Chronology of the Bible

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This article deals with the chronology of the Hebrew Bible (or Christian Old Testament). For material on the Christian New Testament, see Chronology of Jesus, Historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles, and Timeline of Christianity. For a historical look at the Bible see The Bible and history. For the composition of the various books of the Bible, see Dating the Bible.

A chronology of the Bible is the goal of those who attempt to calibrate the various genealogies, generations, reign-periods and other historical reference points contained within the Tanakh or Christian Old Testament. Some biblical scholars such as Martin Anstey believed it was possible to establish a select chronology of the human race according to the Jewish and Christian faith.[1] Other researchers say such efforts are futile. David Long, for instance, says such efforts lay the foundation of modern-day creationism, and does so by "rejecting the figurative or metaphorical interpretation of Biblical texts" resulting in the "sublimation of all manner of post-enlightenment scientific data".[2]

According to bible chronologers, the passage of time in the earlier passages of Genesis is indicated by counts of generations: an individual lived so many years, begat a son, and died at such and such an age: when the ages at each birth of a new generation are added together, the result is the total number of years elapsed. In later books the passage of years is calibrated to events in the overall narrative (e.g., 1 Kings 6:1 states that the building of the Temple of Solomon began in the 480th year from the Exodus), or by inter-relationships of the reigns of kings (e.g., king A of Israel came to the throne in year X of king B of Judah and ruled Z number of years, for example in 1 Kings 15:25-28).

While some of the events during the monarchic period (10th to 7th centuries BCE) are historical and can be related to extra-biblical historiography, attempts to date Moses and the Exodus, or yet earlier events such as the birth of Abraham, Noah's Flood, or the date of Creation with archaeological evidence have been unsuccessful. These events and the dates assigned to such events cannot be established as historical fact according to the scientific method without further archaeological discoveries.[3]


Historically, Bible chronology has captured the interest of a range of biblical scholars, ranging from chronologers in the Early Church such as Eusebius and Jerome to more recent contributors such as Joseph Scaliger, Sir Isaac Newton and Bishop Ussher. More recently, in 1913 Martin Anstey's 'The Romance of Bible Chronology' was significant within the tradition of Biblical Literalism for developing the first Bible chronology that successfully resolved the Bible's apparent chronological gaps.[4] Until the late nineteenth century Bible Chronology was the most prevalent method for calculating the age of the earth, but was replaced by radiometric calculation methods developed contiguously with the rise of Darwin's theory of evolution.


According to biblical scholar Thomas Thompson, the main events of the biblical chronology are the Creation (Year 0 AM), the account of Noah's Ark, the birth and summoning of Abraham, the Exodus, the construction of the Temple of Solomon, the Edict allowing the return of the Jews to Jerusalem which, according to Ezra, was issued by Cyrus the Great during the first year of his conquest of Babylon, and the rededication of the Temple during the Maccabaean period.[5]

Creation to the Flood[edit]

Biblical dating commences with Creation or the creation of Adam, depending on the source. In the Seder Olam Rabbah, written during ca. 160 CE and meant to be a history of the world, Adam's creation is considered year 0,[dubious ] and his death 930 years later is considered year 930. The Jewish calendar currently in use terms the 5 days prior to Adam's creation year 1, and has Adam created on the first day of year 2.[citation needed]

The period to the Flood is derived using the genealogical table of the ten patriarchs listed in Genesis 5, and 7:6, termed the generations of Adam. According to the Masoretic Text, this period consists of 1656 years, and this dating is also followed by Western Christian Bibles derived from the Latin Vulgate. According to the Samaritan texts the period is 1307 years, and according to the Septuagint (Codex Alexandrinus, Elizabeth Bible) it is 2262 years.[6]

