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David Splane and Doing the Math

Do the Math

In the September JW Broadcast David Splane gave a talk on the above title. In it he raised the question whether Noah and Abraham knew each other. He claims that doing the math could help you answer that question. He begins by stating that, according to Insight on the Scriptures, we know for a fact the flood occurred in 2370 B.C.E. He lived for 350 years after the flood so that means he died in 2020 B.C.E. Abram entered Canaan in 1943 B.C.E. At the time he is 75 years old. Add 75 to 1943 means Abram was born in 2018 B.C.E. so, doing the math helps us to establish that Abram was born 2 years after Noah died.

In Genesis Chapter 11, it gives a genealogy from Shem all the way down to Abram.

And it says how old each person was when their son was born. It says that Arpachshad was 35 when his son was born, and Shelah was 30 when his son was born. But what David Splane did not take into consideration is that modern translations of the Bible are translated from the Hebrew Masoretic text, which is not the original Hebrew. But rather, a copy of the Hebrew, called the Leningrad Codex, which was produced in the 11th century A.D. But the Greek Septuagint was translated more than 1,000 years before, in 250 B.C., and would not have been translated from the Hebrew on which the Masoretic Text was based. But rather, from an older Hebrew text, which is no longer available. The Samaritan Pentateuch also pre-dates the Masoretic text and would also have referenced an older copy of the Hebrew. The Jewish historian Josephus agrees with both the Septuagint and the Samaritan Pentateuch.

In the Greek Septuagint it says that Arphaxad was 135. And it says that Shelah was 130. The Greek Septuagint has an extra 100 years on those ages in the six generations from Arphaxad down to Serug. Also, the Masoretic text says that Nahor was 29 years old when he fathered Terah Abrams father. The Septuagint says he was 79.

The Greek Septuagint has an extra 100 years on each one of those ages. But it's not just the Greek Septuagint. The Samaritan Pentateuch includes those extra hundred years and so does Flavius Josephus. That means there is an extra 650 years of history between Arpachshad and Serug. Noah lived 350 years after the flood. (Gen.9:28) Arpachshad was born 2 years after the flood. (Gen. 11:10) According to the Septuagint:

Arphaxad 135 years until Shelah

Shelah 130 years until Eber

Eber 134 years until Phalek

Phalek 130 years until Ragau

Ragau 132 years until Serouch

Serouch 130 years until Nachor

Nachor 79 years until Thara

Thara 27 years until Abram

Adding the above gives us a total of 897 years between Arphaxad and Abram. Adding two years between Arphaxad and the flood gives us 899 years. Subtracting 350 years of Noah’s life after the flood means Noah died, not two years according to Splane, but 549 years before Abram was born. This is the result if you “do the math” based on the Septuagint.

Interestingly, accepting these figures calls into question another statement of David Splane. In a previous broadcast he commented on the age of the Sphinx as dated to 2,550 B.C.E. by historians being wrong because it conflicted with the Bible account of the flood. But that’s only if you accept the Masoretic text figures as being correct.

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On 9/7/2019 at 9:43 PM, Jack Ryan said:

The Greek Septuagint has an extra 100 years on each one of those ages.

Those who have too much invested into the MT will often word this as 'for some reason the LXX translators decided to change the age at which the various patriarchs begat sons and their ages at their death.' Of course, this begs the question about whether the LXX was original and it was the Masoretes who decided to change the ages. But it wasn't the fault of the Masoretes, as this question had already been noticed by Eusebius (4th century, 260-340 CE) and others before the Masoretes came on the scene.

A good, well-documented article on this is here:

https://answersingenesis.org/bible-timeline/genealogy/methuselah-primeval-chronology-septuagint/

Note that it says:

  • Most ancient Christian scholars argued for the originality of the LXX’s primeval chronology. This strong consensus lasted for over 14 centuries until the Reformation, when the MT supplanted the primacy of the LXX in the western church.

Josephus uses the LXX, and the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures (NT) nearly always quoted from the LXX, so it would be natural that Christian scholars would defend the LXX.

----edited to add----

For those wondering what the DSS would say here, we have only this answer from another good article:

A2: No fragments or manuscripts of Genesis 5 and 11 with the numbers were found in the Dead Sea caves, so there is no evidence from those discoveries to directly help us. One tiny fragment was found in Cave 4 at Qumran. Text from Gen 4 is on the right side of the fragment, on the far left, one word from Genesis 5:13 or 14 appears, "Kenan."

The best external evidence we have that corroborates the longer chronology found in the LXX are from four sources that pre-date the second century AD: Demetrius (Greek, third century BC), Eupolemus (Hebrew/Greek, second century BC), Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum (LAB, Hebrew-based, first century AD), and Josephus (Hebrew-based, first century AD).

