FROM THE FALL TO THE FLOOD
The hints of government seem to be patriarchal and possibly city states. With regard to religion, sacrifices (
Dating this period. The dates of Adam and of the Biblical Flood and Noah are not known. (See FLOOD, GENESIS.) In fact, any dates of patriarchs before Abraham are uncertain. Even the various methods for computing the date for Abraham yield results that differ as much as 300 years (New Analytical Bible and Dictionary). The uncertainty in the date for the Biblical Flood may be thousands of years.
Much information has been learned from archeology and anthropology about ancient peoples and their cultures that likely predate the Flood. Radiocarbon and potassium argon methods of radioactive dating are among the most reliable methods of obtaining absolute dates (in contrast to relative dating). By these a time scale in years is obtained, generally with a precision of about two to five per cent on the measurement and a probable accuracy of about five to ten per cent with respect to the true date. Certainly, this is evidenced repeatedly by numerous comparisons with ancient artifacts of known historic age, and of tree rings where the yearly rings can be counted.
Radiocarbon is reliable in dating organic (once living) materials back to about forty or fifty thousand years. The precision is not as good for a 40,000 year old sample as for those of recent age because the radioactivity is very low. Potassium argon precision is good on samples a million years old or more. For younger samples the analytical precision is poorer because the samples are too young to have accumulated sufficient radiogenic argon for more precise measurement.
Genealogy tables and the period from Adam to Noah. In
Davis (ISBE I, p. 139ff.) compares the numbers given in this genealogy list from three ancient texts, viz., the Hebrew, Samaritan, and LXX supplemented with several other textual sources. There seems to be in the LXX a systematic excess of 100 years for the age of the patriarch at the birth of the son. Also the longevity of Jared, Methuselah and Lamech is variously divergent in the Samaritan text. Davis presents the opinions and theories from a number of commentaries and favors the conclusions (1) that the divergencies of the texts are due mainly to systematic alteration and not to accidental corruption, (2) that the data differences in the Samaritan text gives evidence of adjustment to a theory, and (3) that Biblical scholars no longer question the general superiority of the Heb. text of the Pentateuch as a whole over the LXX and Samaritan texts. Which source is superior in this passage is still in question. One of the theories, based on the interpretation that the genealogy names denote individuals with no omissions, supposes that the scholars for the LXX noted from their data that Methuselah would have survived the Flood and so accordingly increased his age at the birth of Lamech. Likewise the Samaritan data would indicate that Jared, Methuselah, and Lamech outlived the Flood so scholars reduced the respective ages of these to indicate that they died in the year of the Flood. Other rather involved changes also are speculated to bring the several accounts into agreement. The net result is that we cannot be sure of the original reading of the data on the ages of the patriarchs. Perhaps the fact of the preservation of these variant texts should be taken, within the will of God, as a warning that the ages of the patriarchs cannot be added simply to give a date for the Flood or Adam.
Other Biblical scholars of repute give essentially this same warning. Unger (UBH, pp. 47, 48) says it is highly improbable that the
Dating ancient man certainly involves the fossil record. It is widely known that both archeologists and anthropologists place the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Indus Valley, and the Sumerians, in Mesopotamia back to 3000-4000 b.c. or somewhat before. There is no known universal break in faunal species or geologic sedimentation which would date the Biblical Flood, and hence the date for antediluvians. Furthermore, fossil man, usually with associated tools and fauna, dates back in N America, e.g., Folsom man to 15-20K (15,000 to 20,000 years ago) and Sandia man to 25-30K; in Australia the oldest date known to this author is 35-40K; whereas fossil man or man-like creatures in Europe and Africa covers the range from the present back to about 1.5 million years. Fossils classified as Homo sapiens are dated from the present back to about 100K (DGFM, p. 13). Steinheim and Swanscombe (dated about 200-250K and classed as Homo sapiens by Day are classed with Neanderthal by others (DGFM pp. 34, 35, 73). The Pithecanthropines are placed at 250-600K; the Australopithecines at 600-1550K and Habilines at 1000-1500K or 1-1.5 million years. The majority of these ancient man-like creatures older than 50K are dated by associated flora, fauna, and tools. Zinjanthropus, the earliest Australopithecine, was dated by potassium argon radioactive dating and hence in all probability is more accurately dated.
