Wow, I would have been too. And it’s cool to hear that someone who recognizes the significance of that place got to appreciate it in that moment for what it is. I’m jealous.
We ought to be careful about designating something “too strange to be a coincidence” when we start breaking down numbers into their prime factors and other sorts of mathematical pattern-finding. This is why numerology is not considered a science, and claims about Bible codes are not reputable. The arguments about base-60 vs. base-10 are more convincing because there is an actual theory there.
Same with Pythagorean Triples in the ancient world.
Bible codes is an entirely different topic. (It’s a fad that sweeps through the media about every twenty years. You won’t find them in solid peer-reviewed journals.) One of the latest “pop” versions of Bible codes is the claim that Chinese characters all have Bible names and themes buried in them.
(POSTSCRIPT: By the way, I went nuclear on the bold-faced font in my previous post because I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek on a fun topic. I probably should have used an emoticon—but I just can’t bring myself to apply them. Something in me resists them. Blame it on traditions and old-age.)
Many scholars believe that the ages in the Genesis genealogies weren’t meant to be read as “real” ages but as (1) symbolic according to the culture of the time, where numbers could have near magical significance, and (2) falling into non-random distribution patterns in the final digit (always one of five digits which had important significant at the time and never one of the other five.) If those were actual ages of patriarchs, we would expect the final digit of each to not be so heavily skewed. [Note that this digit-skewing is not seen as a skewing from rounding or approximation.]
Obviously, this theory is not original to me. This is peer-reviewed scholarship based on ancient near eastern studies. I’m not claiming this the only theory but it is certainly an important one.
I should emphasize an important point: One should not equate the importance of numbers in ancient philosophy as mere “numerology” in our modern sense. That is another example of anachronistic thinking, imposing our modern values on an ancient culture. Whether it makes sense to us or not, the ancients placed special significance on numbers.
Have you ever wondered why we speak of The Ten Commandments, the Decalogue, even though it is not clear that there are literally ten of them? (By the way, that is one of the reasons why different religious traditions have numbered the Decalogue so differently.) In that culture, the number ten was considered a “complete” number—perhaps originally because it entails all fingers when counting and because of some systems of tick-mark counting.
Ancient mindsets concerning the significance of numbers also played a huge role in the development of music. You might also find Pythagorean Tuning of interest.
This topic also takes us into the territory of numbers and beauty, such as with the Golden Ratio and Fibanacci numbers. (The Golden Rectangle used to get a lot of emphasis in aesthetics and even studies of human facial bone structures.) The ancient Greeks even tended to assume that which was beautiful (which was often seen as mathematical concept) was also good—and that which was ugly was also bad. Socrates created a problem for this idea because he was described as being very ugly and yet being good/virtuous/brilliant. (Of course, the “good” and “virtuous” view depended upon who you asked. He was executed with poisonous hemlock.)
By far the best book on the origins of Noah’s story is this older book:
“Noah’s Ark and the Ziusudra Epic: Sumerian Origins of the Flood Myth”
by Robert M Best
I’d like to check that out.
One of the interesting bits in the Gilgamesh story is when he goes to visit Ziusudra. Gilgamesh (half man/half god) becomes aware of his mortality when a fellow demi-god and friend of his gets killed. His interest in the flood hero is his extremely long life. Gilgamesh goes to learn from him how he lives so long.
Has any consideration about these parallel’s between the Bible and the various mythologies been worked over here?
In my view, no satisfactory explanation has yet been postulated to explain why a small handful of cultures from this particular area (Sumer/Egypt/Indus Valley/Greece/Rome/Norse) developed beliefs that consisted of multiple male/female gods living among them and interacting with them when all the rest of humanity across the planet held views consistent with animism.
It seems to me the mythologies of Antiquity make a pretty strong case for the actualizing of the stories of Adam in human history.
If Adam and Eve were created in this region, exactly as described in Genesis living exceptionally long lives, would they not appear god-like to mortal humans? Are these adjacent mythologies not something we’d expect to see in our history if Adam and Eve were actually created in the way described?