The article is here: https://biblearchaeology.org/research/biblical-chronologies/2530-from-adam-to-abraham-an-update-on-the-genesis-5-and-11-research-project

The conclusion of that article was that it was 2nd century rabbis, 300 years AFTER the LXX, and which therefore had the influence on the later MT:

There are two main hypotheses that have been presented in the academic literature: it was either the Alexandrian Jews who translated the LXX Pentateuch in Egypt in 281 BC (the LXX “inflation” hypothesis), or the second century AD rabbis in Israel. We encourage you to read "Primeval Chronology Restored" and "Who Was Born When Enosh was 90?" to understand why it cannot be the Alexandrian translators, and why the rabbis had strong motive, unique means, and rare opportunity to deliberately reduce the primeval chronology on the order of 1250 years. We submit that only the rabbis could have gotten away with such an egregious and large-scale manipulation of the biblical texts in the proto-MT textual tradition. We will also examine the antediluvian chronology in the Book of Jubilees, its close affinities with Genesis 5 in the Samaritan Pentateuch, and then propose how (many of) the figures in Genesis 5 SP originated.

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    • The old method of handling this was to use the expression "present truth." Many adventists including Seventh Day still use the expression. It's based on a mistranslation of 2 Peter 1:12 where the KJV said: Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. The tendency among 19th century Adventists was to see a "chronology" element or "time" element in the English expression that did not exist in the original Greek. Therefore, the idea was that: even when in the midst of learning or teaching falsehood, it was still "present truth" at the time, and what is now "present truth" could turn out to be false in the future, but it will always have been "present truth" because it's always the best we had at the time. From the Greek, this is better translated as "the truth that is present in you" (American Standard and NWT).  A similar rush to see a time element in the English translation was done by Barbour and Russell and others who had been associated with Adventists. Here's an example from Leviticus: (Leviticus 26:28) 28 I will intensify my opposition to you, and I myself will have to chastise you seven times for your sins. This was originally the primary source for Russell's 7 times = 2,520 years, and the 7 times of Nebuchadnezzar's dream about his own insanity was only a secondary source. But we have since learned that Leviticus here didn't refer to chronological "times" but the sense was "7 times as much" as in "I will hit you twice as hard, or three times as hard, or seven times as hard." This was already in the context, but chronologists and numerologists rarely notice the context until they have already formed a time related doctrine. (Leviticus 26:18-21) . . .“‘If even this does not make you listen to me, I will have to chastise you seven times as much for your sins. . . . 21 “‘But if you keep walking in opposition to me and refuse to listen to me, I will then have to strike you seven times as much, according to your sins. Now that we have noticed this, we have been stuck with using Nebuchadnezzar as if his wicked Gentile kingdom somehow represented Christ's Messianic non-Gentile kingdom. (Another contradiction between 1914 and the Bible.) We still tend to make a "chronology word" out of things having to do with time when we translate the Greek word for time as "appointed time" instead of what might better be translated as "opportune time." Note that it's the exact same word "time" in these two verses: (Ephesians 5:16) 16 buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked. (Luke 21:24) . . .and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled. Neither the word opportune nor appointed is found in the Greek, only the word time. But the more typical meaning is "opportunity" as in: Will you find the opportunity to do this? Will you find the time to do this? Not: Will you find the appointed day and hour to do this? We have added a more specific chronological sense that usually isn't necessary in the Greek.  
    • Elon Musk shows himself to rather out of touch with science. He is using his money to make a name for himself by driving forward with some outlandish plans. He is an embarrassment to his own employees sometimes when he quotes pseudo-scientific ideas that have been obsolete for decades. (One of these was the idea of using nuclear explosions to make Mars inhabitable.) But his optimism to get employees to "make it happen" will drive some scientific progress in spite of himself. Even here, however, he has often just attached his name to some idea that came out of Japan or China or some US or European scientific think tank that was never associated with Musk. He attaches his own unrealistic timelines to these ideas, however, and then begins to lose credibility.  This particular idea has some merit, but there is a lot more expense in creating the infrastructure than people realize. There is the mining of the elements that go into solar cells, the manufacture of solar panels, the trucking of materials to such a solar hub, the infrastructure to build out the lines from the hub across the USA. Currently these types of expenses reduce the ROI value of this particular type of renewable energy so much that it makes carbon (coal/oil/petroleum) seem much more desirable for generating power, and for which an infrastructure is already in place. When viable, I would like to see how close to Hoover Dam this could be built to re-use some power lines that emanate from there, and already reach to many southwest states. Perhaps an even better idea would be to find a place near Yuma or Mexicali, so that half of the power would be used to desalinate water for Mexico and the US by piping saltwater from the Gulf of California, then freshwater back out with a mountain or salt and minerals as a byproduct.    
