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My family is currently reading Genesis at the breakfast table.  Today, we dealt with Genesis 5, the description of the generations between Adam and Noah.  Does the Church have any explanation as to why human beings were so long-lived back before the Flood?

Thanks in advance!
(06-08-2016, 10:32 AM)Pilgrim Wrote: [ -> ]My family is currently reading Genesis at the breakfast table.  Today, we dealt with Genesis 5, the description of the generations between Adam and Noah.  Does the Church have any explanation as to why human beings were so long-lived back before the Flood?

Thanks in advance!

Once quick resource is to use Haydock, it is available online.

http://haydock1859.tripod.com/id332.html

"But the sole satisfactory reason for their living almost a thousand years, while we can hardly arrive at 70, is, because so it pleased God, in whose hands are all our lots. "
(06-08-2016, 10:32 AM)Pilgrim Wrote: [ -> ]My family is currently reading Genesis at the breakfast table.  Today, we dealt with Genesis 5, the description of the generations between Adam and Noah.  Does the Church have any explanation as to why human beings were so long-lived back before the Flood?

Thanks in advance!

I'll have to try to dig it up, but Father Seraphim Rose tried to tackle this in his magnum opus Genesis, Creation and Early Man. I don't have it in front of me right now but I'll dig it up later and try to post something. 

If I remember correctly man has been in a state of genetic entropy since the Fall,or something like that.  We actually used to live hundreds of years, but over time we live shorter lives. It seems to make some sense to me.
(06-08-2016, 04:24 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: [ -> ]
(06-08-2016, 10:32 AM)Pilgrim Wrote: [ -> ]My family is currently reading Genesis at the breakfast table.  Today, we dealt with Genesis 5, the description of the generations between Adam and Noah.  Does the Church have any explanation as to why human beings were so long-lived back before the Flood?

Thanks in advance!

I'll have to try to dig it up, but Father Seraphim Rose tried to tackle this in his magnum opus Genesis, Creation and Early Man. I don't have it in front of me right now but I'll dig it up later and try to post something. 

If I remember correctly man has been in a state of genetic entropy since the Fall,or something like that.  We actually used to live hundreds of years, but over time we live shorter lives. It seems to make some sense to me.

FB, the complete section about verse 5 also alludes to what you say. Additionally it mentions different number of yeas between the different books (see below). Call me a light weight but that level of detail makes my eyes spin ...

Ver. 5. He died. Ecclesiasticus xiv. 12, says very justly, the covenant of this world is, he shall surely die. God prolonged the lives of the patriarchs to a more advanced age, that the world might be sooner filled. Their constitution was then more excellent, the fruits of the earth more nourishing, &c. But the sole satisfactory reason for their living almost a thousand years, while we can hardly arrive at 70, is, because so it pleased God, in whose hands are all our lots. There is a great difference in the number of years assigned by the Hebrew and Vulgate, from that which the Samaritan copy mentions; and the Septuagint differs from both. Whether the difference be real, or only apparent, we shall not pretend to determine. The Church has not decided which system of chronology is the most accurate. In the Martyrology, she adopts that of the Septuagint and places the birth of Christ in [the year of the world] 5199, after Eusebius and Ven. Bede, though Riccioli calculates the Septuagint at 5634 years. (Haydock) --- Adam died penitent, as we are assured by the Holy Ghost, Wisdom x. 2.; and tradition affirms the same of Eve, insomuch, that the heresy of the Encratites, who condemned our first parents to hell, was exploded with horror. (St. Epiphanius; St. Augustine, in hæres.; Tirinus)
I've always assumed thateverything in the Bible must be 100% accurate if the Holy Spirit guided the writers, i , myself can't see the Holy Spirit tricking us and saying the Bible is accurate as regards faith but as to science and chronology it's not to be trusted. That was the trick of Satan try to get people to believe there are errors in the Word of God and then people won't believe his word. I find that the Creationists and Geocentrists are doing us a great service by confronting the current"opinions" of the modern world on these issues.
The true religion was revealed in the beginning to Adam and Eve. The tradition of the Church teaches that their long lives allowed them to transmit faithfully this divinely revealed true religion (history of creation, original paradisal state, fall, promise of a savior, etc) which has now been fulfilled in Christ and His Church.

