Correspondence: Missing Millennium: Textual
February 17, 2007
Dear Dr. Aardsma,
I like this argument with the missing one-thousand years.
My problem is that I believe if you accept the Bible as full truth, you accept it's authorship of God through a man's point of view. What do you say to people like me who say that a mistake, even as small as this could be, goes against God's authorship in the Bible because we believe He has preserved His word?
The short answer to your question is that conservative Christianity holds to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy in the autographs, not to divine preservation of the copying process by which the Bible was transmitted from generation to generation through the centuries. There are sound reasons for this. First, there is no promise in Scripture that those who undertake to copy Scripture will be divinely kept from making any copy mistakes. Second, comparison of extant Old Testament manuscripts reveals that they all contain copy errors. For example, all scholars agree that two important numbers have been accidentally dropped from the text of 1 Samuel 13:1, evidently very early on in the transmission process, so that these numbers are found in no extant Old Testament manuscript today. In other words, the extra-biblical idea of supernatural preservation of the process of copying the biblical text to keep it free from all copy errors is proven false by the extant manuscripts we actually possess.
These textual matters can be confusing and upsetting to the lay Christian. This is partly because the text of Scripture is so well preserved that textual matters are seldom an issue of any practical importance to the lay Christian. He/she can get on just fine for normal devotional Bible study with the assumption that the text they hold in their hands is 100% faithful to the autographs. Because of this it is easy to elevate this assumption to a false plain of doctrinal truth, where it does not belong---and then something like the missing millennium comes along and one has to rethink all this. For this reason I have taken pains to treat these textual matters openly and accurately in my book which introduces the missing millennium, "A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel". See, for example, section 4.1, "Textual Matters". (You can use the "Resources", "book" link in the navigation bar at left to view the Table of Contents of the book.)
The important bottom line is that the claim that one thousand years is missing from the extant text of 1 Kings 6:1 violates none of the principles of normal conservative Christian scholarship, and does not attack God's authorship of the Bible through divine inspiration in any way.
I trust this helps.
February 8, 2013
Hello Dr. Aardsma,
As a biblical apologist and devout Christian, I too was at wits end trying to piece together the recent archeological finds dated prior to the Monarchical period with the Biblical chronology--until I found your website. First let me say, thank you for devoting your life's work to this subject and more. After perusing your website and then reading your book, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History, I can't deny the evidence is overwhelming. As Paul says in 1 Thessalonians, "test everything". Thus, I cross referenced your scripture verses, archeological evidence, and chronology with multiple other sources. Your careful analysis, exploration, and dedication to textual criticism are quite impressive.
Dr. Aardsma, I really do believe that in an age of scientific enlightenment and great archaeological discoveries using current technology, the truth will triumph over tradition.
After a careful investigation of your background, it does not appear that you are in this for your glory, but Christ's glory in setting the record straight. That being said, it would not surprise me someday if the Aardsma's Chronological Bible is published after overwhelming evidence gives credence to the missing millennium and the copyist error. I think of the Bibles which were published after the Dead Sea Scrolls were unearthed. It amazed me that the scrolls were dated up to a millennium earlier than the earliest known texts (Masoretic) and after tedious examination, had only differences in style and spelling, yet no difference in substance. Thus, in light of this new evidence, new Bibles such as the NIV were published which corrected the copyist errors such as the number of Solomon's horses. 1 Kings 4:26 states that "Solomon had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen"(KJV). In 2 Chronicles 9:25 it says "Solomon had 4,000 stalls for horses and chariots, and 12,000 horsemen"(KJV). Which is correct?? After careful analysis of the copyist texts in light of the Dead Sea Scroll discovery, it was found that Solomon had 4,000 and the exaggerated figure in 1 Kings is a common type of scribal error which can happen with similar numerical notation. This numerical scribal copyist error also occurs between 2 Samuel 10:18 and 1 Chronicles 19:18. Again, the new manuscript evidence corrected these scribal errors with the publication of the NIV and other bibles. Does this type of error sound familiar?
Unfortunately, in light of Google's digitizing of the Dead Sea Scrolls, in my search I was not able to find on their website the 1 Kings 6:1 passage that you reference. As you know, every book from the Old Testament was represented but that does not mean every book was complete such as the Isaiah scroll. You mention in your book on page 29 that other Greek manuscripts were compared for your 1 Kings 6:1 millennium theory. Were you able to cross reference the Hebrew portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls in your research?
Just like you, I believe in the inerrancy of the original Autographs. If only we had them!
Thank you again for your research and dedication to the truth.
Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. Yes, my wife and I are in this work for the Lord. If wealth or fame had been our goals these past several decades, we should certainly have to admit to being miserable failures on both counts. What drives us forward is love of the truth. We take this to be a natural outworking of the Spirit of Truth within us.
I did attempt to look for Dead Sea Scrolls evidence of the copy error in 1 Kings 6:1 back when "A New Approach..." was first written. I am not a linguist, but I had the assistance of a seminary graduate and librarian at the time, Mr. James Stambaugh, who had the necessary skills for this particular bit of research. The conclusion which we reached back then was that nothing relevant to 1 Kings 6:1 had yet been published, but that, as there were evidently many unpublished DSS fragments, it was premature to rule out the possibility that something might yet turn up.
It would be helpful if textual evidence of the copy error could be found as, in my experience, some seem reluctant to accept the possibility of a copy error in the absence of textual evidence despite overwhelming evidence from other areas. It would be nice to be able to simply remove this impediment to truth for such individuals.
March 25, 2013
Dear Dr. Aardsma,
I really appreciate how you explain to people, from an inerrancy perspective, about the missing 1,000 years from 1 Kings 6. You explain that inspiration and inerrancy refer properly to the Word as originally given, not to current versions --- though they are very accurate of course. I related this to someone and told her that if I were to undertake to do an English NT translation, which I'm not, I would not claim inerrancy for myself. However, it's a little hard for some people to grasp because they perceive it as a slippage, especially if they are KJV only types, but your teaching on it helps a lot and is totally in accord with evangelical theology.