Of the characters on this list which is the first REAL person? Adam, Eve, Cain, Able, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth. If not these people was it Abraham…Moses?
I vote for Abraham for the simple reason that he appears about the same time as recorded history. Also when I read Genesis I am always struck by the change in style and content between ch 1-11 and 12-50. Of course I am reading it in English, but it feels like there was a different author for those two sections. I get the same feeling when reading a novel that was written by two authors.
My second guess would be Job.
Of course, Adam may have been real and historical but not the only person, but there are other threads to discuss that. I would probably vote for Abraham also for the reasons @Bill_II stated.
However, I do not think Job was historical, as the book of Job seems to be more a drama or parable type of story. For one, he is set up as a righteous man, and no one can be that righteous, so I think it is more of “What if there were a righteous man, let’s call him Job…” And then, there is the whole conversations in heaven with God and the Satan. But, even the drama could be based on some historical figure, so who knows.
Could Robin Hood, King Arthur, and Odysseus be real people even if we don’t know exactly where to draw a line between history and legend when we look at the narratives about them? I’m not saying Adam is totally analogous, but it is a false choice to say that if something isn’t 100% objective fact, it is therefore 100% made up fiction with no basis in reality. There is a continuum.
Working backwards the Tel Dan inscription mentioning the House of David from about a century after David’s reign (according to the Bible) is fairly good evidence of David’s existence.
Of all the people from the Patriarchal narratives, I can’t think of one who is likely to have been a real person, instead of an allegory or inspirational figure.
Jacob has 12 sons that make 12 tribes. I’m going to assure you right now, there is no way you can make 12 tribes out of 12 sons without a miracle from God. And what’s even more amazing is that Ishmael had 12 sons too! Woo hoo… who would have expected that?! And they went on to found 12 tribes. I never saw that one coming…
The story says Jacob wrestles with God and is then given the name of Israel. This is a classic mythological device for attaching one great story from one tradition to another great story from yet another tradition. Of course Jacob gets a new name. Because the story about Jacob wasn’t originally about Israel.
Methuselah? Isn’t he the one that knew Adam for about 300 years before Adam finally dies? You would think if Methuselah was a real person, there would be some humdinger stories about Adam playing tricks on the grand kids! Where are they?
Noah? Interesting that we have this verse:
For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.
The waters of Noah? The Bible scribe has named the Global Flood after Noah? Does that really make any sense (whether it was a global or regional flood really isn’t the question at this point).
Where would such an expression come from?
Well, actually, it would come from Sumeria! In Hebrew, Noah, pronounced in Hebrew, is “Noach” (with a little Scottish throat clearing to get the right sound) !
And, as we know, Hebrew is mostly consonants (with or without pointings).
So these would be the " Waters of NK ", right?
Is it purely coincidence that this is the very same spelling one would use if one was trying to discuss a very important deity in Sumeria, written with cuneiform instead of letters.
( e )N.K( i ). And for this deity, the Waters of Enki is a perfectly understandable phrase and concept.
@Hisword, do you really think there was an Esau who lost his birthright over a bowl of red pottage?
This is a great etymological tale … but history? Really?
And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.
“And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?”
Allegorical stories are great stories. Allegories mean “never having to say I’m sorry” to the people who want to know something that is unknowable.