Date (AM)
Date (BCE)
Event Reference
1 AM 4124 BCE According to the Genesis creation narrative heaven and the earth were created, including Adam and Eve. Genesis 1:1
130 AM 3995 BCE Seth born, son of Adam with Eve Genesis 5:3
235 AM 3890 BCE Enosh born, son of Seth Genesis 5:6
325 AM 3800 BCE Kenan born, son of Enosh Genesis 5:9
395 AM 3730 BCE Mahalalel born, son of Kenan Genesis 5:12
460 AM 3665 BCE Jared born, son of Mahalalel Genesis 5:15
622 AM 3503 BCE Enoch born, son of Jared Genesis 5:18
687 AM 3438 BCE Methuselah born, son of Enoch Genesis 5:21
874 AM 3251 BCE Lamech born, son of Methusaleh Genesis 5:25
930 AM 3195 BCE Adam died at 930 Genesis 5:5
987 AM 3138 BCE Enoch "walks with God" Genesis 5:23-24
1042 AM 3083 BCE Seth died at 912 Genesis 5:8
1056 AM 3069 BCE Noah born, son of Lamech Genesis 5:28-29
1140 AM 2985 BCE Enosh died at 905 Genesis 5:11
1235 AM 2890 BCE Kenan died at 910 Genesis 5:14
1290 AM 2835 BCE Mahalalel died at 895 Genesis 5:17
1422 AM 2703 BCE Jared died at 962 Genesis 5:20
1556 AM 2569 BCE Noah begets Shem, Ham and Japheth. Noah is 500, nearly 501. Genesis 5:32
Genesis 7:6
1651 AM 2474 BCE Lamech died at 777 Genesis 8:4
1656 AM 2469 BCE Methuselah died at 969 Genesis 5:31
1656 AM 2469 BCE On the seventeenth (Septuagint: 27th) day of the second month, the fountains of the great deep were broken up and the windows of heaven were opened. Genesis 7:4-11
1656 AM 2469 BCE On the seventeenth day of the seventh month, Noah's Ark rested in "mountains of Ararat" Genesis 7:27
1657 AM 2468 BCE On the twenty-seventh day of the second month, Noah and his family left the ark Genesis 8:13-14
1658 AM 2467 BCE Arphaxad born, son of Shem
Shem is 100 years old, nearly 101.
Genesis 11:10

Flood to Abraham[edit]

The period from the creation to Abraham is measured by the genealogies at Genesis 5 and 11, elapsed time being calculated by the addition of the years of the patriarchs at the birth of their offspring. The genealogies exist in three main manuscript traditions, the Masoretic (in Hebrew), the Septuagint (in Greek), and the Samaritan Torah (Hebrew). The three do not agree with each other, here or elsewhere. (The Septuagint is represented in this table by two manuscripts, Alexandrinus and Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209; dates are Anno Mundi, or AM, meaning year of the world):[7] In the Masoretic version it is not clear whether or not Abram is the eldest son of Terah or not so the date of his birth is not clear, The following chronology is based upon Abram being the oldest son.

Period Masoretic
Year of the Flood 1656 AM 2262 AM 2242 AM 1307 AM The Masoretic, Alexandrinus and Samaritan chronologies records the deaths of all the pre-Flood patriarchs except Noah either in or prior to the Flood, but Vaticanus has Methuselah outlive the Flood by 14 years.
Flood to Abraham 352 years 1072 years 1172 years 942 years
Year of Abraham's birth 1948 AM 3334 AM 3414 AM 2249 AM The two sets of patriarchs before and after the Flood are exactly symmetrical: there are ten in each group, and the final members of each, Noah and Terah, each have three sons who will begin the next section of the chronology.

The following is a list of biblical patriarchs from Shem to Abraham, given with their Masoretic date.

Masoretic date
Masoretic date
Event Bible verse
1658 AM 2467 BCE Arphaxad born, son of Shem Genesis 11:10
1693 AM 2432 BCE Shelah born, son of Arphaxad Genesis 11:12
1723 AM 2402 BCE Eber born, son of Shelah Genesis 11:14
1757 AM 2368 BCE Peleg born, son of Eber Genesis 11:16
1787 AM 2338 BCE Reu born, son of Peleg Genesis 11:18
1819 AM 2306 BCE Serug born, son of Reu Genesis 11:20
1849 AM 2276 BCE Nahor born, son of Serug Genesis 11:22
1878 AM 2247 BCE Terah born, son of Nahor Genesis 11:24
1996 AM 2129 BCE Peleg died Genesis 11:19
1997 AM 2128 BCE Nahor died Genesis 11:25
2006 AM 2119 BCE Noah died Genesis 9:28
1948 AM 2117 BCE Abram born, son of Terah Genesis 11:26
Genesis 12:4
Acts 7:2-4

