A. J. MATTILL Jr.
Genesis 5:1-32 gives us the life-span of nine biblical personages: 1) Adam, 930 years; 2) Seth, 912 years; 3) Enosh, 905 years; 4) Kenan, 912 years; 5) Mahalalel, 895 years; 6) Jared, 962 years; 7) Enoch, 365 years; Methuselah, 969 years; and 9) Lamech, 777 years, for a total of 7,625 years.
Nonsense One. Assuming with fundamentalists that God created Adam in 4004 BC/BCE, then by AD/CE 1, 4,004 years would have passed. In other words, 7,625 years minus 4,004 years means we still have to wait until AD/CE 3,621 for all nine persons to live and die. The author of Genesis 5 miscalculated by 1,611 years (3,621 minus 2,010). He assumed that all nine of the persons he mentions were long since dead, except Enoch, who ascended to heaven.
Nonsense Two. Fundamentalists fail to take seriously the Sumerian King List of the late third millennium BC/BCE. According to the Hebrew List of the fifth century BC/BCE (Genesis 5:1-32), the Hebrew personages, like the Sumerians, lived to fantastic ages. The Hebrew personages lived an average of 847.2 years and the Sumerian kings reigned an average of 43,200 years. In the Hebrew tradition, the human life span after the Flood decreases from Methuselah’s 969 years to the normal 70 years (Psalm 90:10). Both lists are in accordance with ancient conceptions of the earliest people, in contrast to today’s prevailing view that man’s life span has been increasing during the course of evolution. Both lists are legendary in nature, and neither list is an inspired, historically accurate record.
An Expression of Hope. Perhaps the Hebrew Book of the Generations of Adam (Genesis 5:1-32) expresses the hope of its author and readers that some day humans would live for centuries. But later in Old Testament times such hopes had faded and seventy or eighty years seemed more realistic (Psalm 90:10). But now in AD/CE 2010 many well-informed people are convinced we humans have the potential to live 100 years and still be physically strong and mentally awake. The secret of long life is physical and mental exercise (“Use it or lose it”), plus a nutritious diet. In November 2005, The National Geographic summarized the “secret of long life” in two words, “Go vegetarian.”
Keep Reading. Mattill, The Seven Mighty Blows to Traditional Beliefs, Second Edition, 1995 (Gordo, Alabama: The Flatwoods Free Press), pp. 61-62. And John Robbins, Healthy at 100 (Waterville, Maine: Thorndike Press, 2006).