Warm Southern Breeze

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World’s Oldest Man

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, January 21, 2019

Methuselah lived 900 years,” says the partial lyric in one song.

The account to which the song refers, is found in the Old Testament book of Genesis, chapter 5, verse 27, which states that, “Altogether, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years, and then he died.” (NIV)

But more recently, the World’s Oldest Man, Masazo Nonaka, who was aged 113, has died overnight. That according to his family, granddaughter Yuko Nonaka, who called the family doctor, who in turn, officially pronounced his death.

Of her grandfather’s death Yuko said in part that, “We feel shocked at the loss of this big figure. He didn’t have any health problem. He went peacefully and that’s at least our consolation.”

In April 2018, the Guinness World Records certified Masazo Nonaka, then aged 112 years and 259 days, as being the World’s Oldest Living Man.

Masazo Nonaka was certified by Guinness World Records as the Oldest Living Man April 2018.

Born July 25, 1905, he grew up in a large family – six brothers, one sister – in his youth was a lumberjack and farmer, married in 1931, and fathered five children. He succeeded his parents in owning and operating Yado Nonaka Onsen, a hot springs inn at the foot of Mount Oakan near Akan National Park, which is renown for its pristine lakes. The inn, which prominently features an open-air, sulfur spring bath sculpted from rock, has 10 rooms, all which are pet friendly.

Their 106-year-old hot springs inn is located in the city of Ashoro, on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan where he resided, and today is run by his granddaughter Yuko.

Notably, Japan has the world’s fastest-aging population, and in September 2018, their Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare found 69,785 centenarians, nearly 90% of which were women, and the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business, found that those over age 65 comprise 25% of the Japanese population.

As we’ve come to understand, i.e., learned, somewhat recently, the aging process is collectively comprised of a series of small, even “micro” events which injure cells and tissue, which, when taken as a whole, continue contributing to the deterioration of our physical body, and ultimately, life itself. Those injuries are certainly nothing sudden, or “acute” as healthcare professionals call it, like a heart attack, stroke, or some other event such as trauma. As are other things in life, aging, and even death, are processes. Some occur more quickly than others, but all events occur over time, whether brief (short), or prolonged.

According to the World Health Organization, Average Global Life Expectancy in 2016 was 72, while in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found Average American Life Expectancy was 78.6 years, and the WHO found Japanese Average Life Expectancy to be 84.2 years. While Life Expectancy fluctuates according to region and nation, nowadays, it seems, we’re doing well to hit 70, or 75. And if we’re lucky, 80, or really lucky, maybe even 85. But either way, as some have popularly observed, there are only two sure things in life, and they are: 1.) Death, and; 2.) Taxes.

While over a period of time, because of improvements in Public Health, and advancements in Medicine, Science, and Healthcare, we have “managed” to increase our life’s expectancy (generally speaking) with preventive vaccines, antibiotics, and sanitation laws, we have not been able to come close to the 900-plus years which some Biblical patriarchs are supposed to have lived. Those antediluvian (pre-Flood) patriarchs, and their ages, are, in order of appearance in the text: Adam 930 years, Seth 912, Enos 905, Kenan 910, Mahalalel 895, Jared 962, Enoch 365 (of whom it was written that he did not die, but instead was taken away by God), Methuselah 969, Lamech 777, and Noah 950.

A particular interesting and related note, the world’s three major monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – which all come from a common ancestor, hold that their patriarchs (as enumerated), along with their wives and matriarchsSarah (Abraham’s wife), Rebekah (Isaac’s wife) and Leah (one of Jacob’s wives) – are entombed at the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron, which is a holy site to all three religions. Only Rachel – who was said to be Jacob’s favorite wife – is believed to be buried separately, at Rachel’s Tomb, located near Bethlehem, where she is believed to have died in childbirth.

Some religious adherents – most notably Evangelical Christians – look to “the Flood” not merely as a cataclysmic event, but one which permanently reshaped not just the Earth, but somehow, magically, or mystically – in either case, inexplicably – cut short human life span, at which point it began to precipitously decline thereafter. And so, they note also, that according to the Genesis account, Adam is alleged to have lived 930 years, while Noah is supposed to have lived 950. Everyone thereafter lived significantly shorter lives, and certainly nowhere near those ages cited.

For example, according to the Genesis narrative as allegedly told by Moses, Shem (one of Noah’s sons), died at 600 years of age. Terach (son of Nahor, the son of Serug and father of Abraham, whom descended from Shem‘s son Arpachshad) died at 205 years of age; Abraham died at 175 years; Isaac died at 180; Jacob died at 147; while Moses died at 120 years of age. One must wonder how all that genealogy and history was maintained – accurate, or not – because in the age/era in which all this information was supposed to have been given (by divine inspiration) to Moses, the printing press certainly hadn’t been invented, and the only way of transmitting information (at least as we now know) was first and primarily, oral tradition, followed by clay (stone) tablets, and then papyrus or sheepskin writings.