This was the revelation to our first parents as taught by Catholic tradition:

1. Promise of a Savior who will redeem them and that they should keep the faith and look to the Savior to come.

2. That this act of redemption will come at the cost of a great tremendous sacrifice and that the center of their religion should be a figure, prophetic figure, of that sacrifice. Their sacrfices should be a foreshadowing (shadow, type, symbol) and anticipation of that great sacrifice which, having been made with the faith, receive power from that great future sacrifice.

3. That the preservation of religion will be a warfare, that the soul will live forever and that there will be a great battle for each soul between the forces of heaven and hell. There will be a kingdom in the spiritual realm that will be constantly fighting and that to be in the true religion will always involve suffering.

Their long years were granted to faithfully transmit this divine revelation.

I don't know how the Hebrew numbers looked. Since the downward slope appears after the confusion at Babel, it's reasonable to assume the arithmetic or numerology they used took part after the languages. So my thought is, based on later corruptions existing from the copied translations of the text, they are historical values over a range. We just can't tell how precise of a value.

The average of nine antediluvian patriarchs was 912 years (Henoch is an outlier).

Jews believe the literal ages of the famous patriarchs, though certain of them have the ancient scribes using a calendar system to make sense of the young childbearing age. Is it true St. Augustine had an interpretive theory for this?

In Scripture their many days are coveted, as is the good they enjoyed. Although, if you believe other records you wonder if the ancients who saw extraordinary years were condemned when suffering a longer time as punishment. 

He dies a mere youth who reaches but a hundred years, and he who fails of a hundred shall be thought accursed. Isaia 65:20
(06-08-2016, 06:40 PM)salus Wrote: [ -> ]I've always assumed thateverything in the Bible must be 100% accurate if the Holy Spirit guided the writers, i , myself can't see the Holy Spirit tricking us and saying the Bible is accurate as regards faith but as to science and chronology it's not to be trusted. That was the trick of Satan try to get people to believe there are errors in the Word of God and then people won't believe his word. I find that the Creationists and Geocentrists are doing us a great service by confronting the current"opinions" of the modern world on these issues.

Genesis, as the Pontifical Biblical Commission says, is true history.

The problem is that it is not history in the sense you or I understand that today. It was written by Moses by the people of his time, and if you examine what such literature looked like, it's a far cry from the scientific kind of history we see today. We like a step-by-step, totally accurate, complete picture. The Jews of that time were not so concerned.

It is overstatement to think the Bible scientifically and specifically trying to communicate a literal point with every detail provided, and the Church Fathers themselves did not think this, even though they took the Bible as certainly true. St. Augustine, for instance, was quite happy to say that the Creation narrative in Genesis was figurative, because in Sirach, Scripture tells us that "all things were created together". Thus many following Augustine see the seven days as seven revelations to Moses, or a logical ordering of this simultaneous Creation, not seven 24-hour days. In fact the narrative is problematic if we think of "day" in the literal sense, since it was not until day four that the sun was created, and it's somewhat hard to have day and night (in our sense) without the sun, so there's something not so literal here.

In my humble opinion, most Geocentrists and Creationists, who are Protestants (and thus do not have the Faith), do a great disservice to Christianity, because they lack the Catholic notion of Scripture, which is not the singular rule of Faith, and can only be correctly interpreted and explained by the Church, which does not endorse Geocentrism or Fundamentalist Protestant Creationism.

There are a few Catholics who take up the Geocentrism and Creationism bandwagon, but most are untrustworthy, or have no expertise in either Scripture or Science, and in fact just take up the Protestant errors. Sadly, many have been shown to be terrible frauds, plagiarizers, and liars.
Regarding the OP's question, there is one answer that I've not seen here, and one of practical importance.

In the early days of the human race it was necessary for the establishment of the species that people live a very long time and intermarry with close relatives in order to propagate the species.

