ContentBlocks 8 1 Ads Shiloh Standard copy

Research Topics


Genesis 5 and 11 Research Project 1200x600

Editorial note: This article has been published in the Fall 2018 issue of Bible and Spade in electronic form only, and not in print. Download the complete PDF.

3. Liber Biblicarum Antiquitatum (LAB, or Pseudo-Philo)

When faced with evidence or careful scholarship that militates against their position, C&C repeatedly dismiss it out of hand. No place is this more evident than in their handling of LAB.

LAB is a pseudepigraphical work that selectively recapitulates biblical history from Adam to Saul. It consists of 65 chapters and is considered a “haggadic midrash.”81 Scholars who have examined LAB in detail argue that it was derived directly from Hebrew texts of the OT and was originally written in Hebrew in the 1st century AD in Israel. It was then translated into Greek and eventually into Latin. It is incumbent upon C&C to carefully demonstrate why these scholars are wrong. Instead, they dismiss all of their painstaking analysis and arguments as “conjecture.” C&C interact with zero scholarship on LAB’s original language and biblical base text and completely ignore the most significant and in-depth studies published by Harrington and Jacobson.82

Beyond the carefully reasoned scholarship on LAB, there is additional evidence that the author was following a Hebrew exemplar of Genesis. LAB 4.9 omits Kainan from its recitation of Genesis 10:24, indicating he was using a Hebrew text and not the LXX. Moreover, as I emphasized in my ICC article (p. 124), Lamech’s numbers in LAB only appear in the MT. His begetting age of 182 and (textually reconstructed) remaining years of 595 (adding up to the MT’s lifespan of 777 years), are not found in any manuscripts of the LXX, nor in any external witnesses to the LXX from antiquity. A scribe who deliberately revised the 11 numbers in LAB to reflect the LXX’s would have recorded 188 for Lamech’s begetting age, not 182. Indeed, the figures for Lamech in LAB must therefore have come directly from a Hebrew text of Genesis, not the Septuagint.

C&C then sweep away all of LAB’s higher begetting ages in Genesis 5 by baldly asserting that a Greek scribe may have changed all of the numbers (11 in all)83 to reflect the figures found in the LXX. C&C admit that theirs is a “just-so-story.”84 And it certainly is. There is no manuscript evidence to support their argument,85 nor is there evidence that the LXX exerted undue influence upon LAB’s text,86 nor does the internal evidence in LAB itself support it.

Then, C&C turn to LAB 3:6, which provides a chronological summation figure for the antediluvian era, presently extant as 1652 years (Greek χιλιων εξακοσιων πεντακοντα δυο; Latin MDCLII). This obviously is at odds with the internal addition of the nine begetting ages found in LAB 1:1–22, which should add up to 2256 instead (Greek δισχιλιων διακοσιων πεντακοντα εξ; Latin MMCCLVI).

In C&C’s “just-so-story”, the scribe who allegedly made the 11 changes to match LAB with the LXX somehow lacked the competence or wherewithal to add up the numbers required to easily change LAB 3:6 from 1652[6?] to 2256. Harrington notes that the 1652 figure could have arisen by means of an accidental scribal error from what would have been an original, internally cross-checked figure of 2256.87 C&C dismiss Harrington’s explanation out of hand, arguing that deliberately changing the 11 other figures is as equally plausible as accidentally changing one. This assertion with no analysis or supporting manuscript evidence violates one of the most basic principles of textual criticism: the weighing of textual variants. Here, we have one possible pro–MT data point that can be explained by scribal error vs. 11 numbers reflecting the longer chronology in the extant manuscripts, Lamech’s Hebrew based figures, the absence of Kainan in LAB 4:9, and the voluminous and detailed scholarship concluding that LAB was written in Hebrew and derived directly from a Hebrew text of the OT in the 1st century AD.

The reader can decide for himself which is the “just-so-story.”

