From The Biographical Writings and Letters of Venerable Bede, translated from the Latin, by J. A. Giles; James Bohn, London, 1845; pp. 220-221.
SIX AGES OF THE WORLD.
OF the six ages of the world, and of the seventh and eighth when we shall rest in heaven, we have already spoken elsewhere, whilst describing the narrative of the first week in which the world was created, and now again, in treating of the life of a single man, which by the Greek philosophers is termed microcosmos, or the little world, we shall discuss the same subject rather more diffusely.
The first age of this world, from Adam to Noah, containing 1656 years according to the Hebrew verity, but, as the Septuagint has it, 2242, is divided, according to both these texts, into ten generations. This age was destroyed by the deluge, and in the same way are the first years of every man’s life buried in oblivion, for who is there that can remember his own infancy?
The second age, from Noah to Abraham, contains, according to the Hebrew text, ten generations, and 292 years; but the Septuagint reads 1072 years, and eleven generations. This may be considered as the childhood of God’s people, and in it therefore language was invented, i. e. the Hebrew language. For in childhood we first began to speak, and this comes after infancy, which is so called from infantia, which means in Latin, not speaking. 1
The third age, from Abraham to David, contains, according to both texts, fourteen generations, 1442 years. This is, as it were, the adolescence of God’s people, from 220 which period man begins to propagate his species; and for this reason Matthew the Evangelist has deduced his genealogy from Abraham, who became the Father of nations, when he changed his name.
The fourth generation, from David to the Babylonish captivity, has 473 years according to the Hebrew verity, but 485 according to the Septuagint translation. In both texts the generations are seventeen: but the Evangelist Matthew, for the sake of a certain mystery, gives the number fourteen. This may be called the youthful period of God’s people, wherein kings first began to reign, for man’s youth is best adapted for governing a kingdom.
The fifth age, or age of senility, from the Babylonish captivity to our Lord and Saviour’s coming in the flesh, is also divided into fourteen generations, and extends through 589 years, wherein the Hebrew people, old and enfeebled, is shaken by repeated misfortunes.
The sixth age is that in which we are now living; it has no certain division of times or generations, but like the imbecility of decrepit old age, will end in universal death.
Whosoever shall by a happy decease overcome these ages of calamity and toil, will enter upon the seventh age of one endless Sabbath, and may expect to see the eighth age of a happy resurrection, wherein they will reign for ever with the Lord.