RE: [asa] New Evidence for Two Human Origins

From: Dick Fischer <dickfischer@verizon.net>
Date: Sat Oct 06 2007 - 11:43:01 EDT

Hi Phil, you wrote:

 

So I wouldn't make too much of the details in the Utnapishtim story.
Like you, I believe the story originated in a real person and so there
is some truth in it, but his immortality in this obviously fantastic
tale is a very weak piece of evidence to support a particular
interpretation of the Genesis geneologies.

 

It's one piece of evidence, whether it's weak or strong is a value
judgment. But taken together with Josephus and Jubilees, I'm convinced
the Jews thought he lived a long life though they also knew in hindsight
he wasn't immortal. In the Gilgamesh
<http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/mesopotamian/gilgamesh/tab11.htm>
Epic our flood hero is sought out because it was widely thought he was
immortal.

 

This is reasonable if they had brought a version of a base-6 system with
them from Mesopotamia.

 

Sumerians used a sexagesimal numbering system to which our clock and
compass owe their origins, I wouldn't call it base-6. "The digits used
were symbols which represented syllables instead of letters that were
pressed into clay tablets. There were symbols representing ones and tens
and were combined to represent the number of each place value." More of
that on http://it.stlawu.edu/~dmelvill/mesomath/index.html

Dick Fischer

 <http://www.genesisproclaimed.org/> www.genesisproclaimed.org

So I wouldn't make too much of the details in the Utnapishtim story.
Like you, I believe the story originated in a real person and so there
is some truth in it, but his immortality in this obviously fantastic
tale is a very weak piece of evidence to support a particular
interpretation of the Genesis geneologies.

As for the later Patriarchs, I am not sure how to interpret their ages.
A year or two ago I interpreted a book that is out of print and almost
impossible to find, called _The_Bible_Dates_Itself_ by Arthur Earle.
Earle claims evidence for a base-7 number system. In that number
system, the dates for the Patriarch's ages actually do make pretty good
sense. So Joshua being 110 in base-7 would actually be 7^2 + 7 = 56
years old. Abraham being 200 in base-7 would be 98 years old. The
problem with this is that Paul cites the OT as putting Abraham at a
literal 100, so unless you are willing to say that Paul's quotation was
culturally conditioned by the (mistranslated) OT manuscripts of his day,
and accept the ramifications of this theologically in your theory of
inspiration, then you will have a problem with the base-7 theory. But
Earle makes a decent case that all the problems of chronologies in the
OT are immediately solved when you use base-7. (On the other hand, he
takes this too far into the era of Kings when clearly the evidence
favors a base-10 system in use by the Jews.)

I sought out this book and bought it because it was the only source I
had located where someone was using a base-7 system for the Jews at the
time of the Exodus and thereabouts. I did this because I had noticed
that there is a funny numerical feature of the two censuses in the book
of Numbers. One of the two censuses never uses the digits 1, 8, or 9.
The other census only uses one of these digits one time. The odds of
that by chance you will never use more than 7 digits with no more than 1
exception in a list as long as these two censuses are about 1 in 500,000
(I forget the exact figure, but it was about that). This is very strong
evidence that the Jews were using a base-7 number system at that time.
This is reasonable if they had brought a version of a base-6 system with
them from Mesopotamia. In the Exodus when God announced the "Seventh
Day" to be added to their 6-day mesopotamian calendar then they might
also add a seventh digit to their number system. The later census at
the time of David is clearly a base-10 system, because all the digits
are being used by that time. (Surprisingly, Earle didn't notice the
number patterns in the censuses.)

Let's not forget that "numbers" as an abstract idea were not firmly
developed until after the era that we are discussing. At that time,
"numbers" always had units attached to them. "7 sheep" and "7 years"
and "7 acres" were often counted in different numbering systems and with
different characters for the numerals. During this time, the power of
arithmentic was being discovered and new, more powerful numbering
systems were being worked out. The Semitic Jews with their (presumably)
Mesopotamian-style numbering had just spent a period of time rubbing
elbows with the Egyptians who used a heiratic system that was base-10.
The Hebrews later adopted a system somewhat similar to the Egyptian
system, but using their alphabet rather than inventing separate symbols.
Who knows what numbering systems they were using in the periods of time
we are discussing? The later scribes wiped out all evidence of them
when they translated the texts into written-out Hebrew words. But we do
know that the period of time where the "funny numbers" appear in the
Bible is EXACTLY the period of time when new numbering systems were
being invented, and so we should expect to see funny numbers exactly
where we do.

This is actually a very strong argument for the authenticity of the
text. It is evidence that the text was written at the same period of
time that it is describing, and not much later as higher criticism has
claimed.

Phil

-----Original Message-----
From: Dick Fischer <dickfischer@verizon.net>
To: ASA <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Thu, 4 Oct 2007 11:32 am
Subject: RE: [asa] New Evidence for Two Human Origins

The historical evidence matches up somewhat with the idea that
long-lived Semites or Adamites lived alongside short-lived Sumerians.
The Sumerian Kinglist is actually not one list but a number of lists
found in excavated cities that all are quite similar. There are
variations, transpositions, etc., but all show a Sumerian base 60 or 60
sguared with extraordinary long years(?) as a result. There is no
distinction between Sumerian kings and Adamite kings, but also the SKL
records years of reign not years lived. Who knows how long Adamite
(pre-flood Semite), Alalgar (the 2nd king) lived after the Sumerian king
from Badtabira successfully warred against him at Eridu?

 

The eleventh tablet of Gilgamesh weighs in on the side of Noah
(Utnapishtim) being long-lived versus the Sumerian king Gilgamesh who
was expecting to die within a more normal time span. That's the reason
Gilgamesh sought him out. The eleventh tablet is the only one written
in Akkadian, all other tablets are in Sumerian. So likely an Akkadian
scribe drew together two of the icons of his age and concocted a story
of their meeting that pulled in some of the elements known about both
men.

 

What I find especially intriguing is Gilgamesh's opening remarks that
parallel what we know about Noah from Genesis:

 

"As I look upon thee, Utnapishtim,

Thy features are not strange at all; even as I art thou

My heart had regarded thee as resolved to do battle,

[Yet] thou liest indolent upon thy back!

[Tell me,] how joinst thou the Assembly of the gods,

In thy quest of life?"

 

Utnapishtim means "he who found long life" in Akkadian and "Ziusudra"
has the same meaning in Sumerian. Also the impact on the world could
have come about partially at least due to the longevity of Noah's
descendants. At least one Assyrian king described Assur (Gen' 10:11) as
a "god."

 

The trend of long-lived patriarchs living shorter and shorter lives
continued long after the flood, even Joshua lived to 110, and none of
the numbering schemes that have been devised to resolve the conflict
with the ages of the pre-flood patriarchs take that into account.
Whatever devise may work from Adam to Noah breaks down after that.

 

Dick Fischer

Dick Fischer, Genesis Proclaimed Association

Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History

 <http://www.genesisproclaimed.org/> www.genesisproclaimed.org

 

-----Original Message-----

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Received on Sat Oct 6 11:44:42 2007

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