A Report on the Genesis 5 and 11 Research Project: Updated July 27, 2018

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If you are reading about this research project for the first time, I encourage you to first review this important, previous update from December 2017: From Adam to Abraham: An Update on the Genesis 5 and 11 Research Project: Dec. 16, 2017

Previous Articles

Jeremy Sexton, "Who Was Born When Enosh Was 90?: A Semantic Reevaluation of William Henry Green's Chronological Gaps." The Westminster Theological Journal 77, no. 2 (September 2015): 193-218.

Jeremy Sexton and Henry B. Smith Jr., "Primeval Chronology Restored: Revisiting the Genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11," Bible and Spade 29, no. 2 (Spring/Summer 2016): 42-49.

Henry B. Smith Jr., "Methuselah’s Begetting Age in Genesis 5:25 and the Primeval Chronology of the Septuagint: A Closer Look at the Textual and Historical Evidence," is available in the Answers Research Journal online (off-site link).

Henry B. Smith Jr., "MT, SP, or LXX? Deciphering a Textual and Chronological Conundrum in Genesis 5," Bible and Spade, no. 1 (Winter 2018): 18-27.

Jeremy Sexton, “Evangelicalism’s Search for Chronological Gaps in Genesis 5 and 11: A Historical, Hermeneutical, and Linguistic Critique,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 61, no. 1 (2018): 5–25.

Jeremy Sexton, “Andrew E. Steinmann’s Search for Chronological Gaps in Genesis 5 and 11: A Rejoinder,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 61, no. 1 (2018): 39–45.

Henry B. Smith Jr., "The Case for the Septuagint's Chronology in Genesis 5 and 11," In Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Creationism, ed. J.H. Whitmore, pp. 117–132. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship.

New Developments

1. Kainan (Luke 3:36; Genesis 11:1314)

While researching larger, “big picture” questions about Gen 5/11, I have continued collecting information about Kainan. Kainan appears in almost all manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke, and many LXX manuscripts of Genesis. A number of scholars have argued that Kainan originated as a scribal error in a manuscript of Luke in the mid to late third or early fourth century AD. This error was almost immediately considered genuine by most of the Church across the entire Mediterranean world and then deliberately interpolated back into existing manuscripts of Luke and LXX Genesis. (Other scholars have posited alternative theories for Kainan’s origin, none of which have any evidence to support them).

While investigating the question of Kainan, I have uncovered numerous pieces of evidence that demonstrate that these theories of Kainan’s origin are not merely unlikely, but impossible to logically maintain under the force of the total evidence. In particular, we have been able to procure high resolution photographs of early NT and LXX (Septuagint) papyri which reveal Kainan’s name in them. I hope to submit an in-depth article on Kainan to the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society sometime this Spring/Summer. A more general article with full-color images will appear in the Summer 2018 issue of Bible and Spade. We ask for your prayers as both of these articles are prepared for publication.

2. Jeremy Sexton’s Articles in JETS

Jeremy continues to produce excellent scholarly research on the syntactical and exegetical features of Genesis 5 and 11, demonstrating that the genealogies yield a continuous chronology from Adam to Abraham. Jeremy interacts with Dr. Andrew Steinmann’s opposing viewpoint in two recent articles. They can be found off-site at Academia.edu. I encourage you to download them and also read his article from the Fall 2015 Westminster Theological Journal, “Who Was Born When Enosh Was 90?

Jeremy Sexton, “Evangelicalism’s Search for Chronological Gaps in Genesis 5 and 11: A Historical, Hermeneutical, and Linguistic Critique,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 61, no. 1 (2018): 5–25.

Jeremy Sexton, “Andrew E. Steinmann’s Search for Chronological Gaps in Genesis 5 and 11: A Rejoinder,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 61, no. 1 (2018): 39–45.

