Redrawing Lines

Dick Fischer (
Wed, 17 Jun 1998 19:17:37 -0400

Glenn wrote:

>If you could prove that every generation is demonstrably father-son
>then you would be correct.

Ah, it's proof you want.  I found a church web site three weeks ago.
The pastor believes the King James version is the "Bible" and that all
the modern versions are perversions.  It's a semi-popular notion among
some conservatives that the 1611 translators were guided by the=20 Holy
Spirit to produce an inerrant English translation.  This particular
Canadian pastor gives talks and argues the case.  What he does is
similar to what YEC's do.  He ridicules modern versions.

So I figured I would do him a favor, one Christian brother to another.
I sent him an email and showed him a few obvious flaws in the KJV. 
I'm sure he never knew about them, and undoubtedly the next Sunday he
recanted before his congregation and asked forgiveness, though why he
never sent me a thank you I don't know.

We all draw lines, Glenn.  I draw the line at inerrant original texts
as set down by the authors themselves under the divine inspiration of
the Holy Spirit.  Some Christians draw their lines elsewhere.  Some
believe the original authors occasionally made mistakes, but they
weren't serious ones.  Others believe that if God was careful enough
to insist upon perfection from his 44 authors, he could certainly
protect the text through scribes and translators.

So we all draw our lines and defend our positions.  You do it.  And
I do it.  But if we are honest, somehow we need to account for the data. 
The Canadian pastor I spoke of simply ignores contrary data and counts
on the collective ignorance of his audience.

Now about the genealogies.  Matthew lists fourteen descendants from
David to the Babylonian exile and writes: "So all the generations
from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until
the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations ..."(Matt. 1:17).

The sequence of descendants in Matthew includes: "Joram begat Ozias"
(Matt. 1:8).  Yet in 2 Kings 8:24 we read: "And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and
Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead."  And in 2 Chronicles 26:1: "Then
all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and=20
made him king in the room of his father Amaziah."

2 Kings and 2 Chronicles leads us to believe there are three others
that stand between
Joram and Ozias (Greek for Uzziah).  They are Ahaziah,
Joash, and Amaziah.  Thus there seem to be not fourteen but seventeen
generations.  It clearly is a discrepancy, but what happened?  Gleason
Archer addresses this question in Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties.
I wished I could say he solved it, but he didn't.

Since I draw the "inerrancy" line between the authors and scribes, I would
suggest that Matthew got it right, but a careless scribe left three names
out.  Another scribe further down the chain may have counted fourteen names
and changed "seventeen" to "fourteen" to be consistent.  But someone else
who draws lines in different places could suggest that Matthew didn't
get his facts right.  Or another might believe that Matthew had a perfectly
good reason for the omission.  We just don't know what it was.

My preference in this example meets two criteria.  (1) It is reasonable.
And (2) It is consistent with my overall beliefs.  I'll be the first to
admit I could be wrong.  Personally, I have found enough translational
errors to convince me that errors in transmission, translation and
interpretation are sufficient to account for most if not all the seeming
discrepancies between the various books of the Bible, and between the
Bible and science.

Now the difference between Luke's genealogies and the genealogies found
in the KJV of Genesis 11 are explainable.  I have read the Septuagint OT
with my own eyes and can see Cainan as big as Dallas right where Luke
placed him between Arphaxad and Shelah.  The Septuagint OT predates the
Mesoretic text by about 900 years and was widely in use at the time of

Of course, had Luke not recorded the name of Cainan (Luke 3:36) we would
have no way of knowing he was absent in Genesis 11:12-13.  The Septuagint
version records Cainan as the son of Arphaxad who lived 130 years before
begetting "Salah."  Cainan is a conspicuous deletion in the Masoretic text
confirmed by the New Testament author, Luke.  Again, a careless scribe,
in all likelihood, exacted his toll on the Hebrew text probably before the Masoretes got hold of it.  (But how anyone could pronounce two disparate
accounts as "inerrant" is beyond me.)

But there is another way we can see that missing generations won't work. 
By comparing the number of years Methuselah lived (Gen. 5:27) with his
age at the birth of Lamech (Gen. 5:25), with the age of Lamech at the birth
of Noah (Gen. 5:28,29), and with the age of Noah at the time of the flood (Gen. 7:6), it can be seen that Methuselah died near the year of the flood, presumably before the rain started.  That ties in the age of the patriarch at his death with the approximate date of the flood, thereby precluding any additions of time between Methuselah and Noah.

In Jude 1:14, Enoch is =93the seventh from Adam,=94 inhibiting additional unnamed patriarchs in the first seven generations.  So if there is no space to stick in thousands of generations from Adam to Enoch, and Enoch=92s son, Methuselah, died near the time of the flood, that should be the coup de grace to the expanded genealogies method.  Inserting additional time or generations is not a workable proposition from Adam to Noah.

So if the first ten patriarchs are literal father and son relationships
why should the next ten be any different?  Or so we have latitude to
say that although the generations in Genesis 5 are strictly father-son,
the next series of genealogies in Genesis 11 are merely a representative sampling?  Put another way, can we say that from Adam to Noah covered 1656 years and from Noah to Abraham was, oh, say 5,000,000 years?

Now I suggest to you there are reasonable explanations of discrepancies
between the recorded genealogies, consistent with a plausible theory of explanation that places all the events from Adam to Abraham in a 3,000
year time frame from 7,000 years ago to 4,000 years ago in Southern=20

The idea that tens of thousands of supposedly missing relatives can be
pushed into this rather small window of opportunity may be consistent
with what you believe, but I submit to you it is hardly reasonable.

>>Granted, Christ was called "son of David," but
>>that responds to the prophecy that the Messiah would come from the line
>>of David.=A0 There is no good exegetical reason to believe that the
>>genealogies in Genesis, Matthew and Luke can be expanded at will other
>>than to fit a popular conception that Adam was the first human.
>Well, calling Christ the 'son of man' also could be a reference to 'son of
>Adam' and this would extend the use of 'son of' to quite a distance, so I
>think your attempt to limit the 'son of' phraseology to 'father-son'
>relationships is highly dubious.

Actually no.  The New Testament was written in Greek, and the word "man"
is the Greek "anthropos."  Nowhere is Christ called the "son of Adam"

>But as I have pointed out, the reason I can't accept your solution is
>because it requires a flood in a location for which there is no physical
>evidence of its occurrence, at a time for which there is no disruption and
>requires water to go uphill carrying the ark from southern Iraq to Turkey,
>a topographic rise of several thousand feet.

I don't know where the ark rested.  There are different opinions.  Even
ancient writers disagreed on where the ark landed.  But Southern
Mesopotamia is flatter than a fritter, and water can stand around for a
long time before it drains away.  The ziggurats were built for this
express purpose.  It gave them somewhere to go to survive the rising
floods when the Euphrates overflowed its banks.

But Genesis does say that the ark "rested upon the mountains."  The
Hebrew har also means "hills."  And that probably would have been a
better choice.  But in your Mediterranean scenario the ark starts at
the bottom of the basin and comes to rest at sea level on the shore
somewhere.  There is no physical way the ark could get to hills of
any sort, let alone mountains.

I know you could say that from Noah's point of view at the bottom
of the basin, looking at the horizon, what became the shore of the
Mediterranean may have appeared to him as mountains or hills.

In Viet Nam we had a saying, "In order to save the village we had
to destroy the village."  Didn't make sense then and doesn't make
sense now.

Dick Fischer, The Origins Solution -
"The answer we should have known about 150 years ago."