4. Augustine’s Renegade Scribe Theory

In my ARJ article, “Methuselah’s Begetting Age,” I believe that it has been amply demonstrated that the 167 begetting age reading in Gen 5:25 found in some LXX manuscripts originated as an accidental scribal error. This was followed by another scribe’s attempt to “correct” the numbers. In my concluding statements, I pointed back to Augustine, who had suggested centuries ago that the 167 reading was “…nothing more than a scribal error. It is certainly not unreasonable to suspect such an error with regard to the question of Methuselah’s life…” (City of God [=DCD] XV.13)89 Part of Augustine’s rationale in drawing this conclusion was his knowledge of 5 manuscripts (3 Greek, 1 Latin, 1 Syriac) which placed Methuselah’s death 6 years before the Flood, necessarily entailing his correct begetting age of 187.90 He also briefly notes that accidental scribal error explains the relatively minor differences in the numbers between the LXX and the Hebrew for Lamech (DCD XV.13).91

C&C assert that in order for me to accept Augustine’s testimony about the five manuscripts, I “should likewise regard him as reliable about other things pertaining to the state of the manuscripts.” This statement refers to Augustine’s claim that Hebrew manuscripts were spread over a large geographic area and therefore the Hebrew text of Gen 5 could not have been deflated by the Jewish rabbis.

One can readily accept Augustine’s testimony about his knowledge of the five manuscripts with Methuselah’s correct begetting age without accepting his conjectures about the dissemination of Hebrew manuscripts in antiquity (or his explanation for the alleged inflations in LXX Gen 5). As it specifically relates to the Methuselah variant, Augustine’s knowledge of the five manuscripts is consistent with Jerome’s personal knowledge of copies of the Samaritan Pentateuch which also contained the 187 reading (ARJ p. 175). Both accounts are consistent with all of the other relevant evidence. There are no grounds to reject Augustine’s claim about the five manuscripts.

Conversely, I provided an argument and evidence above (§ II.1) that disproves Augustine’s claims about the Jewish dissemination of and control over Hebrew biblical texts after the destruction of the Temple. On this particular point Augustine was wrong, as all of the textual and historical evidence points decidedly in the opposite direction. Augustine’s knowledge of the five manuscripts is in no way dependent upon his claims about the Jewish dispersion of and control over Hebrew texts in antiquity. It is fallacious to demand that accepting the first requires accepting the second.92 (C&C also employ a similar fallacy with Bar Hebraeus, § I.1).

Additionally, Augustine’s explanation for the origin of the longer chronology in Genesis 5 of the LXX cannot withstand scrutiny.

The translation of the Pentateuch into Greek was a great intellectual achievement. The extensive work involved with the translation took place in one of the world’s supreme learning centers of antiquity.93 Moreover, it was a thoroughly Jewish enterprise, where reverence for the sacred text was a major factor in the translation and subsequent copying work. In that religious and cultural context, Augustine would have us believe that the Jewish leaders who supervised and translated the Law of Moses into Greek assigned the task of making the first (and necessarily on Augustine’s view, only) copy of the original LXX to a renegade scribe who radically altered the chronology of Genesis 5 by inflating it by 600 years. This scribe, thinking that his Jewish audience would be unable to accept the long lifespans, utilized a division scheme that would have made the numbers more believable. Instead of simply reducing the numbers in the text to make them more palatable (such as reducing Adam’s lifespan from 930 to 93), the scribe assumed that the reader would know that the numbers should really be divided by 10 to yield the “real” begetting ages and lifespans.94 In order to make this scheme work, this scribe inflated the begetting ages and reduced the remaining years by 100 years each in the LXX.95 So, in the case of Seth, his original begetting age of 105, divided by 10, would have equaled 10.5. Seth fathering Enosh at the age of 10.5 would be too low a figure for a reader to accept, so the scribe inflated the original from 105 (Hebrew) to 205 (LXX). The reader would then be expected to divide the age of 205 by a factor of 10. Seth’s “real” begetting age would then be 20.5, a believable figure for the 3rd century BC reader.

What follows here is a survey of 10 reasons why Augustine’s theory is illogical, self-contradictory, and not supported by the evidence.

