BC Volume 1 (1995)
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The Biblical Chronologist Volume 1, Number 1
Mount Sodom Confirms Missing Millenium:
One of the most interesting pieces of work I have come across recently in my research is presented in "The Holocene climatic record of the salt caves of Mount Sedom", an article authored by four Israeli scientists: A. Frumkin, M. Magaritz, I. Carmi, and I. Zak. It describes work they carried out on Mount Sodom (or Sedom), a salt mountain situated on the southwestern shore of the Dead Sea. The work they describe is important to Biblical chronology research at the present time because it confirms, once again, that 1,000 years are missing from traditional Biblical chronology prior to the period of the kings of Israel.
Several years ago I proposed that 1,000 years are missing from traditional Biblical chronology. See: "A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel", 2nd ed., 1995, Aardsma Research & Publishing, 412 N. Mulberry, Loda, IL 60948. I argued that the sum total of Biblical, chronological, archaeological and historical evidence could only easily be explained by adopting the hypothesis that the "four hundred eighty" which presently appears in 1 Kings 6:1 was originally, in the autograph of 1 Kings, "one thousand four hundred eighty". I suggested that the "one thousand" part of this number had been accidentally dropped from the text very early on as a result of a simple scribal copy error.
All that I have seen in my subsequent chronological research has only served to confirm this early suggestion. The work described in the article by Frumkin et al., mentioned above, is another typical example. The present article explains how this comes about.
It may seem unlikely that salt caves in a rock salt mountain on the shore of the Dead Sea could have anything to do with the idea that traditional Biblical chronology leaves out 1,000 years, but they do indeed, and they provide some striking evidence for the historicity (i.e., historical actuality) of Genesis in the process...
Biblical Chronology 101
[Biblical Chronology 101 will be a regular feature of The Biblical Chronologist. It is especially designed for beginners. In this space each issue I hope to teach the precepts and principles of modern Biblical chronology. We open "class" this issue with a few introductory remarks.]
About the teacher
I am a scientist, not a theologian. I hold an earned Ph.D. in nuclear physics, with special emphasis on radioisotope dating methods such as radiocarbon. I have been involved in the study of Biblical chronology, especially as it relates to the age of the earth and the date of Old Testament events such as Noah's Flood and the Exodus, for over a decade now. From 1987 through 1994 I conducted Biblical chronology research at the Institute for Creation Research where I served as assistant professor of physics on the graduate faculty...
Research in Progress
Was the Chalcolithic in Palestine terminated by Noah's Flood? Archaeological clues combine with chronological considerations to suggest the answer may very well be yes.
[Someone I read a long time ago in the Physics library at the University of Toronto (I can no longer recall the author's name or the title of the book) compared scientific research to mining. He noted, for example, that the miner does not create the gems or ore he is after, he can only find what is already there. Similarly, the researcher does not create anything new, he simply discovers what is already there. This (forgotten) essayist went on to extend the analogy in various ways, all of which I have found to be generally valid in my own experience as a researcher; I think it is a good analogy ...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 1, Number 2
Age of the Earth Doctrine in the Early Church
How old did Christians in the early centuries A.D. believe the earth was?
I only began to deliberately research this question about a year ago. A passage from the recent book The Fingerprint of God by Hugh Ross prompted me to do so. It stated:
"Many of the early church fathers and other biblical scholars interpreted the creation days of Genesis 1 as long periods of time. The list includes the Jewish historian Josephus (1st century); Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, apologist, and martyr (2nd century); Origen, who rebutted heathen attacks on Christian doctrine (3rd century); Basil (4th century); Augustine (5th century); and, later, Aquinas (13th century), to name a few."
I was quite surprised by this assertion; in the course of my studies I had come across many dates for Creation which had been calculated by numerous Christian scholars of past centuries. Without exception these dates had been in terms of thousands of years only. How could early Christians have believed the days of creation were long periods of time (and, in the context of the above quote, "long periods of time" means millions of years) and still have set dates for Creation which were invariably less than ten thousand years ago? I determined to get to the bottom of the matter.
