Pre-Flood ages based upon different calendar?

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    Inquisitor posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 03:53:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    There is almost a whisper somewhere on the Net that the reason ancient patriach's like Noah, Enoch, Methuselah lived so long is because of a gross miscalculation. Their ages were based upon a calendar that was a lot shorter than ours, hence their years could be twice as long. Has anyone else read/heard anything like this? I've been looking up for reading material but could only come up with flared-nostril apologetics; fundies INSISTING on the literalism of the scriptures.

    This reasoning about an alternate calendar is conceivably the work of Christians who read the Bible metaphorically/symbolically, not goat-sacrificing atheists. I am very interested in considering their line of thought if only i could find it amidst the clutter. Help, anyone?

    INQ

    Inquisitor posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 04:23:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    I believe this topic is considered in this week's ministry school; one of the talks

    "Reasoning from Scriptures" p. 94

    INQ

    M nvrgnbk posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 05:29:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    Fascinating topic.

    Inquisitor posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 14:06:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    btt

    Inquisitor posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 14:26:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    LENGTHS

    OFLIFEOFTHEPATRIARCHS

    Name Genesis LengthofLife

    Adam 5:5 930

    Seth 5:8 912

    Enosh 5:11 905

    Enoch 5:23 365 - he wasn't supposed to have died of old age, was he?

    Methuselah 5:27 969

    Lamech 5:31 777

    Noah 9:29 950

    Shem 11:10,11 600

    ___FLOOD________________

    Peleg 11:18,19 239

    Nahor 11:24,25 148

    Terah 11:32 205

    Abraham 25:7 175

    Isaac 35:28 180

    Jacob 47:28 147

    taken from "Insight from Scriptures" Vol 2, p. 252

    M BurnTheShips posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 15:57:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    For the sake of discussion:

    Assuming pre-flood life expectancies were actually the same as ours and that the "pre-flood" calendar was different, your post contains several improbably long numbers in the early post-flood era. This would tend to dash that harmonization to the ground.

    I have read (Isaac Asimov) that probably great ages were ascribed to the ancients to enhance their "hero" status.

    This is a fascinating subject. Lets hope some chime in.

    Burn

    M BurnTheShips posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 15:58:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    Enoch was "transferred". God "took" Enoch. re: Genesis 5:24

    Burn

    Leolaia posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 16:43:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    Yeah, in the Enochic tradition, Enoch was taken up into heaven to be shown the secrets of the cosmos (the cycles of the sun and moon, the rotations of the stars, the hidden depths of Sheol, etc.), and then he was placed in heaven to be the scribe who writes down in the "books of life" the deeds of every person in every generation until Judgment Day. Then he will return to earth with Elijah just before Judgment Day, when these books are opened and every person who has ever lived is judged on the basis of what they have done in their life. In later tradition, the heavenly Enoch becomes glorified as the angel Metatron, the Son of Man, the Anointed One, or the "lesser YHWH".

    I have an old thread which explores the possibility that Enoch (seventh in line from creation) was based on the Sumerian antediluvian king Enmeduranki (also seventh in line before the Flood), who was especially beloved by the sun god Utu, who was known as the Utu who ascended to heaven and received an understanding of its mysteries.

    http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/10/67655/1.ashx

    It is therefore noticeable that 365 is the number of days in a solar year. Coincidence? A variation of the solar calendar (a sabbatical calendar with 364 days, which is evenly divisible by 7) is especially prominent in the Enochic tradition (see the Book of Luminaries in 1 Enoch).

    I'm not familiar with any "alternative calendar" attempts to shorten the ages of the patriarchs, although there were attempts to connect (some of) the numbers to the Babylonian sexagesimal systeem. The main observation that still stands, however, is that the ages (or lengths of reign) in the Sumerian King List show very much the same pattern .... insanely inflated lengths before the Flood (even more so than in Genesis, on the order of thousands of years), then decreasing ages after the Flood, until they reach the normal length when one reaches "contemporary" times.

    Inquisitor posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 17:07:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    Hello, BurnTheShips!

    your post contains several improbably long numbers in the early post-flood era.

    Yes you make a good point. The Noachian Flood does not make a clean drop in lifespans. Peleg's 239 and Terah's 205 are astounding lifespans. While those anomalies do require some sort of explanation (your guess is as good as mine), they are very obviously 3 to 4 times shorter than the lifespans of the earlier patriarchs.

    Or put it in the opposite perspective, the pre-Flood lifespans are at least 3 to 4 times the length of the post-Flood anomalies. So surely the pre-Flood lifespans can be categorised apart from the likes of Peleg and Terah. Of course, one has to first assume that there is some credibility to this "lost" calendar hypothesis. For all we know the "lost" calendar (LC) hypothesis is rubbish.