    • I think that's exactly correct. But we know that as Christians we are still under under a duty to question, reflect, test, prove, meditate, and "make sure of all things." We must do this even if it were an angel out of heaven giving us the interpretation, according to Galatians 1 and 2. And Paul specifically applied that thought to the way the Galatian congregation(s) should have tested and made sure of the incorrect counsel coming from council of elders at Jerusalem, because evidently some were too quick to accept that counsel just because it came from those who seemed to be pillars in the congregation. To Paul, he said, it didn't matter who those men were, or what they seemed to be, and he even included Peter, James and John in that idea of who to question. John himself later wrote that we should test the inspired utterances (1 John 4:1). I have. And the Watchtower has also claimed to have found MANY previous misinterpretations of prophecy which interpretations they said came from God, and yet warranted a redefinition of that interpretation. In fact I quoted you one of several places where the Watchtower has admitted exactly what you say you have not found: *** ws17 June p. 13 par. 16 Set Your Heart on Spiritual Treasures *** At times, our understanding of a Bible prophecy or a scripture may be adjusted. When that happens, it is important to take the time to study the adjustment and meditate on it. (Acts 17:11; 1 Timothy 4:15) We not only need to understand the main differences between the old understanding and the new one, but we also need to pay attention to the details of the new understanding. I've seen you accuse others here of blasphemy, when they defended the Bible, and yet you are able to make a statement such as that! Yes, certain Bible Student congregations continued to follow the Barbour/Russell advent timeline, which included Rutherford and the Watchtower editorial board, up until about 1927, with some intermediate adjustments over time to what Russell had said about 1914, and 1915, and with some brand new ideas about 1918, and 1925. Russell's concerted effort to "finally understand his own chronology" barely changed a thing, except for a few changes to some Great Pyramid measurements, and some vacillations between 1914 and 1915, and a change around 1904 to push the period of tribulation to the few months after 1914 instead of the few months (or years) before 1914. I would agree that Edgar's pyramid scheme hardly influenced Russell. That's because Edgar only wanted to get even more details on the subject, and completed most of this work after Russell had already published all he had to say on the Pyramid. Also, Russell was already satisfied enough with the details he had borrowed from Joseph Seiss. You say: "Perhaps, that is where the confusion lies" but there is no need for any confusion at all. Russell's works include all the necessary details, and they are all easy to find. If we wish to discuss Russell's own published views, we don't need to worry about the many other groups that sprung from Barbour's and Russell's teachings. I think I know what you are talking about. I think the admins or moderators here consider it spamming when someone overuses a long string of a dozen or more dislike emojis at the rate of one per minute on the posts of people they dislike, and a string of a dozen or more "like" emojis at the rate of about one per minute on their own accounts of different names. I think once a person is caught doing this once, it's dangerous to keep doing this with even with a smaller string of up-votes and down-votes. Sometimes the give-away to the game is when the down-vote is simply a negative response to a Scripture or a direct quote from the Watchtower.
    • I would like to expand on the above quote. New truth/old truth......in the same WT in the preceding par (15) it says; "We discovered some priceless truths when we first began to associate with God’s people. These could well be described as “old,” in that we have known and appreciated them from the beginning of our Christian course. What do such precious truths include? We learned that Jehovah is our Creator and Life-Giver and that he has a purpose for mankind. We also learned that God lovingly provided the ransom sacrifice of his Son so that we might be freed from sin and death. We further learned that his Kingdom will end all suffering and that we have the prospect of living forever  in peace and happiness under Kingdom rule". So the "old" truths here are defined as old from the point of view of age. These are the backbone, basics, elementary, fundamental or key doctrines as JWI describes at the outset of this thread. These have not changed. Then there is the "old" as defined in par 16; "old understanding". So we are not talking about any new truth as in newly discovered truth, but an adjustment or new understanding of what has already been taught previously. In this case it really doesn't make sense to call something old truth and new truth because truth can only be one. If it's not truth, its falsehood. So in my opinion, unless something is "old" established truth, the backbone of our Biblical doctrine, then anything else that falls into the "viewpoint" category of "truth" (or the shadow that is thrown) should not have to be accepted as the "absolute Truth", and should it really become "a part of our collection of Bible truths"? (Of course with any kind of truth, whether relativism, universalism (absolute truth) etc. one can go into great depths of the philosophy behind these concepts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth) (Interestingly, JWI WT quote is from the simplified version. The normal study version does not say "a part of our collection of Bible truths" , but "our own treasure store".)        
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