I began by investigating the five bibliographic references which Hugh Ross, the author, had given in support of his claim. It soon became obvious that these references failed to do their job -- they did not support the claim that these early church fathers believed the six days of creation were long periods of time. In fact, they tended to do the opposite! Here, briefly, is what I found ...
The Importance of Biblical Chronology
Should Christians concern themselves with Biblical chronology? Is it important?
Yes, they should; yes, it is important. It is important because our ability to defend the truth of Christianity hinges upon it ...
Research in Progress
There have been several exciting developments since last issue. Recall that I had proposed:
Flood Hypothesis 1: The Chalcolithic in Palestine was catastrophically terminated by the Biblical/historical event known as Noah's Flood.
I had advanced two questions which I felt needed to be answered in attempting to evaluate whether this hypothesis was true or not:
What physical/archaeological evidence can be found bearing on the question of whether the Chalcolithic was terminated by a flood?
How widespread was the cultural hiatus which is seen in Palestine at the end of the Chalcolithic?
I will report on these two questions separately below. While my investigation is far from complete, what I have found, thus far, tends to confirm the hypothesis.
Was the Chalcolithic terminated by a flood? ...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 1, Number 3
Chronology of the Bible: 3000 - 1000 B.C.
(A compilation of Biblical chronological data giving a continuous chronology for the second and third millenia B.C. is presented. The most recent work in Biblical chronology is taken into consideration, including the discovery of the missing thousand years in the present text of 1 Kings 6:1. The result is truly extraordinary.)
The following article should be regarded as a resource. It is a compilation of Biblical chronological data giving a continuous chronology for the second and third millennia B.C. It takes into consideration the most recent work in Biblical chronology, including my discovery of the missing thousand years in the present text of 1 Kings 6:1. It is the only Biblical chronology for these millennia which naturally harmonizes with a wide breadth of geophysical, archaeological and secular historical data. Older Biblical chronologies (such as are currently found in Bible encyclopedias, for example) are obsolete and seriously wrong in these two millennia. Anyone attempting to use them to harmonize Biblical and secular history will encounter endless frustration. (I speak from experience.) ...
The Importance of Biblical Chronology: Part II
Last issue we began a discussion of the importance of Biblical chronology. I would like to finish this discussion this issue.
I stated last issue that Biblical chronology is important because our ability to defend the truth of Christianity hinges upon it. This relationship is succinctly summarized by the statement, "Biblical chronology is foundational to apologetics."
Biblical chronology is foundational to apologetics because wrong Biblical chronology yields a failed apologetic. In the current lesson I would like to show why this is the case. The argument leading to this conclusion involves three simple premises:
Wrong Biblical chronology yields wrong Biblical history. Wrong Biblical history yields a loss of Biblical historicity. A loss of Biblical historicity yields a failed apologetic.
If these three premises are true, then the unavoidable conclusion is that wrong Biblical chronology yields a failed apologetic.
Last issue we looked at the last of these three premises. We saw the critical role played by the question, "Is the Bible a basically reliable historical document?" in the defense of the truth of Christianity. We saw that if this question could be answered, "No, it is not a basically reliable historical document," then the defense of the truth of Christianity would collapse. In other words, we showed that premise 3 is true -- a loss of Biblical historicity yields a failed apologetic.
The second premise above is almost tautological and requires little elaboration. Recall that historicity means historical actuality -- it means true history, or what really took place. Wrong history means an inaccurate account, or a misrepresentation of what really took place. Clearly, when what really took place is misrepresented, a loss of historical actuality is the result. Therefore, wrong Biblical history yields a loss of Biblical historicity.
It is only the first premise, then, which requires further discussion, and it does not require very much discussion.
The reason wrong Biblical chronology yields wrong Biblical history is because chronology is an integral part of history, and the whole cannot be right unless all of its parts are right. ...