3. Winter 2018 Bible and Spade article

MT, SP, or LXX? Deciphering a Chronological and Textual Conundrum in Genesis 5

In several articles, I have argued that the internal, external and historical evidence supports the originality of the longer primeval chronology found (mostly) in the LXX. Thus far, the research has led to the conclusion that the MT's primeval chronology was deliberately reduced in the post 70 AD period by 1250 years. One of the objections to this proposed reconstruction is the lower begetting ages found in Genesis 5 of the SP. From Adam to Mahalalel, and then Enoch, these figures match those found in the Masoretic Text. Some scholars have argued their matching character favors them as the original text. Since I have proposed that the lower begetting ages in the MT are the result of deliberate and systematic deflation, an explanation for the independent appearance of these particular figures in the SP must be offered. The purpose of this article is to present a plausible theory explaining why the SP was also deflated in Genesis 5.

Inspiration vs. Preservation

I have communicated with a number of people who are grappling with the idea that the rabbis deflated the primeval chronology in their Hebrew manuscripts. For some, it is too difficult, if not impossible, to believe. One person informed me they refused to believe it!

Preservation and Inspiration are different theological categories, different ways which the Holy Spirit functions. (Think of the theological distinction between creation and providence. The same Holy Spirit is working, but in different ways). This difference is of utmost importance.

From a big picture perspective, one must conceptualize and formulate what inspiration and preservation of the Scriptures look like. That is, inspiration entails the special and unique work of the Holy Spirit moving the divinely authorized writer to write what God wants written in the sacred text. This activity empowers the human author to write a text that is infallible, authoritative and without error. This conception is given in Scripture itself (II Peter 1:20).

Preservation involves the sovereign, superintending direction and control of God over the subsequent transmission of the sacred text. However, this particular work of the Spirit is not the same as inspiration. In the preservation and transmission of the text, human error can occur, whether accidental, benignly deliberate, or even malicious. Preservation by the providential work of the Holy Spirit does not confer infallibility and/or inerrancy upon the scribe who copies, transmits and/or translates the text. God works over, around and through human frailty to preserve His Word, but the process of preservation itself is a fallible one. This is much like God working out His sovereign purposes in the world generally or in His Church in particular. He carries out His purposes despite human rebellion, sin, and error.

We do see how God has directed the preservation of a large portion of the OT through the Hebrew Masoretic Textual tradition, but we also know that: first, Scripture makes no promise that the actual process of transmission and copying is infallible; second, Scripture makes no promise of one group or tradition being charged with preserving the text; third, Scripture has been preserved, but that preservation could have occurred in multiple ways and in multiple traditions; and fourth, God has allowed the original text to be preserved in multiple traditions, and it is recoverable and remains available to His people.

Let us think of the rabbis in the post-AD 70 period and the later Masoretic tradition. On the one hand, the rabbis deliberately and deceitfully manipulated and changed the sacred text to subvert the Gospel of Christ. Nonetheless, God subverted their scheme and preserved the original primeval chronology in the Septuagint and other sources. On the other hand, it was “the scribes and Pharisees” (Matthew 23:2, 13, 23, 25, 27, 29) who hated, repudiated and murdered God’s Son, and yet, God used them to accurately preserve a substantial portion of His Word retained in the Masoretic Hebrew textual tradition.

Since God has only told us He would preserve His Word, how He preserves it is entirely up to Him. We see the “how” in the evidence of history and in the multitude of texts that have been preserved for us. He has raised up both sinner and saint to be involved in the process of preserving His Word. Only God gets the Glory for all of this, for only God could have directed it. (Also see Answer #1 in: From Adam to Abraham: An Update on the Genesis 5 and 11 Research Project: Dec. 16, 2017). As the Church, we ought not be fearful of this complexity, we should rejoice in it!

Hermeneutics and the Doctrine of Scripture

It is no surprise that liberal-critical scholars reject the historicity of the patriarchal narratives, and the begetting ages and lifespans of the men listed in Genesis 5 and 11. Esoteric interpretations such as secret numerical systems or dependence on Mesopotamian sexagesimal numbering are found throughout the academic literature. In recent times, a number of evangelical scholars have argued that the numbers do not refer to actual ages, but are intended to bring honor to these great men of old. This is particularly the case for Genesis 5, but in some instances, this kind of interpretation has now been extended to include Abraham’s lifespan of 175 years (Genesis 25:78).

