Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
Using Genealogies for the Age of the Earth?
The age of the Earth, according to some, may be discovered by adding together the years found in the genealogies throughout the Bible. By integrating them into one genealogy, it is supposed, we may then trace the years back to the time of creation. Robert Wilson, in his major study Genealogy and History in the Biblical World, demonstrates that this attempt is misguided:
[G]enealogies are not normally created for the purpose of conveying historical information… Rather, in the Bible, as well as in the ancient Near Eastern literature and in the anthropological material, genealogies seem to have been [used]… for domestic, politico-jural, and religious purposes and historical information is preserved in the genealogies only incidentally… (199, cited below)
The previous pages, of course, are dedicated to demonstrating this claim. Thankfully, in doing so, Wilson also shows that some of the difficulties which may be seen as “errors” in the Bible due to differences in genealogies are simply examples of we as readers making assumptions about what genealogies should be rather than allowing the text to stand in its historical grammatical context.
Long story short, adding genealogies together does not give us the age of the universe.
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Robert Wilson, Genealogy and History in the Biblical World (New Haven, CT: Yale, 1977).
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