Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Genesis 5

I’m not sure why I started reading Genesis 5 one night a while back. It’s the first of the tiresome “begat” passages in scripture that everyone jokes about.  Not generally very inspirational reading.  Many are intrigued by Enoch – how he walked with God and then “was no more, because God took him away.” 

But I was otherwise intrigued.  I’ve written before about the “day-age” theory of the beginnings – that each day of the Genesis 1 account is actually an “age” that could have lasted millions of years, thus giving the time necessary for the big-bang/evolution scenario that science offers us.  My reaction to that theory has been, “Meh.  Perhaps.”  It’s not as neat a solution as deistic evolutionists imply. There was evening and morning – the first day.  Evening and morning . . . I’m not sure how you have an evening and a morning in an age lasting millions of years.  As a friend noted once, it’s almost as if it was specifically written that way to eliminate the possibility of someone thinking it was anything other than an actual day.
I had similar thoughts reading the 5th chapter of Genesis that night.  If you aren’t familiar with it, take a look.  A list of generations from Adam to Noah.  A few things of note . . .
People lived a long time then (this was before the flood – many theorize that that environment changed significantly after the flood and severely reduced life spans, which is exactly what you see in the later genealogical lists in Genesis).  When you add up all those numbers and chart it out (as in the picture to the side here), it turns out that Adam was alive during the lives of all of these men.  Noah is the first one in the list who was born after Adam’s death.  That fact alone is fascinating – I see many script possibilities in the interaction of the various characters there.
Another intriguing tidbit: Methuselah, the infamous oldest man ever (he died at 969), died the year of the flood.  And his name can be interpreted to mean “his death shall bring it”.  And he was named by his father, Enoch – that one who was noted for walking with God and whom later New Testament writers call a prophet.
Many have pointed out that the Hebrew word used in this passage for “father of” can also mean “ancestor of”.  Duly noted.  They have used this fact to indicate that this might not be a literal father-son list, that there may be many generations missing, which would lend itself to much more time passing.  OK.  Again, duly noted.  I’m by no means a great Biblical scholar, and I don’t know the answers here.
But read closely:  “What Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch.”  Change that to “ancestor”.  How exactly does Jared suddenly become the ancestor of Enoch at 162 years old?  One becomes a father in a specific moment in time, during a specific year of life; not so an ancestor.  Again, it’s as if it was written that way to specifically eliminate the possibility of it being interpreted as an ancestor.
And what of all those numbers anyway?  If this was a general vague listing of ancestors, why would the lister include all of these specific numbers? 
I’ll concede that this could be a listing of ancestors.  It is a possible reading of the passage.  But is it a likely reading?  Is it the meaning that the writer intends for us to get out of the passage?  Would an objective reader come to these words and assume extra generations in there if he didn’t have a need to try to find extra generations because of an extra-scriptural source insisting on more time?  Hmmm.  I don’t know . . .

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