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Talk:Biblical age of the Earth

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Some problems

I noticed some issues here, that I thought I would share:

  • Arphaxad could have been born 2 years after the Flood began or ended, so there should be a negative year of uncertainty added.
  • Genesis 5:32 & 11:26 have parallel constructions; since Shem was born after Noah was 500, it is inconsistent to say that Abram must have been born before Terah was 70. The usual dispute over Terah's age at Abram's birth is whether Terah was 70 or 130. (The NIV, which appears to be your main source, even translates it as, "After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of ..." (emphasis added).)
  • According to Galatians 3:17, the Law was introduced 430 years after the promise was made to Abraham, not 430 years after Jacob entered Egypt. Exodus 12:40 in older versions says that Israel dwelt in Egypt, and that their "sojourn" was 430 years, but does not carelessly equate the two as so many modern translations (like the NIV) do; after all, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sojourned in Canaan from the time Abraham answered God's call to leave Haran until Jacob took the family to Egypt.
  • 1Kings 6:1 states that the Temple construction was begun "in the four hundred and eightieth year after" the Exodus, which was in Solomon's fourth year. So the time of the Judges, plus the reign of Saul, the reign of David, and the first three years of Solomon's reign together amounted to 479 years and a few weeks. Therefore, those 541 years for the Judges can't all be consecutive; there must be some overlap.
  • Using the reigns of the Kings of the northern kingdom is unreliable -- these kings often recorded their reign in a way that double-counted their year of accession (assigning it to both the king who died and the one who ascended to the throne); and comparison with the Judean king list shows two interregnums not explicitly listed in the text.
  • The dates taken from the Life Application Bible are parts of the study notes, not the Bible text.
  • Jesus was probably born between 7 and 3 BC, not 1 BC or AD 1, as you seem to have it.
  • From 4416 BC to AD 2008 is 6423 years, not 6421.

All in all, the page is an impressive effort. Biblical Chronology is tough -- not for the faint of heart. You obviously put a great deal of thought and consideration into it. Sometimes it just takes a different set of eyes to see things. Also, I read The Chronology of the Old Testament, and remember a lot of these corrections from that.

I hope I have expressed this as constructive criticism of your work, not destructive criticism in any way. My apologies in advance if I have failed in that. ~ MD Otley (talk) 04:38, 1 January 2008 (EST)

Hi; Many thanks for the great comments. I have made some edits to the calculation as follows:

The text of Genesis 11:10 seems to be stating that Arphaxad was born two years after the flood, not two years after the onset of the flood. While timing from the onset of the flood is a possibility, it seems less obvious that what is stated, so I'm thinking not to expand the uncertainty by -1 year.

Your point about Abram is well taken, and after reviewing the passage, I believe I was not considering multiple wives at the time. I guess that this is a cultural thing, as we Christian types just have one wife per husband now. Abram did marry his half-sister later-on, so obviously his dad Terah must have had more than just one wife. Reviewing the Blue Letter Bible, the same Hebrew word "Chayah" is used passage after passage to mean "lived", so let's update this to a simple count, just as the generations before, and increment the age to 70 years, -0/+1. This moves the center-point age up by 21 years, and reduces the cumulative uncertainty by -20 / +19 years. This changes the age calculation to: 6,442 (-71 / +136)

I'm not quite sure what correction from the 430 year reference from Galatians 3:17 you would like to see. Could you expand on the potential calculation error on this?

This is a curious point from 1 Kings 6:1. I must consider this for a while, with just a couple of minor alterations: 1.) Judges 17 estimate will be changed from 40, +/-20 to 30, +/-30 2.) 1 Samuel 7:15 estimate will be changed from 30 +/-10 to 20 +/-20 3.) I am adding a note to the Judges total to see 1 Kings 6:1. This changes the age calculation to: 6,422 (-91 / +156)

I am assuming that Jesus was born year zero, and I know evidence is out there as to other years for His birth, but for the purposes of this calculation, it doesn't affect the outcome.

I made a 3 year error at the 2 Kings 18:1 point, going back up through the BC years. I didn't catch it because I just calculated it from the 640BC point, and the error began at the 723BC (720BC really) point. Good thing there isn't a math test to get into heaven :) Always check your end points, right? Anyway, that is a good catch, and the new calculation doesn't suffer from this 3 year error in the BC tally. Without the correction to Abram @ 70 years, this was still a center-point calculation of 6,421 years old, because it added 3,773 + 640 + 2,008 = 6,421. Thanks; Brian Davis

