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BC Volume 4 (1998)


Volume 4, Number 1January/February 1998

Zoogeography
and Noah's Flood

Note to readers: I am concerned that readers who feel the Bible demands that the waters of Noah's Flood covered the entire earth may find the following article a little frustrating. It explores the relationship between the scientific field of zoogeography and the Biblical historical event known as Noah's Flood, working within the framework of a new scientific model of Noah's Flood called the hemispherical Flood model. This model specifies that the waters of Noah's Flood covered one hemisphere of the globe only. The following article concentrates on the scientific evidences and issues alone—it appears oblivious of the Biblical issues involved. This may be frustrating to readers who feel that the Biblical evidence is definitive and that it overrides all other considerations.

As I do not wish to frustrate any reader or slight their Biblical perspective in any way, I urge any who may feel this way to please read the "Readers Write" column this issue before undertaking the following article. Contrary to the appearance of this article, I am well aware of, and well versed in the Biblical issues involved. In the "Readers Write" column I deal with the Biblical issues openly, frankly, and at some length.


Several issues ago I introduced the hemispherical Flood model.[1] This model pictures Noah's Flood as the natural outcome of a highly improbable collision of a high-speed cosmic projectile (i.e., a rock from outer space) with the earth. One consequence of this collision was ocean-deep flooding of much of the northern hemisphere of the earth for the better part of a year. This is the flooding which Noah experienced, and which is recorded in Genesis.

Global Versus Hemispherical

When I introduced this model I pointed out that it immediately resolves the problem of why Australia should have such an odd and oddly assorted animal population relative to the rest of the globe.[2] Australia has, for example, a great predominance of marsupial mammals. (Marsupials are animals which rear their young in pouches, such as the kangaroo.) This is in sharp contrast to other large land masses of the world whose mammal populations are predominantly placentals. This observation generates a difficult problem if one supposes the entire globe was flooded by Noah's Flood. How did so many different types of marsupials manage to wind up in Australia after the Flood, while the placentals, which are so populous elsewhere, were excluded?

As a single case in point, consider the koalas. These Australian marsupials are slow-moving, defenseless, and almost completely arboreal.[3] They feed exclusively on the leaves and buds of the eucalyptus tree. On the assumption of a global Flood, how did the koalas make the journey after the Flood from the ark in Turkey to Australia? Since eucalyptus trees are not native to Asia, what did the koalas eat on this long journey? How did they protect themselves from the carnivorous placentals of Asia? How did they cross the ocean between Asia and Australia? And how did they manage such a trip while placental squirrels and monkeys, for example, which also live in trees and do not suffer the severe limitations of speed, defense, and diet of the koalas, were entirely unable to reach that subcontinent after the Flood?

Australia is just one region of the globe posing difficulties for a global Flood model. Central and South America constitute another such region. This region holds a monopoly on the native world population of sloths, for example. Two distinct groups of sloths are found there—three-toed and two-toed—with species and subspecies. But no sloths of any sort are found anywhere else in the world. How did all the sloths wind up in Central and South America? And how did these creatures, which "are strictly arboreal and do not live outside forest areas" survive the long journey from the Ararat region to South America in a world which had just been denuded of all its forests by a global Flood? Note that these sloths "move at an average speed of 14 feet a minute [about one mile in 6.3 hours] on the ground" and they "sleep 18 out of 24 hours".[4] It takes a long time to travel from the Ararat region to South America (a journey of some 10,000 miles by way of Bering Strait) at a speed of one mile a day!

In the hemispherical Flood model these difficulties do not arise. According to the hemispherical Flood model flooding was largely confined to the northern hemisphere of the globe. Australia was not flooded and neither was South America. Their unique faunas had no need to seek shelter in the ark, and no need to make the long journey home from Ararat. They were preserved in their native habitats.

The science of mapping out regions having distinct faunas is known as zoogeography. The purpose of the present article is to show that the hemispherical Flood model, rather than encountering difficulties with zoogeography, offers a simple explanation of some of the most basic observations of that science.

Before we enter into this, however, please note that I can only address this subject as a non-expert. Zoogeography is somewhat far removed from my native discipline of physics and my lifelong specialization in chronology. Fortunately, the present article does not require expert ability. It is not meant to be the final word on zoogeography and the Flood, by any means. It is intended as a beginning only. It appears that, with the introduction of the hemispherical Flood model, we who are conservative Christians have an opportunity for the first time to begin to bring about an intelligible unification of zoogeography and Biblical history. This brief article is intended only as an introduction to this new opportunity. My hope is that it will encourage others who are qualified in the life sciences to pursue this new opportunity to the glory of God.

Fundamental Premise

The fundamental premise involved in unifying zoogeography and the Flood is that the regions of the globe which were flooded by Noah's Flood were suddenly and simultaneously wiped clean of air-breathing, land-dwelling animals roughly 5500 years ago, while native faunas were not thus exterminated in non-flooded regions.

Please note that I have tried to word this fundamental premise carefully. It is not correct to suppose that life in non-flooded regions was unaffected by the Flood. It seems certain that life was severely stressed globally by the Flood. For example, the atmosphere would have moved to the north just as the water did, since it, too, obeys the law of gravity. This would have rarefied the air in the south, similar to what is experienced only at high altitudes at present. There is every reason to suppose that the climate would have been dramatically altered globally during the Flood, and much reason to suppose that food chains would have been dramatically disrupted globally. The main distinction between flooded and non-flooded regions is that extermination was certain in the flooded regions, while there was at least some chance of survival in non-flooded regions.

This fundamental premise implies that present-day animal populations in regions of the globe which were flooded have their origin post-Flood, while those in regions which were not flooded have their origin pre-Flood. Flooded and non-flooded regions of the globe are thus expected to be distinguishable zoogeographically.

The Zoogeographical Regions

Figure 1 shows the zoogeographical regions according to Sclater and Wallace. While these regions are separated by solid lines in the figure it is important to note that "it is impossible in most cases to draw any very clearly marked boundary line between one region and another".[5] In other words, distinct animal distributions tend to diffuse together at their boundaries, rather than being sharply separated.

Figure 1: Flood line (dashed) relative to the zoogeographical regions according to Sclater and Wallace. The × marks the proposed location of the impact center. [Zoogeographical map is from Ernest Ingersoll, "Zoogeography," The Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 29 (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1962) 727.]

The Limits of the Flood

To compare these zoogeographical boundaries to the Flood, we must determine which regions were flooded and which were not. To map the boundaries of the flooded area in detail is a very involved process with many subtleties. For the present purpose a detailed picture is not required however, so I will skip over all of these subtleties and paint the geographical limits of the Flood with a bold, broad brush. The result should be considered as a good, first-order approximation to the actual, real-life boundary.

The Flood depth curves of Figure 2 in Volume 3, Number 5 of The Biblical Chronologist provide the basic data required for this purpose. The most important pieces of information from this figure for the present study are: 1. the depth of the Flood was symmetric over the surface of the earth about the impact center, where the Flood was deepest, and 2. flooding extended nearly quarter way (about 88°) around the globe in all directions from the impact center.[6]

I have chosen the Kara Sea, on the northern coast of Asia (61°E, 72°N), as the impact center of the cosmic projectile for the present painting job. I have previously advanced this possibility on the basis that the Kara Sea is the only obvious crater-shaped formation in the narrow region where the impact center is expected.[7] While this choice cannot be guaranteed correct at this point, there is no other candidate evident, and a slight inaccuracy here will not significantly alter the present broad-brush results in any event.

The dashed line on Figure 1 corresponds to a circle drawn 88° from the center of the Kara Sea all around the globe. It is my broad-brush line separating regions of the globe which were flooded (to the north of it) from regions which were not flooded (to the south of it). I will call it simply the "Flood line".

Comparison

The question to be answered is, "Can the zoogeographical regions shown in Figure 1 be reasonably explained in broad outline given this Flood line?" The answer appears to be a fairly solid yes.