In discussing antediluvian man from Adam to Noah we are left still with the question, when did Adam live? We do not know. Was Adam the first member of Homo sapiens or was he the first member of an earlier genus such as Australopithecus? Some would place Adam as the first of genus Homo, but then, was Adam’s race, the antediluvians, contemporary with Neanderthal man? These are questions which cannot be answered now from Paleontology. Perhaps in the future new data will shed further light.
Concerning the Genesis record, Buswell (BSTCR, p. 325) after affirming defense of the special creation of man and the Bible as the Word of God, fully reliable on matters which it claims to set forth, says that, as far as the antiquity of man on the earth, “the Bible gives us no data on which to base any conclusion or even an estimate.” Warfield, who is called the greatest defender of the inerrancy of the Bible among scholarly theologians, discusses (WST, p 244) “The Antiquity and the Unity of the Human Race” and says, “...for aught we know instead of twenty generations and some two thousand years measuring the interval between the creation and the birth of Abraham, two hundred generations and something like two hundred thousand years may have intervened. In a word, the scriptural data leaves us wholly without guidance in estimating time which elapsed between the creation of the world and the deluge, and between the deluge and the call of Abraham. So far as the Scripture assertions are concerned, we may suppose any length of time to have intervened between these events, which may otherwise appear reasonable.”
Furthermore, Buswell points out that Matthew’s genealogy (
Buswell writes on “Understanding Ancient Idiom” (op. cit., p. 326) that Moses in
G. T. Wright (ISBE, 1, p. 143) also cites Green as giving “the most probable interpretation of the genealogical table” in
J. D. Davis (ISBE, 1, p. 142) asks “But after all are we really justified in supposing that the Hebrew author of these genealogies designed to construct a chronology of the period? He never puts them to such a use. He nowhere sums these numbers. No chronological statement is deduced from them. There is no computation anywhere in Scripture of the time that elapsed from the Creation or from the Deluge, as there is from the descent into Egypt to the Exodus (
The Heb. method of genealogy has a parallel in the Sumer. King Lists. The Weld-Blundell Prism lists eight kings who reigned before the Flood and fourteen dynasties after the Flood. To the eight kings who ruled at five different cities seemingly in succession is ascribed lengths of reign from 18,600 years to 36,000 years for a total of 241,200 years (FLAP; pp. 24-31). A later form of the same list is known from the writings of Berosus, a priest of Marduk’s temple at Babylon about 300 b.c. He gives ten names instead of eight and further exaggerates the lengths of reigns from 10,800 years to 64,800 years for a total of 432,000 years (FLAP; p. 25, ISBE 1, p. 141). Davis points out some remarkable similarities between the Genesis account and the Babylonian account, and well there might be if they each obtained information from the same earlier writings. One recognizes, of course, that Moses wrote Genesis about a thousand years before Berosus’ list. The correspondence begins with the third name in each list. The third patriarch (Genesis) is Enosh, meaning “man,” and the third king (Babylonian list) is Amelu, also meaning “man”; the fourth patriarch is Kenan, derived from a root meaning “to fabricate,” and the fourth king is Ummanu, meaning “artificer”; the seventh patriarch was Enoch who walked with God, and the “seventh king is Enmeduranki, who apparently was reputed to have been summoned by the gods Shamash and Ramman into their fellowship and made acquainted with the secrets of heaven and earth”; the tenth patriarch, Noah, was the hero of the Flood as was the tenth king (ibid., p. 142).
Davis goes on to show apparent differences. The Heb. account “asserts kinship, however remote, between the successive links,” whereas in the Babylonian account the “descent of the government from father to son” is asserted in only two instances, viz., between the first two and between the last two. Also the longevity of the patriarchs contrasts with the longevity and length of reign of the Babylonian kings. There is no apparent systematic ratio between the years indicated for the members of each list, but the symmetry of the numbers in the Babylonian list makes it suspect. For example, there are ten kings and the sum of their combined reigns is one hundred twenty sars which is a multiple of ten and twelve the basal number of their duodecimal number system. (A sar is 3,600 years.) Davis illustrates, “There are ten reigns of ten sars each, and three successive reigns which taken together, 3, 13, 12, make ten and eighteen sars. Taking the reigns in order in which they occur, we have as their duration the series 10, 18-10, 18, 10, 18, 10, 8, and 18.
