Did People in the Bible Really Live for 900 Years? | Fr. Mike Schmitz
16th Jan. 2021 | Catholic Answers
- 2:31 No, the 900 year long and some more lifespans between Adam and Flood would have been a very natural situation back then.
The present situation has to do with radioactivity. From Flood to Babel (if it was Göbekli Tepe and not even later like some say Eridu), the carbon 14 rise is depending on a production c. 10 times faster than at present. This production would go with more radioactivity from cosmos, more milliSieverts per year from cosmos, right now it is 0.34 at medium height of inhabited places, but back then it would have more or less equalled the other components of background radiation if not more.
This would have had another effect, shortening lifespans, as the genetics of man degenerated.
This would after some more than a millennium, rather than a millennium and a half lead to Moses dying at 120, which today is still reachable, but extreme. Like, Japan, Crete, very healthy living.
Living in the Upper Palaeolithic would have been very unhealthy due to the radiation (plus those dying in it would have died prematurely, since even Shem would have lived into Neolithic). Hence our much shorter lifespans.
Note, I count Babel as c. 40 years between death of Noah and birth of Peleg.
- 5:00 Here is City of God, book XV, by St. Augustine:
The City of God (Book XV)
St. Augustine was very clear that the lifespans like 930 were natural between Fall of Adam and a later post-Flood stage, so much that one reason he gives for Enosh born when Seth was 205 is ... puberty as much delayed as lifespans were longer.
I have a confirmation for this one, less favoured, elsewhere : Ishmael is carried on his mother's back when he is 14, 15 at least. Sungenis spoke of "he would have been ten" ... no, he was past 14 and as small as if he had been ten. And this was a son of the Abraham who lived to 175 (impossible today) and brother of Isaac living to 147 (impossible today).
But I'd agree with him, he's a Church Father, that later puberty was not all of it.
- 6:13 No struggle needed. Science will tell you radioactivity is bad for you, and therefore will provide four our genome being less good than that of pre-Flood or even early post-Flood patriarchs.
- 7:30 "science is answering the question oftentimes "what" and "how" ...
What a bore! How awful ...
Faith is answering the question "who and why"
Genesis 1 never states why God created, except for the creation of man.
It very often adresses what and at least partly how, namely "in what sequence". And "by what method" (divine fiat, the famous "magic wand" decried by "Pope Francis" in 2014).
- 8:37 No, there is nothing which says Genesis 1 to 11 is highly poetic.
It is highly oral, each chapter is shorter than Nicene Creed, and all of it not much longer than the songs of the Iliad that aeidoi were learning by heart from Homer to Peisistratos.
It is not pre-history. There is, overall, no such thing as pre-history, except the times given in Genesis 1 and 2 before Adam, the first human observer, was introduced. Or other references to before God created, like in Wisdom. From his creation on, Genesis is history.
To anyone in ages prior to Romanticism, "poetic" would not have conveyed "fictional", so even if poetic had been correct, as it is for psalms, it doesn't mean non-accuracy, not literality and so on.
Here is a double reference to Exodus and Flood:
Thou by thy strength didst make the sea firm: thou didst crush the heads of the dragons in the waters.
While "firm sea" refers to walls of Red Sea leaving Hebrews dry, and "crushing dragon heads" means drowning Egyptians, it is also very descriptive of mud flows during Flood of Noah and dino fossils typically found either body without head or head without body. And dinos can fairly well be described as dragons. Literally, not just poetically.
8:38 There is no such thing as a switch over to "* history * history". Abraham's story begins in chapter 11. He's born 541 years after Peleg. But as he is no longer just receiving very short texts meant for oral transmission, he discovers, on written support, he can afford to be more prolix, and this goes on to Genesis 50.
No, 8:49, the chapters are not from "life before history existed" except most of Genesis 1 and some part of Genesis 2.
8:56 So, you interpret it according to that understanding of the genre, you are wrong on both genre and how to interpret it.
- 10:15 I refer to Aristotle.
Experience of doing well leads to enlightenment. Experience of doing ill leads to illusion.
Your experience of interpreting Scripture would, if you take Genesis 1 to 11, be an illusory one.
Your reference to The Office. I don't know the show. But it is not unlikely that some have correctly assessed it as fiction, but for the wrong reasons, so as to assess even fact as fiction. Among atheists, it is very often you find "supernatural" = "fiction". We know this is not true, but this means, you can be looking for the wrong things.
It is in fact lots wiser to conclude, genre differences do not at all go into the difference between fact and fiction, or if they do, that is accidental to the general principle, due to "parallel universes" like Narnia not existing, God made one creation, but this cannot be drawn out to a general principle. Some of the tragedies about Hercules would have included lots of either fiction or misunderstanding. But Persae was contemporary history. Only dialogues are fictionally reconstituted, which was standard for much of historiography later on too.
The one real, and spottable, difference between Genesis 1 to 11 and Genesis 12 to 50 is in how detailed each man's life is described, even some men are less described in last chapters than Adam in chapters 1 through 5. Ephraim and Manasseh. The reason is, oral texts have to be either short or poetic to be memorisable. Faithfully transmittable. In Genesis 1 to 11, the authors went for short.
As I asked Robert Barron - could he faithfuly teach the Nicene creed to a dying child without books at hand? Well yes. And any chapter 1 through 11 is shorter, and Nicene Creed is also prose.
If you assess Genesis 1 to 11 as poetry, you are not familiar with the genre of Hebrew poetry.
If you assess poetry as implying need not be taken as literal history, once again you are not familiar with the genre of Hebrew poetry.