To appreciate this, some awareness of basic zoogeographical principles is required. The most important principle for the present study is that populated regions represent an "organic barrier", inhibiting any influx of newcomers from the outside.[8] Thus diffusion of animal populations can only occur from populated regions into depopulated regions.

This principle is quite important to everything which follows. Note that it predicts that we should expect diffusion of fauna from south of the Flood line into the unpopulated north after the Flood, but not from the north (even after it had repopulated) into the south, because the south would already have been populated. Examples of this are seen repeatedly in Figure 1.

Basic boundaries

As a first example, consider the Australian region. Notice, in Figure 1, how it extends to numerous small islands north of the Flood line in the mid-Pacific. These islands would all have been washed clean of life at the time of the Flood and subsequently repopulated by diffusion of life forms from the portion of the Australian region which had not been flooded, south of the Flood line.

Next consider the Palaearctic region in Figure 1. It is expected to have been repopulated by the animal types which Noah preserved alive aboard the ark because it includes the Ararat region in which the ark came to rest and from which these animals would have diffused outward generation by generation.

Notice that the Palaearctic region nowhere extends south of the Flood line. If the boundary between the Palaearctic and the Australian regions had swung 20° to the south of the Flood line instead of 20° to the north of it, for example, the hemispherical Flood model would have encountered a grave difficulty. This would have meant that animal populations from the ark had somehow diffused into the already populated regions south of the Flood line, and that would have been a violation of the "organic barrier" principle. But the boundary is consistently north of the Flood line, never south.

Consider next the boundary between the Oriental and Australian regions. The geographical area of interest here is shown in greater detail in Figure 2. Different shades of grey are used to distinguish the two zoogeographical regions in this figure. Notice the extension of the Australian region north of the Flood line once again.

Figure 2: Flood line (dashed) in area of the earth where the Oriental and Australian zoogeographical regions meet. Lands whose fauna are classified as Oriental are shaded lightly. Lands whose fauna are classified as Australian are shaded darkly. Celebes, whose fauna is intermediate, is shaded medium.

The boundary between the Oriental and Australian regions can be explained as follows. During the Flood animal life north of the Flood line was exterminated, while animal life south of the line was not. After the Flood the islands north of the line were open for repopulation. This was accomplished via diffusion from the Oriental region of mainland Asia to the northwest (I discuss the origin of the mainland Oriental population below), and diffusion from the Australian region to the southeast.

Where diffusion from one region was more rapid than the other (because of proximity, or favorable ocean currents, for example), repopulation with that region's fauna resulted. Thus, for example, repopulation of northern New Guinea with Australian animal types from the large portion of New Guinea which was not flooded was assured. Similarly, repopulation of Sumatera by Oriental fauna was virtually assured by its proximity to the Malay peninsula.

But wherever diffusion times from the two regions were equal, a mixed population resulted. The principle example in this category is Celebes. Ernest Ingersoll notes: "Celebes might be referred almost with equal right to this [the Australian] or the previous [Oriental] region".

The principle of diffusion into unpopulated areas also explains the Ethiopian region. This region (Figure 1) straddles the Flood line. It is evident that native African pre-Flood fauna must have been preserved in the Ethiopian region south of the Flood line. The present distribution of Ethiopian fauna can be explained by its diffusion northward after the Flood. The extent of its northward diffusion may have been determined by the encounter of a different fauna diffusing southward from the Palaearctic region, or it may have been due to the climate barrier presented by the deserts of northern Africa.

The Neotropical region is also obviously explicable in terms of survival of native American faunas south of the Flood line, with some diffusion northward after the Flood.

The Nearctic region was obviously depopulated by the Flood. In principle it could have been repopulated by diffusion from the south (i.e., from the Neotropical region) or by diffusion from the Palaearctic region across the narrow Bering Strait. Since these are the only two possibilities, the hemispherical Flood model predicts that the fauna of the Nearctic region should be similar to either the Neotropical or the Palaearctic regions.

In point of fact there is a pronounced similarity with the Palaearctic region. The similarity is sufficiently great for some zoogeographers to "advocate the union of the Nearctic and Palaearctic regions under the name of Holarctic".[9] Thus it is clear that Bering Strait was the principle avenue for repopulation of North America following the Flood.

Why the Bering Strait route was favored over the Mexico route is an interesting question. It is tempting to suggest that the deserts of northern Mexico may have been an effective barrier to repopulation from the south. But I sense that I am out of my depth here and perhaps there is some other explanation.

In any event, it is clear that the basic regions and boundaries of Figure 1 can be explained in a simple, natural way within the hemispherical Flood model framework.

Lack of variety in the north

Zoogeography seems to bear witness to the validity of the hemispherical Flood model in another way as well. This comes about through a comparison of the variance in animal forms north and south of the Flood line. Specifically, the lack of variety within the fauna of the northern flooded regions contrasts sharply with the variety which characterizes the southern regions which were not flooded.

Notice, to begin with, that there are three distinct zoogeographical regions in the south (i.e., Neotropical, Ethiopian, and Australian) and only two in the north (i.e., Holarctic and Oriental). But more striking is the variation within regions south of the Flood line relative to the north. For example, the fauna of New Zealand are sufficiently distinct from that of Australia for New Zealand to be grouped as a separate sub-region unto itself. But even this obscures the diversity which exists between Australian and New Zealand fauna. Ingersoll notes that "New Zealand is treated by Wallace as a highly peculiar sub-region of this great [Australian] region" [my emphasis].[10]

There seems to be a great deal more regional variation in animal forms to the south of the Flood line than there is to the north of it. This is to be expected. A basic prediction of the hemispherical Flood model is that the Flood reduced all regional variation north of the Flood line to zero at the time of the Flood. The north was then repopulated from a single basic stock which had been preserved aboard the ark. Such variation as presently exists in the north can only have grown up in the past five and a half thousand years.

The island of Madagascar, off the southeast coast of Africa, is another example here. Notice that it is also assigned a sub-region unto itself. The Flood line passes through the northern part of this island. Its unique pre-Flood fauna would have been preserved south of the line during the Flood. Thus the hemispherical Flood model predicts that Madagascar should have a native pre-Flood fauna today. Its designation as a sub-region of the Ethiopian region, which we have already seen is pre-Flood, shows that this prediction is correct—the fauna of Madagascar is, like that of mainland Africa with which it is broadly grouped, clearly pre-Flood in origin. But its placement in a separate sub-region shows that its fauna is also distinct from that of mainland Africa.

These observations seem quite significant. Notice that isolated islands north of the Flood line, such as Iceland, Japan, or Great Britain, do not achieve separate sub-region status. The clear implication is that regional variation was preserved to the south, but erased to the north of the Flood line at some point in the relatively recent past. This is precisely the result one would expect from a hemispherical Flood.

Oriental Region

Only one large scale feature of Figure 1 remains unexplained. Why do two zoogeographical regions, entirely north of the Flood line, exist? Why does the Oriental region exist in Asia, distinct from the Holarctic region? Shouldn't there be only one region?

Here again I feel somewhat out of my depth, but let me at least make a suggestion.

I pointed out some months ago, while we were still developing the (now superceded) pelagic Flood model, that the Tibetan Plateau ("the roof of the world") may not have been flooded at the time of the Flood because of the extreme elevations (16,000 feet average) characteristic of that region.[11] (This is one of the subtleties in tracing the boundaries of the Flood alluded to above.) This observation still stands. It seems possible that the Tibetan Plateau may, uniquely of all the northern impact hemisphere, have been spared from the water of the Flood because of its extreme altitude. Is it possible that some animals from, say, India, which borders Tibet to the south, were able to find refuge from the Flood in the lofty reaches of Tibet, thus preserving some pre-Flood regional variability north of the Flood line, and that these survivors gave rise ultimately to the diversity of the Oriental region?

Conclusion

While much research yet remains to be done, it is clear, even at this early stage, that the hemispherical Flood model provides successful explanations of the basic observations of the science of zoogeography. In closing I want to point out that these explanations are potentially falsifiable—they are thus legitimate scientific explanations.

