Re: Geezer Patriarchs

Karen G. Jensen (
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 15:12:37 -0600

Tue, 04 Nov 1997 19:05:34 -0800 Brian Neuschwander

noted the long lifespans given for preflood patriarchs in Genesis and asked:

>What is the current thinking on the subject from various Christian
>scholars and scientists?

Wed, 5 Nov 1997 22:42:45 -0600 I sent something on the Weld Prism and
promised to send more. Finally got back to it:

The long lifespans attributed to the preflood patriarchs (Genesis 5) have been
"read" through the centuries in several different ways, which may be
summarized in five main views:

(reference: _ The Flood Reconsidered_, by Frederick A. Filby, Zondervan
1971 Contemporary Evangelical Perspectives Edition, p. 101-103, for the
first three)

-- months were recorded as years -- divide by 12 to get the actual ages.
but then Enoch would have had a son Methuselah when he was
65 months = 5.4 years old!

-- the "ages" given are mythological, corruptions of ages claimed for the
Babylonian heroes (often much longer than those in Genesis 5)
but -- the Biblical figures are much more orderly and
than the Babylonian figures. This still doesn't explain the
origin of the idea of long-lived patriarchs
"It is at least as likely that the Babylonian figures are the
recollection of the actual facts which the Bible correctly
- Filby, p101 *

-- the names represent dynasties, not individuals.
There are dynastic lists
but - there's no good evidence that Gen 5 is a list of

-- the ages are given for individuals, but are inaccurate (not random):
there are more than the expected number of ages ending in 0 or 5
but - if these people lived many centuries, as reported,
rounding to the nearest 5 or 10 years might be expected

-- the names and ages are essentially accurate, even if rounded.
but -- lifespans are usually only 1/10th of this, today...
can we believe our lifespans have been so drastically reduced?

I have more on the last two choices, if you are interested.

* According to Filby, the Weld-Blundell cylinder 44 notes that the first
king (Alulim) lived 28,800 yrs, and tablet 62 indicates that Ziusudra
(Noah) was 36,000 yrs old (10 sari), which equals 60 x 600, Noah's age at
the Flood (Gen.7:6), perhaps a confusion because of the Babylonian
sexagesimal system.
The Chaldean account claims 432,000 years betweeen Adam and the Global Flood
= 261 x 1656 (the years according to Genesis, MT). 261 = the number of
weeks in 5 years...

For Berossus, a sarus = 3600 years = 6 neros = 60 sossus (a neros = 600
years, a sossus = 60), but in later Babylon, a saros = 223 lunations (18
yrs 11 days) ...

So what do we believe -- Babylonians, the Bible, present day reality...?

It is a challenging choice!