Birth of Abraham to death of Joseph[edit]

This table gives the Masoretic dates (Seder Olam Rabbah) in the Anno Mundi era and converted to the Dionysian era (1 AM = 3925 BCE).[citation needed] Christian chronologists, such as Archbishop Ussher, are bound by Stephen's statement at Acts 7:4 that Abram left Haran after the death of his father Terah and cannot therefore accept Abram as Terah's oldest son and assume that Abram left Haran aged 75 after and in the same year that Terah died and consequently date Abram's birth to 2008[8]pp.12 and 14.

The 40-year reigns of David and Solomon of the United Monarchy are probably schematic rather than historical, even though those two kings may be historical.[9]

The BCE dates, prior to the kings period, are estimated dates and based on a continuous judges rule which was not the case. Intermediary periods with no judges existed, and judges may have overlapped.[10]

Masoretic date
Masoretic date
Event Bible verse
1948 AM 2117 BCE Abram born, son of Terah Genesis 11:26
Genesis 12:4
Acts 7:4
1958 AM 2107 BCE Sarai born, wife of Abram Genesis 17:17
2026 AM 2099 BCE Reu died Genesis 11:21
2047 AM 2018 BCE Covenant of Circumcision. Abram and Sarai renamed Abraham and Sarah by the LORD.
Abraham was circumcised.
Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed
Genesis 17:10
2049 AM 2076 BCE Serug died Genesis 11:23
2083 AM 2042 BCE Terah died Genesis 11:32
2034 AM 2031 BCE Ishmael born, son of Abram with Sarai's handmaiden Hagar Genesis 16:16
2036 AM 2029 BCE Arpachshad died Genesis 11:13
2048 AM 2017 BCE Isaac born, son of Abraham with Sarah Genesis 21:5
2126 AM 1999 BCE Shelah died Genesis 11:15
2141 AM 1980 BCE Sarah died Genesis 23:1
2158 AM 1967 BCE Shem died Genesis 11:11
2168 AM 1957 BCE Esau and Jacob born, sons of Isaac with Rebekah Genesis 25:26
2123 AM 1942 BCE Abraham died Genesis 25:7
2187 AM 1938 BCE Eber died Genesis 11:17
2231 AM 1894 BCE Ishmael died Genesis 25:17
2259 AM 1866 BCE Joseph born, son of Jacob with Rachel Genesis 30:25
Genesis 41:46
2276 AM 1849 BCE Joseph was sold by his brothers Genesis 37:2
2287 AM 1838 BCE Joseph interpreted the dreams of the butler and the baker while in prison Genesis 41:1
2288 AM 1837 BCE Isaac died Genesis 35:28
2289 AM 1836 BCE Joseph was elevated to Pharaoh's second Genesis 41:46
2298 AM 1827 BCE Jacob moved to Egypt at the age of 130
After 7 years of plenty and 2 years of famine
When Joseph was 39
Genesis 47:9, 45:11, 41:46
2315 AM 1810 BCE Jacob died Genesis 47:28
2369 AM 1756 BCE Joseph died Genesis 50:26

Birth of Moses to United Monarchy[edit]

This table gives the Masoretic dates (Seder Olam Rabbah) in the Anno Mundi era and converted to the Dionysian era (1 AM = 3925 BCE).[citation needed]

