Biblical Archaeology Review 42:4, July/August 2016

Strata: The Bible in the News: Methuselah & Co.

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

BAR July/August 2016 cover

In the memorable survey of Biblical characters that makes up “It Ain’t Necessarily So” (from Porgy and Bess, lyrics by George Gershwin, singing by Sportin’ Life), Li’l David, Big Goliath, Jonah, Li’l Moses and Ol’ Pharaoh’s daughter all set the stage for Methus’lah, who lived 900 years—well, 969 to be exact, according to Genesis 5:27.

A long time indeed—for humans! The Bible records none longer. But what sort of time frame are we looking at when the name, Methuselah, stays the same, but the species changes?

For the sake of an organizing principle of our own, we’ll start from the shortest and move forward from there. Let’s start with a story from the Daily Mail of London with this intriguing title: “Now It’s a Worm’s Turn at Immortality.” Here we learn that “scientists, in their mad pursuit of the elixir of life, have found that by treating lowly, microscopic creatures called nematode worms with drugs, they have been able to double their lifespan from 20 days to 40 days. This is good new for scientists but even better news for [such] Methuselah worms.”

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