Archive for June, 2012

When content is added to make a story more interesting to someone’s way of thinking, it can eventually cast doubt upon the factual origin of the story. Ancient myths probably began that way. Where there is substantial agreement between ancient writings, there is likely some basis in reality, but the tendency is to dismiss it all because of elements of fantasy.

Some teach that sections of the Bible are mythological because of content similar to myths and legends. It makes better sense to believe the myths arose from misguided attempts to communicate history. Ancient writings, including myths, that contain information similar to the Bible can be viewed as historical evidence.

Myths and beliefs influenced the records of ancient historians, and that is evident in their writings, yet much of the content is as accurate as they could make it. The same process takes place today as evolutionary beliefs permeate the work of science. The scientific data may be sound while the interpretations of it are totally wrong.

The Jewish historian Josephus (37 A.D. – 100 ? A.D.), names some writers and historians of other nations who mention the long life span of early man. He cites the writings of Manetho, Berosus, Mochus, Hestiaeus, Hieronymus, Hesiod, Hecataeus, Hellanicus, Acusilaus, Ephorus, and Nicolaus, as evidence that the ages given in Genesis are a true account.

Josephus also writes that ancient knowledge of an astronomical event that he calls, “the Great Year” (Antiquities of the Jews, 1.3.9), is evidence of the long life of early man. In that instance, I haven’t been able to determine what Josephus was speaking of. The Kreutz Sungrazer Comets have an orbit of about that length of time, and are thought to be fragments of a much larger comet, but would the reappearance of a comet be termed “the Great Year?”

Was Josephus wrong about some astronomical event taking place in a 600 year interval? Would man have to have lived more than 600 years to have discovered it? Just about any information can be interpreted in multiple ways. That is an area where atheists and evolutionists are very deceptive. Many of them know that the Creationist’s interpretation is at least as good as their own, but they’re keeping it secret. They seem to feel that censorship of Creationism is justifiable because of their own personal beliefs.

The apostle Paul, writing his first letter to Timothy (verse 1:4), advises caution regarding “myths (or fables) and endless genealogies, which provoke questions…” Paul gave similar advise in his letter to Titus in verse 3:9. You can get dragged into endless arguments about details of any sort, to the point that you lose your focus. Many of the details however, if viewed in correct context, bring the big picture into better focus.

A huge book could be written showing how the Myths offer collaborating evidence for the truth of the Bible. They testify of a creation by God, the fall of man, the long life span of early man, and many other things which I intend to list later.

The genealogical, and chronological information in the Bible is there for a reason. On the surface, it may not be the most interesting reading, but dig down through it like an archeologist and you never know what you might find. If anyone wants to unearth the truth, the Bible is the place to dig.

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Some people think that God doesn’t serve us as he should, and they want to throw him out of the lifeboat. That isn’t wise, because he is the lifeboat. Genesis 4:26 tells us that Seth named his son Enos (Enosh), and that at that time, “men began to call on the name of the Lord.” The name Enos means “man,” in the sense that man is mortal.

When we’re young, age and death can seem so far away that we feel immortal, and sometimes change is so gradual that we hardly notice the difference. We can become accustomed to each step as we go along, and there is a deadening process that takes place. That effect would have been magnified in the early days of man, when people lived to be several hundred years old.

YHWH Elohim warned Adam and Eve about the effects of the tree of knowledge (Genesis 2:17), but they ignored the warning. I’m not going to add much to what I’ve already written about the Tree of Knowledge, and the Tree of Life, but the name of Enos would have been a reminder to people of their mortality. That isn’t a pleasant thing, but in that awareness sometimes people call upon the Lord, which is a good thing. Only the Lord can give us access to the Tree of Life.

No one today should have trouble believing that people once lived to be more than 900 years old. Medical science possesses enough knowledge at this point for some to think it’s possible for us to eventually reach such ages again. Extended life is probably something the Antichrist will promise mankind, but immortality without God wouldn’t be a good thing for us to possess. It would truly be a fate worse than death (see part 1 of “Death,”  in my Dec. 2010 archives).

Not much progress has been made toward achieving man’s goal of immortality without God, but a lot of “progress” has been made toward denial of him. Ridiculing the Genesis record of the length of the lives of early man has long been part of the denial process. It continues today in spite of scientific evidence to the contrary. The thing to note about the ages recorded for man in Genesis is that science doesn’t disprove it, but provides evidence for it instead.

In studying the Genesis flood, we need to understand the condition of the heart of mankind at that time. Apparently, by the time Noah began building the ark, not many people were calling on the Lord. The news in that day read pretty much the same as it does today. Mortal man either denies God, or tries to use him, and in the end, man forces the hand of God.

