Good question—Is there extra-biblical evidence for Post-flood longevity?

Date: April 12/2004

I got this question, and tried to help:

Dear Glenn,

I recently ran across your piece from several years ago entitled "...are there any extra-biblical refs to longevity BEFORE the flood?" which I found to be helpful, since That particular question had been bothering me for a little while.

However, I've got a related question that has been gnawing away at me, having to do with the ages of post-Flood peoples listed in the Genesis geneology. While post-Flood lifespans drop off after the Flood, they continue to be far above modern lifespans all the way up to Abraham. Terah, for instance, is said to have lived to 205 (although maybe this is supposed to be 145, which is still exceptionally old by today's standard).

I know that writing existed for a substantial period of time prior to Terah, so my question is this: Do we have any surviving textual evidence, outside the Bible, that confirms or denies the idea that people were still (at least occasionally) living significantly longer than they do now by around 2000 BC? It seems to me that this question may be relevent to how the ages contained in the geneologies are to be interpreted.

Thank you for your time, JKL


I replied:

“Yes, we do. The same Sumerian King Lists which show the pre-flood massive-reigns, also have post-flood kings' reign figures too.

The pre-flood kings' reigns were in the 18,600-43,200 year range, but the first dynasty of Kish kings (first generation after the Flood) gives the following reign (not 'lifespan', just like the pre-flood figures were supposedly reign-spans) figures for the first 18 post-flood kings:

1. 1,200 years

2. 960 yrs

3. (missing)

4. (missing)

5. (missing)

6. (missing)

7. 360 years

8. 840 years

9. 900 years

10. 600 years

11. 840 years

12. 720 yrs

13. 1,500 years

14. 400 years

15. 660 years

16. 900 years

17. 1,200 yrs

18. 140 years

Then the 2nd dynasty of Kish gives ANOTHER scale-down for its 8 kings:

1. 201 yrs

2. (missing)

3. 360 years

4. 195 years

5. 300 years

6. 180 years

7. 290 yrs

8. 360 yrs

(you can see the 'scale' descreasing on each list)

The 3rd dynasty has only one king with a reign of 100 years,

...and then the 4th dynasty has 7 kings with the following reigns:

1. 25 yrs

2. 6 yrs

3. 30 yrs

4. 6 yrs

5. 11 yrs

6. 11yrs

7. 3 years

so, this extrabiblical 'data' (loosely speaking, of course), does indicate a PROGRESSIVE decline in ages, with an Major break at the flood, but decline to 'normalcy' taking a longer period.

does this help, friend?

The Christian ThinkTank...[] (Reference Abbreviations)