This particular perspective requires that the sacred text cannot be understood properly without modern knowledge of Ancient Near Eastern archaeological discoveries and texts, most of which are from Mesopotamia. Dependence on outside authorities is a deeply flawed hermeneutic that not only places the external evidence in a position of authority over the sacred text, it violates two vital doctrines of Scripture: clarity and sufficiency. It necessarily means that the Church and her Jewish predecessors were unable to properly understand vast portions of the Genesis narratives, since they had no access to the “keys” to understanding the sacred text. The true meaning of the numbers in Genesis 5 and 11 (and now, even Abraham’s numbers) has been beyond the reach of God’s people until modern scholars came along to reveal it to us. This “key” is found not in Scripture itself, but pagan mythologies and other ancient texts. It is not a stretch to say this is a modern form of Gnosticism in PhD garb.

Moreover, a careful exegesis of the text itself must be discarded in order to hold to this kind of interpretation. The chronology of Noah’s life and its integration into the chronology of the Flood narrative alone refutes this fallacious approach to the ages in Genesis. If Noah’s numbers are not actual ages, then the chronology of the Flood narrative becomes incoherent. The same can be said of Abraham’s life. Was Abraham not 100 years old when Isaac was born, or 86 when Ishmael was born? There is not one shred of evidence from Scripture itself that the begetting ages, remaining years and lifespans of the patriarchs should not be interpreted as actual ages.

Moreover, systematic and biblical theology must also be pushed aside to make way for the hermeneutical priority of ANE literature (and all the attendant and often erroneous assumptions that are bound up with that perspective). An evolutionary instead of biblical anthropology is what ultimately governs this kind of hermeneutical approach. Chapter One of “From Adam to Abraham” will provide considerable analysis and an in-depth critique of this troubling (and ultimately dangerous) hermeneutic.

Minor Adjustments

In a number of places, I have noted that there is no reliable external evidence for the MT’s complete shorter chronology before the second century AD. I am modifying this in future articles to read: “no reliable external evidence for the MT’s complete primeval timeline outside of Pharisaic/rabbinic influence before the destruction of the Temple in AD 70.” This is a more accurate designation. It is too difficult to be exactly sure when the rabbis definitively changed their biblical manuscripts, proper. The ideological groundwork for the artificial, shorter chronology was in place by the time the Temple was destroyed.

For example, while the Seder Olam was completed around AD 140, it appears to have originated in the decades leading up the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome in AD 132-135. The Aramaic Targum Onkelos, based on the proto-Masoretic Text, reflects the MT’s chronology. Some scholars date this Targum to the late first or second century AD, but others argue it underwent continual changes for several centuries. It’s date of origin is uncertain, but definitively post-AD 70.

Note that my formulation denotes “the MT’s complete primeval timeline.” This is to account for the artificially created chronology of Jubilees in Genesis 5, which is echoed in the Samaritan Pentateuch and partially found in the MT. I propose that the shorter chronology found in the SP (and partially in the MT) in Genesis 5 did not come from a Hebrew manuscript of Genesis, but originated instead in the Book of Jubilees.

Upcoming Articles and Presentations

1. An extended article on Kainan, to be submitted to JETS (or another academic journal) in the Fall of 2018 for possible publication.

2. An overview of the evidence for Kainan, with high-resolution photographs, to be published in the Summer 2018 issue of Bible and Spade.

3. A presentation on Kainan at the Near East Archaeological Society’s annual meeting under the auspices of ETS. This presentation has been officially approved and will be presented in Denver, November 18-20, 2018.

4. A presentation for the 2018 International Conference on Creationism in Pittsburgh, PA (July 29-August 1, 2018). This 13,000+ word paper is now available. Title: The Case for the Septuagint’s Chronology in Genesis 5 and 11.

5. An extended article on the originality of the Septuagint’s primeval chronology will be (hopefully) submitted to the Westminster Theological Journal in the Fall of 2018.

6. I submitted an article for publication in a future issue of the Creation Research Society Quarterly. Title: Once More: Primeval Chronology-A Fresh Look at the Genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. This article is in editorial review.

We ask for your continued prayers and support of this important project. If you feel so inclined, please send a gift to ABR’s general fund, which will help fund this research. Feel free to send in your questions as well. We look forward to reading them in a spirit of Christian charity.

Blessings in Christ Jesus,

Henry B. Smith Jr.
ABR Research Staff

Administrative Director of the Shiloh Archaeological Excavations, Israel

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