It baffles me that the belief that Adam was the first human and that the flood was global has been such a long-standing interpretation given all the scholars and great minds who have dedicated so much interest to the biblical texts.
For example, Genesis 4. This chapter makes no sense at all in the context of traditional interpretations.
It seems reasonable to assume that the author choosing to include so much about Cain’s life beyond his slaying of Abel means it’s significant and relevant information.
Genesis doesn’t give us much about the world before the flood, just over five chapters, but even as little as there is it seems to cover a lot of ground. The tricky part about this portion of Genesis is that Adam has traditionally been counted as the first human God created, and even though Genesis 5 lists generations of descendants living many years each and having many children, the population bottlenecks at the flood where only eight people are said to have survived via Noah’s ark.
So then why would the author of Genesis feel it necessary, out of the 1,656 years that passed between Adam’s creation and the flood, to spend half a chapter on Cain and his descendants? Unless the wives of Noah or his sons were of Cain’s bloodline, presumably they all would have died. Yet, with the exception of Noah, pre-flood Genesis provides more specific information about Cain and his bloodline than anyone on Seth’s side of the family.
Genesis 4 talks about mysterious unnamed figures who could potentially harm him outside of his homeland, a city he built, and specifically named descendants who, along with their skilled ‘children’, died in a global flood not long after, presumably.
The author deemed it necessary to name four specific sixth generation descendants: Jabal, Jubal, Tubal-Cain, and Tubal-Cain’s sister, Naamah. The two sons of Lamech’s wife Adah, Jubal and Jabal, are said to be the ‘fathers’ of those who possessed specific skills. Tubal-Cain’s skill is noted as well.
Jubal … Father of those who live in tents and raise livestock
Jabal … Father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes
Tubal-Cain … Forged tools out of bronze and iron
These four descendants are the same number of generations from Adam as Methuselah in Genesis 5. A quick bit of math will reveal that Methuselah died the same year as the flood, possibly in it. So it would seem that taking the time to specifically mention these four descendants, along with the various skills they introduced into the world, would be pointless if they and everyone they ‘fathered’ died in the flood too. Not to mention the intended reader would presumably not be familiar with these people they’re speaking of.
So, how has centuries of intense theological study addressed this? I’ve not been able to find this particular angle addressed in any of my searches.