Thursday, October 18, 2018

Are the genealogies complete?

Are the genealogies in Genesis complete or incomplete? Let's consider two striking features:

i) Unless I missed something, the genealogies only mention male descendants. But the antediluvians undoubtedly had female descendent as well. 

ii) In addition, even if the genealogies only mention the firstborn, it's statistically unlikely that the firstborn child was always a son rather than a daughter. 

iii) Then there's the extraordinary age at which they are first mentioned as fathering offspring. Did it take that long for them to reach sexual maturity? Were they all virgins up to that point? Or is the tactic assumption that the first mentioned decedent is not in fact the firstborn? 

iv) Take the curious case of Noah. Was he really childless until the ripe age of 500? And did he father all three sons in the same year?

v) I think all these factors suggest that the genealogies are selective. In principle, they could be selective about naming siblings, but still be complete in naming a representative of each successive generation. But the fact that they're that selective may mean there's no presumption that they name representatives of every generation. 

vi) An unbeliever might say they don't make sense because they're fictional or legendary. However, they made sense to the narrator. Presumably they made sense to the original audience.  So unless he's randomly picking ages out of the blue, there's a pattern–even if it may be obscure to modern readers. 


  1. We already know from the first entry (Adam/Seth) that the son named isn't necessarily the firstborn.

    If the assumption that they're not all the firstborn is granted, then all the other suppositions appear to be redundant/unnecessary. Why, in vi), does there have to be a message or pattern that makes some sort of 'sense' as a stand-alone numerical sequence in the ages? The most obvious explanation - that these were their ages - is already a sufficient explanation.

    1. There's nothing wrong with multiple supporting arguments for the same position.