An interesting discovery...

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presbyterian ninja

Puritan Board Freshman
Steve, thank you very much for taking the time to interact with that Setterfield link. I'm still plowing through the links you sent me, but I think I'm starting to get a better handle on some of the relevent issues; however, I'm also realizing that this is a pretty involved issue and that I'm gonna have to look into this a little more. (Thanks for the link to Thomas Holland's book.) I've downloaded some stuff by Burgeon recently, but haven't taken the time to check it out yet. I guess I need to stop slacking and do that. While I'm doing that, I would be interested to get your take on Setterfield's comments on the chronologies in Josephus. He says that in Josephus' earlier works quotations from the chronologies in Genesis reference the numbers found in the LXX whereas his later works reference numbers contained in the Masoretic Text. I realize now that even the existence of the LXX during the lifetime of Josephus is debated, but if it didn't exist how do we account for this?

On a different note, thanks for the cautionary warning about messing with theological fire. That was a good word, because I have a tendency to think more highly of myself than I should. That leads to nothing but trouble.

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Ben,

I don’t know why Josephus changed from the LXX to the MT chronologies (if indeed he did; I haven’t looked into it). I think it is widely accepted that the Pentateuch was translated into Greek before the time of Christ; we don’t know for sure what other books of the OT were, but no doubt many were. The trouble with calling these early Greek translations “the Septuagint” is that this name is given to the later Greek OT translation(s), but we do not know what the readings of the old Greek OT looked like. It is understood that “Christian” scribes altered parts of the (later) Septuagint (LXX) so that the readings matched the OT quotes of the NT. It is the work of LXX scholars to try to get an understanding of what the early Greek translations looked like. You can see more about this in the two links given re the LXX in an earlier post above.

Here is a short piece from Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones’, The Septuagint: A Critical Analysis (pages 11,12):


One point where the LXX and the Hebrew text differ in the Pentateuch is with regard to the ages of
the ante-diluvian patriarchs relevant to the birth of their sons. Six of the first ten of these patriarchs
fathered exactly 100 years later in the LXX than in the Hebrew O.T. The total span of these
differences is 586 years – the LXX being greater than that of the Hebrew text. The importance of
this discrepancy can hardly be overstated as in calculating and reckoning the chronology of the Old
Testament, the numbers recorded in Scripture are our only guide. That the variations in the
Septuagint are due to contrivance or design, and not due to accident, is plain from the systematic
way in which the alterations have been made.

It is simple to demonstrate which list is correct. The majority of LXX manuscripts give 167 as the
age of Methuselah at the birth of his son, Lamech (the Hebrew reads 187 - Gen. 5:25). However, if
Methuselah were 167 at the birth of Lamech, Lamech 188 at the birth of Noah, and Noah 600 at the
Flood (as recorded in the LXX), Methuselah would have been 955 at the date of the Flood. Since he
lived to be 969 (the life span given in both), the LXX becomes entangled in the absurdity of making
Methuselah survive the Flood by 14 years! Yet Genesis 7-10 and II Peter 3:20 are adamant in
proclaiming that only Noah, his three sons and all four of their wives; that is, only 8 souls survived
the Deluge. Discordances of a similar nature and magnitude are found with regard to the Postdiluvian
patriarchs except that here the life spans also differ, often by more than 100 years.

The Patriarchal chronology of the LXX can be explained from the Hebrew on the principle that the
translators of the former desired to lengthen the chronology and to graduate the length of the lives of
those who lived after the Flood so as to make the shortening of the life spans gradual and
continuous, instead of sudden and abrupt. This fit into their philosophic concept of gradual and
uniform change (pre "uniformitarianism"); a philosophy which embraced the basic precepts of
evolution. That is, they were primeval evolutionists. Thus the dramatic life span changes, which
manifested the historic results of the sudden catastrophic transformations upon the earth and all life
due to the worldwide Deluge, were altered to eliminate such positive evidence which was contrary to
their religious-philosophic beliefs.​

Here’s another piece on the chronologies from Answers in Genesis:

Some Remarks Preliminary to a Biblical Chronology - Answers in Genesis
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