For example, we have just seen that a major prediction of the hemispherical Flood model is that variability of faunas north of the Flood line should be much less than variability south of the Flood line because of the extermination of life north of the Flood line 5500 years ago. In principle, global variability might have shown any of an infinite number of patterns, including enhanced variability in the north relative to the south (i.e., the opposite of what was predicted) or no obvious trend of any sort. But significantly reduced variability in the north is, in fact, what is actually observed.

A second major prediction of the hemispherical Flood model is that boundaries of regions which were not entirely flooded may be expected to extend to the north of the Flood line because of diffusion of pre-Flood populations from the south into the depopulated north, but not the other way around because of the "organic barrier" posed by the established, native faunas south of the line. This prediction could have been falsified by any extension to the south of the Flood line of the Holarctic region—into the vast and varied Australian region, or the Ethiopian region, or the Neotropical region. But no such extension is observed; the southern regions systematically extend to the north of the line and not the other way around, as predicted.

The success of the hemispherical Flood model in explaining the basic observations of the science of zoogeography contrasts sharply with the dismal record of the global Flood model in this regard. The fact is that the global Flood model offers no intelligible scientific explanation of zoogeography, as I have previously pointed out.[12] The most basic expectation of that model is that the whole earth should be inhabited by a conspicuously uniform fauna. But that expectation is shown to be false by the actual field data of zoogeography. The sharp separation between marsupials and placentals represented by Australia, for example, is both glaringly real and stubbornly inexplicable within the global Flood model.

It is the usual procedure in science to separate valid explanations from those which are false by comparing their divergent predictions to real-life data. The global and hemispherical Flood models are competing explanations of Noah's Flood. They each make predictions about the distribution of animals which should be observed on the globe today. Their respective predictions are quite different. Zoogeography furnishes the basic real-life data for comparison to these predictions. The predictions of the hemispherical Flood model succeed, while those of the global Flood model fail. Thus it is appropriate to conclude that zoogeography strongly corroborates the hemispherical Flood model and shows the global Flood model to be false. ◇

Reader's Write

Following my publication of the hemispherical Flood model in the Volume 3, Number 5 issue of The Biblical Chronologist I received a number of letters from subscribers and friends expressing concern that the hemispherical Flood model seems to them to be prohibited by the Bible. "Doesn't Genesis teach that the Flood was global?", has been the frequently repeated question.

I address that question here this issue. I begin by fielding a letter by Carol Johnson which seems to me to express this concern especially clearly and forcefully. My response then follows.

Background to Carol Johnson's letter can be found in two former issues. In Volume 3, Number 1 I pointed out that there are two perspectives from which Genesis 7 and 8 can be read, and that the perspective one adopts will color their interpretation of the Flood account.[13] If one adopts the perspective that these chapters record God's observations of the Flood, then these chapters immediately seem to imply a global Flood. If, on the other hand, one adopts the perspective that these chapters record Noah's observations of the Flood, then a global Flood does not seem necessarily implied.

This matter surfaces again briefly in Volume 3, Number 5 where I mention that the observation of Genesis 7:19 that "all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered" leads only to the conclusion that all of the mountains within Noah's visible range were submerged (rather than the conclusion that all mountains on earth were submerged) if the perspective that Genesis 7 records Noah's observations (rather than God's) is adopted.[14]

Does Genesis Teach that
the Flood was Global?

Dear Dr. Aardsma,

Your new theory on the cause of Noah's flood was quite fascinating, and certainly seems possible to have occurred. But I have difficulty accepting the HEMISPHERICAL flood model, not because it is not feasible scientifically, and not because it seems bizarre and unbelievable, but because it does not fit with the narrative in Genesis.

Yes, it could be from Noah's perspective that all the high mountains were covered, when there were others beyond his vision that were not, but there are other statements in the narrative that were made by God himself that indicate that the flood was global, since these statements are all inclusive!

To say that the flood covered only the Northern hemisphere means that almost the entire continent of South America, half of Africa, and all of Australia and Antarctica would not have been covered with water. How then could God declare, "And behold I, even I, do bring a flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die." [Genesis 6:17]? I would presume that God meant what he said when he said "all flesh" and "everything" and that this would include the flora and fauna of Africa, South America, and Australia - including kangaroos! This would have to be true according to the text unless there were no animals or people in those continents at the time. Are you then claiming that the animals of the Southern Hemisphere were not killed in the flood?

As if the statement in Genesis 6 were not enough, God says in Genesis 7:4 "… and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from the face of the earth". Clearly stating the results of the flood in Genesis 7:21-22, He says, "And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died."

God states in Genesis 7:23 that "… every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground … and only Noah remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark."

Those statements seem to plainly say that every animal was killed by the flood. That would have to include Africa, South America, Australia, and Antarctica.

Is it possible that the life in the Southern Hemisphere was wiped out with something other than the flood (possibly the disappearance of the oceans for a year) since it says "all that was in the dry land died."?

Could the flood model you proposed have affected the continent of Africa, South America, and Australia, without affecting Antarctica? In other words would it be possible for the waters to have covered 2/3 of the globe rather than 1/2, leaving out the south polar region where no life existed? If the [inner] core of the earth did not reach the mantle but was only displaced part of the way, would the flood waters have covered at least part of the southern hemisphere, thus covering those continents?

I would hate to see the clear word of God compromised for the sake of a scientific theory, even one as well calculated as yours. As you well said, if we cannot trust the witness of Genesis, then there is no reason to trust the historical witness in the Gospel of John or the words of Jesus. Please explain to me why God said that ALL flesh died with the flood if the southern hemisphere was exempt? Maybe you should keep looking.

I would appreciate hearing your perspective on these questions. Thank you so much for the detailed research you are doing on chronology. It is much needed. May God bless your work.


Carol Johnson
Sykesville, MD


Dear Carol,

Thank you for your letter. You have done a good job of presenting your concern and focusing on the relevant facts. I think many Christians would tend to share this concern.

Let me clear up a few details before getting down to the heart of the matter.

First, you have asked whether there may be some way of making the hemispherical Flood model cover more of the globe. In fact there appears to be none. All of the computer modeling of the extent and motion of the waters which I have done to date suggests that hemispherical coverage is all one can reasonably hope for.

Second, you have asked whether life in the southern hemisphere might have been wiped out by something other than flooding—as a result of the loss of the southern oceans, for example. It is clear that life in the southern hemisphere must have been severely stressed by the Flood, but it also seems clear that there is no way every last air-breathing, land-dwelling animal in the south would have succumbed to these stresses, as your current understanding of the verses you have pointed out demands. I do appreciate your efforts to get me "off the hook" with these suggestions, nonetheless.

Third, you have stated that "I would hate to see the clear word of God compromised for the sake of a scientific theory". I want you to know that I agree with you very strongly about this. I have emphasized from the beginning that "I am a Bible-believing conservative Christian" and "I hold to the inerrancy of Scripture in the autographs".[15] Scripture must not ever be compromised to bring it into apparent agreement with the theories of men. God helping me, I will never do so.

I must add a flip-side to your assertion, however, which I hope you will agree with me on. That is that the truth of Scripture must never be compromised by any stubborn adherence on our part to interpretations of Scripture which prove to be false. The Bible is inerrant, but unfortunately, we, its human interpreters, are not. We must be willing to renounce not only our false scientific theories but also our false Bible interpretations, no matter how respectably traditional they may be, for the love of the One we follow. Do you agree?

Now let me move to the heart of the matter. The reason we have come to opposite conclusions regarding the Biblical admissibility of the hemispherical Flood model is because we have interpreted the verses you have alluded to differently. You have interpreted the "all"s and "every"s of Genesis 6 and 7 as "all inclusive", by which you mean that none whatsoever is left out. This is a possible interpretation, but it is not the only possible interpretation. This is most clearly revealed by comparison with other Bible passages in which similar expressions are used.

The classic example here is Genesis 41:56&57, in reference to Joseph's famine.