Research in Progress
(Further research on the nature and date of Noah's Flood is reported, with initial investigation of the chronology of Mesopotamia. Did Sir Leonard Woolley discover Noah's Flood in the flood layer at Ur as he claimed? Other stratigraphic evidence suggests not.)
I continue to pursue the nature and date of Noah's Flood.
I ended last issue with a figure, reproduced below, summarizing my proposed relationship between the chronologies of Scripture, Palestine, and Egypt near 3500 B.C. For the past two months I have turned my attention to the chronology of Mesopotamia, asking the question, "Can a cultural break or any other evidence of the Flood be discerned in this region near 3500 B.C.?"
The chronology of Mesopotamia is considered to be securely established only back to the middle of the second millennium -- two thousand years short of our current interest. From the middle of the second to the middle of the third millennium three possible chronologies exist, the highest and lowest of which differ by 200 years. The chronology of the fourth millennium is even more uncertain -- errors of 500 years in absolute dates for this millennium do not seem impossible to me at the present time. This assessment is based upon a survey of the published literature; it does not include any first-hand work on my part with available radiocarbon data. The historic period (during which time written sources exist to aid in chronological reconstruction) only begins around 3000 B.C.; there presently appears no possibility of a historical chronology of Mesopotamia extending back into the fourth millennium.
One might hope to find definitive radiocarbon results to reduce the uncertainty in the fourth millennium chronology. Unfortunately, there appears to be few radiocarbon dates available for this area during this millennium -- a reminder, once again, that we are researching at the frontier of chronology. ...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 1, Number 4
The Chronology of Palestine in Relation to the Bible: 3000 - 1000 B.C.
The following article shows how I synchronize Biblical chronology with secular chronology in Palestine from 3000 to 1000 B.C. It is a technical article, designed to act as a reference item for future discussions involving any aspect of the chronology of Palestine in these two millennia. A time chart showing the relevant time periods in Palestine and my synchronization of them with Biblical chronology can be found on page 5. You will find it helpful to refer to this chart frequently as you study the following article. Indeed, the chart is the important thing; the discussion serves only to explain it.
A brief overview of the history of Palestine in relation to the Bible during the second and third millennia B.C. is woven throughout the article. When the course of history is examined with such a wide field of view the natural harmony which exists between the Biblical and secular histories is readily apparent. While the discussion is necessarily technical and dry at many points, the resulting synchronization is quite remarkable, and the final synthesis of secular and sacred histories greatly enriches comprehension of both.
The historical/archaeological time periods in Palestine during the second and third millennia B.C. have been named Early Bronze Age, Middle Bronze Age, Late Bronze Age, and Iron Age. These names can be misleading. They seem to have their origin in evolutionary notions of mankind's progress from a rude stone, bone and wood worker through the discovery and exploitation of various metals -- first copper, then alloys of copper to make bronze, then iron -- and on into modernity as mankind got smarter and smarter. In fact, such theoretical/ideological schemes hold up poorly when compared to factual archaeological data. Iron, for example, was known and used well before the Iron Age, and even before the Bronze Age, and bronze "was not used widely in Palestine until ... about a thousand years after the beginning of the so-called Early Bronze Age." [Amnon Ben-Tor, "The Early Bronze Age," The Archaeology of Ancient Israel, ed. Amnon Ben-Tor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 81.] In no sense can it be supposed that all stone implements automatically belong to the Neolithic ("new stone age"), copper ones to the Chalcolithic ("copper-stone age"), bronze ones to the Bronze Age, or iron ones to the Iron Age. These names should be viewed by the reader simply as conventional labels for the various time periods in Palestine -- they have little intrinsic significance. These periods are generally subdivided -- for example, Late Bronze I (LBI) and Late Bronze II (LBII) -- and it is possible for these subdivisions to be further divided -- for example, LBIIa and LBIIb. ...
Research in Progress
(Further research on Noah's Flood in Mesopotamia is reported. The hypotheses that the Uruk period in South Mesopotamia was terminated by Noah's Flood, and the Jamdat Nasr period in South Mesopotamia was terminated by the Dispersion of mankind from Babel is advanced.)
