The debate over Genesis five and eleven stretches back as far as men have commented on these passages. But, for the most part, scholars and theologians in the pre-critical era understood Genesis five and eleven to be accurate historical information. While there are some exceptions to this rule, this homogeny will be assumed for the purposes of this paper. Here, the discussion will begin just before the critical era in AD 1697.
In 1697, interpreters were grappling with the meaning of Genesis five and eleven, particularly the long ages of the antediluvian patriarchs. Scholars were proposing that the years in Genesis five were not solar years, but either lunar years or months in order to shorten the years of the passage. Thomas Burnet argued against these proposals in his work The Theory of the Earth:
But as this opinion [that the years are lunar years or months]…
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