1. How could anyone reading the LXX text in the 3rd century BC possibly know to divide the numbers in Gen 5 by a factor of 10 in order to ascertain the “real” ages of the antediluvians? Augustine properly counters such arguments from his own day (DCD XV.14), which come from “certain persons with no desire to weaken the credit of this sacred history” (DCD XV.12).96 Presumably, these are professing Christians who wished to make the numbers in Genesis 5 more palatable to the unsaved mind (an unfortunate phenomenon still taking place in the church today). But those making such arguments during Augustine’s lifetime are living seven centuries after the LXX was originally translated. There is nothing in the text proper, nor in the works written during Second Temple Judaism that indicate Jewish readers would have known to divide the numbers by a factor of ten.

The evidence from this general period found in the writings of Demetrius (220 BC), Jubilees (160 BC),97 Eupolemus (160 BC), LAB (1st century AD), Josephus (ca. AD 90), and the author of DSS 4Q252 (ca. 50 BC)98 indicates that Jewish exegetes and historians understood the numbers as actual ages. There was no reason for the scribe to create a convoluted division scheme, for there is no evidence that contemporary Jews reading the text would have had a problem with the antediluvian lifespans or begetting ages!99 Thus, Augustine anachronistically imposed a contemporary, 5th century AD specious Christian attempt at apologetics seven centuries backward onto the mind of a 3rd century BC professional Jewish scribe.

2. If this renegade scribe was willing to make these extensive falsifications to the sacred text and risk God’s wrath (Dt. 4:2), why not just reduce the numbers to more “believable” figures and remove any ambiguity? In other words, instead of using a veiled division scheme that Jewish readers would not have even been aware of, just reduce the actual numbers in the text by a factor of 10 and be done with it. Such changes to the sacred text would have been just as egregious as these alleged, veiled changes. The scribe was running the risk of being exposed anyway. If the believability of the lifespans and begetting ages was of such great apologetic importance to the scribe, why not make things crystal clear instead?

3. Augustine’s view requires that the Jewish leaders in Alexandria, who surely would have hired a professional scribe(s) to make the very first copy of the original LXX, never bothered to check his work to be sure he had accurately copied the text (cf. Dt. 17:18). Apparently, no one ever again looked at the original LXX copy in the Library at Alexandria, either. For if just one person had, the renegade scribe’s systematic alterations would have been exposed and then corrected in newer LXX copies. The Alexandrian leaders would not have let the fraud stand.

4. On Augustine’s view, the Jewish leaders also never bothered to make another copy of the original text, allowing the falsely inflated antediluvian chronology to be disseminated into Jewish communities in Egypt, Israel, and beyond. Given the great importance of the LXX translation and its subsequent and widespread use throughout the Mediterranean Diaspora, it strains credulity beyond limits to believe that only one direct copy from the original LXX was ever made. Just one additional copy with the shorter chronology made by a more faithful scribe would have exposed the first scribe’s inflation scheme to the light of day. The LXX manuscript tradition would then have revealed mixed evidence with both the higher and lower begetting ages appearing in different manuscripts of Genesis 5. Instead, only the higher numbers appear in the LXX manuscripts. Augustine himself admits that the Methuselah variant demonstrates that multiple copies of the original LXX were made.100

5. Even though this falsely inflated chronology would have been at odds with every single known Hebrew manuscript of Gen 5, the Jewish community embraced and used the old LXX for about 350 years until the advent of the Church. Moreover, the original nature and acceptance of the higher Gen 5 begetting ages is affirmed in the Jewish chronologies of Demetrius (Egypt), Eupolemus (Jerusalem), LAB (Israel), and Josephus (Rome). Such reception of the longer chronology would have been impossible had the LXX’s antediluvian chronology been off by 600 years when compared to a much shorter version deposited in Hebrew texts. Moreover, reception of the LXX with corrupted and inflated numbers in Genesis 5 would only have been possible with an authoritative endorsement from the Alexandrian leadership. These erroneous inflations would not and could not have been authorized by the Jewish authorities in Alexandria, since, on Augustine’s view, the original LXX and its Hebrew Vorlage contained the lower Gen 5 begetting ages, and the scribe was acting on his own accord.

6. The scribe’s division scheme that dubiously explains the LXX’s numbers in Genesis 5 must also apply to Shem (Gn. 11:10–12). Surely his lifespan of 600 years would have been just as “implausible” as the antediluvian lifespans. If the numbers were of such paramount apologetic concern to the scribe, then Shem’s begetting age should have been inflated to 200, resulting in a begetting age of 20 (200/10), remaining years of 40 (400/10), and a (calculated) lifespan of 60 (600/10).101 At present, Shem’s 100 yields the absurd begetting age of 10 in the scribe’s division scheme, undermining an indispensable element of his apologetic objective.

