Why Genesis 5 is a key chapter in the Bible

Multiple timeframes underline the historicity

by Paul A. Hansen

Creation days

Genesis 5 is not a bare list of family names (genealogies), but includes chronological data. This chronogenealogy strongly connects the Creation (Genesis 1–2) and Flood (Genesis 6–9) events. It ties these events to God’s created astronomical clockwork (chronology), which He completed on Day 4 to be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years—hence, the term ‘chronogenealogy’.

Historicity means authenticity

While the bare descriptions of the Creation and Flood events provide substantial internal evidences for historicity, it is the chronogenealogy of Genesis 5 that provides external evidence. The combination of the both kinds of evidence provides for airtight historicity. Each kind of evidence is comprised of a broad three-fold context comprising chronology, sequence and durationwhen it happened, the order of events and the time it took to complete (duration). These three evidences considered twice (internally and externally) form a double historical context of triune evidences for proof of historicity—‘airtight historicity’. However, accepting only the internal evidence, instead of accepting both, can result in questioning of the historicity. And once the historicity of the Creation and Flood accounts is doubted, the whole Bible may be successfully doubted. We know this because it has already happened—repeatedly.

All genuine (historical) events have internal and external evidences. We must recognize these evidences as simultaneously existing so that we may present the strongest case for historicity.

The internal evidences (Part 1)

The internal context for the Creation account is comprised of 1) chronology, that is, the Creation event took place at a point in time called ‘the beginning’; 2) sequence, that is, there were enumerated created items on each of the days; and 3) duration, that is, the whole Creation event took a specified time—six days. In like manner the global Flood (and, in principle, all other authentic events) may be also analyzed from within by the very same terms of 1) chronology, the age of Noah at the beginning of the Flood (Genesis 7:11), 2) sequence, the waters rise, prevail, subside, etc., and 3) duration, given by the age of Noah at the end of the Flood (Genesis 8:13).

However, there is something additional to the internal contexts of these two events which contributes immensely to their historicity, namely, the special, unique interlocking external chronogenealogy of Genesis 5, which explicitly and authoritatively demonstrates their relationship by multiple implicit references to the astronomical clock.

The external evidences (Part 2)

The external context for the Creation and Flood is as follows:

  1. The chronology that places these events in an absolute position on an overall biblical time scale, i.e. 4004 BC for the Creation week, 2348 BC for the Flood event, etc. (using Ussher’s dates),
  2. The sequence, or order of occurrence of the separate events, i.e., the Flood occurred after the Creation, and
  3. The duration, consisting of the elapsed time of 1656 years between the two events (Genesis 5:3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 25, 28; 7:6 and 11) wherein the ‘days and years’ of Genesis 5, are defined in the time-measuring system, the astronomical clock, set up on Day 4 of the creation week (Genesis 1:14).

Two times three equals six for irrefutable authenticity

Photo stock.xchng Creation day 4

We see, then, that these same categories (chronology, sequence and duration) form two distinct contexts, one internally within the events themselves, and another externally tying the two events together. It is the external tie that is meticulously set forth in Genesis 5. If this tie is broken, the historicities of the events on either end of the tie are turned loose to be attacked separately. In other words, it is asking for defeat to surrender the interlocked relationship—the tie—given in Genesis 5.

No double context means a less likely event

We can also use these dual contexts to test for historicity. For example, the ruin/reconstruction gap theory is comprised of interesting but imagined events. Bible references in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, which plainly refer to the kings of Babylon and Tyre (and not directly to Satan), are imaginatively applied and inserted between the first two verses of Genesis 1. When the proposed event is tested with specific questions like, ‘When?’, ‘Within what specific context?’, and ‘For how long?’, these questions result in further conjectures rather than substantial answers. The search for evidence for an internal context asks, ‘How long did the ruining last?’ The search for an external context asks, ‘How long was it from the end of the destruction to the first day of Creation?’ These, and similar questions, draw attention to the lack of historical contextual evidence, thus making us wonder how such a scenario could have been seriously advanced as a real event in history.

A doubted double context means a doubted event

It is a matter of historical record that chapter 5 has been the first to undergo attack from within orthodox Christianity. This attack took the form of a subtle assumption (most likely under pressure to reconcile evolutionary ideas of ‘deep time’ with the Bible) that this chapter was totally boring and superfluous and, therefore, irrelevant and so, for the Creation account, we unwisely agreed that the debate about the extent of days mainly centered internally on chapters 1 and 2 as a presumed stand alone event. For the Flood account, we again unwisely conceded that the debate about whether there even was a global Flood was principally limited internally to chapters 6–9 (instead of including chapters 10 and 11) as a description of another presumed stand alone event. This was an error, because it led to further doubts about these two events. We agreed to discount the external tie and attempted to defend the disconnected events on the basis of internal (stand alone) evidences. This is tantamount to laying down the sword and engaging the battle with only a shield.

Evidences of a schedule

I do not contend that Genesis 1–11 is by any means an exhaustive revelation of what took place, but I do contend that what is there actually happened as described. More than enough information is given to discern a unified story that had a beginning and is going somewhere in a measured and measurable way. The measuring instrument is the huge astronomical clock (Genesis 1:14) which is meticulously implicit in Genesis chapter 5 and explicit in the Creation and Flood accounts. This clock was completed on Day 4 when the lights in the expanse of the heavens were created to separate day and night, and to ‘be for signs, for seasons, for days and for years. The days of creation (Genesis 1) and the ‘days of … years’ of the patriarchs (Genesis 5) cannot be understood unless they run by the same clock. If the luminaries were for the above stated purpose, then a fixed clock rate must be assumed from an earthly perspective in order to be consistent with that explicit purpose. This clock has run at the same rate from Creation to, through, and beyond the Flood until today.1 It will continue at this rate until the world ends. It is written in Genesis 8:22.

Anchored events

The Creation and Flood events are not without moorings in a vast and foggy sea involving millions or billions of years. Genesis chapter 5 gives the Creation and Flood events a definite external context of residence absolutely, progressively, and relatively in a measured past consisting of days and years—increments of the original (and present) astronomical clock.

More than description

Historicity is not merely that a recorded event happened out there sometime, somewhere, somehow. ‘When?, With what sequence of events? and For how long?’ provide a context of evidences that insure credibility and irrefutable authenticity. Chronology, therefore, is a big deal. Many of our respected post-Darwin theologians, pastors, Bible teachers and professors did not (and have not) picked up on this point, and so we have lost a great debate. We need to reinstate this lost teaching in our fallen seminaries, and other places of higher learning, that train and fill the pulpits of our churches and the chairs of our colleges, universities and seminaries.

When the chronology of Genesis 5 is denied or compromised, everything considered historical in the Bible can be doubted, so that ‘days’ can somehow mean ‘ages’, ‘universal’ can somehow mean ‘limited’, and language becomes ambiguous and thus depreciated whether outside or even inside today’s evangelical Christian church!

When we read Genesis 1–11, we can hardly escape the chronological content. The total chronology is important in showing us that the events are real; that Genesis is history.

Published: 1 October 2008


  1. This is not to imply that the length of the year might not have changed slightly. There is some evidence that the year might have been 360 days before the Flood. Return to text.

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