When the famine was spread over all the face of the earth, then Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians; and the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. And the people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the earth.
This passage repeatedly says, "all the earth". Taken at face value it seems to be an assertion that Joseph's famine was a global phenomenon. That means it would have extended to Australia, the Americas, and into the Arctic.

The passage clearly and explicitly says, "And the people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph". Did Australian aborigines, American Indians, and Arctic Eskimos go to Egypt to purchase grain from Joseph during the seven years of famine? Please understand that I am prepared to believe that Eskimos paddled their kayaks across the Atlantic ocean, the Mediterranean sea, and up the Nile river if that is what the Bible teaches. But I know of no Bible scholar who would suggest that that is what the Bible intends for us to understand by these "all"s.

The hermeneutical lesson which these verses teach us is that it is possible for language to be used in Genesis which appears to be explicitly global, but which, in fact, must be understood as intended only to express the idea of a most unusual magnitude.

Genesis 41:56&57 open the door to the possibility that the language you have pointed out in Genesis 6 and 7, which also appears explicitly global, may, in fact, be referring to something which, while of stupendous proportions, was not global. This means that there are two possible, Bible-honoring interpretations of the verses you have pointed out in Genesis 6 and 7. One demands a global Flood. The other allows that possibility, but does not demand it.

To the best of my knowledge there is no rational way to choose confidently between these two interpretations based on the Biblical text alone. Whitcomb and Morris have attempted to do so in their book, The Genesis Flood, but I think we must judge their effort a failure.

They advance three points in this regard. The first is that "most universal terms [in the Bible] are to be interpreted literally".[16] I concede this point, but I fail to see how it helps us to choose confidently between the two possibilities in the specific case in question. Is this specific case one of the majority, or is it one of the minority?

Their second point is that "the context determines the meaning".[17] They clarify what they mean by this in this specific case by quoting M. M. Kalisch and italicizing for emphasis " the universality does not lie in the words merely, but in the tenor of the whole narrative".[18]

The statement that "context determines meaning" is a sound hermeneutical principle, but it cannot be applied in the sense of Kalisch's quote in this instance. To do so is to commit the logical error called begging the question.

The whole question under consideration is "Does Genesis teach that the Flood was global?" The "yes" side has advanced the argument that the "all"s and "every"s of Genesis 6 and 7 show that the Bible does teach that the Flood was global. The "no" side has advanced a counter-example; they have shown a case in Genesis where a lot of "all"s similar to those in Genesis 6 and 7 don't equate to global. Whitcomb and Morris reply for the "yes" side. They say that the counter-example does not apply to the "all"s in Genesis 6 and 7 because context determines meaning and the whole context of Genesis 6 and 7 is global, showing that the "all"s of Genesis 6 and 7 are meant to be understood globally. But that is begging the question. To say that the context (i.e., "the tenor of the whole narrative") of Genesis 6 and 7 is global is just a way of asserting that Genesis teaches the Flood was global. But this cannot be asserted (as a premise) since it is, in fact, the question which we are attempting to resolve. Obviously, the "no" side does not grant the premise that the whole context of Genesis 6 and 7 is global. That is what the "yes" side must prove if they wish to convince the "no" side.

Whitcomb and Morris state their third point as follows [original emphasis throughout]:[19]

But our third and most impelling reason for interpreting the universal terms of Genesis 6–9 literally is that the physical phenomena described in those chapters would be quite inconceivable if the Flood had been confined to one section of the earth. While it would be entirely possible for a seven-year famine to have gripped the Near East without at the same time affecting Australia and America (cf. Gen. 41:57), it would not have been possible for water to cover even one high mountain in the Near East without inundating Australia and America too!
I have shown that, according to the laws of physics (in particular, the law of gravity), it is in fact possible for water to cover mountains in the Near East without inundating Australia.[20] Thus this third point also falls to the ground.

I repeat: to the best of my knowledge there is no rational way to choose confidently between the global and non-global interpretations of Genesis 6 and 7 based on the Biblical text alone. Both interpretations are possible if the question is confined to Biblical material only.

But only one interpretation can be true. The Flood was either global in extent, or it was not. One of these two interpretations must be false. As long as Biblical data are all one has available on this interpretive question, one is well advised to allow both possibilities to stand, so as not to arbitrarily reject the truth and embrace error.

But, fortunately, the debate is no longer restricted to Biblical data alone. The date of the Flood is now clear, and the nature of this historical event is daily becoming more obvious through the application of previously amassed scientific data within its proper chronological context. We are, admittedly, only at a very early stage in this process. Nonetheless, I would be a less than faithful witness if I failed to state clearly that I judge the scientific data which has been explored to the present time to be already conclusive against the global Flood interpretation of Genesis 6 and 7.

But while it has been my privilege to delve into the scientific data, and to feel its impact first hand, you have had to wait on me, and learn about the scientific data second hand through my poor pen. So I will certainly not fault you if you choose to suspend final judgment on this interpretive question for some time yet.


Gerald E Aardsma, Ph.D.
Loda, IL

Research in Progress

The Waxing of the Flood

Last issue I published a figure explaining Noah's observations of the depth of the Flood in the Ararat region in terms of the dynamics of the inner core of the earth.[21] That figure is reproduced here (somewhat compressed) as Figure 3. In the figure the Flood is divided into three stages: waxing, maintaining, and waning.

Figure 3: Old diagram explaining the stages of the Flood. (Solid line is heuristic only.)

Since last issue I have constructed a computer program to enable me to study the waxing stage of the Flood. My purpose was to learn what I could about the motion of the water of the world oceans at the beginning of the Flood. How long would it have taken for the water to reach its maximum depth? And what was the depth distribution of the water over the surface of the earth during the waxing of the Flood?

I have had to simplify the problem considerably relative to real life in order to make any reasonable headway. For example, I have approximated the earth by a smooth sphere covered initially by a universal ocean. Thus I have totally neglected the actual topography of the surface of the earth, including the presence and distribution of the continents in my computer model. Obviously, in real life these would have had a significant impact on the motion of the waters, especially initially. I have also completely neglected the rotation of the earth.

It is clear that quantitatively precise results can hardly be expected in such a case. But helpful qualitative insights can still be obtained, and it is these which I wish to report on here.

The computer model

The computer model was designed as follows. I broke the world ocean up into 721 rings of water, symmetric about the impact center of the cosmic projectile. These rings were assigned a fixed volume of water, according to their position on the globe, to simulate uniform depth at the start of the calculation. The rings were allowed to move latitudinally (i.e., tangential motion only) in conformity with Newton's laws of motion. An adjustable frictional force, proportional to the square of the velocity, was applied to each ring. No other dissipative terms were included.

The motion of the inner core of the earth from the center to the mantle was approximated by the equation:

where dmax is the maximum possible displacement of the inner core, and v0 its initial speed due to the cosmic projectile impact.

The resulting set of coupled differential equations was solved numerically using a quartic Runge-Kutta method. At each time step the new velocities and angular positions of the water rings were computed. From the positions of the water rings the implied global height distribution of the water was obtained.

Each water ring starts out having a tangential velocity resulting from the cosmic projectile impact. The rings at the north and south "impact poles" have zero tangential velocity; the ring at the "impact equator" has maximum tangential velocity. (By "impact poles" and "impact equator" I mean to convey a coordinate system like that which is normally used on a globe except for the fact that it has been rotated to bring the north pole (of the coordinate system, not the earth) into coincidence with the impact crater. Thus the "north impact pole" lies over the impact center, the "impact equator" is 90° from the impact center in all directions, and the "south impact pole" is on the opposite side of the globe from the "north impact pole". I drop the quotes on these descriptors in what follows.)

Qualitative results

This rudimentary computer model has revealed several qualitative features of the waxing of the Flood which I had not previously suspected—though they seem obvious enough in hindsight.

