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Reading from here and Genesis 5 we see that there are mentions of longevity among prophets:

Adam – 930

Seth – 912

Enosh – 905

Jared – 962

Methuselah – 969

Noah – 950

Shem – 600

Eber – 464

Abraham – 175

Moses – 120

My question is are there any other historical books (a book that has nothing to do with Abrahamic religions) that mention any of these ages? Basically what I'm asking was there any non-religious, secular book written that cites these ages? OR perhaps a book written by Abrahamic followers that is still somewhat universally accepted?

I personally consider the old and new testament as (partially history) books that can be referenced but consider that out of the scope of the question.

I'm not asking whether what they've mentioned is accurate. I'm only asking if it's even mentioned at all...

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  • Do these people have any historic significance outside of the Abrahamic religions? That is, is there any reason that secular scribes would have made note of their (supposed) ages? May 24, 2017 at 16:24
  • @KillingTime Today atheists speak about Jesus, Moses, Mohammad etc. I find it unlikely that their non-followers wouldn't be speaking about prominent figures surrounding them. So yes they have historic significance.
    – Honey
    May 24, 2017 at 16:27
  • How prominent do you think any of those people were outside of their followers? Glossing over that two of them are said to be directly responsible for all humans alive at some point.
    – user22111
    May 24, 2017 at 17:59
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    With the possible exception of Moses, none of these are regarded as 'prophets' by Judeo-Christian tradition. The term 'patriarchs' is used sometimes.
    – Spencer
    May 24, 2017 at 18:21
  • @Spencer Adam and Noah are not prophets?!
    – Honey
    May 24, 2017 at 18:24

1 Answer 1

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(Meta) Question 1: Is it possible that Human beings actually used to live that long?

No, it is not. The human body is not designed with the capability of living beyond about 125. We have ample archeological samples from actual burials in the Ancient era, and earlier, all of which confirm that people of that era lived much shorter lives than modern humans, not longer. Life expectancy in the Ancient Era would have been around 30 years (vs 72 now).

(Actual) Question 2: Are there other ancient records that claim unreasonably long lifespans like the Bible does?

Yes there are. The Sumerian King list shows Gilgamesh ruling for 128 years, and some lesser-known kings ruling for tens of thousands of years. I think the record-holder is En-men-lu-ana, at 43,200 years. What these have in common with the Bible is that the further removed from the actual date that humans wrote that record, the longer a lifespan the writer attributes to them.

So essentially, it appears that more mythological figures get ascribed longer lives. The closer to living memory of when the record was taken, the more realistic their lifespan. This holds both for the Bible, the Sumerian King List, and other ancient king lists, even though all of them were recorded at very different times.

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    Abeit your answer is corret, I don't think OP actually asked "Question 1"
    – RMalke
    May 24, 2017 at 17:03
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    @RMalke - Yes, it is true question 1 wasn't explicitly asked. However, I've had more than one person offline start to discuss 2 with me as a way to get to 1. If I hadn't addressed it, I could see this historical answer being used by someone (not necessarily the question author) for ahistorical purposes. I've had that happen to me before here, and I won't put up with having it happen again.
    – T.E.D.
    May 24, 2017 at 17:50
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    @Honey Question 1 needs considered however. It is part of how a historical source is judged as being accepted as historically accurate or dismissed as mythology. If a source contains things we know today to be impossible, then we can't accept it (at least those parts) as historically accurate. A Yale lecturer here discusses these very apsects when considering how or if we can use Homer as a source for information on pre-classical Greece.
    – justCal
    May 24, 2017 at 17:52
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    The curve is not flat. Even with a life expectancy in the thirties, you'll still see people mostly dying at <10 and >50. This is why when we read history, we see many prominent people living into their fifties and sixties even in societies where the life expectancy is low. Roman offices had age requirements of the late thirties and early forties. That implies a society where people "expected" to live that long. Realize that with infant mortality rate of 50%, a "30 year life expectancy" means that the average person who reaches a year lives to 60. May 24, 2017 at 21:38
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    For any interested in academic studies on longevity: In addition to this comment, I've also found a post from a Researcher into Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Anti-Aging Medicine which says it's possible and not mystical. Though this answer's resources say it's mystical
    – Honey
    Jul 29, 2017 at 22:05

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