You will recall that I have been concentrating on Mesopotamia, asking the question, "Can a cultural break or any other evidence of the Flood be discerned in this region near 3500 B.C.?" The modern chronology of Mesopotamia, spanning the late Ubaid to the Early Dynastic periods, which I showed last issue is reproduced here as Figure 2. I suggested that uncertainties of up to 500 years seemed possible in this chronology during the fourth millennium B.C., the period of interest to the present investigation. This meant that the time-bracket in which the Flood might be found stretched from the late Ubaid, through the Uruk (Gawra for northern Mesopotamia) and into the middle of the Jamdat Nasr. I ended by noting that I had been unable to find anything suitable to the Flood in either the late Ubaid or Uruk periods.
I have now begun reading J. N. Postgate's recent book, Early Mesopotamia. J. N. Postgate, Early Mesopotamia: Society and Economy at the Dawn of History (New York: Routledge, 1992). One thing which emerges from this book is the fact that we have far from a complete set of archaeological and historical data to work with in Mesopotamia at the early dates of interest to our investigation. For example, in Postgate's chapter on early palaces in Mesopotamia he notes that "both the historical and the archaeological record from before the EDIII period are very scrappy," and speaking of the Uruk period he says, "With a suddenness which may be partially the consequence of the poverty of archaeological excavation, ...," and again, "virtually nothing of the early Uruk period has yet been excavated in South Mesopotamia." This relative lack of data is an impediment to our investigation, but not a fatal one -- a Flood which would wipe out a civilization should be a difficult thing to conceal.
That the Flood is not to be found during either the late Ubaid or Uruk periods can now be concluded with considerable confidence. After noting the paucity of available data from the early Uruk, Postgate, for example, is still able to state, in reference to the Uruk period:
One thing however seems clear, that there was not some sudden cataclysmic break with what had gone before. The continuity with the Ubaid culture is epitomized in the famous sequence of temples at Eridu, enlarged time and again through the centuries; the latest surviving remnants of the temple's platform are in fact from the Uruk period, although the plan of the building itself is lost. More recently excavations deep below the Anu ziggurrat at Uruk itself have shown that the Uruk period temple on its platform was also built over the site of an Ubaid period temple, giving us another clear instance of continuity of worship in one place.
Such detailed continuity is not what we would expect from the Flood.
However, this continuity does not last forever, as the following observation by Postgate indicates ...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 1, Number 5
Leviah - City of Og(In another remarkable discovery due to the realization that 1000 years are missing from the present text of 1 Kings 6:1, the ruins called Leviah are shown to be the remains of one of the 60 Amorite cities belonging to the kingdom of Og, conquered by Moses while the Israelites were still on the east side of the Jordon River at the beginning of the Conquest.)
It has been my privilege, since discovering that traditional Biblical chronology accidentally lacks a full thousand years between the Exodus and Solomon, to make many consequent "armchair" discoveries in the field of Biblical archaeology. (By armchair I mean that these discoveries have been made from the comfort of my office chair, without ever having to venture into the heat and sweat of even a single archaeological excavation.) The present article details yet another such discovery---one I made about a year and a half ago.
While I thrill each time I make one of these discoveries, it is not clear how much of this thrill can be passed on in print. Be that as it may, be aware at least that you are about to become one of the first few to share in this new discovery, and when you are done reading you will know some things which Biblical scholars and archaeologists who have labored over the data all their lives do not yet understand.
The ground rises rapidly from the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, attaining the Golan Heights plateau (Figure 1) after a final climb up a steep, meandering incline. In just 3.3 kilometers (2.0 miles) the altitude changes from 210 meters (689 feet) below sea level at the surface of the Sea of Galilee to 260 meters (853 feet) above sea level at the western end of a spur of ground which protrudes westward from the Golan (Figure 2).