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As I’ve been writing about some differences between ancient Bible manuscripts, it seemed best to deal with the genealogies in chapter 11 of Genesis along with chapter 5. Chapter 11 contains a genealogical chronology from the time period just after Noah’s flood. I intend to go back to the flood itself shortly, but there’s another problem that should perhaps be addressed first.

Several simple explanations can be proposed for the problem. The names in the manuscripts (with variations in spelling) are the same from Adam to Abraham, with one exception. It isn’t certain whether Arphaxad was actually the father, or grandfather of Salah.

In some manuscripts of the Septuagint, and also the Samaritan Pentateuch according to some sources, a man named Cainan is identified as the son of Arphaxad, and the father of Salah (note that this is not Caanan, the son of Ham). The Hebrew doesn’t mention Cainan in Genesis 11:12, but names Arphaxad as the father of Salah, leaving many to believe that this particular Cainan didn’t exist.

Cainan is listed in Luke 3:36 in our modern Bibles, yet some argue that Cainan isn’t in all ancient manuscripts of Luke. It could yet be possible that someone copying a manuscript of Luke might have omitted Cainan thinking he didn’t belong there. It’s also easy when hand copying something, to blink your eyes, and skip a line, especially if some of the information is repetitive as it is in this case.

This sort of thing doesn’t obliterate the truth, but can make it harder to get to. It would be easier to make this sort of mistake than to add the name of Cainan, seemingly out of nowhere. Corrected copies could have been made later, while not all incorrect copies were replaced.

It appears to me that the argument over Cainan is very ancient. It goes back so far that the differences exist in separate manuscripts of the Septuagint. Wherever there is confusion, Satan is the author of it. Sin and human error complicate all of life. Confusion just seems to come natural to us, and a lot of trouble can be made over a little difference.

The Septuagint gives the same ages for Arphaxad and Cainan when a son was born, and also the same years lived afterward. That seems odd, but it is possible. If there was some doubt as to whether Cainan had existed or not, this could have been the deciding factor in the mind of an ancient translator.

There are other ways that two different versions could originate. I had a friend who was killed in a car accident. His death was one of the things that caused me to take life more seriously, and I eventually came to believe in Jesus. Before his death, he fathered a son by his half-sister, and for many years the son didn’t know who his real parents were. I don’t remember for certain whether he was told that his grandparents were his mother and father, or if it was an aunt and uncle.

He was eventually told the truth, but if a genealogy had been written during the time when the scandal was hidden, it would have omitted the name of the actual father. The Bible doesn’t try to hide the scandals of humanity if they are relevant to the history being given. They are reported in much the same way as news is reported. I’ve seen broadcasters cringe at the news they were forced to report.

At the same time, we know that we don’t all hear everything. There may have been an unreported scandal involving Arhaxad and Cainan. Some of the situations recorded elsewhere in the Bible could have led to similar problems if they had gone unreported. Phares, who appears in the genealogy in Matthew 1:3, and also in Luke 3:33, was the son of Judah and a woman named Tamar (Thamar).

Judah fathered two sons by Tamar, who was the widow of his son Er. Er died without leaving Tamar children. The story of Judah and Tamar is found in chapter 38 of Genesis. If something of that sort happened with Arphaxad in Genesis 11:12, “Cainan” could have been left out of the picture.

In chapter 5 of 1st. Corinthians, Paul wrote about a young man in the church who was in a sexual relationship with “his father’s wife.” We don’t know if his father was still living, had more than one wife, or had simply remarried. It is likely that this young man sought forgiveness, and that this is what Paul was referring to in 2nd. Corinthians 2:1-11. The church, and Paul, had disowned the young man for a time, but now Paul was suggesting that he should be accepted again.

Arphaxad may have had a son named Cainan, but may have disowned him because of something similar to the situation at Corinth. Any of these things could have resulted in two manuscripts. The argument over Cainan could be so ancient that it affected decisions to include details of scandals in later scriptures.

I personally believe the account in Luke is correct, though most conservatives seem to believe otherwise. Either way, Jesus said the scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35), so the existence of Cainan does not annul the truth of the Script.

If one news source gets some detail of its report wrong, that doesn’t make them all wrong, even if we don’t know which is correct at a particular point. If a news agency reports propaganda, or outright lies concerning an event, that doesn’t mean the event didn’t occur. The invention of pseudo-science, false ideas, ideologies, and idols doesn’t mean that truth is non-existent, and neither do the mistakes of honest people.

Most science books promote Evolutionism, but the inclusion of those beliefs does not void the actual science contained in the books. We exist, and we all have a different version of life. Much of that which is believed by humans isn’t real, and that complicates reality, but yet reality exists. Even if none of the rest of us get it one hundred percent correct, God knows the truth. God is the truth, and God is reality.

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The Script would need to be recopied many times for it to endure to the present. It would have had small beginnings, with Adam and Eve conveying their history to interested children and grandchildren. The story would have been told many times, and written down very early.

