Methuselah and those REALLY old dudes


#1

In ancient days, the Bible suggests that men lived a REALLY long time. Consider Genesis Chapter 5, which lists many VERY long lived dudes, including Methuselah, who lived a remarkable 969 years (and he probably drank and smoked).

These days, with the marvels of modern medicine and nutrition and such, it’s very rare for anyone to live to 100 (and no one lives much past that). Future generations might push that a decade or two, but 969 years!?!?!?!?!

How are we to understand the lifespans mentioned in Genesis 5?


#2

In Eastern cultures, the old are venerated as being wise. If I’m not mistaken, Holy Mother Church allows us to interpret these ages as either true and accurate, by the grace of God, or completely allegorical, and used to demonstrate the wisdom of these patriarchs. Kinda’ like the “6 days” in which God made all creation - we can believe it or not, we just can’t deny God’s role in it.

Please correct me if I’m wrong,
RyanL


#3

[quote=RyanL]In Eastern cultures, the old are venerated as being wise. If I’m not mistaken, Holy Mother Church allows us to interpret these ages as either true and accurate, by the grace of God, or completely allegorical, and used to demonstrate the wisdom of these patriarchs.
[/quote]

That’s an interesting theroy, but I see a couple of problems with it (at least in the case of Genesis 5). First, nothing else is said of most of these patriarchs. Why boost their credibility when they have nothing to be credible for?

Second, the first of these long-lived patriarchs is **Adam **(930 years old). I don’t think we are intended to be impressed with the wisdom of Adam.


#4

Remember, it could be that the literal-ist interpretation is the correct one. Augustine also wondered how a 130-year-old man could sire a child. He concluded that “the earth then produced mightier men” and that they reached puberty much later than did people of his own generation. Personally, I find the idea a little ‘out-to-lunch’, but I can’t say honestly that it’s impossible. After all, we believe in dead people getting out of their graves, lameness being healed instantly, and folks being taken bodily into heaven - after that, old age is kinda’ a snap!

You are definitely correct in your assertion that Adam sinned. Then again…so did Solomon, the wisest man in the OT. What Adam did that Solomon didn’t was not “wisdom”, it was this: he gave natural life to the world through his progeny. That’s pretty important, so I could understand an unnaturally long life being given to him as a literary construct. Let me know if this doesn’t make sense.

Peace,
RyanL


#5

the lifespans are allegories


#6

Didn’t it later on say that God shortened our lifespan to 120 years at most?


#7

Yes, it says that - Gen 6:3. There was a woman in France within the last couple of decades that lived to 122. With advances in medical technology, it’s not unbelievable that this will become more commonplace.

That said, Gen 6:3 could also be read as saying that in 120 years God would shorten the lifespan of those people…the Flood and Noah are in that chapter, so it could be read that in 120 years God was going to kill them with a flood. From this perspective, human lifespans aren’t really the topic; it’s a specific prophesy for those folks.

Of course, this is pure speculation on my part…
RyanL


#8

[quote=DavidFilmer]In ancient days, the Bible suggests that men lived a REALLY long time. Consider Genesis Chapter 5, which lists many VERY long lived dudes, including Methuselah, who lived a remarkable 969 years (and he probably drank and smoked).

These days, with the marvels of modern medicine and nutrition and such, it’s very rare for anyone to live to 100 (and no one lives much past that). Future generations might push that a decade or two, but 969 years!?!?!?!?!

How are we to understand the lifespans mentioned in Genesis 5?
[/quote]

Methuselah is a spring chicken compared to the early rulers in the Sumerian King List :slight_smile:

A probable reason for the ages in Genesis, is to suggest the great age of the human race while rejecting any implication that the first human beings were either immortal or divine. ##


#9

When i first read Genesis, i thought “this can’t be true”… Then i got to thinking about it and finally came to the conclusion that maybe the air back then was just really, really clean or something… (you know, back in the beginning…) :slight_smile:


#10

[quote=Caldera]When i first read Genesis, i thought “this can’t be true”… Then i got to thinking about it and finally came to the conclusion that maybe the air back then was just really, really clean or something… (you know, back in the beginning…) :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Whew! Imagine how clean the air was in Sumeria!:smiley:


#11

I have asked a few dentist why we have wisdom teeth, and why we have to remove them when God designed us to have them? For those who have had them removed you will know that if they arent taken out they can cause serious damage to nerves and teeth due to not enough space in your mouth for them to grow in (or growing in crooked).

I asked a Catholic dentist and he told me that if he had to guess that the people living back then were a lot healthier. And eating whole fruits and stuff (without cutting them up like we usually do now) would cause the required natural growth in the mouth for wisdom teeth to grow in properly.

So how does this relate to the old folk? I would say that they lived longer because they were healthier for many reasons. Now I dont know if that means 969 years, but reaching 100 should be no problem.

I have thought about the 969 and other high ages and tried to find some kind of “logical explanation”. I thought about maybe that age is multiplied by a number like 10 or something so that would “really” make him 96.9 years old which sounds good. But then you read around and see that people are mentioned as living to “only” 120 or so, and if you divide their age by 10 it makes them “really” 12 years old, so that doesnt work. Same idea if you think about the way they measure a year, like 100 days per year instead of 365, but that comes back to the same problem.

Another problem is where did these guys live? Did they live around the main cities or were they off in the woods on their own? If they were in the main cities why are they not mentioned in other passages later in history? Also what was it like to outlive your great great great great great great…great grandchildren?

