# Hundreds Or Even 900 Years?

#26

I believe the ages to be “space markers” or ‘counters’, if you will. There are countless missing generations and this was a way to get from one known individual to the next known individual without having to take into account all the missing generations between the two.

Aside from being space markers/counters for missing generations from one known (even if known in name only) individual to the next, there is another possibility for the ages referenced. I don’t recall exactly where i got this, but…

We must keep in mind that this is not a firsthand account, but rather a record of ancestral tradition.

There are examples of lists of important people with extraordinary numbers listed as their ages in multiple examples from the Ancient Near East; the Biblical tradition is not the first. So there is a precedent for the Old Testament to do this.

The Sumerians and other Mesopotamian peoples (since at least 3100 BC) used a sexagesimal numbering system, which means that it was base 60, instead of our base 10.

The biggest issue with Mesopotamian numbers, however, is the idea of sacred numbers. Some numbers had a symbolic meaning beyond their mathematical meaning, and therefore were numerological rather than numerical in some contexts, meaning that its symbolic value would be used rather than its mathematical value.

Now, what connection does this have to the Biblical chronologies? The numbers are based on the Mesopotamian system of numbers. All the ages in the Genesis genealogies fall into two categories: numbers divisible by 5 (ending in 5 or 0), and multiples of 5 with the addition of 7 (or two 7s). 5 years = 60 months. The final digits are always 0, 7, 5, 2, and 9. 2 because 5+7 = 1 2 , and 9 because 5+7+7 = 1 9 . The odds are astronomical that there would not be a number in the list that did not match. Therefore, we have a lot of indications that these are symbolic numbers, based on a very different number system; however, we don’t really know what meaning these numbers may have had to the original tellers/keepers of these genealogies.

Additional evidence for these being symbolic rather than real can be seen in the fact that many of the patriarchs’ ages overlap significantly and impossibly according to the narrative. Additionally, there are different numbers among various ancient translations of the text (specifically the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint).

Again, looking specifically at the ages of the Patriarchs, we can see that this is a list that has correlations with other similar lists. If you take the list of the ages of the Sumerian pre flood kings, and assume that instead of being in a sexigesimal system (base sixty) they are instead part of a base ten system, you end up with a list of ages that are equivalent to the Biblical one, albeit rounded to the nearest ten. As time went by, many of these cultures went through a number of different number systems, as well as different ways of representing numbers.

#27

I’m glad I live in the current day. To live 900 years without floss or tissues? That’s not fun.

#28

When you ask for “the Catholic explanation,” you seem to be suggesting that the Catholic Church has on some occasion officially adopted one and only one explanation as its stated doctrine. I don’t think that ever happened. As far as I’m aware, there isn’t a single official “Catholic explanation.” Catholic writers have always been free to propose whatever interpretations they think are reasonable possibilities.

#29

@midori posted this chart from a Baptist seminary earlier in the thread with the explanation that the Genesis lifespans were symbolic of the individual’s closeness to God. I think it’s worth reposting.

I think this chart combined with the fact that the numbers differ between the Hebrew Masoretic Text, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Greek Septuagint combine together to make a solid case that the numbers of the patriarchs ages recounted in Genesis are both highly hyperbolic and symbolic, and not to be interpreted in a literalistic manner.

In fact, IMO, the entire first 11 chapters of Genesis are written in a form of Semitic poetry/epic/mythic story which employs a lot of hyperbolic, symbolic, and allegorical literary types in order to convey theological truth.

#30

one explanation could be to show the importance and greatness of the biblical patriarchs. In contrast how the Sumerian kings are recorded to live for thousands of years even there numbers dropped after the flood of Gilgamesh.

#31

Probably.

#32

I’m not sure what you mean. Can you please explain further?

#33

That makes a lot of sense Boom Boom. Are you Catholic?

#34

I certainly hope that your comment about my OCD wasn’t a dig at me.

#36

Yup, sure am.

#41

never mind

#42

I agree.

Where is the evidence?

#44

I gave the citations to all sources I quoted. They follow each citation. The video material is self explanatory, with citation within.

I do not see any evidence, nor citation, to your claim, which you said we ought to be able to do.

#45

What???

‘Flat-earth’ is egregious error and heresy.

Why Noah's story is not borrowed from pagan flood stories
#46

That is what the evidence cited shows. Origen’s Hexapla has several greek translations, including his ‘own’ (5th column), along with several others, Theodotion, Aquila of Sinope, Symmachus.

That still doesn’t exhaust the ‘septuagints’ (so-called), but there are also modern day examples, such as “Brenton’s” which again stem from Vaticanus (stemming from Origen, through Jerome, as Helvidius points out).

They all differ from one another.

#47

What am I supposed to do?, manually type out each citation every time it needs to be cited? Of course I have to copy/paste that much text in citation.

#49

I just told you, and if you read the responses, all of it is cited, each quote is directly cited from it’s original source.

#50

never mind

#51

Each individual quote has its own original citation:

#52

I think it makes sense to have longer life spans before the flood. The closer to Adam the better equipped genetically. Probably no vulnerability to diseases. Also, the Sumerian list of kings, which is an older source than Moses, confirms long life spans before the flood and shorter life spans after.

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