It should also be borne in mind, that modern scholars are now interpreting the type of story-telling found in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible, also known as the Torah) upon the style of story-telling known to have existed at that time, and in the areas where the accounts were thought to have occurred. In essence, what that means, is that while historical tradition has held that “Genesis was written by Moses, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, during the forty years that the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness (1450–1410 B.C.),” other emerging accounts based upon greater ethnological understanding strongly suggest that other extant versions of the events cited in Genesis are told in decidedly different manners than in the other subsequent four books – Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

The Documentary Hypothesis was initially popularized by Jean Astruc (1684–1766) when he compared and contrasted the use of the divine names “Yahweh,” referring to a singular persona, and “Elohim,” referring to plural personae, into columns numbering the repetitions and interpolations.

Astruc was a French physician/anatomist and is considered the founder of modern Pentateuchal criticism, and in 1753 at Brussels anonymously published “Conjectures sur les Mémoires Originaux dont Il Paroit que Moyse s’est Servi pour Composer le Livre de la Genèse. Avec des remarques qui appuient ou qui éclairissent ces conjectures.” (tr. “Conjectures on the original documents that Moses appears to have used in composing the Book of Genesis.”) which initiated modern Pentateuchal criticism.

His work was not the very first, per se, to criticize the Pentateuch, and Jewish scholars including Abraham ibn Ezra (a 12th century Rabbi) and Baruch Spinoza (a Dutch Jewish philosopher 1632-1677), who were dissatisfied with the summary comment of rabbinical commenters that “The Torah does not arrange its facts chronologically” (Yer. Soṭah viii. 22d), had long acknowledged chronological inconsistencies and anachronisms within it. However, the criticisms which preceded Astruc’s analysis never went further than a broad generalization that the Pentateuch was made of different documents.

Astruc was the first to offer any explanation for the character and relations within the documents themselves, and advanced the hypothesis that several isolated documents existed which were separated and rearranged by Moses, into which confusion was introduced by copyists. And from Moses method, and the copyists’ work, he accounted for narrative, repetition, and anachronisms.

From his groundbreaking research emerged a fragmentary and supplementary hypothesis, which, as their names suggest, asserts that the Pentateuch was assembled from a compilation of fragmented sources, and a single unified source, to which numerous fragmentary sources had been added. Later, the Documentary Hypothesis became known as the Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis after K.H. Graf (1815-1869) and Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) whose scholarly Biblical research is prominently regarded for its exegetical and contemporaneous historical explanations.

At the most fundamental level, the Graf-Wellhausen Documentary Hypothesis states that there are four separate source documents which comprise the Pentateuch, which are called: J (for Yahwist), E (for Elohist), D (the Deuteronomist), and P (for Priestly Code).

Summarizing, J, which is the oldest, starts with Genesis 2:4b, includes major portions of Genesis, as well as Exodus and Numbers, including a few brief passages from Deuteronomy. It is considered the original work of a great thinker who in large part shaped the Old Testament’s idea of the history of salvation.

E, which occurs later, follows a similar story line, with Genesis 15 being the earliest text, and occurs in the northern kingdom. The name “Elohim,” a plural personae, is used to describe the Almighty, whereas the name “Yahweh” was not given until after the Exodus account. Contextually, E is more prominently voiced as concerning moral matters more so than J, though E and J were combined into a single narrative by an editor Redactor (R) in which much E material was omitted and lost.

D was produced around the time of the Josianic reformation (2 Kgs 22) and is essentially the Book of Deuteronomy, and does not have a characteristic divine name since it has little, if any, representation in Genesis. RD subsequently combined the texts JE and D.

The final text, P was produced in the exilic period, begins at Genesis 1:1 and includes significant portions of Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers and all of Leviticus. In Genesis, P refers to the Almighty as “Elohim” since, like E, it assumes that “Yahweh,” as a divine name, was first revealed at the exodus (Ex 6:3, a P text). It is dominated by genealogies, priestly regulations, and a highly stylized manner of narration. P was soon redacted into JED by RP. Thus,the Pentateuch was formed.

As far as primeval history is concerned, scholars suggest that Genesis was following an ancient narrative pattern because of the similarities in the way in which the origins were told among the peoples of the Near East. The closest parallels are the Akkadian Atrahasis (1600 B.C.) and the Sumerian Eridu Genesis (1600 B.C.), which give an account of the period from Creation to the great Flood. Other Genesis parallels can be made from such myths like the Akkadian Enuma Elish and Epic of Gilgamesh. There is no evidence that sharing of narratives or styles occurred between the Hebrews and other peoples, and instead, strongly suggests that general knowledge of early traditions were shared by all in antiquity.

And it is within the first few chapters of the Genesis account – chapters 5 and 11, specifically – to which they turn as evidence and proof positive of the age of humanity, and of the Earth being 6000–10,000 years of age.

Many of those same adherents have no rational explanation for how things were supposed to have changed after “the Flood” (though they claim that things did), and instead, point to modernity and contrast it with the account found in their holy writ, as if it is scientific proof positive, and inerrant. And acknowledging inconsistencies (at least to some degree), some seek to rationalize the seemingly irrational by whatever means or methods they can.

But, as we know, the only constant, is change.