7. The same logic can be applied to the patriarchs from Arpachshad through Nahor (Gn. 11:12–25). None of the lifespans for these men would have been “believable” to the scribe’s intended audience, with Methuselah being the oldest pre-Abrahamic patriarch, dying just short of the “real” age of 97 (969/10). Moreover, the LXX Gen 11 begetting ages range from 135 to 79. None of these would have been believable, either. Even worse, when they are divided by 10, they yield siring ages between 13.5 and 7.9. According to Augustine’s own theory, the lower limit for procreation was 16 years of age.102 The LXX begetting ages should all be at least 30 years higher so that they could subsequently be divided by ten to yield plausible begetting ages. Nahor’s begetting age should have been inflated by 80 years or more.103 These problems are compounded even further by Augustine’s own acceptance of LXX Gen 11 (see § II.4.10).

8. Even the lifespan of Abraham (175) would be deemed unacceptable. Why was it not also altered in the LXX of Genesis 25:8? Moreover, why would the reader not be expected to divide Abraham’s begetting age of 86 when Ishmael was born (Gn 16:16), or Abraham’s age of 100 at the birth of Isaac (Gn 21:5)? Abraham fathered Isaac three years later than Methuselah’s “real” lifespan of 97 years? And why does the division scheme also not apply to the lifespans of Isaac (180) and Jacob (147)?104 These questions further expose the illogic of Augustine’s theory.

9. Augustine’s theory is also refuted by:

a. The longer antediluvian chronology in LAB, derived from a Hebrew text of Genesis five.

b. The longer primeval chronology of Josephus, which was based on a Hebrew text of Genesis (ICC, pp. 125–27).

c. The longer primeval chronology presented by the Jewish historian and Jerusalem official Eupolemus, who used both the LXX and Hebrew texts in his work (ICC, p. 123).

10. Augustine refutes his own theory by advocating the LXX’s timeline in Genesis 11: “Thus the years from the flood to Abraham come to a total of 1072…” (DCD XVI.10).105 Augustine also accepts the authenticity of Kainan (DCD XVI.10), so his embrace of the LXX’s numbers in Gen 11 as representing the original, inspired text is irrefutable. This necessarily means that the Alexandrian translators possessed a Hebrew text of Genesis 11 with the higher begetting ages. Even more significantly, it inevitably follows that the post-Flood timeline has been deliberately deflated by 650 years in all surviving Hebrew manuscripts of Genesis 11 (sans the Samaritan Pentateuch).

But according to Augustine’s own theory, the Jewish nation was “scattered far and wide,” making it impossible for the Hebrew manuscripts to be universally deflated in this manner. Indeed, he says “it would be absurd for any sensible person to believe… that the Jews, no matter how great their malice or perversity, could have accomplished such a thing in so many texts scattered over such a wide area…” (DCD XV.13).106 By accepting the LXX and its corresponding Hebrew Vorlage as original for the post-Flood epoch, Augustine must posit that the lower Gen 11 begetting ages were universally deflated in all known Hebrew manuscripts. Otherwise, how can their exact matching nature be explained? If it was not possible for the Gen 5 figures in Hebrew texts to have been universally reduced by the Jewish authorities, then Augustine cannot logically accept the LXX Gen 11 readings as authentic, for this would require the exact same kind of ubiquitous reductions in all Hebrew manuscripts of Gen 11 containing the lower begetting ages.

Perhaps aware of this contradiction, Augustine vaguely offers no explanation for the origin of the deliberately deflated Hebrew chronology of Genesis 11: “…the total is far less in the Hebrew texts, and for this difference there is either no explanation at all or one that is virtually impenetrable” (DCD XVI.10). Presumably, the “virtually impenetrable” (or “not very credible”)107 argument Augustine refers to is the charge that the Jewish authorities had universally changed the Hebrew text. But again, if the LXX is correct in Gen 11, how did the shorter Hebrew chronology get deflated universally? Was someone else in control of the Hebrew textual tradition other than the Jewish rabbis? Surely not. Was the systematic reduction a phenomenon of pure accident? By Augustine’s own admission, surely not (DCD XV.13). Who else could have deflated the post-Flood chronology in all known Hebrew manuscripts, and, who could have disseminated the new manuscripts with the new, shortened chronology into their religious community, universally?