Masoretic date
Masoretic date
Event Bible verse
2433 AM 1692 BCE Moses born, son of Amram with Jochebed Exodus 7:7
Exodus 12:40,41
Exodus 2:23
Exodus 2:11-15
Acts 7:23-30
2513 AM 1612 BCE The Israelites left in a mass exodus from Egypt. Genesis 15:13,
see also 1 Kings 6:1
2553 AM 1572 BCE Aaron and Moses died Deuteronomy 34:7
2553 AM 1572 BCE The Israelites entered Canaan Joshua 4:19
2553–3063 AM 1572–1062 BCE Period of Joshua, Judges and Saul, first King of Israel 1 Kings 6:1
2 Samuel 5:4
3033 AM 1092 BCE Jesse begat David 2 Samuel 5:4
3063–3103 AM 1062–1022 BCE David reigned as king of Israel 1 Kings 2:11 - reigns for 40 years
3070 AM 1055 BCE David moved his capitol from Hebron to Jerusalem 1 Kings 2:11
3103–3143 AM 1022–982 BCE Solomon son of David reigned as king of Israel 1 Kings 11:42
3106 AM 1019 BCE Foundation of Temple laid in the 4th year of Solomon's reign
480th year after the Exodus. As Anstey noted, "The 480 years of 1Kings 6:1 being the sum of the periods enumerated, omitting the six servitudes, the usurpation, and the two concurrent judgeships. Total: 480 years of Israel governed by God + 114 years of servitude and usurpation = 594 years".[11]
1 Kings 6:1

The biblical chronology of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah includes some historical events and can be compared to dates from Assyrian chronology such as the Battle of Qarqar.[12]

The sum of the reigns of the kings of Judah is 430 years, the same as the Septuagint's version of the period between the promise of the Land of Canaan given to Abraham and the covenant at Sinai.[13]

For this period, most historians follow either of the older chronologies established by William F. Albright or Edwin R. Thiele, or the newer chronologies of Gershon Galil and Kenneth Kitchen. See Kings of Israel and Kings of Judah for the differences between these chronologies. These scholarly chronologies may differ for up to about forty years from the traditional Masoretic dates in the early period, while all authorities agree that the last king of Judah, Zedekiah, ruled from 597 to 587 or 586 BCE.

Divided Monarchy: Kingdom of Israel[edit]

The following table only gives the Anno Mundi dates of the Masoretic tradition and its conversion in the Dionysian era (AM 1 = 3925 BCE).

Masoretic date
Masoretic date
Event Bible verse
3143 AM 982 BCE The United Monarchy split into two rival kingdoms: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. 1 Kings 12
3143–3164 AM 982–961 BCE Jeroboam I son of Nebat reigned as king of Israel 1 Kings 12:20
1 Kings 14:20
3163–3164 AM 962–961 BCE Nadab son of Jeroboam I co-reigned as king of Israel with Jeroboam. 1 Kings 15
2 Chronicles 13:20
3164–3165 AM 961–960 BCE Nadab son of Jeroboam I reigned as king of Israel. 1 Kings 15
2 Chronicles 13:20
3165–3188 AM 960–937 BCE Baasha reigned as king of Israel 1 Kings 15:28,33
3188–3189 AM 937-936 BCE Elah son of Baasha reigned as king of Israel 1 Kings 16
3189 AM 936 BCE Zimri reigned as king of Israel for 7 days in Tirzah having slew Elah. 1 Kings 16
3189-3193 AM 936–932 BCE The people of Israel were divided after the death of Zimri, as half wanted Tibni for King, with the other half wanting Omri for King. Rival kingships of Tibni and Omri until Tibni dies. 1 Kings 16
3193–3200 AM 932–925 BCE Omri reigns as sole king of Israel, after the death of Tibni. 1 Kings 16
3200–3221 AM 925–904 BCE Ahab son of Omri reigned as king of Israel 1 Kings 16
3220–3221 AM 905–904 BCE Ahab son of Omri and Ahaziah son of Ahab co-reigned as kings of Israel 1 Kings 16
3221-3221 AM 904-903 BCE Ahaziah son of Ahab reigned as king of Israel, following the death of King Ahab in battle at Ramoth Gilead. 1 Kings 22
3221–3233 AM 903–892 BCE Joram (Jehoram) son of Ahab reigned as king of Israel, following death of King Ahab in battle at Ramoth Gilead and King Ahaziah who fell through a lattice. 2 Kings 1
3233–3261 AM 892-864 BCE Jehu son of Nimshi slew the two kings, Joram King of Israel and Ahaziah King of Judah. Jehu becomes the king of Israel 2 Kings 9:21
3261–3278 AM 864–847 BCE Jehoahaz son of Jehu reigned as king of Israel
3275–3278 AM 850–847 BCE Jehoahaz son of Jehu and Jehoash (Joash) son of Jehoahaz co-reign as kings of Israel
3278–3293 AM 847–832 BCE Jehoash (Joash) son of Jehoahaz reigned as king of Israel
3293–3334 AM 832–791 BCE Jeroboam II son of Jehoash reigned as king of Israel 2 Kings 14:16,23
3334–3356 AM 791-769 BCE Interregnum
3356–3357 AM 769-768 BCE Zechariah son of Jeroboam II reigned as king of Israel six months
3357–3357 AM 768-768 BCE Shallum reigned as king of Israel
3358–3568 AM 767–757 BCE Menahem son of Gadi reigned as king of Israel
3368–3370 AM 757–755 BCE Pekahiah son of Menahem reigned as king of Israel
3370–3390 AM 755–735 BCE Pekah son of Remaliah reigned as king of Israel
3390–3398 AM 735-727 BCE Interregnum
3398–3406 AM 727–719 BCE Hoshea son of Elah reigned as king of Israel
3403 AM 722 BCE Northern kingdom of Israel fell to Assyria, forced to pay tribute.
3406 AM 719 BCE Northern kingdom of Israel fell to Assyria, deportation of inhabitants to Assyria. 2 Kings 17:1

