Were the life spans of the patriarchs just an allegory of astronomical cycles?

by was a new boy 50 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • was a new boy
    was a new boy




    Length of Life

    Adam 5:5 930

    Seth 5: 912

    Enosh 5:11 905

    Kenan 5:1 910

    Mahalalel 5:17 895

    Jared 5:20 962

    Enoch 5:23 365

    Methuselah 5:27 969

    Lamech 5:31 777

    Noah 9:29 950

    'Plato and the Qur’an, published in Spring 2023, provides a ground-breaking explanation of the allegories and numbers within the Qur’an. It shows how the esoteric knowledge of the ancient world can be found within ancient mythology, Plato’s dialogues, and the scriptures of the Abrahamic faiths. It asks: what continuities and correspondences can we find among these spiritual traditions, and how can they be explained?'

    short on time? start @ 4:58

  • raymond frantz
    raymond frantz

    Never heard of a connection between Plato and the Quuran. As a source material I would advise you to stir clear from the Quran which is full if inaccuracies. The Bible is quite clear the numbers are literal, people luved longer before the Flood and there is nothing in the context to suggest this is symbolic or referring to astronomical circles. Even extrabiblical Sources ,like Sumerian records refer to a period of time before the Flood that people lived longer.

  • Acluetofindtheuser

    The only person in the list who may be associated with astronomical cycles would be Enoch due his death at age 365, which is one solar year for earth.

  • Rattigan350

    Why wouldn't they be real years? People were closer to perfection. Then at the time of Noah, God said he would limit them to 120 years. then later he say 70 or 80 years.

  • Vidiot

    Considering everything modern science and history has learned in the past century or so, I think the safest bet is to view pretty much everything in the Bible as “allegory”.

  • DesirousOfChange
    Why wouldn't they be real years?

    Maybe because there is nothing to substantiate lifetimes of 100's of years? (You do recall that if there are not TWO WITNESSES, it didn't happen.)

  • KalebOutWest

    According to The Jewish Study Bible, published by the Jewish Publication Society, Judaism recognizes it as a trope of their own invention, an equivalent to that found in and around around the Levant, such as in Sumer. In a footnote to these genealogies in Genesis, we find the genre addressed as folklore:

    Genesis 5.1-32: The ten generations from Adam to Noah...The enormous life spans of Adam and his antediluvian descendants find a parallel in the Sumerian King List, an anceint Mesopotamian text, in which the pre-flood kings rule much longer than those who came afterward (the longest regin was 65,000 years). The underlying conception is that things proceeded on a grander scale in those days. These life spans are thus akin to the biblical alllusions to primordial giants or heroes.

    The NABRE, the Catholic Bible produced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, agrees, stating the following in the footnote to the same verses, admitting that Sumer sources also talk about a flood and how in both the cataclysmic event marked a reduction in ages that follow in the legends and folklore:

    The genealogy itself and its placement before the flood shows the influence of ancient Mesopotamian literature, which contains lists of cities and kings before and after the flood. Before the flood, the ages of the kings ranged from 18,600 to 36,000 years, but after it were reduced to between 140 and 1,200 years. The biblical numbers are much smaller.

    And if all that was just too stuffy and not straightforward enough for you, The Harper Collins Study Bible, produced by the Society of Biblical Literature pulls no punches in telling everyone it's just metaphorical:

    The long lives of the patriarchs before the flood (ten genrations) are a sign of the greateness of the ancestors and their distances from the present era. A similar concept is found in Mesopotamian king lists, where the kings before the[ir concept of the] flood (usually seven to ten kings) lived for tens of thousands of years.
  • raymond frantz
    raymond frantz
    So the people who lived nearer the event by thousands of years believed to be literal but the "scholars" that lived thousands of years after the event they think its metaphorical. Why believe the "scholars"?
  • TonusOH

    I'm wondering how such a thing would be verified. Apparently it wasn't unique to Bible writers to ascribe very long lifespans to people in the past. How do we confirm that people lived to 900+ years at one time? How do we confirm that they did (or didn't) live tens of thousands of years?

  • KalebOutWest
    • So the people who lived nearer the event by thousands of years believed to be literal but the "scholars" that lived thousands of years after the event they think its metaphorical. Why believe the "scholars"?

      Good question, raymond frantz.

      Jews have never believed this information was ever literal. These scholars are just pointing that out.

      It's not the invention of modern scholars. As the The Jewish Study Bible illustrates, the information comes from the testimony of the ancients, not modern people, especially the ancient Jewish sages who also testify that these things are not literal

      Ancient teachers like Rashi (Scholom Yitzchaki) and Maimonides, and other great contributors to the Talmud are some of the persons that modern scholars pay close attention to.

      While there are modern contributions that are taken into consideration, they generally take second place these days, especially since the discovery of the Qumran Scrolls. Other ancient texts and any contribution they might have to the meaning and context to the Tanakh, especially in comparison to other Mesopotamian writings as a genre are always allowed to be read as a whole along with Jewish tradition, within Jewish culture, in the scope and evolution of Jewish history.

      But one always begins with the testimony of the most ancient of sources--and when it comes to the Jewish texts that means with the Jewish sages. Their testimony is that these works are legends, folklore, and mythology. The Torah itself is a work of Law, not history. The Talmud itself is the greatest testimony to this.

      For more information, Conservative Judaism has its own volume of the NJPS Torah, called Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary. It has the same English translation of the NJPS that The English Study Bible has alongside the Hebrew Masoretic text, and similar information in far greater detail that I am explaining here.

      In other words, the information is ancient.

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