I have thought about it, but in the end I decided to go with what the Bible says. He really did live to 969 years.


#12

I asked my mom this question when I was still in school. She said, in the first place–as someone has all ready said–that there was little or no disease because there was not all the pollution, etc, that we have today.
Secondly, she asked me why I assumed that their years were figured the same as ours? So, they probably did live a really long time, but not necessarily 900 of our years. (Suppose a year for them was 60 or 90 days? Suppose that the year changed every time there was a new king? Or whenever there was a really bad storm, or an eclipse?).
These are not random suppositions, either: In the past, they really did, in many cultures start a new year for all kinds of odd events, especially for wars, or a new government…


#13

[quote=Zooey]I asked my mom this question when I was still in school. She said, in the first place–as someone has all ready said–that there was little or no disease because there was not all the pollution, etc, that we have today.
Secondly, she asked me why I assumed that their years were figured the same as ours? So, they probably did live a really long time, but not necessarily 900 of our years. (Suppose a year for them was 60 or 90 days? Suppose that the year changed every time there was a new king? Or whenever there was a really bad storm, or an eclipse?).
These are not random suppositions, either: In the past, they really did, in many cultures start a new year for all kinds of odd events, especially for wars, or a new government…
[/quote]

If I put a newborn baby in a sterile biosphere and fed him nothing but healthy organic food and gave him the absolute best medical care, I doubt he’d live much past 100 still. NO WAY would he live past 200 - and not anywhere close to 900 years.

Could a “year” have been reckoned differently? Maybe. But Methuselah was said to have lived 969 years. Suppose that equates to 90 years (as we understand “years”) - still a ripe old age even by modern standards. That means a “year” averaged to about 34 days for Methuselah. That’s a pretty darn short year! If it’s based on major events (wars, kings, eclipses, etc) then that’s more than 10 “major events” per year. Things must have been pretty exciting back in Methuselah’s day!


#14

Things must have been pretty exciting back in Methuselah’s day!

Well, gee, you’d :hmmm:think he would have died from all that :dancing:tearing:dancing: around &:dancing: partying, then, wouldn’t you???:smiley:


#15

[quote=Zooey]Well, gee, you’d think he would have died from all that tearing around & partying, then, wouldn’t you???
[/quote]

Well, as I said in my original post, the guy probably drank and smoked (so I’m sure he partied also!) How many times have I seen the news guy interview the 100+ year-old person and ask “what is the secret to your long life” and the person says, “I dunno - I’ve drinked and smoked and eaten pork rinds and potato chips my whole life.” Ha, ha!


#16

Here’s something to think about:

Our Lady of Fatima appeared to 3 children… 2 of them she said would die soon and go to heaven, while the 1 would remain in the world for a long time.

It’s exactly what happened. Lucia was the one who remained in the world until she died recently at the age of 97.

Are we living some kind of scripted or predestined life?

Makes me wonder. :confused:


#17

It is difficult to understand whether the OT is ‘literal’ or in ‘a literal way’.

Just to look at things this way:
Adam & Eve had to live a long time, if THEY ARE the first two human beings on earth. I read it somewhere in the Forums that somone hada thought that maybe Afam & Eve were the FIRST ONES that God chose to reveal himself to in determining whether they would ‘follow him’ or ‘committ the first sin—doing things their way.’

With that in mind, with the discussion of the LONG ages: Biologically, IF Adam & Eve were the FIRST HUman beings, God’s Grace would have to be with them to populate the earth for a LONG period of time. Even after the Flood, I am sure Noah’s children HAD to live a LONG TIME to repopulate the earth AGAIN.

There are those, I am sure would even say that ‘the Flood’ is a story of symbolism as well and maybe did not happen ‘literally.’

All they MYSTERIES in the OT are simple ways to ponder about God and HIS awesome power, wisdom and glory.

I guess in Heaven, we will know all the answers we ever need to know about and talke to ‘old man’ Methuselah Himself!

P.S. Then we know hardly anything about Enoch and HE was taken up to Heaven! Just that he was ’ in favor with God’.


#18

Well considering that there probably wasn’t a lot of pollutants in the air and water and generally ate better than what we do. Disease wasn’t as rampant. I can see them living for that many years.


#19

The readings at Mass this morning remind us that Abraham was less than 100 years old when God told him he would be the father of many nations - and this caused him great wonder because of his (and Sarah’s) old age. Yet, Adam didn’t even get STARTED having kids until he was 130.


#20

well there’s a ton of speculation on this subject…i believe it has many factors, but one thing that can be accounted for is that people like mathuselah had more perfect gene pools…there wasn’t very many descendants from adam to mathuselah so he would be in the more perfect state of the human gene pool…and its my belief that over that last 6000 years it has degraded, there are also other factors of types of bacterias and diseases that didn’t exist then as it does now…for example noah didn’t get drunk until after the flood…wine was really grape juice…fermentation didn’t start until after the flood…and we know that bacteria need to be present in order for the fermentation process. in genesis when it talks about the ground being watered by the dew…implies that there wasn’t rainfall like there is today…and when the waters of heaven burst…the lining of water that surrounded the earth no longer offered the protection from the sun which in case caused certain bacteria’s to form…now this is pure speculation…and theory, but, gives you something to chew on…one particular scripture for sure that you can lean on is the scripture that man is to live 70 years and beyond that is a manner of his own strength…so i believe that it is a decree from god that man is not to live the extreme long lives back in the old days…

Ceasar


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.