Barry Newman's Blog

July 27, 2012

Science and Genesis 5: 1 – 6: 8 (part I)

Filed under: Genesis,Science — barrynewman @ 12:10 am

Science and Genesis 5: 1 – 6: 8

Genesis 5: 1 – 6: 8 deals with a number of issues but chapter five in particular is best known for its recording of men living very, very long lives.  What are we to make of such a claim?

Over the last couple of years I have produced four blog series dealing with the first four chapters of Genesis. The series for Genesis 1: 1 – 2: 3 was produced in full on 23. 12. 2010, Genesis 2: 4 – 25 on 10. 4. 2011, Genesis 3: 1 – 24 on 4. 7. 2011 and Genesis 4: 1 – 26 on 31. 7. 2011.  This blog series will examine Genesis 5: 1 – 6: 8, with a few comments being made from a scientific point of view.

The account of Adam and what followed from Adam

Chapter 5 begins with “This is the book of the “toledoth” of Adam.  As discussed in a previous blog, the Hebrew word “toledoth” probably has the sense of “the account of” with the reference here being to Adam and some matters that followed from Adam.  The previous and first reference to “toledoth” in Genesis occurred in 2: 4. The next “toledoth” after 5: 1 occurs in 6: 9.  With the suggestion that the various “toledoth” references are indications of original sections of Genesis being pieced together to produce the complete book of Genesis, this blog series will be restricted to that one section, Genesis 5: 1 – 6: 8.  That there is a reference to “the book of the “toledoth” in 5: 1, though there is no other conjunction of “book” with “toledoth” in Genesis, adds some weight to the notion that at least in this case we are dealing with a section of material that once stood in its own right.

Adam (5: 1 – 5)

The Hebrew word, “adam” occurs six times in these five verses. Not once is it accompanied by the definite article but twice it is to be understood generically to refer to “mankind”.  God created (bara) man (male and female) and named them “man” (vv. 1, 2).  But the prime reference is to “the” man whose name is “Adam” (vv. 1, 3, 4 and 5).  The writer has no difficulty in moving freely between “adam” – mankind and “adam” – the man Adam, because the man Adam is the first of mankind.  (Matters of a scientific nature dealing with the notion of Adam as first man were dealt with in earlier blogs.)

Somewhat repetitively, echoing Genesis 1: 26 – 28, the writer records how God made (asah) mankind in the image of God, that they were male and female and that God blessed them. What is added here however, is the reference to, “in the day” that God created (bara) mankind, “in the day” when they were created (bara) (vv. 1, 2).  Probably the point being made is that the sixth day of Genesis 1 is in mind.  It is also possible that the writer wishes to make clear that being made in the image of God and being blessed were not matters which came about subsequent to the creation of mankind.   Mankind was made in God’s image and blessed by him from the start.

As the writer unfolds what follows from Adam, his concern to begin with is almost solely with Seth.  Abel had previously been mentioned and had of course come to an untimely end.  Cain also had earlier been referred to along with what followed from him, his genealogy.  So now, at this point, the writer is concerned with Seth.  That Adam fathered sons and daughters is noted but almost by way of passing reference. Seth provides the connection between Adam and the list of names that is about to unfold.

Of some interest, as mentioned in a previous blog, Seth is “fathered” in the likeness of Adam, according to his image (5: 3) just as mankind is made in God’s image after his likeness (1: 26). It would appear that whatever significance we give to mankind being made in God’s image, after his likeness, a matter discussed in some detail in an earlier blog, the similarity between God and the mankind he made is substantial.  Indeed that the writer mentions that Seth was fathered in the likeness of Adam, according to his image who as male with female had been made in the image of God, after the likeness of God, could be his way of indicating that this imaging, this likeness, does not stop with first man but is passed on from mankind to mankind.

And so, Adam lived for 930 years, 800 years after he fathered Seth.  No information is given in Genesis 4 as to when he became the father of Cain or Abel, or as to how long any of the descendants of Cain lived.  It is only in chapter 5 when discussing Adam, Seth and his line that references to years become important.  It would seem to be that, relatively speaking, the lineage of Cain is unimportant.  (The extreme oddity of the extraordinary longevity of Adam and those who follow will be discussed later.)

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