The fatal result is that Augustine destroys his own theory.

Augustine and anyone attempting to adopt his theory cannot have it both ways. And if one tries to accept his theory for Gen 5 but moves away from Augustine’s acceptance of LXX Gen 11 by embracing the MT’s post-Flood timeline, one is left without a coherent explanation for the alleged inflations in LXX Gen 11. The death knell to such a maneuver is the Hebrew text of the Samaritan Pentateuch of Genesis 11, where the begetting ages match the LXX (sans Kainan).

Like most Christians throughout history, I have the greatest admiration for Augustine’s monumental contributions to the Church historic and to western civilization. His intellectual and spiritual heritage is enormous. But on this particular issue, Augustine’s arguments cannot withstand the weight of scrutiny. The manuscript evidence, common sense, Jewish scribal practice, external witnesses, LXX Gen 11 and Augustine’s acceptance of it, Gen 11 SP, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s lifespans, and the importance and 350–year use of the old LXX translation all converge to negate Augustine’s theory.

5. The Anti-Conspiracy Stance

At the end of their article, C&C reject any theory of textual reconstruction that involves “conspiracy theorizing.” Such an arbitrary position immediately limits the large scale changes to only an individual, renegade scribe who systematically revised the chronology in the textual witness he was handling. Moreover, all by himself and without the aid of others, he was able to bypass his particular religious community’s authority structure and introduce the systematic changes without being detected. The preceding critical assessment of Augustine’s argument provides one template for how a renegade scribe theory cannot explain the numerical divergences in Genesis 5 and 11, nor can it explain how those systematic changes were inculcated into any particular religious community.

Large scale and systematic revisions such as those found in Gen 5 and 11, and the dissemination of those changes into any community, requires agreement amongst multiple individuals (perhaps led by a religious/community leader endowed with great authority and charisma, such as Rabbi Akiba). Otherwise, such changes would be quickly exposed and rejected as fraudulent. Systematic changes also require viable and significant motivation(s), for they all fundamentally believed they were handling sacred texts.

No matter what textual tradition one tries to defend as original, in no instance could such systematic revisions in the opposing textual traditions be implemented without multiple persons agreeing to them. So, a defense of the MT requires viable, testable and independent explanations for systematic inflations in the both the LXX (by the Alexandrian Jewish translators) and SP Gen 11 (by the Samaritan priesthood). These inflations could not have been the work of a single, renegade scribe, but must have inevitably involved authority figures who controlled the manuscripts. A defense of the MT also requires an explanation of how the leaders in Alexandria would have been able to maintain subsequent control over the falsely inflated numbers in LXX manuscripts once the first copies left the Alexandrian library. This is in stark contrast with the highly controlled state of affairs in rabbinic Judaism and/or the limited scope of the Samaritan community and priesthood. Conversely, a defense of the SP or LXX requires similar explanations.108

A conspiracy is therefore required to explain the large-scale changes to Gen 5 and 11. The anti-conspiracy stance taken by C&C is both arbitrary and fallacious.

III. Conclusions

One of my colleagues had suggested that I interact solely with the academic arguments and the evidence. After some reflection, I soon realized that the problems I have critiqued above are so inextricably interwoven into C&C’s article that it is impossible to avoid having to deal with them directly. The only way to avoid these features was to not respond at all, which is a course of action I did consider for a brief time. I must admit to the reader that I had some difficulty writing this article, but I ultimately believed it was necessary to respond to the misrepresentations, dismissiveness, fallacies and ad hominems that pervade C&C’s article. I do hope they will abandon this kind of approach in the future. Most of all, I respectfully request that Lita and Rob discontinue their repeated denigration of my motives.