Situated on the end of this spur are the remains of an ancient city. The site was obviously chosen for the city because of the natural protection afforded it by the surrounding slopes (Figure 3). The site is known today as Leviah.
Leviah was discovered by Israeli archaeologists in 1968 following the annexation by Israel of the part of the Golan which it had captured in the Six--Day War of the previous year. The site was easily recognized to be of archaeological significance from the numerous Early Bronze Age pottery fragments found on the surface of the ground there, and by the presence of several massive stone walls which ran across the width of the spur (Figure 4).
When Leviah was first discovered, the fact that it was an ancient city was not recognized. The site was covered over by thousands of years of accumulated soil and vegetation. It looked like a large field with ancient, curiously high stone walls. The archaeologists supposed it might be just that---a walled field for keeping sheep and cattle. They called it an "enclosure" site, and speculated about the economic significance of the animals kept there relative to Early Bronze Age civilization in general. Leviah began to be called the "Leviah enclosure" within the technical archaeological literature.
The idea that Leviah had been a large animal pen persisted until 1988. In that year a trench was excavated (area B of Figure 4) within the site and, much to everyone's surprise, the remains of ancient houses were uncovered along its entire length. Clearly, Leviah had not been a walled field for shepherds to keep their flocks---it had been a fortified city. Pottery found during the excavation revealed that the site had been occupied continuously from the Early Bronze I period through Early Bronze III. And it revealed that the city had come to its final end as the result of an attack by some besieging enemy. Here is the archaeologist's description of what was found:
The abundance of whole vessels found on the floors of the houses indicates that the last settlement ended in sudden destruction. ...
Biblical Chronology 101
Up to the present time I have focused our attention in this class on why Biblical chronology is important to the conservative Christian. I now want to discuss the scope of Biblical chronology briefly, and then introduce the age of the cosmos problem which stands at the beginning of that scope.
Biblical chronologists attempt to answer questions of the form: "When did the Biblical/historical event X take place?" Typical questions of this form which fall within the scope of Biblical chronology are: "When was Jesus born?", "When did Solomon begin to reign?", and "When did Noah's Flood take place?" By answering such questions Biblical chronologists seek to build an accurate chronology of Biblical history.
Questions about the date of extra-Biblical historical events---such as when Norway was first inhabited, or when the Pilgrims came to America, or when my grandfather was born---are outside the scope of Biblical chronology. Questions regarding the timing of future world events which arise from Biblical prophecy are also outside the scope of Biblical chronology---they belong to the field of Biblical eschatology. (Questions in both of these categories are frequently impacted by the results of Biblical chronology, however.)
The proper scope of Biblical chronology is thus seen to be all Biblical/historical events back to the creation of the physical universe, the event with which Genesis 1 begins.
The Age of the Cosmos
Within this scope, the question, "When did Creation take place?" looms large today because of the enormous difference which exists between the date of Creation which has traditionally been calculated by Biblical chronologists and the age of the cosmos which modern science computes. Though a large number of claims have been made to the contrary, this problem is real and it remains unsolved. When I say this problem remains unsolved, I mean that there does not seem to have been any hypothesis advanced so far which is able to integrate all of the available Biblical and scientific data bearing on this question into a single, rational whole. Indeed, the hypotheses which have been advanced as "solutions" to this problem are generally horribly lopsided, doing violence either to pertinent Biblical or scientific data. ...
Research in Progress
[Research on several fronts (the Exodus and the geographical extent of the Flood) is briefly reported. Recent newspaper accounts equating Ramses II with the pharaoh of the Exodus are shown to be fallacious.]
I have little by way of new research to report this month---most of my available research time has been spent in gathering source material on several different fronts.
One of these fronts is a new item related to the Exodus. It is too early to say much about it yet other than that it looks quite exciting and well worth the expenditure of some considerable research time and effort. It is impossible to tell how quickly it will come together, of course, but I will certainly keep you informed as appropriate.