First, the rise of the Flood was probably much more rapid than I have shown it to be in Figure 3. One day (i.e., roughly 24 hours) appears to be a more accurate approximation of the length of time required for the water to achieve full Flood depth in the Ararat region than forty days. This suggests that Figure 3 should be corrected as shown in Figure 4. This further suggests that the "forty days and forty nights" of Genesis 7:4,12&17 is a reference to the duration of the rainfall associated with the Flood only, rather than a reference to the length of time required for the Flood to achieve full depth as I had previously suggested might be the case.[22]

Figure 4: New diagram explaining the stages of the Flood. (Solid line is heuristic only.)

The second qualitative feature of interest is that the waxing stage appears to divide into three phases. These are: i. initial pulse, ii. reflected pulse, and iii. final flow.

The initial pulse occurs in the first few hours after impact. It is caused by the (tangential) velocity toward the impact center imparted to the oceans (relative to the solid earth) by the cosmic projectile impact. This results in a rush of water toward the impact center, and, ultimately, in a very great heap of water over the impact crater. The height of the heap is determined by the velocity imparted to the earth by the cosmic projectile and the friction experienced by the water as it flowed northward. This latter quantity is poorly constrained at this point, allowing a wide range of possible heights, but three average ocean depths above mean sea level is probably a minimum figure.

This initial pulse manifests itself differently at various impact latitudes in the computer calculation. At the north impact pole the water depth increases monotonically and rapidly. In the southern impact hemisphere (i.e., greater than 90° from the impact center) the water depth decreases monotonically and relatively slowly. At intermediate impact latitudes in the north, especially toward the impact equator (at 30° from the impact equator, for example) it is possible for the water to rise at first and then fall again, even falling below mean sea level. This results from the fact that the greatest volume of water is at the impact equator, and this water also has the greatest tangential velocity toward the impact center initially. A traffic jam results initially, causing the water to pile up. But the depth begins to decrease again (at 30°) as the high-volume, high-speed pulse moves rapidly to the north (even though water is still flowing into the 30° impact latitude from the south).

The reflected pulse phase begins when the mountain of water which has been accumulating over the impact crater begins to collapse under its own weight. Water now begins to flow outward from the north impact pole toward the south (even as, away from the pole, it continues to flow toward the pole from the south). The result is an enormous reflected pulse of water. (Picture—in slow motion—the slopes of a smooth mountain of water, with no walls to hold them in, slowly spreading out as the mountain collapses under its own weight.)

The reflected pulse develops a very steep (and very high) leading edge by about 45° from the impact center. This is due to the fact that the water at its base is still flowing north—the tail of the initial pulse—while the reflected pulse itself is being impelled south by the hydrostatic pressure of the water-mountain which lies behind it.[23] The profile of the water is like an ocean-high cliff face at this point.

The cliff face moves toward the south, diminishing in height as the volume of water in the mountain is spread out over an ever larger area of the earth's surface. However, the cliff face is moving at tsunami speeds. It seems appropriate, in fact, to refer to this reflected pulse, once it has developed its cliff-like aspect (beyond about 45° from the impact center) as a world-circling tsunami. This is a little inadequate, however, since the typical tsunami is only about a meter high in the open ocean (tsunamis only become tall waves as they come into shallow water), and this reflected pulse is on the order of a thousand times that height.

The altitude of this Flood-tsunami diminishes rapidly until it drops below mean sea level near the impact equator. (It is still three quarters of an ocean in height, however. Its altitude is low only because its base has dropped deep below mean sea level. Its base can drop this low because the southern ocean has been drained to that depth by this point.) The actual altitude of the Flood-tsunami as it crosses the equator depends substantially on where the inner core has gotten to by that time in the calculation. The slower the motion of the inner core away from the center of the earth, the greater the altitude of the Flood-tsunami when it reaches the equator. This is because the gravitational attraction of the inner core "traps" more water in the north the closer it is to the mantle.

Unfortunately, the actual speed of the inner core relative to the speed of the oceans is another parameter which is not well constrained at this early stage of investigation. As a result it is not possible to make quantitative statements about the actual depth of the Flood-tsunami near the impact equator. Nonetheless, for all choices of input parameters which I have tried so far I have found that the reflected pulse significantly increases the Flood depth near the impact equator relative to the static depth profiles calculated previously.[24] When the tsunami-like characteristics of this return pulse are taken into account, it seems inevitable that the extermination of life occasioned by the water of the Flood must have extended very nearly to the impact equator. Extension much beyond the impact equator does not appear likely, however, because the altitude of the Flood-tsunami drops very rapidly below mean sea level as it continues on toward the south.

The final flow phase begins once the Flood-tsunami has dissipated (i.e., after about 24 hours). The inner core is expected to have reached the mantle for certain by this time and much of the water of the oceans has already been held in the north by the gravitational attraction of the inner core. All that remains is a tidying up. Water continues to flow from the south into the north until the static Flood profile previously calculated is achieved.

Noah's Observations

How much confidence should be placed in these computer modeling results at this point? This is not an easy question to answer. The real-life problem is an extremely complex one in the field of fluid mechanics, involving both the fluid of the oceans and the fluid of the outer core of the earth. There is no question but that my computer model is an oversimplification. Can even its qualitative results be trusted? The best way I know to answer this question is to check the results of the computer program against Noah's observations of the Flood.

To do this one needs to know at what impact latitude Noah's observations were made, since, as I have indicated above, the phases of the waxing of the Flood were manifested in different ways at different points on the globe. This brings us face to face with the fact that we don't know exactly where the ark was built or from what point the initial observations of the Flood were made. But three factors suggest that the location was probably somewhere in Mesopotamia.

First, the Genesis narrative preceding the Flood account has established a setting in and around the Garden of Eden, and the Garden of Eden is placed at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Mesopotamia in Genesis 2:14.

Second, it appears from archaeological investigations that Mesopotamia was both the kernel and the hub of civilization back at the time of Noah. The technological capability required to construct a sea-worthy ark is not small, and it seems probable that such technology would have been most available near civilization's hub.

Third, since the ark was without locomotive power, it simply drifted upon the Flood water. It was obviously subject to currents and winds. If these currents and winds varied in intensity and direction in a somewhat random fashion, then the ark's path upon the surface of the Flood water would be what physicists call a "random walk". The important thing about random walks for the present case is that no matter how many steps are taken, one is most likely to end up not too far from where they began. This is helpful because we do know that the ark landed in the Ararat region, and this, of course, is just to the northwest of Mesopotamia.

The Ararat region is about 35° from the impact center (assumed to correspond to the Kara Sea), and the base of Mesopotamia, where the Persian Gulf begins, is about 43° away. Thus Noah's observations should, apparently, be compared to the computer results for this approximate range of impact latitudes.

In fact, this works out quite well. I mentioned above that at some latitudes the computer calculation shows an initially rising Flood depth, only to be followed a short while later by the depth dropping below zero. This would correspond to the ark being lifted initially, only to be set back down again a short while later. Noah records no such episode, and the computer calculation agrees. This behavior, as mentioned above, tends to be a characteristic of the Flood nearer to the impact equator than Noah appears to have been situated.

Notice also that Noah fails to report sighting or otherwise experiencing a tsunami. This is also in accord with the computer model. As mentioned above, the Flood-tsunami only seems to take shape beyond about 45° from the impact center. Noah's location at the start of the Flood is such that the ark and its contents were, in all probability, safely to the north of it.

These are both negative predictions—what Noah should not have observed. There is also a positive prediction. According to the computer model the rise of the Flood in Noah's region, while very rapid in both the initial and the reflected pulse phases, should nonetheless have been more rapid during the (later) reflected pulse phase than it was during the initial pulse phase. This results from the rapidly increasing depth of water in Noah's region during the reflected pulse phase as the water mountain above the impact center began to collapse and spread its flanks.

This accelerated uplift of the ark does seem to find support in Genesis 7. In verse 17 Noah records, "and the water increased and lifted up the ark". This is readily identified with the primary pulse. Then, in verse 18 we read, "And the water prevailed and increased greatly" [my emphasis]. This seems to resonate naturally with the predicted, accelerated rate of uplift during the reflected pulse phase.