Moreover, C&C have presented little to no additional argumentation/evidence to advance their position that the MT preserves the original numbers in Genesis 5 and 11. I’ll summarize here the manifold problems that remain for pro–MT advocates, problems that still remain unaddressed. Those who favor the MT’s primeval chronology have not yet adequately accounted for:

• The fact that the unreliability and artificiality of Jubilees discredits all of the SP’s and six of the MT’s begetting ages and remaining years in Genesis 5. Jubilees is the only external witness to any element of the shorter primeval chronology before ca. AD 120–160, and the inauthenticity of its numbers is a devastating witness against the shorter chronology (see: MT, SP or LXX?).

• The fact that the MT’s complete primeval timeline lacks any external witness before ca. AD 120–160. This is the period when the complete, shorter primeval timeline first officially appeared on the scene, although I would argue that its ideological genesis is rooted in earlier messianic and chronological speculations from Second Temple Judaism, and with certain artificial chronological elements originating in the Book of Jubilees. All of the following witnesses were entirely influenced by Pharisaic/rabbinic Judaism and/or closely follow the rabbinic controlled MT: Seder Olam (AD 140–160), the Jewish recensions of the LXX (AD 140–200), the Syriac Peshitta (mid to late 2nd century AD),109 and perhaps Targum Onkelos (2nd century AD, with final redactions in the late 3rd century AD).110 All of this evidence is consistent with my argument that the rabbis deflated Gen 5 and 11 in their Hebrew texts shortly after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70.

• The fact that the Genesis Hebrew text used for Josephus, LAB, and the LXX of Genesis 5/11 all contained the higher begetting ages in ca. 90 AD and earlier.

• Five independent witnesses confirm the higher begetting ages in Genesis 11: the LXX’s Hebrew Vorlage (280 BC), the Samaritan Pentateuch (Hebrew, 2nd century BC, perhaps even earlier), Demetrius (Greek, 220 BC), Eupolemus (Greek/Hebrew, 160 BC), and Josephus’ text of Genesis (Hebrew, AD 90).

• When combined with the five pre–100 AD witnesses to the higher begetting ages, the matching remaining years in Genesis 11 from the MT/LXX confirm the originality of the longer post-Flood chronology (§ II.2.4e; ICC, pp. 127–28, 130–31; “MT, SP or LXX?,” p. 26).

• MT advocates have provided no valid motive compatible with the complex matrix of evidence that can adequately explain why and how the LXX could have been deliberately inflated. Augustine’s theory fails, and Jerome and Bede provide no viable solutions either. Other LXX inflation hypotheses are also insufficient (ICC pp. 120–21).

• Abraham’s lifespan of 175 years and the description of his age at death given by Moses in Gen 25:8 cannot be internally reconciled with the MT’s post-Flood chronology, “for it yields genuine and irreconcilable errors within the sacred text” (ICC p. 123). Genesis 25:8 is only compatible with the SP/LXX. While Genesis 5 is more complicated and somewhat thorny (see: “MT, SP or LXX?”), the problems for the MT are insurmountable in Genesis 11.

I would like to add that I am grateful that C&C pointed out my error on Ephraem of Syria. Although I was already aware of it, this was obviously an appropriate critique. Let me apologize again to both C&C and the reader for my mistakes regarding Ephraem. In no way did I intend to deliberately mislead anyone. In God’s providence, my Ephraem error led me to discover Jacob of Edessa’s witness to Hebrew manuscripts that contained the longer chronology.

Lastly, I also appreciate the opportunity to further expand upon my present research and clarify important details. The article also prodded me to go back and look more carefully at Augustine’s work, something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. His arguments in City of God have only served to add further credence to my contention that the Septuagint preserves most of the original chronology deposited in Genesis 5 and 11. Until an alternative theory and textual reconstruction is presented with weighty and persuasive arguments, the preponderance of evidence points to the originality of the longer primeval chronology, especially in Genesis 11.

Let the reader decide for himself which argument is more compelling.

