Re: Jude 14 and the age of the world
Thu, 8 Apr 1999 21:03:19 EDT

In a message dated 4/7/99 3:39:59 AM Pacific Daylight Time, Jonathan Clarke

<< In the "Clarke amplified Bible" I would read this verse as saying "Enoch,
seventh name in the Genesis list from Adam". So what? It says nothing
about how we are to understand the passage, at least not to me. Like you I
believe that Scripture is inspired, authoritative, and normative to the life
of faith. That is well and good. But claiming that doesn't really solve the
problem of what we are to do with the text.

I won't say much more on this point, as I think we are moving into a separate
issue, more Dick Fisher's or Paul Seeley's territory than mine. Perhaps they
would like to comment. I believe however there are several ways we can read
this text within an overall commitment to a high view of scripture. For the
record, however I would tend to see a distinction between the "Adam of
Genesis 4 with those of Genesis 1 and 2-3. Don't tie me down on that one
though, I am still working through it. The answer I give might depend which
day of week you ask! >>

I think Bill and Jonathan are both right in part. Why did Jude say, "Enoch,
the seventh from Adam,.."? I think to direct us to the "seventh name in the
Genesis list from Adam" which then gives a little account of his being taken
up to God, a special privilege enabling him, in the thinking of the first
century, to have special revelations. The phrase sets forth the special
qualifications of Enoch to be a prophet.

At the same time, if the phrase is interpreted within its historical context,
Jude is certainly thinking of Enoch as being a person just seven generations
removed from a literal Adam and, in fact, just seven generations from the
creation of the world. Although we recognize, today that the biblical
genealogies may have missing names, this was not recognized in NT times.
Everyone used the genealogies at face value and everyone dated the creation
of Adam and the world at c. 4000 (or following the LXX, 5000) BC. ( see
Theophilus to Autolycus 3:28, The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol.2, ed. A. Roberts
and J. Donaldson, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1899, p.120. Also,
Josephus, Ant.1:1:13, "The things narrated in the sacred scriptures...embrace
the history of 5000 years..." Cf. Ant. 1:3:82; 2Enoch 72:6 and The Assumption
of Moses 1:2,3).

In fact, from the beginning of Church history until modern times it was the
universal belief of the Church that the earth was created c. 4000 BC. Not
only did Luther still hold that belief (Luther wrote, "Now, we know from
Moses that about six thousand years ago the world was not yet in
existence..."), Christians on into the 18th century held it. It was not a
new thought from bishop Ussher. (see . F. Haber, The Age of the World,
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1959, p.246; D. Young, Christianity and the Age,

With the context of the first two generations as well as the last generation
in Gen 5 being direct father to son, I see little room for supposing there
are numerous names missing between the remaining generations. Further, it
seems to me that it was this context which was definitive for the Church up
into modern times. I am very doubtful that the ancient Hebrews understood
the genealogy as allowing for thousands of years between the names listed.
In any case the burden of proof is on anyone claiming that Gen 5 can be
stretched more than a few thousand years. If a YEC is really going to follow
the biblical text in a straight-forward way, the belief should be in a
universe just four or five thousand years old, as is the historic doctrine of
the Church.

Incidentally, I once wrote a paper [JASA, 22, 88 (1970)] differentiating the
Adam of Gen 1 from Adam of 2 and 3; but, although I still think they can be
partially differentiated, I no longer think that differentiation is meanful
for relating modern science to the Bible since taken at face value both Adams
end up around 4000 BC.

The question is, Is this creation of the world c. 4000 BC a revelation both
of the Creator and of history, or of just the Creator, the history being a
divine accomodation to the "ordinary opinion of the writer's day?" I am not
suggesting that the history qua history was not divinely inspired; but that
the inspiration of history-writing in Scripture depends upon the historical
sources available to the inspired historian. I see that in Luke 1:1-4 and in
the OT history with its frequent references to ordinary historical sources,
for example, the Book of Jasher (2Sam 1:18). On the other hand I have never
seen a statement in Scripture claiming that any historical accounts were
divinely revealed. I would go so far as to say there is no sound biblical
basis for the popular rationalistic belief that the historical accounts in
Scripture were divinely revealed. The Scriptures claim to be 100% inspired;
but not 100% revealed; and accomodation is clearly a biblical possibility
(Matt 10:4,5). That is, since Jesus taught that inspired Scripture contained
some accommodation in the realm of morals, it could certainly contain
accommodation in the realm of history and science.

Paul Seely