While precise quantitative accuracy cannot be hoped for from this simple model, it does seem likely that the qualitative aspects of the waxing of the Flood which it has revealed were a real part of the actual Flood. Indeed, it is difficult to see how they could not have been. Notice, for example, that even if the height of the predicted Flood-tsunami was to be found by future, more sophisticated computer models to have been overestimated by a factor of 1000 (which seems most unlikely) one would still have a Flood-tsunami. Seismic events do produce tsunamis, and the collision of the cosmic projectile with the earth most certainly qualifies as a seismic event. Thus I expect the initial and reflected pulses, with their respective water mountain and Flood-tsunami, to show up as persistent features in all future, more precise efforts to model the waxing of the Flood—however refined their timing and magnitude may become. On this basis it seems appropriate to formally include these phases and phenomena in the hemispherical Flood model at the present time.

Was the Flood a Cataclysm?

There are two parameters which can be used to categorize various models of the Flood. The first is the geographical extent of the Flood, and the second is its geological potency. The first parameter answers the question, "What fraction of the earth's surface was covered by the water of the Flood?" The second answers the question, "How much did the Flood reshape the surface of the earth?"

These parameters should be treated as continuous variables, having a continuous range of possible values. Unfortunately, they have often been treated as binary variables, having only two possible values.

Discussion regarding the first parameter—the geographical extent of the Flood—has often been framed as a choice between two alternatives: global (100% coverage) or local (<1% coverage). These two extremes have historically been championed, with a large measure of zeal at times, by two opposing "camps".

While I personally have had no preference for any given value of this parameter (my only interest has been to find out the truth), I cannot help but smile at the way the truth seems to be coming out. The hemispherical Flood model is yielding roughly 50% coverage—right in the middle!

The second parameter—the geological potency of the Flood—has also tended to be polarized into two extremes: tranquil (in which the Flood has zero impact on the surface of the earth) and cataclysmic (in which the Flood completely reworks the surface of the earth, with intense global erosion, deposition of miles-deep stratified sediments all around the world, massive tectonic uplift of mountain ranges globally, rapid subduction of the ocean floor, and even continents breaking apart and redistributing themselves over the face of the globe).

Here again I have had no preference but to find the truth. And here again I cannot help but smile at the way the hemispherical Flood model is turning out.

If we ask the hemispherical Flood model, "Was the Flood tranquil?", the answer is "Most certainly not." An ocean-high, world-circling tsunami is bound to have accomplished some erosion. The cosmic projectile impact, the rush of water to the impact center, and the reflected pulse are in the category of catastrophic phenomena, geologically speaking. They cannot be labeled "tranquil". The day the cosmic projectile struck can only be perceived as a day of sudden terror and unimaginable calamity.

But let us now ask, "Was the Flood a cataclysm?" How many continents broke apart and moved to new locations on the globe? Zero. How many ocean floors were subducted? Apart from the tiny piece of sea floor in the immediate path of the cosmic projectile (which wasn't exactly subducted), zero. How many mountain ranges were uplifted? Again, other than a relatively tiny rim around the impact crater, zero. How much of the surface of the earth was eroded away? Apparently very little. Please note that pre-Flood archaeological remains, such as the Chalcolithic temple structure we saw in the previous issue, are still found in place throughout Palestine and the Near East. Tsunamis, while quite effective at destroying life, generally do not do an enormous amount of geological work—their action at a particular site may be intense, but it is also very brief. How many miles of sediment were piled up around the globe? I have no numbers on this, but I would venture the global average was closer to an inch than a mile.

Note also that catastrophic phenomena seem only to have characterized Day 1 of the Flood. No world-circling tsunamis have been found, or are expected to be found, in the remaining 364 days of the Flood. For the great majority of the time one seems to be dealing simply with a seriously displaced but otherwise normal ocean.

Was the Flood a cataclysm?

Most certainly not. ◇

The Biblical Chronologist is a bimonthly subscription newsletter about Biblical chronology. It is written and edited by Gerald E. Aardsma, a Ph.D. scientist (nuclear physics) with special background in radioisotopic dating methods such as radiocarbon. The Biblical Chronologist has a threefold purpose:

  1. to encourage, enrich, and strengthen the faith of conservative Christians through instruction in Biblical chronology,

  2. to foster informed, up-to-date, scholarly research in this vital field within the conservative Christian community, and

  3. to communicate current developments and discoveries in Biblical chronology in an easily understood manner.

An introductory packet containing three sample issues and a subscription order form is available for $9.95 US regardless of destination address. Send check or money order in US funds and request the "Intro Pack."

The Biblical Chronologist (ISSN 1081-762X) is published six times a year by Aardsma Research & Publishing, 412 N Mulberry, Loda, IL 60948-9651.

Copyright © 1998 by Aardsma Research & Publishing. Photocopying or reproduction strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.

Footnotes

  1. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Cause of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.5 (September/October 1997): 1–14.

  2. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Cause of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.5 (September/October 1997): 5–6.

  3. ^  James H. McGregor, "Koala," The Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 16 (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1962) 502.

  4. ^  Harold E. Anthony, "Sloth," The Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 25 (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1962) 100.

  5. ^  Ernest Ingersoll, "Zoogeography," The Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 29 (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1962) 727.

  6. ^  The extent of flooding of interest to the present study involves flooding which was deep enough to exterminate life. (This is one of the subtleties involved in mapping the geographical limits of the Flood.) The 88° figure is for flooding to any depth at all above mean sea level today. Thus this 88° figure may appear open to criticism as being altogether too generous—life exterminating depths for most land masses appear on the Flood depth curves to extend to only about 60°. However, the most recent research has indicated that the Flood depth was probably much greater in the 60–90° range during the opening hours of the Flood when the waters were on the move than it appears in the (static) Flood depth curves, which only apply once the waters had reached their new equilibrium position. (See the "Research in Progress" column this issue for more on this.) Thus 88° does, in fact, presently appear as a better estimate of the life-exterminating extent of the Flood than 60°. Indeed, even 88° is probably a slight underestimate.

  7. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Cause of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.5 (September/October 1997): 12–13.

  8. ^  Ernest Ingersoll, "Zoogeography," The Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 29 (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1962) 726.

  9. ^  Ernest Ingersoll, "Zoogeography," The Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 29 (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1962) 728.

  10. ^  Ernest Ingersoll, "Zoogeography," The Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 29 (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1962) 728.

  11. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Depth of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.3 (May/June 1997): 8.

  12. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Cause of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.5 (September/October 1997): 5–6.

  13. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Chronology of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.1 (January/February 1997): 6.

  14. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Cause of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.5 (September/October 1997): 4.

  15. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel, 2nd ed. (Loda IL: Aardsma Research and Publishing, 1993) 19.

  16. ^  John C. Whitcomb, Jr. and Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood (Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1961), 56.

  17. ^  John C. Whitcomb, Jr. and Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood (Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1961), 56.

  18. ^  John C. Whitcomb, Jr. and Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood (Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1961), 57.

  19. ^  John C. Whitcomb, Jr. and Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood (Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1961), 60.

  20. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Cause of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.5 (September/October 1997): 1–14.

  21. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Research in Progress," The Biblical Chronologist 3.6 (November/December 1997): 17.

  22. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Research in Progress," The Biblical Chronologist 3.6 (November/December 1997): 15–16.

  23. ^  I found it necessary to apply a three-point binary smoothing to the water rings' velocity and position arrays after each Runge-Kutta iteration to keep the calculation stable at this point. First derivatives are otherwise discontinuous near the "crest" of the reflected pulse.

  24. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Cause of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.5 (September/October 1997): 11.


Volume 4, Number 2March/April 1998

Space Rock Impacts and Noah's Flood

In the Volume 3 Number 5 issue of The Biblical Chronologist I proposed that the root physical cause of Noah's Flood was a collision between a very high speed cosmic projectile (i.e., a "space rock") and Earth.[1] Since then several subscribers have sent me newspaper clippings or similar items reporting on recent theoretical investigations by scientists of the effects of asteroid impacts on Earth. These clippings report that scientists find catastrophic phenomena of several sorts associated with such impacts: global fires, tidal waves, dust from the impact blocking out the sun for long periods of time with consequent global cooling, mass extinctions of life, and so forth.