Quick link: Setting the Record Straight on the Primeval Chronology of the Septuagint: Part 1 > Part 2 > Part 3 > Part 4

____________________________________
     81James H. Charlesworth, The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research with a Supplement, Septuagint and Cognate Studies 7S (Chico, CA: Scholar’s Press, 1981), 170.
     82Daniel J. Harrington, “The Original Language of Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum,” Harvard Theological Review 63, no. 4 (October 1970): 503–14; Idem., “The Biblical Text of Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 33, no. 1 (January 1971): 1–17; Idem., “Pseudo-Philo: A New Translation and Introduction,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Volume 2, ed. James H. Charlesworth, vol. 2, 2 vols. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1983), 297–377; Idem., “Pseudo-Philo,” in Dictionary of New Testament Background, ed. Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter Jr. (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2000), 864–68; Howard Jacobson, A Commentary on Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum: With Latin Text and English Translation, vol. 1, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 1996).
     83This would have included: the remaining years for Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, and Enoch; the begetting ages for Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, and Enoch.
     84C&C equate their “just-so-story” with the careful arguments in the academic literature regarding the text critical reconstruction of LAB’s original numbers. I document these sources and briefly discuss them in my ICC paper (pp. 123, 131).
     85For a list and detailed discussion of the 20 or so extant manuscripts, see: Guido Kisch, Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum, Publications in Mediaeval Studies 10 (Notre Dame, IN: The University of Notre Dame, 1949), 22–98; Jacobson, A Commentary on Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum, 257–73.
     86Harrington, “The Biblical Text of Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum,” 3–6. He writes: “These are but a few of the better examples illustrating our hypothesis that no known Greek version of the OT has been inserted into the biblical sections of LAB,” (p. 5).
     87In my view, this may have happened after LAB had been translated from the original Hebrew into Greek. Note the similarities in the Greek spellings.
     88This is similar to the data and internal calculations found in manuscripts of Josephus (ICC pp. 125-27).
     89Unless otherwise noted, quotes of Augustine in this article are found in: Boniface Ramsey, ed., The City of God (De Civitate Dei), trans. William Babcock, vol. 7: Books XI-XXII, The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century, Part I (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2013), 156.
     90Ibid., 157. Augustine revisits the Methuselah question in: Questions on the Heptateuch: Question 2 on Genesis 5:25. Boniface Ramsey, ed., Writings On The Old Testament: The Works of Saint Augustine, trans. Joseph T. Lienhard and Sean Doyle (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2016), 16. And also in: The Grace of Christ and Original Sin: Book II: Chapter 27 [XXIII.]—On Questions Outside the Faith—What They Are, and Instances of the Same, (p. 727).
     91An older translation of City of God can be found online in: Philip Schaff, ed., Fathers of the Second Century, vol. 2. Ante–Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2004). The reader can follow Augustine’s arguments there in full.
     92C&C state that my citation of Augustine on the particular issue of the Methuselah variant is “wildly incorrect.” They then provide an extensive quote from City of God. Augustine claims the numbers in Gen 5 of the LXX arose from the deliberate revisions of a single, renegade scribe. Augustine himself clearly distinguishes between accidental errors (Methuselah and Lamech’s numbers) and deliberate, large–scale changes which “suggests deliberate design rather than mere chance” and are “different from them” (DCD XV.13, 10; Babcock, City of God, 156, 152 ). C&C also acknowledge this distinction: “there are two kinds of differences… those which are most likely the result of scribal error, and there are those which must be intentional, because they are systematic” (emphasis original). I have repeatedly made this same distinction in all of my published articles and presentations at ETS and ICC, so I fail to see why my quotation of Augustine on the specific issue of the Methuselah variant is “wildly incorrect.” Perhaps this fallacious pejorative refers to the fact that I accept Augustine’s assessment that the Methuselah variant is the result of an accident, without accepting his arguments about deliberate revisions by a renegade scribe in Gen 5 LXX on the whole, or his claims about Hebrew manuscripts controlled by the Jewish authorities. Or, perhaps it refers to the fact that Augustine later speculates that the Methuselah variant (167) was possibly not accidental, but part of the renegade scribe’s plan (DCD XV.13). He leaves it up to the reader to decide if the speculation is viable (it is not). At the end, he appeals to the 5 manuscripts containing the 187 begetting age for Methuselah. He reiterates this point in Questions on the Heptateuch–Question 2:“But the faultiness of several codices has given rise to this question. Not only in the Hebrew, but also in the translation of the Septuagint (in fewer but more accurate codices) a different reading is found: Methuselah is found to have died six years before the flood” (Ramsey, Writings On The Old Testament: The Works of Saint Augustine, 16).