Consider that if we look at the findings of modern biology, we see that there is a "minimum viable population" for any species to survive. This is not two people. It is a significantly larger number. Thus Adam and Eve would have to have had a very large number of children, and each of their children (who incidentally were brothers and sisters, something which would not be allowed later in the OT and certainly not now), would have had to also have a large number just to get the species established. The men probably had to have many wives also (save Adam, of course), in order to generate enough children.

If men lived only to 50 years or even 100 years as we do now, there would not have been sufficient numbers to survive, thus rather than intervene often, God simply allowed men to live a long time, to have many offspring. Consider also that men were not born into a ready-built society and had to tame a great part of the earth to feed, clothe and raise these large families, which would have taken a great deal of effort and time. Again, that would explain such long ages.

Also consider that men probably did not suffer from the effects of old age as fast as they do now, otherwise they'd not have been having children at age 400.

As a side note, also consider that Genesis 5 is not a complete list of generations, but was intended to merely establish some link between the Jews of Moses' time and Adam. From examining the genealogies of St. Matthew and St. Luke we know that there are gaps.
(06-08-2016, 06:40 PM)salus Wrote: [ -> ]I've always assumed thateverything in the Bible must be 100% accurate if the Holy Spirit guided the writers, i , myself can't see the Holy Spirit tricking us and saying the Bible is accurate as regards faith but as to science and chronology it's not to be trusted. That was the trick of Satan try to get people to believe there are errors in the Word of God and then people won't believe his word. I find that the Creationists and Geocentrists are doing us a great service by confronting the current"opinions" of the modern world on these issues.

Thank you salus, that is very kind of you to say that about us  Geocentrists. We get enough ridicule from the likes of Oldavid so it is great to hear from one who knows what they are talking about.

So, here then is an opinion as to why God allowed man to live so long in the earliest times from the greatest geocentrist of all time, the Astronomer Domenico Cassini. Personally I also agree with those who say it helped multiply the human race quickly. After the Flood God restricted man's life down to what we experience today.

‘There is no room for doubt that Astronomy was invented at the beginning of the World. As there is nothing more noteworthy than the regularity of movement among these great luminous bodies that turn unceasingly around the Earth, it is natural to think that one of the first interests of men was to consider their course and observe their periods. But mere curiosity alone was not solely responsible for leading men to set themselves astronomical speculations, for it can be maintained that necessity as well obliged them. For should one not observe the seasons that vary by the movement of the Sun, it would be impossible to make a success of agriculture; were one to fail to note the suitable times for travel, one could establish no Business; should one not have determined once for all the length of the month and the year, there could be neither order established between civil affairs, nor could days be marked out for religious purposes: hence as agricultural farming, commerce, politics and even religion cannot do without astronomy, it is obvious that men must have been obliged to study this science right from the World’s beginning.
    ‘Both sacred and secular history confirms this truth. What the Holy Scriptures have to say about the years that the ancient Patriarchs lived up to, is proof positive that the first men studied the movements of the stars. For had they not taken account of the exact number of days that last the varying phases of the Moon which serve to conceal the months; and of the number of months during which the Sun little by little approaches the Zenith and afterwards distances itself from it, making the changing by increase and diminution of the days, which allow one to establish the length of the year, they could not have noted the number of years each Patriarch had lived, nor the times of their birth and death, as precisely as Moses records it in Genesis.
    ‘And there certainly was need in this first age of the world to observe the stars with a great deal of care, for by the circumstances of the history of the Flood which are also reported in Genesis, one can see that the year from the time of the Flood was regulated following the movements of the Sun and Moon: which supposes an infinite number of observations. It is yet to be understood how all the application imaginable by the first men studying the sky could have gained them so much knowledge of the movements of the stars, unless their lives were longer than ours. By the living of such long lives gained for them great advances in astronomy. Josephus was of the opinion that so necessary was this science that one of the reasons why God granted the first men such a long lasting life, was to facilitate for them the knowledge of the movements of the stars.' --- J.D. Cassini: The Progress of Astronomy and its Use for Geography and in Navigation, Paris, 1693
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