These popular reports are helpful in coming to grips with the facts that: 1. cosmic projectiles of various sorts do exist, 2. they can occasionally collide with the earth, and 3. they can have devastating consequences for life when they do so. But when it comes to the Flood these reports can be somewhat misleading. The reason for this is that even a very large asteroid impact is a tiny thing relative to the collision with the cosmic projectile which caused Noah's Flood, as I show quantitatively below.

But if asteroid impacts can produce global catastrophes and mass extinctions of life, and they are tiny compared to the Flood impact, then how could any life have survived the Flood impact—even with the building of an ark? This is the central conundrum for the Flood impact hypothesis. Can this hurdle be cleared, or must we seek some other root physical cause of Noah's Flood?

The Tunguska Event

A descending fireball, brighter than the sun, exploded over a sparsely populated area in the Tunguska region of Siberia on June 30, 1908.[2] Over 300,000 acres of pine forest were leveled in an instant. The explosion was heard over 600 miles away. The trees were later found to be snapped off and pointing radially away from the center of the blast (Figure 1), except at the center of the impact, were no trace of the original forest remained.

Figure 1: Trees leveled by the Tunguska explosion. This photo appears to originate with the first expedition to the site, led by L. A. Kulik of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1927.

The Tunguska event is believed to have been caused by the explosion of a 50 to 60 meter diameter object (i.e., an object large enough to fill half a football field) in the atmosphere some 8 kilometers above the ground.[3] Whether this object was an icy fragment of a comet or a rocky asteroid is unclear. The energy of the blast is estimated today at between 10 and 20 megatons—the equivalent of a hydrogen bomb.

The energy for the explosion was furnished by the Tunguska object's mass and very high speed. The average speed of a meteoroid entering Earth's atmosphere is about 20 kilometers per second (over forty thousand miles per hour) and this is the probable speed of the Tunguska object. Explosion of the object resulted from the braking action of the atmosphere. Very large aerodynamic forces act on an object in the atmosphere at such high velocities. These tend to break the object down into smaller pieces. These smaller pieces offer an even larger surface area for atmospheric braking. The result is further, even more rapid fragmentation and heating. This process rapidly snowballs, culminating in the catastrophic disintegration of the object and release of its enormous kinetic energy in a short distance—i.e., the object explodes.

For objects only a few tens of meters in diameter, the explosion generally takes place in the atmosphere. Larger objects are able to penetrate to the ground where they explode due to collision with the surface material of the earth. Such collisions produce craters, of which Meteor Crater in Arizona is probably the best-known example.

Asteroids

The Tunguska object is an example of a large class of objects which might collectively be called "space debris". This class includes comets (having an icy composition), asteroids (rocky or metallic), and the fragments of comets and asteroids called meteoroids. (Meteorites are meteoroids which have fallen to the surface of the earth.)

The asteroids provide what is probably the best analog of the cosmic projectile which caused the Flood. Asteroids are big chunks of rock or metal which are found, like the planets, to be a part of our solar system. Unlike the planets, however, which are few in number, the asteroids are very numerous.[4]

Today, more than 6000 asteroids have been observed well enough for their orbits to be determined accurately, and tens of thousands more have been observed only briefly.
And while the planets are massive bodies, the asteroids are relatively small. Ceres, for example, the largest known asteroid, is less than one quarter the diameter of the Moon.
The asteroids range in size from almost 1000 km in diameter, down to small rocks or dust particles. Gehrels has estimated that there are about half a million asteroids larger than 1.6 km in diameter. Since the vast majority of asteroids are so small, however, the total mass of the asteroid belt is also quite small. If all of the asteroids were lumped together, their total mass would probably be less than one-thousandth the mass of the Earth.[5]

Figure 2 shows a NASA image of asteroid 243 Ida acquired by the Galileo spacecraft in 1993. This chunk of rock is 55 kilometers long, 24 kilometers wide, and 20 kilometers thick.

Figure 2: Asteroid 243 Ida.

Asteroids orbit the sun like the planets do. Most are found in the so-called "asteroid belt" between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Other orbits are possible however, including ones which intersect Earth's orbit about the sun. In such cases a collision results if both the asteroid and the Earth arrive at the intersection point at the same time. And even asteroids whose orbits do not intersect Earth's orbit pose some threat of collision because asteroids can be perturbed into new orbits by collisions with one another and by close encounters with massive bodies such as Jupiter.

A great deal of research has gone into the question of how great a threat is posed to civilization today by asteroid collisions with Earth. A Tunguska-like event over a large city could obviously result in very many lives lost. Events of this size are not the biggest concern, however. Because asteroids come in sizes much greater than the Tunguska object, there is some potential for much larger disasters than even the destruction of a large city. In fact, for collisions with asteroids having diameters greater than about one kilometer, scientists talk in terms of global disaster.[6]

Fortunately, the probabilities of collisions with such large objects are relatively small. Tunguska-like events are believed to happen only once every 250 years on average, and the probability of a global-scale event is estimated at about one per 500,000 years.[7] Nonetheless, international research into possible means of detecting Earth-threatening asteroids early enough to allow for their deflection or destruction has been under way for a number of years now.[8]

The Flood Projectile

While the asteroids seem to provide adequate analogs to the Flood projectile in terms of possible size and probable material composition, it seems most unlikely at the present time that the Flood projectile came from the asteroid belt. It appears, in fact, that the Flood projectile was foreign to Earth's neighborhood—that it entered the solar system from the vast reaches of space beyond. Its energy was enormous relative to even very large asteroid impacts, which suggests that its incoming velocity was far too large for it to have been a member of the solar system.

Every indication is that the Flood projectile represents a category of cosmic collision far beyond that which is represented by the asteroids and comets. Its energy was sufficient not only to produce devastating global effects, but, indeed, to melt the globe! The question which begs answering is how any life could possibly have survived the collision of the Flood projectile with Earth—ark or no ark. Why did a mere hemispherical Flood result, instead of the oceans being entirely vaporized, and the crust of the earth besides?

I have sought an answer to this apparent conundrum over the past several weeks, and I am happy to report that I have found one. My purpose in this article is first of all to make this conundrum quantitatively explicit, and then to show what I believe to be its resolution. In the process of doing these things a thorough conception of what took place in the opening minutes of the Flood should emerge.

To achieve this purpose an excursion into the field of physics is unavoidable. For readers who are unfamiliar with the basic physics concepts and mathematical tools needed in the present study, I have used a format which allows one to easily skip over the physics and math and still follow the basic discussion and conclusions. An introductory Question explains the problem. The physics and math necessary to find the answer to the question follow in a separate Physics section. Then the answer itself is summarized and discussed in an Answer section.

The Conundrum

Question 1

What was the energy of the Flood projectile?

The energy of a cosmic projectile determines how big the explosion will be when it collides with Earth. It is the sudden release of this energy which produces the explosion, and it is this energy which drives subsequent effects such as the lofting of dust into the atmosphere to block out the sun, or the production of tidal waves. Thus, to understand the scale of the collision in question it is of first importance to determine the energy of the Flood projectile.

To obtain this energy we must work from what we know about the phenomena of the Flood, inventorying the energy used in each instance. Recall that in the hemispherical Flood model (in which we are presently working) the inner core of the earth is displaced until it collides with the mantle.[9] This displacement is caused by the solid earth acquiring a new velocity due to the impact of the cosmic projectile. And one consequence is the heaping of the water of the southern oceans up in the northern hemisphere together with the water of the northern oceans. Such phenomena require a great deal of energy to accomplish. This energy must all be supplied by the incoming projectile.

Physics 1

As it turns out, the velocity given to the earth by the projectile yields the dominant energy item in this inventory. The resulting kinetic energy of the earth is greater than 2.4×1029 joules. This compares, for example, with 1.8×1025 joules to lift the southern oceans onto the top of the northern oceans, and about 5×1024 joules to source one inch of rain per hour globally for forty days and nights.