However, our Evangelical brethren will counter that by quoting a verse from their holy writ by citing a verse found in one of the minor prophets, Malachi, in chapter 3, verse 6(a), which states “I am the Lord, I change not.”

And yet, as one carefully – even casually – reads the accounts narrated therein, the only common theme is change… and inconsistency. For in place, after place, after place, their god, and the rules associated with the same, seem to change. First, we see a murder in the early Genesis account – reputedly the first ever – in which Cain, Adam and Eve’s firstborn, is alleged to have slain his brother Abel.

As the account of that event unfolds, the narrative states that, “And Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and dwelled in the land of Nod east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife and she conceived and bore Enoch. Then he became the builder of a city and he called the name of the city like his son’s name, Enoch. And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.” (Genesis 4:16-18, KJV) And it is equally interesting to note that Enoch, considered a man who “walked with God,” was a first generation descendant of Cain.

And from that narrative, we see that apparently, there were other people living at the time of the murder, as evidenced by the statement “and Cain knew his wife and she conceived and bore Enoch.” Common sense, reason, and logic would dictate that if Adam and Eve were the only two, followed in order by Cain and Abel, and then if Cain slew Abel, there would have been at that point, only three living human beings. Thus, if Cain were to marry, he would have had to have married his sister. The only problem is, if that was the case (and logically, it could only have been so if the account were 100% accurate, true and inerrant), Cain would’ve had to have hung around a bit longer for Eve to bear another child… and hope that it was female. And what are the chances of that happening, eh? Fifty-fifty.

So not only that event shows weakness in the narrative of the alleged account, it points to further contradiction and… change.

As well, apparently, murder was forbidden (though it had not been yet specifically so prohibited), as evidenced by the statements which were supposed to have been made by the Almighty to Cain, which in part were, “And the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother? And he said, “I do not know: am I my brother’s keeper?” And He said, “What have you done? Listen! your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil. And so, cursed shall you be by the soil that gaped with its mouth to take your brother’s blood from your hand. If you till the soil, it will no longer give you strength. A restless wanderer shall you be on the earth.” (Genesis 4:9-12, KJV)

Again, if the Almighty were omniscient, why ask questions like “Where is Abel your brother?” and “What have you done?” If we say the question was a mere rhetorical device, then we could dismiss it as having any value, or importance, and simply used a means or method of getting Cain to think, or talk. But as far as story-telling techniques go, one must engage the reader, particularly and especially if coming from a perspective of authority, as in a first-hand account – and exceedingly more so for an inerrant one – thus the requirement for a dialogue in presence of an omniscient, omnipresent being.

It would have been far, far simpler, and more succinct for the Almighty to simply say (or for the author to write) something to the effect of, “And He said to Cain, ‘I saw and know what you did, and I’m going to punish you.'” But to do that would not be engaging to the reader. So, a dialogue was established to propel the story.

But the point being, is that the Ten Commandments were not then written, so apparently, murder was a-okay. Or was it? If punishment existed for that act or offense, then it was not a-okay. Same thing for the other nine commandments. If they already existed, why bother writing them down? What purpose would it serve? Merely as reminders? We could accept that, because as Samuel Johnson noted in Rambler #2 (March 24, 1750), “Men more frequently require to be reminded, than informed.” Again, we could see that as a rhetorical device to engage the reader (or the hearer, as the case may be).

So what about incest? That’s another immediate question which arises from the tale. One supposes that Cain had to have married his sister. Again, if the account is true, and accurate, that could be the only conclusion, or possibility. And yet, it was only some time later, that same god is supposed to have commanded or suggested (take your pick) that incest was bad, wrong, or evil. Incest prohibitions are found mostly in Leviticus 18:8-18, and 20:11-21, but in Deuteronomy as well. And yet, nowhere in the list of prohibitions is listed sexual relations by a man with his daughter. That’s troubling and problematic as well, not only for what we know today about family sexual abuses (more accurately and frequently as rape), but because an omission of that conjugal union as forbidden would seem to be tacit approval of it.

But again, Levitical law had not then been written; the vast, and exceeding majority of Hebrew and Biblical scholars and historians agree that Leviticus was written by Moses (the lawgiver), and that the events described therein occurred c.1445BCE, and that before then, sexual relations with one’s mother was presumably not forbidden. So conceivably (bad pun, I know), Cain could have fathered his own wife by his mother, Eve, and it would not have been “unlawful,” per se. But turning to an extra-Biblical source, the Book of Jubilees, a 50-chapter text considered holy and canonical by Jews but not by Christians, it states that Cain married his sister Awan, while Seth, the third-born son of Adam and Eve, married his sister Azura. Interestingly enough, that Cain married his sister is a widely accepted concept in Christendom, though the text through which the subject is introduced, is not. Curious, eh?

So again, within all these events, we see change – including change of laws. So if all this change occurred, and it is to have originated with the Almighty, the Almighty had to have changed. There’s no other rational, reasonable explanation for it.

But MY GOODNESS! How we’ve strayed from The World’s Oldest Man!

Sometimes, things just seem to work out that way, eh?

Until then…


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