Intersting Article on Primeval Chronology

Discussion in 'OT Historical Books' started by Clark-Tillian, Sep 12, 2017.

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  1. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    I came across this as I wandered the halls of "The Internet Library". It's authored by William Henry Green who was an anchor of the Old Princeton OT Department (although it was termed something grander in his day). Not certain what to make of it. But it's well written, informative, and, if I recollect properly, he fought gamely for the integrity of the Pentateuch. I found it at the Geneva Institute for Reformed Studies website.
  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    WHG, who is generally a very reliable and valuable exegete, offers his version of what is (by now) a fairly typical justification for finding gaps in the genealogy (particularly) of Shem, Gen.11, and before that Gen.5 (antediluvians).

    As for the genealogies that are less precise by design, e.g. Gen.10 the Table of Nations, really that isn't in dispute. But it is really a wonder, when one takes the example of the fact of a known gap--famously Mt.1:8--and tries to leverage that into an interpretive tool suitable for every genealogy.

    How do we know there's a "gap" at Mt.1:8? Because the text of 2Chr.21-26 absolutely demands that interpretation. It is Scripture that compels the analytic conclusion.

    Without claiming "Now, I know for sure that my comprehension of Gen.11:10-26 is fine, answering all questions," (I'm not about to claim such a thing)--nevertheless, it does seem to me rather obvious that the structure of that passage (and Gen.5 while we're at it) contains data specifics that speak to the reader saying: there are no gaps here.

    What does it say? There's a pattern: where we have a man named, and he is just-so-old, when his named son is born; whereupon he lives another so many years (Gen.5 consistently adds, "and he died") until the whole list ends, and the story continues. The last names on the list wait to add ages until the course of their own story.

    Meanwhile, the next generation picks up with the name of the son who was born to the aforementioned father, and the whole pattern is repeated in both chs for about 10 generations. I'd love WHG to educate me on this inquiry: if Holy Spirit ever intended to preclude the insertion of a "gap," how otherwise would the passage have been written? To ask, I think, is to be answered: There's no other way that we know of.

    I don't know if I'm on the right track, but when I "do the math," I find out Shem is still alive when Abram is born.... Maybe, I'm not supposed to do that, or take it as a given. Maybe there's some other means of interpreting the passage. I am willing to hear the theories of other men who with me take the text as authoritative (but have other conclusions), and weigh their opinions, and try to appreciate them.

    But, I'm also willing to consider the face-value reading of the text, and not rule it out of court as an a priori impossibility. I think I have to consider (at least) the possibility that Shem was alive, when Abram was born; even if that seems to stagger my imagination. Why? Because, that's an honest (if simplistic?) implication of the text.

    If Shem was alive, then obviously he had no influence any more on the religious and social decline of ancient civilization. But is that simply "unbelievable?" Or just an indicator of the scope of the tragic reality: that the Flood was not enough to wash away sin?

    Lives get shorter and shorter; men hurry to get far less accomplished, before their short life is spent. The meaning of sacrifice is perverted in short order; and men are busy building their own stairways to heaven, rather than humbly accepting God provision for their spiritual renewal.

    Abram is born into blind idolatry, Josh.24:2; it takes a call of irresistible grace motivated by unconditional election to pull him out from there. I don't blame Shem for that. I doubt a living Shem would have been "accessible" to his great+7 grandsons. Can you imagine the energy it would take for such "receptions?" He wouldn't get time to eat or sleep. Would someone that old in a fallen world be "with it?" Be healthy?

    Bottom line, respecting gaps and leaps in those chronologies: appealing to the fact that we know of gaps and leaps in other chronologies, doesn't automatically give the interpreter the freedom to "open" gaps, or posit them in the absence of an exegetical demand for them. It is often a rationalist demand, in the case of Gen.11, necessitated by the a prioris of secularly-derived "certainties."

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  3. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    Thought provoking reply, Bruce. And at 1.23 AM no less. As I said, I'm still uncertain what to make of it. I trust all is well with you and yours.
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