RE: Genealogical Gaps?

From: Jon Tandy <>
Date: Tue Feb 28 2006 - 16:20:21 EST

Glenn and Dick,
Thanks for the thoughtful responses and information. Sorry, my comments are
coming after both of you have made a few more contributions, so I may be
repeating some thoughts.
Glenn wrote: the way the above question is framed it is as if I am the only
one who holds to a view that has problems
JPT: No, I realize that all points of view on this issue have problems of
various types, and like everyone else, I'm trying to understand how to
grapple with the scientific, historical, and Biblical evidence.
Glenn wrote: Jesus used the term "Son of Man". My dictionary defines "Adam"
and "Man". Thus Jesus was giving his genealogy with a gap of at least 4000
JPT: Interesting argument, Adam does mean "man" in Hebrew. But the
significant difference is this: there is no scripture which says "And Adam
lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness,
after his image; and called his name Jesus: And the days of Adam after he
had begotten Jesus were eight hundred years". Jesus' claim to be the "Son
of man" is clearly a figure of speech, going back to the prophecy in Daniel
7:13, and the Jews of his day recognized his claim of identity with the
prophecy, I believe.
JPT: From the genealogy list in Luke 3 it is relatively easy to make the
"son means ancestor" argument. The genealogies in the Old Testament are
more difficult, because they don't just say "son of" -- they give detailed
information about the ages of each patriarch when their son was born, and
how much longer he lived afterward. If that text can't be relied on in
these things, it's not hard to see why many people (I'm not saying myself
necessarily) find it hard to believe the "text is a figure-of-speech"
argument, or the "text is true but inexact" argument.

Glenn wrote: The guys lived, they were real, but for some reason the lineage
records were lost for a few generations (or made up by the next guy in the
line). All of this has the same appearance as what the Bible has.
JPT: I agree this could be a very reasonable idea. The YEC author's article
that I referenced, while not endorsing this view, presents essentially the
same argument as one possibility. My point was that even if this is
reasonable, the number of generations necessary to bridge a 5 million year
gap is unreasonable. 5 million minus 1000 (approx. time of David), divided
by 20 years reproduction time for typical "young men with raging hormones"
as you say, who have a 40 year average life span, is 249,950 generations.
The Bible lists a total of about 33 generations from Adam to David. This
means that the Biblical authors "omitted" or "forgot" or considered
unimportant about 249,917 generations? And I am not singling out your point
of view alone for having this problem. I think the theory of a 100,000 year
old Adam and a 2900 B.C. Noah is subject to the same criticism, except the
numbers of lost generations is smaller.
JPT: I certainly won't claim to be an inspired writer of scripture. But if
I could write a Biblical genealogy following this line of reasoning, it
might go something like this:
And after he was driven from the Garden, Australopithecus anamensis lived
531 years and begat Australopithecus afarensis.
And Australopithecus afarensis lived 419 years and begat Australopithecus
And Australopithecus africanus lived 693 years and begat Homo habilis.
And Homo habilis lived 475 years and begat Homo ergaster.
And Homo ergaster lived 211 years and begat Homo erectus.
And Homo erectus lived 563 years and begat Homo heidelbergensis. And Homo
erectus preached 120 years against the wickedness of the people, but they
would not repent. And the Lord commanded Homo erectus to build a great boat
and to take two of every kind of animal into the boat. And in his days,
there was a great flood, and he and his family were saved in the boat which
the Lord had commanded him to build.
And after the flood, Homo heidelbergensis lived 120 years and begat Homo
And Homo neanderthalensis lived 99 years and begat Homo sapiens.
And Homo sapiens lived 85 years and begat David, king of Israel.
And King David lived 62 years and begat King Milesius of Ireland.
And King Milesius lived 30 years and begat Glenn Morton.
So all the generations from Australopithecus anamensis to Homo erectus were
6 generations;
and all the generations from Homo erectus to Glenn Morton were 6
JPT: It could have happened this way, I grant the possibility, but the whole
thing seems a bit ridiculous to frame 5 million years of anthropological
history as if it were 3000-year detailed geneaology that in no way reflects
reality. Another real difficulty which is overlooked in this view is --
authorship. Over most of 5 million years of anthropology, pre-humans didn't
keep such genealogies. At best it was Moses, by revelation through the
Spirit of God who produced the book of Genesis. Of course Biblical
scholarship throws this into doubt as well, saying the Genesis account was
created or modified much later in Israel's history. Therefore, it was not a
matter of Homo erectus historians forgetting or purposely omitting
generations over millions of years, it was either God or human authors who
purposely left them out.
JPT: If Genesis was Moses' writing, it was a divinely authored account
written purposely to mislead people concerning the true history of mankind,
making it appear artificially short. This seems analogous to the YEC
argument of "appearance of age," in their view that God created starlight in
motion in space to appear as if it had traveled millions of light years when
it was actually created just a few minutes earlier.
JPT: If Genesis was instead the product of post-exilic human authorship, the
account is a complete sham and fabrication by people who had no conception
of reality. This more or less invalidates the account as inspired writing.
Either way, the Biblical text is compromised in the interest of satisfying
the archaeological evidence. The only other apologetic I could foresee in
this case, would be to argue that historians of that day routinely made up
genealogies which weren't meant to convey actual reality of people and
families, but rather were allegorical narratives. I'm not sure if this
strengthens the doctrine of Biblical inspiration, even if it were true.
Glenn wrote: If Abraham lived at 1800 B.C. there are only 13 names between
David and Abe giving an average 61 year generation time. * * * according to
skeletal evidence most people died before they were 40 in that time period.
JPT: This is a good and very interesting point. I have grown up with the
ideas that a pre-flood water canopy, along with fewer compounded genetic
disorders in the early generations of the world, caused people and things to
live long at first and progressively shorter lives toward modern time. If
these theories are not true, there definitely needs to be a revised Biblical
Glenn wrote: The Scot and Irish nobility lineage can be totally true but
have those gaps of 2-300 years without any evidence that it is there, save
for the lifespan.
JPT: Another very good and quotable piece of apologetic that could help
blunt the YEC type of argument, "if the Bible text, taken at face value,
isn't strictly and literally factual in every detail, then the gospel of
Christ is invalidated". If we can show that historians of past ages were
not so concerned about recording every excruciating detail of history with
the same precision as our 21st century bias causes us to require, then we
should give more latitude to the ancient text rather than requiring a
black-and-white true/false judgment to be made. I think the "strict
biblical inerrancy" theology of the past century has greatly contributed to
our modern bias in subjects such as this.
Glenn wrote: I have made a career in my company of being somewhat of a
contrarian, but a successful one.
JPT: Why does this not surprise me? ;-)
Jon Tandy
Received on Tue Feb 28 16:23:44 2006

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Feb 28 2006 - 16:23:45 EST