I've been asked some interesting questions from those of you who are reading the Bible with us this year. Here are a few of them. . .
1. What's with all the names and genealogy? Remember that Genesis is a written form of an oral family history. All of those names are the ancestral connections within that family. Notice a long list of names generally only appears to connect one critical character in the story (say Noah) to the next critical character in the story (say Abram). It is likely that each of these names originally had a cycle of stories and anecdotes attached to them.
2. Why did people seem to live so much longer -- I mean, seriously, did people actually live to be 900+ years old? There are a variety of answers to this question . . . some more reasonable than others: 1) they counted differently, counting months instead of years thus a 900 year old person (counting months) would be 75 years old. 2) Adam and Eve were created to be "eternal beings" and it took several generations for this to wear off -- this seems unlikely given modern scientific understandings that the human body runs down and wears out at a maximum of 120 -- and disease or other factors get most of us much earlier. 3) There is a spiritual response that suggests that the span of a human life was not limited until God limited it following the Tower of Babel story and other events. I am sure there are other theories, not the least of which is that the ancient world was not as preoccupied with accurate calendar and measurement as we are today.
When I get more interaction and more questions I'll pass them on.
With Genesis 12 we have begun to read the cycle of stories associated with Abram (Abraham) and his wife Sarai (Sarah) and the beginning of the Semitic peoples.