Divided Monarchy: Kingdom of Judah[edit]

Masoretic date
Masoretic date
Event Bible verse
3143 AM 982 BCE The United Monarchy split into two rival kingdoms: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. 1 Kings 12
3143–3160 AM 982–965 BCE Rehoboam son of Solomon reigned as king of Judah 1 Kings 12
3160–3163 AM 965-962 BCE Abijam son of Rehoboam reigned as king of Judah 1 Kings 15
3163–3204 AM 963–922 BCE Asa son of Abijam reigned as king of Judah 1 Kings 15
3204–3229 AM 922–896 BCE Jehoshaphat son of Asa reigned as king of Judah, from 35 years old until his death at 60 years old. 1 Kings 22
3224–3228 AM 900-896 BCE Jehoshaphat son of Asa and Jehoram (Joram) son of Jehoshaphat co-reigned as kings of Judah
3229–3232 AM 896-893 BCE Jehoram (Joram) son of Jehoshaphat reigned as king of Judah,
3231-3232 AM 894-893 BCE Jehoram (Joram) son of Jehoshaphat and Ahaziah son of Jehoram co-reigned as kings of Judah
3232-3233 AM 893-892 BCE Ahaziah son of Jehoram reigned as king of Judah
3233 AM 892 BCE Jehu son of Nimshi slew the two kings, Joram King of Israel and Ahaziah King of Judah. Jehu becomes the king of Israel 2 Kings 9:21
3233–3239 AM 892–886 BCE Following the death of her son Ahaziah at the hand of Jehu, Athaliah wife of Jehoram usurped the throne of Judah and ruled six years. 2 Kings 11
3239–3279 AM 886–846 BCE Joash (Jehoash) son of Ahaziah reigned as king of Judah 40 years following the overthrow of Athaliah. 2 Kings 12:1
3279–3308 AM 846–817 BCE Amaziah son of Joash reigned as king of Judah 29 years 2 Kings 12:21
2 Kings 14:1-2
2 Kings 14:17-22
3308–3319 AM 817–806 BCE Interregnum
3319–3371 AM 806–754 BCE Uzziah (Azariah) son of Amaziah reigned as king of Judah 52 years 2 Kings 14:21
2 Kings 15:1-2
3371–3387 754–738 BCE Jotham son of Uzziah reigned as king of Judah 16 years, following four years serving as judge during the leprosy of King Uzziah 2 Kings 15:32
3387–3403 AM 738–722 BCE Ahaz son of Jotham reigned as king of Judah 16 years 2 Kings 15:38
3401–3403 AM 724–722 BCE Ahaz son of Jotham and Hezekiah son of Ahaz co-reigned as kings of Judah
3403–3430 AM 724–697 BCE Hezekiah son of Ahaz reigned as king of Judah 2 Kings 16:20
3406 AM 719 BCE Northern kingdom of Israel fell to Assyria during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah
3430–3485 AM 695–640 BCE Manasseh son of Hezekiah reigned as king of Judah 55 years 2 Kings 20:21
3485–3487 AM 640–638 BCE Amon son of Manasseh reigned as king of Judah 2 years 2 Kings 21:18
3487–3517 AM 638–608 BCE Josiah son of Amon reigned as king of Judah
3517 AM 608 BCE Jehoahaz son of Josiah reigned as king of Judah 3 months
3518–3528 AM 607–597 BCE Jehoiakim son of Josiah reigned as king of Judah 10 years
3528 AM 597 BCE Jehoiachin (Jeconiah, Coniah) son of Jehoiakim reigned as king of Judah 3 months
3529–3539 AM 596–586 BCE Zedekiah (Mattaniah) son of Josiah reigned as king of Judah 10 years. In his eleventh year Jerusalem falls to the Babylonians. 2 Kings 25:1-21
3538 AM 587 BCE Kingdom of Judah fell to Babylon. The destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalem. The start of the Babylonian Exile.
3586 AM 539 BCE The Babylonian Empire falls to the Persians, led by King Cyrus. Ezra 1
3587 AM 538 BCE End of the Babylonian Exile, as King Cyrus the Great of Persia frees the Jews from exile, in the first year of his reign over Babylon. Ezra 1

