Do you have a shred of scientific evidence for this?
There is no foolproof way to distinguish.
Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence.
I would also add that bulk of patristic commentary was about defending monotheism as well. Not just against pagans of the time, but the church fathers also combatted Hellenic thinkers who believed nature was supreme and/or eternal (which isn’t all that different from modern scientific ideas). In all cases, they always presented the idea of a universe created by God. They differed on some of the details (like these ages in patriarchs. Most are very orthodox, but few thought the years might’ve been calculated differently), but they didn’t differ on the main message: One God.
This illustrates a reactionary approach to extremes.
In Catholicism, it is not about either or. It’s both/and. The Church can make distinctions on various things without threatening the integrity of Scripture.
Again…Scripture is Incarnational:
Christ ends in failure according to human standards, and he is still God.
Same thing with Scripture.
yes you can, it’s called literary criticism
I agree that the Genesis account should not be taken word for word. As readers should take into account cultural references, idioms, symbolism, hyperbole, rhetorical devices and other things the author used to convey his message.
However, the book of Genesis’ genre is most often viewed as historical and therefore the events in the book such as Noah’s ark should be seen as a historical event.
The age of Adam should be seen as literal unless there is considerable evidence that the author was using the genealogies and ages as a rhetorical device to convey a deeper meaning. In this case the age of Adam would be seen as symbolic. But there must be a theological reason to see it this way. Without that, it is most likely literal.
There is nothing foolproof about that. If so there would be no debate about such matters.
I decided to look into the possibility of the geneology being symbolic. A previous comment said that perhaps the names were meant as placeholders. I decided to look into it however I did so looking for a symbolic meaning of the names. Here is what I found.
Mahalalel. The Blessed God
Jared Shall come down
Methuselah His death shall bring
Lamech The Despairing
Noah Rest, or comfort
Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest."
This shows that the geneology could in fact be symbolic but if is what importance do the numbers play?
I think the historical basis of Noah’s story is fascinating, but I don’t think the scriptures are trying to simply relay historical tales. They don’t go into much detail. It’s really mostly focused on sin and covenant than it is the details of a flood. Relying on the scriptures alone isn’t enough to learn anything. So many cultures have a flood story, so I think there’s something to it. So I would consider them additions to what might be the basis for the biblical story.
The same goes for other things. Right before the story of Noah, it mentions the Nephillim. One line… but this is huge and flabbergasting. A segment of fallen angels came and impregnated women and birthed giants. And the bible gives me one line! It obviously doesn’t care to get into history, when it does this.
So I delve into other things to get an idea how people thought about that elsewhere. Whether it’s the book of Enoch or the Sumerian tales of their giant/ruler kings (Annunaki). It’s pretty frightening stuff… but the bible alone wouldn’t give me that history.
They definitely aren’t just meant to be historical. Although I think the events in Genesis are factual I also think the author used them in a way to say something much deeper.
Each event in Genesis was carefully chosen and described in a way to tell something on a deeper level such as the nature or power of God, origins of sin, etc.
It’s fitting that the Word of God does pack such density in such brief statements though. I’ve read a lot, but nothing else keeps me going back to it like this.
I tried “just reading” the Bible a few years ago. I made it up to the book of Joshua but did not find much interest.
It wasn’t until this year that I decided to look through the Bible again. This time reading it thoroughly with questions to answer in mind that I began to realize how much the author included in Genesis.
The first time I read the Bible I read about three or four books in a two weeks. I have been reading Genesis for about two months and haven’t even gotten to Noah’s ark because there’s just so much inforation packed into just the first few chapters.
This is very true… you raise a good point which does cast doubt on the lunar month theory.
Unless a “mistranslation” happen long before Gen Chapter 6 was written?
However, I know the predominate scientific theory is simply that exaggerated numbers used to be a cultural thing back then. Like when kids same something like “there were a million people at the baseball game!”
Do you have a source for this?
It was my understanding from my pastor (who has a Ph.D. in theology) that even the ancient Jews before Christ didn’t literally believe that Adam lived for 930 years, nor that Sarah gave birth at 99 years old. But that it was a literary exaggeration that was common among the ancients to express a large number which they didn’t know the exact number for.
So they would greatly exaggerate so the reader knew it wasn’t the real number, but could still provide a literary image to the reader.
HOWEVER, if it turn out that our genes really do have a “switch” that can turn off or greatly slow aging (as some scientists believe)… perhaps we really were first created with the aging gene turned off. Exciting times when science can prove the Bible stories true or increase the probability
well I don’t know about Sarah. That seems like she would’ve given birth AFTER menopause
Or at least after she thought she went though menopause.
However, with God all things are possible. If a Virgin can give birth without a man, then a post menopause woman could surely give birth with a man!
Well one case where this is clearly true (and one of many reasons I prefer the Septuagint) is the height of Goliath in 1 Sam/Kings. Both the Greek and now rediscovered Dead Sea Scrolls in Hebrew has his height at 4 cubits (6’9" ish). Instead of the exaggerated number that got in other Hebrew copies (6 cubits… 9 feet!). It makes the real David and Goliath story much more down to earth… but still impressive.
Even if there was a mistranslation a year being a lunar moth would not work out.
For the age of Adams death it would mean he was actually 75 not 900 which is ok until you find out the ages they had children.
Adam had Seth at 130 years old. So Adam would have been 10 years old when he had Seth if years were equal to lunar months.
Mahalalel had Jared at 65 years old biblically so if you count by lunar months. This would mean Mahalel had Jared at the age of 5.
It works out for Adams age of death but does not seem to work for when they had children.
The way lifespans dropped and the God saying that He would shorten the lifespans of man suggests that (if the ages were literal) there was a genetic cause.
Surprisingly, aging mortality is passed down through genetics through cells called telomeres.
These cells aid in cell division. But each time they divide they become shorter. The shorter the cells are the more susceptible a person is to disease, cancer, alzheimers, etc. The shorter the telomeres the higher the chance of death.
The length of a persons telomeres are determined through genetics. There is also an enzyme which can decrease the shortening of telomeres and therefore slow aging however it can also promote the growth of cancer cells.
So if the ages were literal it might be genetically possible although I don’t know if there is a limit to human age and there are probably tons of other factors in aging.