In the beginning, human beings lived much longer than today. Adam lived to the age that he could have known Enoch, or Noah’s father, Lamech. No doubt there were several copies of the earliest writings of Genesis even before the days of Noah. It would be inevitable that while many copies would preserve correct information for future generations, copy errors would be generated at the same time.

If someone has read much that I’ve written, they would know that I believe the Bible is a supernatural book. Nature can’t fully explain it, and copy errors do not change that fact. The Bible contains knowledge and revelation beyond what mankind could have learned by science at the time it was written. I also believe that God has directly intervened at times in human history to preserve this revelation.

God also uses believing human beings in his labor, and I think we often get the wrong idea about that. I believe he uses human beings in spite of their weaknesses, not because they are free from them. This should give birth to hope in us who realize our own errors.

Bible translators have labored with the understanding that they are responsible to God for their work. The variations in the manuscripts have been diligently compared, and I’m sure we can trust that God has guarded the things we really need to know. If we want to follow God, he isn’t going to let us wander off too far. We can also be sure that the things Jesus said about the scriptures came from God’s own mouth. That’s who Jesus is; the Logos, the Reason, the Word of God.

There can be much for people to argue about in the details, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Discussion could lead to greater understanding, whereas dogmatism on either the scientific side or the religious, keeps everyone in the dark ages.

Science has many factions just as religion does, because “belief” is involved in the interpretation of all types of knowledge. Much of the mystery of the manuscripts of Genesis would be solvable if it weren’t for friction between so many factions. “People problems” are the greatest problems affecting the mystery of the Genesis manuscripts.

I can identify a couple of patterns within the manuscripts that I haven’t mentioned previously. The Hebrew and Samaritan manuscripts agree on all numbers concerning Enoch, and the Septuagint differs by the usual 100 years. All three manuscripts agree on the age of Enoch when he was raptured from the earth, and they agree on all numbers associated with Noah. The greatest differences between the three are in the ages of Mathuselah (Methuselah), and Lamech.

The Hebrew age of 187 years at the birth of Methuselah’s son becomes 167 years in the Septuagint (still a related number). The Samaritan also changes the 8 to a 6, but it then drops 100 years becoming 67 years (it would be beneficial to have a comparison chart to refer to as this is read).

The Septuagint agrees with the Hebrew that Methuselah lived a total of 969 years, but the Samaritan adds 67 years to “653” years lived afterward, which changes the total. Then the Samaritan gives “53” as the age of Lamech when Noah was born, and “653” as his age at death.

Lamech’s age of 182 (at Noah’s birth) in the Hebrew, becomes 188 in the Septuagint (a related number), and the years lived afterward change from 595 to 565 (also related). The sum of those numbers in the Septuagint are 753. That could be where the number “53” originated.

I suppose that Noah and his family, on their long ocean voyage, would have made copies of the early Genesis manuscripts. Shem, Ham, and Japheth would likely each have possessed a copy. As they went their separate ways, some copies would suffer less deterioration than others, and be updated while in a more readable condition.

Updates would have happened at different times. The genealogy from Shem to Serug appears to have been added to an older record. At that point the Samaritan agrees with the Septuagint on practically all numbers, and the 100’s problem appears in the Samaritan. A few differences from the Hebrew also appear which seem to simply be changes in the order of the numbers.

The Samaritan continues to give the ages at time of death, while the others discontinue that practice. Some copyists might drop the “age at death column” if they thought it was redundant. If the column was added again later, a couple of unreadable numbers could result in a sum of “753” appearing there. Part of that number could then pop up in neighboring equations, as copyists struggled to piece together fragments.

Another pattern appears with Shem’s son Arphaxad besides the common problem in the 100’s column; the number order in “403,” becomes 330 (100 less) instead of “303.” The “3” and the “0” appear to have exchanged places. This problem occurs a few times in the manuscripts, and could easily have happened because of the similarity between the Hebrew words for “three” and “thirty.” If a scribe copied text which another person read aloud, that could explain a lot of things.

Taking each manuscript variation, problem by problem, a good explanation can be found for most of them. I think I’ve given enough information to dispel fears and doubts surrounding these numbers. There’s nothing here to be afraid of. The manuscripts are working with the same numbers. That is evidence that the genealogies in chapters five, and eleven of Genesis are  an accurate history.

The manuscripts are in agreement again when we get down to Abram (Abraham). It’s very likely that several people separately recorded portions of these genealogies. That is perfectly legitimate, and a difference in style between manuscripts, such as whether to include an age at death, shouldn’t be counted as a mistake.

God later used Moses to string these records together and to continue the history. The manuscript differences are simply the sort of things that happen over a period of time. There is enough agreement between them to build confidence in the Bible we’re using today.

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