Jewish computation[edit]

The Jewish calendar's reference point is traditionally considered to be about one year before the creation of the world.

The current Hebrew calendar year numbering system, which counts years from the creation, has been in use for more than 1000 years.[14] The year numbering system was adopted sometime before 3925 Anno Mundi (165 CE), and based on the calculation of Rabbi Yose ben Halafta during about 160 CE in the book Seder Olam Rabbah.[15]

The year numbers are based on the computations of dates and periods found in the Hebrew Bible. In Jewish tradition, "Year 1" is considered to have begun on the 25 of Elul, 6 days before the beginning of "Year 2" on the first of Tishrei, when Adam was created. The new moon of its first month (Tishrei) is designated molad tohu (the mean new moon of chaos or nothing). By Halafta's calculation Adam was created during the year 3761 BCE.[16] However, Seder Olam Rabbah treats the creation of Adam as the beginning of "Year Zero". This results in a two year discrepancy between the years given in Seder Olam Rabbah and the Jewish year used now. For example, Seder Olam Rabbah gives the year of the Exodus from Egypt as 2448 AM; but, according to the current system, the year would be 2450 AM.

Despite the computations by Yose ben Halafta, confusion persisted for a long time as to how the calculations should be applied.[17] During 1000, for example, the Muslim chronologist al-Biruni noted that three different epochs were used by various Jewish communities being one, two, or three years later than the modern epoch.[18] The epoch seems to have been settled by 1178, when Maimonides, in his work Mishneh Torah, described all of the modern rules of the Hebrew calendar, including the modern epochal year. His work has been accepted by Jews as definitive, though it does not correspond to the scientific calculations. For example, the Jewish year for the destruction of the First Temple has traditionally been given as 3338 AM or 421/2 BCE. This differs from the modern scientific year, which is usually expressed using the Proleptic Julian calendar as 587 BCE. The scientific date takes into account evidence from the ancient Babylonian calendar and its astronomical observations. So, too, according to Jewish computation, the destruction of the Second Temple occurred in the lunar month of Av in anno 68 CE, rather than in 70 CE. In this and related cases, a difference between the traditional Jewish year and a scientific date in a Gregorian year or in a proleptic Julian calendar date results from a disagreement about when the event happened—and not simply a difference between the Jewish and Gregorian calendars (See the "Missing Years" in the Jewish Calendar and below, Excursus: Jewish Chronology in the Scroll of Antiochus).