     93Marcos, The Septuagint in Context, 18–19.
     94Augustine’s explanation of the division scheme is found in DCD XV.13, followed by a more detailed discussion in XV.14.
     95According to Augustine, the renegade scribe did not inflate the begetting ages for Jared (162), Methuselah (187) and Lamech (182). Each of their ages in the Hebrew text, divided by 10, would yield a “plausible” teen begetting age (16, 19, and 18).
     96Schaff, Fathers, 665.
     97While Jubilees radically alters the entire chronology of Genesis 5 and 11, its author clearly believed the lifespans were actual ages.
     98The Qumran author’s exegesis of Noah’s age at the time of the Flood, and the integration of his life into the chronology of the Flood narrative, is literal. See: Jeremy D. Lyon, Qumran Interpretation of the Genesis Flood (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2015), 69–89.
     99Philo of Alexandria applies his usual allegorical exegesis to the numbers for Enoch’s life, but he does not employ a veiled division scheme to yield more “believable” numbers: Questions and Answers on Genesis, I.82–83, II.17 and II.78 (Philo Judaeus, The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition, trans. C. D. Yonge [Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1993], 808, 821, 839).
     100"…some such discrepancy might have occurred in one copy...” (Babcock, City of God, 156).
     101Although Genesis 11 did not include lifespans in the original text, anyone can add the begetting ages and remaining years to calculate the lifespans. However, the begetting ages and remaining years both need to be correct to get the actual, original lifespan.
     102According to Augustine, Jared’s begetting age of 162 was not inflated in the LXX because it would yield a “real” age of 16.2 in the scribe’s division scheme (DCD XV.13).
     103In a self-refuting twist, Augustine turned to the Hebrew numbers in Genesis 5 to counter contemporary Christian arguments that the antediluvian lifespans should be divided by ten to get the “real” lifespans (DCD XV.12). Such division would yield absurd begetting ages such as 10.5 for Enosh and 7 for Kenan. By leaving Nahor’s begetting age at 79 in the LXX, the renegade scribe failed miserably at his scheme. Nahor was really 7.9 years of age when he fathered Terah!
     104Gen 35:28; 47:28.
     105Babcock, City of God, 198.
     106Ibid., 155. Augustine reduces their ostensible motive for deflating the chronology to mere jealousy: “…simply because they resented having the authority of their Scriptures passed to others…” The evidence from this period and the NT indicates that Jewish attitudes towards the Church and the Gospel went far beyond mere jealousy. Augustine’s own use of the terms “malice and perversity” goes against his attempt to minimalize their posture.
     107Babcock, City of God, 199; Schaff, Fathers, 717.
     108I have provided an extensive argument with viable reasons for deflations in both the MT and the SP of Genesis 5, as well as evidence for the originality of SP/LXX Gen 11 (both in this article and in other published research). Conversely, C&C have still not put forth a theory that can even remotely explain alleged inflations in both the LXX Gen 5/11 (in Alexandria) and SP Gen 11 (in Shechem).
     109The Old Testament in Syriac According to the Peshiṭta Version, Part I, Fasc. 1. (Preface, Genesis-Exodus) (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 1977).
     110Moses Aberbach and Bernard Grossfeld, Targum Onkelos to Genesis: A Critical Analysis Together with an English Translation of the Text (New York: Ktav Publishing House, Inc., 1982), 9.


SUPPORT ABR

ABR fulfills its mission through memberships and generous donations from supporters.

Join us in our mission! No matter what your level of interest, from keeping abreast of the fascinating research that comes out of the field work, to actively participating in an archaeological dig, you can become an integral part of our ministry.

Please click here for our support page.

ASSOCIATES FOR BIBLICAL RESEARCH

Phone: 717-859-3443

Toll Free:  800-430-0008

email: comments@biblearchaeology.org

PO Box 144, Akron, PA 17501

ABRSocialMediaFacebook

ABRSocialMediaTwitter

ABRSocialMediaYouTube

Site Design and Management by: Nehemiah Communications [http://nehemiahcommunications.com] & Enktesis [http://enktesis.com]

ABRT 24 | 4/13/2019