Here’s an idea, take this view, find a good screenwriter, and make a movie depicting it this way. It’s the ultimate epic summer blockbuster! That would shift the paradigm by introducing this viewpoint into the public psyche, making this whole viewpoint a more widely accepted concept. It’s just how things are done nowadays.
I’ll just take an executive producer credit…
Maybe its just me… but i have no idea what you are talking about.
You might as well be discussing aliens…
Even if the ancients placed special significance in numbers, we are trying to figure the details of that from a modern standpoint. We must be careful not to engage in numerology ourselves while trying to study the history of numerology.
I’m talking about the real world implications of what’s being discussed here on this site. It’s not just a fictional story in a book. It’s our actual history. It’s not the beginning of humanity, it’s the beginning of modern human society.
I’m sure it’s not just you. Here, maybe a visual aid will help…
The black dot is the location of the Tower of Babel. The red dots are all the cultures that developed a polytheistic belief system.
The most common explanation for this is that these mythologies were formed to explain natural phenomena they didn’t understand. It’s believed they just made up these pantheons of god figure archetypes and wrote stories around them.
My point is how uncommon this is, and how the explanation doesn’t adequately describe what happened. There were cultures all throughout the world in comparable situations who never developed anything like this. Why was it only these cultures that came up with male/female gods existing in their ancient past who lived among them and interacted with them?
What I’m trying to point out is that the creation of Adam and Eve as described, and the scattering of the families of Noah’s sons at Babel, is a good explanation for these mythologies existing as they did.
Actually, this is false. My ancestors (Southern Slovens), for example did have a pantheon of over a hundred deities. And so did many (most?) other people.
Jeremy, I’m fascinated by your hypothesis (and this is a great sub-topic)—but I had the same reaction as @Djordje in that various counter-examples came to mind. (e.g., various Greek, Norse, and Germanic legends.) Therefore, I will assume that Jeremy is proposing something more unique in his Ancient Near Eastern Tower of Babel religious tradition impacting that region. How do you distinction these “Tower of Babel” cultures from the other god/godess human-divine interaction pantheons of elsewhere in the world?
Jeremy, what is your best illustration of your hypothesis in the peer-reviewed literature.
Actually, while I didn’t include them on the map, the same hypothesis applies to them as well as they’re also located in the same region …
Basically, the idea is this. Adam/Eve were created as described, living lives 10x longer than mortal (naturally evolved) humans, within an already populated world. These beings, after a few generations, were scattered throughout the region as the Babel story explains. Each of them bringing with them the characteristics noted by God in the Babel story.
In each culture where these beings ended up, we see a common thread. They each quickly developed into civilizations, they each invented forms of writing, and they all began writing stories about these god-like beings who lived among them in their ancient past.
So, my point is that these polytheistic cultures could be evidence that the Adam/Eve story actually happened as described.
All of these are included.
Thanks for the clarification. Very interesting. I’d be interested in journal articles on the topic, if you come across them.
As a linguist, I also wonder about the linguistic clues to what you are describing. (I’ve always been fascinated by the literature on the Nephilim.)
The Nephilim in this regard would be the demi-gods of the various mythologies. Those born of both lines (the “gods” and humans). Like Gilgamesh. The “heroes of old, men of renown”.
Interesting. One thing, though, I wouldn’t call it ‘evidence’. You did arrive to this interpretation with a specific conclusion in mind after all.
By the way, as I’ve explained many times on these threads, as a linguist I believe “the Sons of God” was simply a very typical way for humans to describe a nearby tribe which is larger in stature. It is a ubiquitous lingustic phenomenon. (Of course, over time it is easy for exaggeration to set in. Thus, a six-foot tall tribe of people seems like giants to a very short tribe. But after generations of telling stories, the legends speak of facing armies of “nine feet tall giants, the sons of the gods!” It’s almost like people telling fish-stories where there hands get further and further apart while showing the size of the fish that was caught.)