In Jewish thought the counting is usually considered to be to the creation of the world, as has been emphasized in many ancient texts dealing with creation chronology that the six days of creation till man are literal days—including the days before the creation of the sun and earth.[19][20] However, some understand these days metaphorically.[21]

The modern epoch year is set at 3761 BCE, taking into account that there is no year zero in the Julian year count.

Biblical literalist chronology[edit]

Biblical literalism is the interpretation or translation of the explicit and primary sense of words and numbers in the Bible.[26] There are two kinds of literal interpretation, the more common historical-grammatical method, and "letterism", a hermeneutical method that attempts to uncover the meaning of a text through emphasis on a strict, mechanical literalism of words.[27]

Letterism does not necessarily lead to total and complete agreement upon one single interpretation for any given passage. A literalist reading of the explicit text of the Bible presents the reader with difficulties that cannot be resolved solely by the principle that "scripture clarifies the meaning of scripture" and "the Bible interprets the Bible" (Hyatt 1964, p. 45).[28] "Once you start with the assumption that a given passage does not mean what it says, but rather 'something else', you open the cover on a Pandora's box of wild imaginings and bizarre interpretations." (Hyatt 1964, pp. 43–44)[28]

A literal letterist chronology of the Bible calculates dates by arithmetic, taking the numbers of the years of listed genealogies, generations, regnal years, and lives of particular individuals as plainly stated in the text and simply adds them together. Attempts to harmonize the numerical dating in some parts of the Bible with the numerical dating in other parts (apparently) fail when the plain interpretation makes them inconsistent or contradictory. (Hyatt, p. 33)[28]

  • According to 2 Kings 24:6-8 Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he began to reign, but according to 2 Chronicles 36:9 he was only 8 years old.
  • According to 2 Kings 15:30 Hoshea slew Pekah in the 20th year of the reign of Jotham son of Uzziah, but according to 2 Kings 15:32-33 Jotham son of Uzziah reigned 16 years.
  • According to 1 Kings 15:27-28, 15:33, Baasha of Israel reigned 24 years, but according to 2 Chronicles 16:1-5 Baasha reigned (at least) 33 years (from the 3rd year of Asa of Judah to the 36th year of Asa of Judah: 36 – 3 = 33 years).
  • According to Numbers 12:16-13:3 and 20:1 the people were in the wilderness of Paran when they were condemned to wander 40 years, but according to Joshua 14:7-8 they were at Kadesh.
  • According to Numbers 14:33-38 God would make them wander 40 years in the wilderness from that moment in the wilderness of Paran until the men of war 20 years old and upward were dead, but according to Deuteronomy 2:14-16 they had wandered 38 years from that moment in Kadesh until the men of war 20 years old and upward were dead.
  • Also, the number of years from the time Joshua was sent forth with Caleb and the other heads of the houses of Israel, and his age at that time, until he died at the age of 110 years old is not given (Joshua 13:1; 23:1-2; and 24:29).