You could be right about Arphaxad -- the ambiguity may be just in my mind.  :-)
The reason some argue that Terah was 130 at the birth of Abram is explained more fully in his article, but the short version is that the juxtaposition of Gen 11:32 and 12:1, especially in light of Acts 7:4, makes it appear that Abram was 75 at the time of his father's death (at age 205).
See below for discussion of the 430 years.
There are at least two ways to overlap the years of the Judges to get the time down to under 400 years, as 1Ki6 seems to require. The first is that at least some the judges might have been regional leaders, rather than national; both oppression and peace could have been going on in different tribal areas at the same time. Secondly, the years listed at the end of a judge's time might be referring to the total of the oppression years and the peaceful years, rather than the peaceful years alone. (E.g.: Israel sinned and was oppressed for X years. Judge So-and-so saved Israel. [Total,] Y years. The "Y years" would represent the time from the beginning of the oppression, not the beginning of the liberation.)
There is no year zero; AD 1 comes right after 1 BC.
I missed your 3-year math error when I was reviewing the page -- I guess I'd fail the math test to get into heaven, too. :-) ~ MD Otley (talk) 14:15, 2 January 2008 (EST)

Length of the Sojourn in Egypt

As you all know, a serious dispute remains as to whether the length of time that the Israelites spent in Egypt was 215 years or 430 years. Some say 215, primarily on the basis of Galatians 3:16-17 . Other say 430 years, on the basis of a plain reading of the text of Exodus 12:40-41 .

Pros for a "short Sojourn" include:

  1. The genealogy from Levi to Moses reads as though son followed father in the order given, with no gaps. Bear in mind, though, that "the sons of A were X, Y, and Z" is not the same choice of phrase as "A begat X, Y, and Z."
  2. The editors of the Geneva Bible (1599) read Genesis 15:13 somewhat differently from King James I's Royal Commission on Translation--and also on every other translator since. The Geneva editors put the figure of "400 years" next to "sojourn in a land that is not theirs." They imply that the land of Canaan was "not theirs" during the years of Abraham and Isaac.

Pros for a "long Sojourn" are these:

  1. This is a more straightforward reading of Exodus 12:40-41.
  2. Chronological synchrony with the founding of the Egyptian state, and with the establishment of the Babylonian Empire, is in fact easier with a long Sojourn than with a short. The Babel Incident occurred at least 1903 years before the capture of Babylon by Alexander the Great. With a short Sojourn there isn't enough time unless one also assumes a late birth date for Abraham. Moreover, Chedorlaomer's War of the Ten Kings, under the Long Sojourn, occurs 155 years after the reputed conquest of Babylonian by an ancestor of his, according to an inscription by Assur-bani-pal. A Short Sojourn would have this occurring even further back in time in relation to Abraham--so far back that it would run into the lifetime of Peleg.--TemlakosTalk 10:01, 2 January 2008 (EST)
Great! Thanks for summarizing those issues so clearly! I knew there was a dispute, but I hadn't really heard about the issues relating to synchronization with the secular timeline. Do the changes made by the New Chronology affect that?
Personally, I lean in favor of the short sojourn, b/c I find it easier to reconcile the Exodus passage with that than to try to get the Galatians passage to work with a long sojourn, and I'm not so concerned with secular histories. As I'm sure you do as well, I consider the Bible inspired, and secular sources ... not.  :-)
Another point for the short sojourn is that the Septuagint for Ex12:40 says "Egypt and Canaan", not just "Egypt".
I think Dr. Jones, the author of the Chronology I cited earlier had a similar solution to the Genesis passage you mention. He quoted an expert (sorry I don't have the book with me at the moment, or I'd have more detail) that described the "enslaved and mistreated" portion almost as a parenthetical insertion, so that the 400 years pointed back at the "strangers" fate, more than the "enslaved".
Thanks for moving this discussion along! ~ MD Otley (talk) 13:29, 2 January 2008 (EST)
The New chronology probably favors the long sojourn over the short. I've always felt that Joseph served his viceroyship under an Eleventh Dynasty Pharaoh, or certainly no later than a Twelfth. The Thirteenth Dynasty wouldn't settle the matter by itself, because all of it would fit comfortably within a Sojourn of either length, long or short.
What I like best about the New Chronology is that it represents the best attempt yet to enforce some discipline on Egyptian chronology. Until then, it was a "rubber chronology," and many Egyptologists openly said so.
Concerning Galatians 3:17, let's remember two things:
  1. The promises made to Abraham were confirmed at least twice after that, if not three times (twice during the life of Jacob, the second being when he wrestled with the angel).
  2. The land on which they lived as nomads was not exactly "not theirs." If you want to be strict about it, the land of Canaan was no man's land, or at least no king's land, or certainly not the land of a king having the stature of a Pharaoh. But more to the point, Canaan was the Israelites' land because God said it was. In Canaan and only in Canaan was their inheritance.--TemlakosTalk 14:00, 2 January 2008 (EST)