Tuesday, November 12, 2013

7 Stages of Life (Solon)

Reading Jerome Murphy-O'Connor's Paul: A Critical Life (1996) today was a great delight. In his first chapter on Paul's chronology, O'Connor cited Philo and Solon and how they regarded the number, 7 as defining various stages of life. According to Solon (d. 560 BCE), after a fourth seventh has passed, "his strength and vigour's in its prime", i.e. when one is 28 years old, a full grown man. "At forty-two, the wisdom's clear to shun vile deed or folly or fear....When seven times seven years, to sense Add wit and eloquence..."
 You need to read Solon for yourself what he thought the next 7 years until one reaches 56. Another philosopher said, "Then he is a man (aner) until he reaches his forty-nine, or seven times seven periods. He is an elderly man (presbytes) till he is fifty-sixth. Solon spoke 2,500 years ago. Things have not changed much. With the advance of science and healthcare, people tend to live longer. Perhaps, in our day, 7 x 7 (49) years is the new prime. From 49, one has two more sevens (14 years) before one is elderly at 63 (presbytes) and only after 70, one is old. Whether 70 now is the new 60, we do well to pray with the Psalmist as age catches up with everyone no matter how healthy one is now, Lord, teach us to number of days so that we may present to you a heart of wisdom and accomplish your will in our generation (picture: wikipedia)

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