The weight of evidence according to the foregoing interpretations of available data clearly indicates that the Genesis account of the antediluvians does not give a chronology of a specific number of years from Adam to Noah. It is also clear that we have no date for when Noah or Adam lived.
Antediluvian longevity. The genealogies of
A more viable interpretation given by Davis (ISBE, vol. 1, p. 142, 143) and Buswell (BSTCR p. 339-343) is that most, if not all, of the names in the genealogies of
Buswell interestingly points out (ibid., p. 340) that in KJV (
Pfeiffer (PPA p. 20) comments “It has often been suggested that the descriptions of the Biblical patriarchs are actually records of the movements and activities of whole tribes. Terms such as ‘son’ and ‘begat’ may be used metaphorically, and in some instances the Biblical writers use them to show the relationships of ethnic groups.”
W. H. Green, “Primeval Chronology” in Bibliotheca Sacra (Apr. 1890), 285-303; B. B. Warfield, “On the Antiquity and the Unity of the Human Race” (Jan. 1911), 2-11, Princeton Theological Review; Studies in Theology, 244; G. A. Barton, Archaeology and the Bible, 7th Ed. Rev. (1937), 317-326; J. D. Davis, “Antediluvian Patriarchs” in ISBE (1939), vol. 1, 139-143; G. F. Wright, “Antediluvians” in ISBE (1939), vol. 1 p. 143; New Analytical Bible and Dictionary (1941); J. Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past (1946), 24-31; J. P. Free, Archaeology and Bible History (1950), 39, 40; M. F. Unger, Archaeology and the(1954), 18 ff.; B. Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture (1956), 339; Unger’s Bible Dictionary (1957), 67, 68; C. H. Pfeiffer, The Patriarchal Age (1961), 20; J. O. Buswell, A of the Christian Religion (1962), vol. 1, 325-343; M. H. Day, Guide to Fossil Man (1965), 13, 34ff., 73.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
1. Chronology Uncertain:
According to the ordinary interpretation of the genealogical tables in
2. Meaning of Genealogies:
As in the genealogies of Christ in the Gospels, the object of the tables in Genesis is evidently not to give chronology, but the line of descent. This conclusion is supported by the fact that no use is made afterward of the chronology, whereas the line of descent is repeatedly emphasized. This method of interpretation allows all the elasticity to prehistoric chronology that any archaeologist may require. Some will get further relief from the apparent incredibility of the figures by the Interpretation of Professor A. Winchell, and T. P. Crawford (Winchell, Pre-adamites, 449 ff) that the first number gives the age of actual life of the individual while the second gives that of the ascendancy of his family, the name being that of dynasties, like Caesar or Pharaoh.
3. The Nephilim:
4. The Ice Age:
The antediluvians are, with great probability, identified by some geologists (Sir William Dawson, e.g.) with glacial or paleolithic man, whose implements and remains are found buried beneath the deposits of glacial floods in northern France, southern England, southern Russia, and in the valleys of the Delaware, Ohio and Missouri rivers in America. The remains of "paleolithic" men reveal only conditions of extreme degradation and savagery, in which violence reigned. The sparse population which was spread over the northern hemisphere during the closing floods of the Glacial period lived in caves of the earth, and contended with a strange variety of gigantic animals which became extinct at the same time with their human contemporaries. See Deluge of Noah.
LITERATURE. Green, "Primeval Chronology," Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1890; Dawson, Modern Science in Bible Lands; B. B. Warfield, "On the Antiquity and the Unity of the Human Race," Princeton Theol. Review, January, 1911; Winchell, Pre-adamites; Wright, Ice Age in North America, 5th ed.; Man and the Glacial Period, and Scientific Confirmations ofHistory.