’ve kind of already said this before, but I think you’re focused on the wrong things. I don’t mean that personally… I mean it as us simply being a product of modern times. It’s hard to appreciate how unconventional the message of monotheism was. We take it for granted that there is One God. Not so much back then. They used some of the same language and concepts from the world they came from, but their real point was to present monotheism.

Genesis only truly gets unique and Jewish specific once Abraham comes in. And the real masterpiece of the book is at the end: Joseph. It’s a shame that Genesis discussions are usually about the first few chapters or so. These aren’t even Jewish specific, but Mesopotamian.


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