Biblical anthropology

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Biblical anthropology is the study of mankind and society within a biblical framework.


The Bible provides some historical details of mankind that can be used as a framework for further research. This information includes chronological data which can be used to determine dates of events.

Pre-flood civilisation

Little is known about the civilisation that existed prior to the flood of Noah's time, as the flood wiped out most if not all trace of it, although the Bible mentions a few details, such as Tubal-Cain working with bronze and iron. The Bible also records the lifespans of the line from Adam to Noah, revealing that these people lived between 777 years and 969 years,[1] except for one (Enoch) whom God took away.[2] The ages of each of these people when the next in line was born is given, allowing us to determine that this period covered 1,656 years.

Post-flood civilisation

Whatever technology that was developed before the flood would be lost with the flood, except for the relatively small amount known to the single family that survived the flood. Therefore, archaeological evidence for the development of technology would, in some cases, be for the re-invention of that technology. In some cases, this re-invention may have been aided by memories of the pre-flood technology.

According to lifespans recorded in the Bible, during the several hundred years after the flood lifespans dropped rapidly, possibly due to the genetic bottleneck caused by the flood.[3]

After the flood, God told Noah to "fill the Earth",[4] but Noah's descendants failed to do this, and instead remained together, even building at Babel a tower "reaching to the heavens" as a focal point for the new civilisation.[5] God, enforcing his edict, stopped the construction of the tower by causing people to speak different languages.[6] No longer understanding each other, the people were not able to work together to complete the tower's construction. The Bible hints that languages were created for each tribal group,[7] and as Noah had 16 grandsons who appear to have been the leaders of their respective tribes, biblical creationists suggest that there were 16 languages, and point to mainstream linguistic researchers concluding that this is around the number of different language families that the world's languages can be grouped into.[8]

The incident involving the Tower of Babel appears to have occurred about 100 years after the flood.

Post-Babel civilisation

The lack of ready communication between the different groups resulted in each group going their own way and forming their own societies and shared histories, so the incident at Babel was not just the origin of languages, but the beginnings of humanity's dispersal around the Earth and development of different civilizations.[9]

People migrating into new areas would need to quickly find shelter, and whilst some may have carried tents with them, others would have located caves to live in. Biblical creationists say that much of the evidence for "cave man" is traceable to this time.

According to the timescale derived from the Bible and comparing that to dates known from secular history, this migration began between 2,500 B.C. and 2,000 B.C., meaning that all extant civilisations, as well as extinct post-flood civilisations, date back no more than around 4,500 years. This accords fairly well with secular histories of civilisations, with the relatively fewer older dates being due to incorrect chronologies, such as the faulty Egyptian chronology, or unreliable dates.

Noah's sons

Noah's three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, are identifiable as the progenitors of the Semitic, south-west Asian and African, and Indo-European peoples respectively.[10]

Genesis 10 is known as the "Table of Nations". It lists Noah's descendants for a few generations, indicating that many of them were the founders of particular groups of people. Almost all of the names listed there are identifiable as groups of people known from non-biblical sources.[11]


Notes and references

  1. Genesis 5
  2. Genesis 5:21-24
  3. Wieland, 1998
  4. Genesis 9:1
  5. Genesis 11:4
  6. Genesis 9:5-7
  7. Wieland, 1999
  8. For example, Luigi L. Cavalli-Sforza says in "Genes, Peoples and Languages", that there are about 17 language families (Williams, 2002)
  9. Genesis 11:8-9
  10. Cooper, 1995, pp.170, 199, and Hunt and Grigg, 1998.
  11. Cooper, 1995, p.12.

See also