Disagreement persists as to whether a coherent Bible chronology can be calculated. While Martin Anstey was able to resolve the Bible's apparent chronological gaps in his 1913 publication 'The Romance of Bible Chronology', other authors have maintained that a coherent chronology is not calculable. (Elwell, p. 643; Ramm, p. 45; Hyatt, pp. 33, 43–44.)[26][27][28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Long, D (2010). "Scientists at play in the field of the Lord". Cultural Studies of Science Education 5 (1): 213–225. doi:10.1007/s11422-009-9249-7. 
  3. ^ Everett Jenkins, The creation: secular, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim perspectives p.330
  4. ^ Martin Anstey, 'The Romance of Bible Chronology', 1913,[1].
  5. ^ Thompson, Thomas L., "The historicity of the patriarchal narratives (Continuum, 2002) ISBN 9781563383892, pp.14-15
  6. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Biblical Chronology (WikiSource)
  7. ^ G.F. Hasel, "Genesis 5 and 11: Chronogenealogies in the Biblical History of Beginnings"
  8. ^
  9. ^ History and ideology in the Old Testament, by James Barr, fn.6, p.63
  10. ^ Judges 3:8
  11. ^
  12. ^ see e.g. The Jerusalem Chronology of the Israelite Monarchies, by Brad Aaronson (1989)
  13. ^ Wayne Sibley Towner, "Genesis", (Westminster John Knox, 2001) p.75
  14. ^ Maimonides (Times:Laws of 7th year, chapt 10): For instance this year is ... and which is also counted as 4936 to the creation... is a Shemita year."
  15. ^ p.107, Kantor. Note that the book Seder Olam Rabbah has been continuously edited throughout the ages, and probably reached its current version around 806 CE according to the historian Leopold Zunz.
  16. ^ Genesis 2:7
  17. ^ Leopold Zunz On Time and Literature Zur Geschichte und Literatur opening chapter.
  18. ^ See The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries.
  19. ^ e.g.Maimonides Guide to the Perplexed (chapt 25): For two reasons, however, we have not done so, and have not accepted the Eternity of the Universe.... [A] mere argument in favour of a certain theory is not sufficient reason for rejecting the literal meaning of a Biblical text, and explaining it figuratively, when the opposite theory [of literalism] can be supported by an equally good argument.
  20. ^ e.g.Ramban on Genesis 1:3, And there was light: ...You should know that the "days" mentioned in the account of Creation, concerning the creating of heaven and earth, were real days, made up of hours and minutes, and there were six of them, like the [regular] six days of the work[week], in accordance with the simple understanding of the verse. (Translator's footnote:) Although there was no sun or moon for the first three days, so "day" cycles as we know them today did not exist then, nevertheless the six days of creation were six periods of twenty-four hours each. The Torah: with Ramban's commentary translated, annotated, and elucidated. Translated by Rabbi Yaakov Binder in collaboration with Rabbi Yoseph Kamenetsky. Artscroll Mesorah Publications, Ltd.
  21. ^ Rabbi A. Kook (Orot Hakodesh Book 2 Chapt 537): If these six days were simply six days, why then would they be called "The secrets of creation" and why would it be forbidden to learn them until correctly prepared... The theory of evolution is increasingly conquering the world at this time, and, more so than all other philosophical theories, conforms to the kabbalistic secrets of the world. Evolution, which proceeds on a path of ascendancy, provides an optimistic foundation for the world. How is it possible to despair at a time when we see that everything evolves and ascends? ... My Jewish Learning
  22. ^ Richard A. Parker & Waldo H. Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology 626 BC - AD 75, Providence 1956
  23. ^ The Ancient Fragments, ed. I. P. Cory, Esq., p. 65, London 1828. Manetho was the high priest and scribe of Egypt who wrote down his history for Ptolemy Philadelphus.
  24. ^ Tosefta (Zevahim 13:6); Palestinian Talmud (Megillah 18a), et al.
  25. ^ Maimonides, Questions & Responsa, responsum # 389; in other editions, responsum # 234 (Hebrew). Maimonides states explicitly this tradition, putting the destruction of the Second Temple in the lunar month Av, in the year which preceded anno 380 of the Seleucid era (i.e. 68 CE). See also She'harim la'luah ha'ivry (Gates to the Hebrew Calendar) by Rahamim Sar-Shalom, 1984 (Hebrew)
  26. ^ a b "literalism is the interpretation or translation of the explicit and primary sense"—Sources:
    • The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language Houghton Mifflin: 4 edition (September 14, 2000) defines literalism as "1. Adherence to the explicit sense of a given text or doctrine. 2. Literal portrayal; realism."
    • Elwell, Walter A. (1984). Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House. p. 643. ISBN 0-8010-3413-2. 
    • "The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: 'All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal.' St. Thomas Aquinas STh I, 1, 10 ad 1." Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) n. 116
  27. ^ a b Ramm, Bernard (1970), Protestant Biblical Interpretation, Baker Book House, ISBN 0-8010-7600-5, p. 45.
  28. ^ a b c d Hyatt, J. Philip (1964). "Chapter I. A Modern Approach to the Bible.". The Heritage of Biblical Faith. Saint Louis, Missouri: The Bethany Press. 

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