Another of these fronts is the geographical extent of the Flood. As I mentioned in the previous issue, this matter has been debated by conservative Bible scholars for a very long time. The evidence which has been brought forward in these debates has always been severely limited by the scholars' inability to give the Flood any definite setting in secular history and archaeology. The proposals of the previous several issues of this newsletter remove this limitation and open this debate to a potential influx of new archaeological and geophysical data. I am pursuing such data along several different lines. Is the debate over the geographical extent of the Flood about to be settled? ...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 1, Number 6
Yeroham---The True Mt. Sinai?
Well, research these past several weeks has been pretty exciting. I am reasonably confident that I have discovered, among other things: the location of the "Red Sea" crossing, where Pharaoh and his army were drowned as they pursued the fleeing Israelites at the time of the Exodus; and the true Mount Sinai, where the ten commandments were given to Israel.
I alluded to this most recent research thrust in my "Research in Progress" column last issue, and promised to keep you informed as appropriate. The new spate of discoveries which this research has resulted in is too large to condense into my "Research in Progress" column this issue, and of such importance as to demand headline coverage. Thus, I have decided to disclose these most recent findings in this lead article position.
I began to work on the problem of the route of the Exodus several months ago when I read a passing comment in the book The Archaeology of Ancient Israel to the effect that mixed Egyptian and Early Bronze Age IV pottery shards had been found at a number of ancient campsites in the Sinai peninsula. I suspected immediately that these were campsites made by the Israelites as they left Egypt. (I will explain why below.) But I needed much more than just a passing comment to be able to pursue this matter---I needed original research publications. As it turned out, it was quite a process locating these in this case.
No specific references were given with the passing comment regarding these campsites in the book, and a day spent in the library checking hopeful references from the bibliography turned up nothing, as did a pretty exhaustive (and exhausting) search of available citation indexes and the like. Ultimately, I had to write to the professor who had made the comment to ask what sources he had worked from. He lives and works in Israel, so our communication took several weeks.
I didn't tell him I needed this information to find the route the Israelites had taken from Egypt to Palestine after the Exodus for fear he would think me a crackpot and not respond. This route has been the subject of much consternation and debate for decades, if not centuries. At the present time scholars are as likely as not to relegate the whole account of the Exodus to the realm of fiction. So I felt it prudent to keep my purpose to myself.
The professor kindly wrote back informing me that there was only a single paper which contained the information I sought. Unfortunately, it was written in Hebrew. As Hebrew is not one of the six languages with which I am conversant (these being English, FORTRAN, ASSEMBLER, BASIC, PASCAL, and C) I next had to find a translator.
Several weeks later I finally had an English version of the paper in my hands. A quick read through confirmed that I was on the right track---a further week and a half of intensive research and the basic routes had clarified.
As I now set about to communicate what I have found to you, my subscribers, at this earliest opportunity, I am a little daunted at the task of reducing it all to these few newsletter pages. I will obviously need to skip over many points and leave some important material out altogether in this initial communication. I trust you will make suitable allowance for this necessity as you read. ...
Biblical Chronology 101
I would like to attempt to give you a brief summary of the current state of Biblical chronology, as I see it, in our class this issue. I feel that such a summary is necessary to orient you, the student, in this discipline at present, and to enable you to separate between what is known and what is not known. The recent rapid pace of progress in this discipline makes such a summary seem all the more necessary, and such an undertaking seems appropriate in this, the final class session of 1995.
State of the Subject
The present state of affairs is most easily grasped when depicted on a time chart. I have constructed Figure 2 for this purpose. Please note, before I begin to discuss the meaning of this chart, that the time scale given in the date column on the left is divided into 500 year segments, and that it extends from just before 5000 B.C. to the present.
The state column shows four distinct "state of affairs" regions. I will discuss each of these under their own heading below. I have placed the boundaries between these regions at the nearest even 500 years for the sake of simplicity of presentation and ease of recall. In actual practice these boundaries are not sharp as drawn---there is in reality some degree of gradation from one region to the next.
The Biblical placement column provides a rough alignment of the Biblical historical narrative with these four regions. ...