    INQ

    Inquisitor posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 17:17:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    Am grateful for the background info to this topic, leolaia!

    Perhaps like you say, there is no such alternative calendar. Maybe it is a fleeting musing of someone who noticed that some calendars can be shorter than the 365-days long solar year (e.g. Mayan Tzolkin year has 260-days?). It would make a convenient way of explaining away a 900-year-long lifespan.

    A lost calendar that had a 100-days for a year would reduce a 900-year-long lifespan to about a third (200+years). Again, wishful thinking perhaps.

    INQ

    M BurnTheShips posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 17:29:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    Leolaia,

    It is therefore noticeable that 365 is the number of days in a solar year. Coincidence?

    Was a an accurate 365 day solar calendar in use during the period in the ANE? Did the Babylonians have an accurate calendar or did they have a lunar calendar in which they would intercalate an additional month as needed when the drift became too pronounced as the Hebrews did?

    Burn

    Leolaia posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 17:40:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    There was no such calendar like the Mayan Tzolk'in calendar in the ANE, and even the Mayans synchronized this cultic calendar with the monthly (Haab) calendar fixed by the seasons (i.e. the solstices and equinoxes). The lunar calendars (amounting to 354 days, not too far behind the 365-day solar year) of Babylonia, Israel, etc. were reckoned by the timing of the spiring equinox, and thus there were intercalary months every few years to take up the slack. Only the Islamic calendar, AFAIK, eschews intercalation (cf. Quran 9:36-37) so that the seasons wander freely throughout the year, but this is patently a modification of an originally intercalated calendar.

    The ancient Jews had two calendars, a lunisolar 354-day calendar that was intercalated and a sabbatical 364-day schematic solar calendar (whose system of intercalation, if there was one, is unknown), neither of which has any bearing on "reducing" the ages of the patriarchs.

    a Christian posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 17:47:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    There is another, and I think much simpler way, of looking at this. The Bible records the names of only 24 people who had significantly longer lives than any which have been documented in modern times (beyond their 120's). These 24 people may have been the only people who God ever gave such extraordinarily long lives. The writer of Genesis may have made a point to record the length of their lives because they were in fact so unusually long. The Bible itself gives us indications that this may have been the case. For instance, the writer of Genesis makes a point to tell us that Noah's three sons who accompanied him on the ark were all born after Noah was 500 years old. (Gen. 5:32) And he tells us that Noah was 600 years old when the flood began. (Gen. 7:6) He then records an unusually long life for only one of Noah's sons, Shem. (Gen. 11:11) Thus he seems to have made a point in telling us that Noah's other two sons may have had lives of normal length. The writer of Genesis also seems to say that God Himself told Noah that He intended for men to be "mortal" with life spans limited to only about "a hundred and twenty years." (Gen. 6:3) This seems to clearly indicate that anyone who ever lived longer than that was an exception to the rule. Why would God have given 24 individuals extraordinarily long lives? We can only speculate. The number seems to have some symbolic significance in the Bible. There were 24 elders around God's throne in Revelation. (Rev. 4:4) God's people in Old Testament times were represented by the 12 tribes of Israel. In New Testament times God's people were represented by the 12 Apostles. 12 plus 12 equals 24. So, possibly God once gave 24 people extraordinarily long lives to picture the fact that He would one day give all of His people the same (i.e. eternal life).

    M belbab posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 17:54:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    I have always wanted to explore a different thought to explain the long preflood ages.

    I will put my thoughts here as an exploratory post.

    Just as Israel's descendents came to be called Israel and it speaks in the Bible as the whole nation being called Israel, could it be possible that the long ages refer to the tribes of these individuals.

    Methusaleh's tribe would have died at the flood.

    Also, Adam's son, Seth, I believe was not necessary Adam's third son. He was a son in the likeness of Abel. Abel then would go on to leave the tribe of his father and start his own dynasty.

    In Jeremiah (?) it speaks of the days of one king being 70 years. Nebucadnezzar's dynasty lasted for 70 years, his reign as king was a lot less.

    Looking forward to any pros or cons to this suggestion.

    belbab

    Leolaia posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 18:09:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    The Egyptians had a 365-day calendar, consisting of 12 months of equal length (30 days each), followed by an intercalary 5-day period every year. The Zoroastrian Persian calendar was also similar. The Babylonians had a lunisolar calendar like the Hebrews (354-day year + intercalated months every several years), but they also had an older schematic calendar like the Egyptians with 30-day months (with an extra month thrown in every six or seven years), which was derived from the older Sumerian cultic year that consisted of 72 weeks of 5 days each (yielding 360 days in a year), followed by a 5-day festival period (as it is in the Egyptian calendar). A version of this sabbatical calendar was adopted by the Jews, who viewed the year as a series of 52 7-day weeks amounting to 364 days. These weeks spanned across 12 months of 30 days each (12 x 30 = 360), and the extra four days were interspersed between the seasons as the 2 solstices and 2 equinoxes. This calendar co-existed with the Jewish lunisolar calendar, and was at odds with it at times (cf. Jubilees, for an example of anti-lunar polemic).

    hillary_step posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 18:13:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    Along the lines of Belbab, I would also note that as there is a missing generation in the Luke/Genesis patriachal comparison, and as the patriachal listings are actually in patterns, obviously so that they could be recalled with ease, it would seem that the ages of the patriarchs are very much open to interpretation.

    HS

    a Christian posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 18:49:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    Hillary,

    You are referring to the "second Cainan" of Luke 3:36. Early Church fathers including Irenaeus, Africanus, Eusebius, and Jerome all rejected Luke's "second Cainan" considering it to be either an accidental or a deliberate insertion (most likely a copyist's accidental duplication) into a late copy of Luke. Some of the oldest existing copies of Luke do not include this "second Cainan" including the Papyrus Bodmer (also called "P75") which has been dated to AD 200 or even earlier. Besides being probably the oldest known copy of Luke in existence it is also said to be among the most carefully copied. Scholars tell us that it was clearly copied one letter at a time, compared to other manuscripts containing this "second Cainan" which they tell us were sometimes copied several words at a time.

    This second Cainan also later found its way into the book of Genesis as contained in some late copies of the Greek Old Testament (LXX). The thinking is that the corrupted copies of Luke influenced Christian copyists to retroactively "correct" Genesis in this matter.

    With this in mind, there is no reason for us to believe that there is any generation "missing" from the Genesis genealogies.

    hillary_step posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 18:55:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    AChristian,

    Yes, I agree, very likely the case but given the inclusion in the Canon, what I am positing is that the Bible cannot be relied on with any confidence in a literalism when it comes to such matters.

    That the early Church Fathers were needed to issue on the matter makes my point.

    HS

    Leolaia posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 20:03:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    hilary_step...I think most agree that "Cainan" in the LXX of Genesis 11:12 is a secondary insertion, duplicating the "Kenan" of Genesis 5:12. This makes the genealogy ten generations in length from Shem to Terah, just as it was ten generations from Adam to Noah. It also pushes back the date of the Flood another 130 years, which adds to the LXX's scheme (motivated by synchronistic chronography?) of making the Flood date as early as the fourth millennium BC by adding 100 years to the ages of the postdiluvian patriarchs (up to Nahor, who gets an additional 50 years) when they had their first son.

    I would say that in principle, omitted generations may well lie in the original oral tradition that the genealogies are rooted in, but the present schematic form of the genealogies in the Priestly narrative does not really allow it. It is worthwhile to compare the Sethite genealogy in ch. 5 (P) with the Cainite one in c. 4 (J), as these are clearly variants of the same lineage but drawn from independent oral traditions. Some names differ in spelling (e.g. qyn | qynn, `yrd | yrd, mchwy'l | mhll'l, mtwsh'l | mtwshlh), while some are identical (hnwch | hnwch, lmk | lmk), some swap positions in the lineage (i.e. hnwch and mchwy'l | mhll'l), while others occur in the same positions (e.g. qyn | qynn, mtwsh'l | mtwshlh, lmk), and some occur in one lineage but not in the other (e.g. 'nwsh and nwch in the Cainite line, such that the threefold mention of sons at the terminus of the lineage involves the sons of lmk in the Cainite line and the sons of nwch in the Sethite line).

    a Christian posted Mon, 17 Dec 2007 20:05:00 GMT(12/17/2007)

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    Hillary,

    So you are saying that because one copyist accidentally repeated a couple words in Luke, which then soon found their way into many copies of the New Testament, this proves that the Genesis genealogies cannot be trusted, even though Church Fathers from as early as the Second Century recognized these couple extra words in Luke as a copyist's error, and even though most scholars today do the same?

    By saying this aren't you essentially saying that because one small copyist's error found its way into the New Testament, a mistake which was quickly discovered, this gives us good reason to believe that many large errors found their way into the Old Testament which were never discovered?

    I don't follow your logic. The other day I gave a store clerk a twenty dollar bill to pay for an item costing one dollar. She gave me only nine dollars in change instead of nineteen dollars. I quickly pointed out her error. Does this prove that many clerks might have made similar mistakes before when giving me my change, but I never caught their mistakes? Wouldn't it more likely prove that whenever a clerk makes such a mistake I quickly catch it?

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