The kinetic energy given to the earth by the cosmic projectile was calculated as follows. The equation for the kinetic energy is:

where mE is the mass of the earth and vE its velocity due to collision with the Flood projectile. (Strictly speaking one should use the mass of the earth minus the mass of the inner core in this equation, but the subtraction of the mass of the inner core has no effect on the result at the precision to which we are presently working.) I obtained the minimum value for vE from the motion of the inner core relative to the crust and mantle after the impact as follows.

First, I calculated (numerically) the energy required to move the inner core of the earth from its normal central position out to the mantle using the equation:

Fg is the force due to gravity, and Fb is the force of buoyancy experienced by the inner core. I used the density figures for the inner and outer core and whatever other parameters were needed from the Preliminary Reference Earth Model in this calculation.[10] I found 7.4×1028 joules.

This work energy must come from the initial kinetic energy of the inner core after impact (viewed from a stationary Earth reference frame) plus the kinetic energy of the circulating outer core fluid. Recall that we have previously seen that the outer core fluid must have been set in a circulating motion by the impact since this motion is necessary to explain the fact that the inner core was held pinned to the mantle for many days.[11]

The motion of the fluid outer core and its interaction with the inner core are not well characterized at this point. However, it is clear that the outer core could have no greater kinetic energy per unit mass than the inner core. To do so would mean that the outer core fluid was circulating more rapidly than the fastest motion of the inner core. This is not possible because the inner core is what "stirred" the outer core fluid into motion in the first place.

Thus it is possible to set the maximum kinetic energy of the outer core for a given velocity of the inner core to:

where Koc is the kinetic energy of the outer core, moc is the mass of the outer core, and vic is the initial velocity of the inner core after impact.

Meanwhile, the initial kinetic energy of the inner core is just:

Thus the initial kinetic energy of the entire core must be:

where mc = mic + moc = 1.9×1024 kg.

As mentioned above, the energy required to lift the inner core to the mantle must come from this initial kinetic energy. Thus:

Therefore:

Substitution of values at this stage gives vic ≥ 2.8×102 m/s as the initial velocity of the inner core after impact in the stationary Earth frame.

If we now switch into the moving Earth, stationary inner core reference frame we see immediately that vic = -vE, where vE is the velocity given to the crust and mantle of the earth by the Flood projectile. Thus we find that the crust and mantle of the earth were given a velocity greater than 2.8×102 m/s by the impact.

Substituting this value for vE, and 6.0×1024 kg for the mass of the earth, mE, into equation 1 yields 2.4×1029 joules as the minimum kinetic energy given to the earth by the collision with the Flood projectile, as stated above.

This is not a good estimate of the minimum kinetic energy of the Flood projectile itself, however. It seriously underestimates that quantity. The reason for this is that it is physically impossible to channel 100% of the kinetic energy of the projectile before impact into kinetic energy of the earth after impact. In fact, only a very small fraction of the kinetic energy of the incoming projectile can be converted into kinetic energy of the earth.

The collision of the Flood projectile with the earth is a completely inelastic collision. Because of momentum conservation we must have:

where mp and vp are the mass and velocity of the incoming projectile, and mE and vE are the mass and velocity of the earth as previously defined. We can use this equation to obtain an equation for the ratio of the kinetic energy given to the earth by the Flood projectile to the kinetic energy of the Flood projectile itself.

This shows that the fraction of incoming kinetic energy given to the earth will be equal to the ratio of the mass of the projectile to the mass of the earth.

Several things indicate that this ratio will be very small—that the mass of the Flood projectile must have been quite small relative to the mass of the earth. First, if the projectile were comparable in size to the earth, then one would need to imagine a high speed collision between two roughly equal size objects. The consequence would surely be catastrophic fragmentation of both objects—and this does not harmonize at all with Noah's observations.

Second, the space rocks which we know about (i.e., the asteroids) all have diameters less than 1000 kilometers, as noted above, and the vast majority have diameters much less even than this. This is much smaller than the earth's 12,000 kilometer diameter.

Third, we have so far found that the Kara Sea seems the most probable impact center for the Flood projectile.[12] It has a diameter of only about 420 kilometers. Thus, even if the Flood projectile filled it completely (which seems unlikely), its diameter would still be only about one thirtieth that of the earth. This implies a mass ratio (for equal density objects) of 1:28,000.

Thus it seems inevitable that the ratio of the mass of the projectile to the mass of Earth must be 10-3 or smaller.

When substituted into the previous equation this says that, at best, only one part in a thousand of the incoming projectile's kinetic energy was converted to kinetic energy of the earth.

Answer 1

Thus we are led to fix the minimum energy of the Flood projectile at 2×1032 joules, with a more probable value at least ten times this amount.

This is an enormous energy. Scientists consider 2×105 megatons (MT) to be the nominal threshold for global disaster.[13] The minimum energy of the Flood projectile we have just found is 5×1016 MT! This is 250 billion (2.5×1011) global disasters all rolled up in one!

Clearly, there was more than enough energy to pile the oceans of the world up in a great water mountain over the north impact pole, and to drive an ocean-high tsunami, as previously found.[14] There was also plenty of energy to move the inner core of the earth to the mantle[15] and plenty of energy available to evaporate forty days and nights worth of heavy rainfall.

The difficulty, however, is that there appears to be entirely too much energy for any life to survive through the Flood, as mentioned above. The problem is that even when we add up all the energy required to do all of the things we know happened at the time of the Flood—moving the inner core to the mantle, lifting the southern oceans onto the northern ones, etc.—we still have almost all of the projectile's original energy left over. It is a fundamental law of science that energy cannot be destroyed. Where did all this energy go?

Normally, extraneous energy ends up as heat, and we would expect it to do so in this case. But we encounter an enormous problem if we convert all of this leftover energy to heat, as the answer to the next question shows.

Question 2

Suppose the excess energy of the incoming projectile was used to heat up the earth. How hot would the earth become?

Physics 2

To get a feel for this, approximate the heat capacity of the entire earth with that of steel at 25°C, i.e., c = 447 J/kg/K. Then a quantity of heat, ΔQ, will produce a temperature change in the entire earth of:

Substitution of values from above into this equation yields ΔT = 7×104 K.

This is well above the boiling point of all of the elements. A more elaborate calculation incorporating latent heats of fusion and vaporization leads to this same conclusion.

Answer 2

It is found that if the excess energy of the incoming projectile were used to heat up the earth, the entire earth would be vaporized! This obviously disagrees with both Noah's observations of the Flood and with our present experience.

Another Problem

Before I begin to tackle the question of how to solve this conundrum, there is another problem which I need to make explicit.

We are imagining that the Flood projectile collided with the earth and was brought rapidly to rest as a result. We are further imagining that the earth acquired its new velocity as an immediate result of this collision. This presents a considerable difficulty to objects loosely connected to the surface of the earth, such as the ark and its occupants.

I showed above that the minimum velocity given to the earth in the collision was 280 meters per second. This is 630 miles per hour.

Question 3

What would happen if the earth beneath your feet suddenly acquired a velocity of 630 miles per hour?

Answer 3

The result would be similar to the well-known stunt of pulling the tablecloth out from under the china; if you pull the cloth out very quickly the china will all stay in its place. The problem for Noah and the ark, however, is that the surface of the earth, unlike tablecloths, has mountains in it. This means that the ark and all its occupants would be crashed into, at 630 miles per hour, by the first mountain that came their way.

Noah's failure to record such an episode might easily be explained—there is, after all, almost no chance of surviving such a high speed crash. But Noah's evident ability to record subsequent events is then rendered somewhat enigmatic.

Summary of Problems

Thus, two serious problems appear if one attempts to assign the root cause of the Flood entirely to a simple collision between the Flood projectile and Earth: too much energy is unleashed upon the earth, and the transfer of momentum from the projectile to the earth is too sudden. It is obviously necessary to go beyond this simple collision model if we are to satisfy the constraints of the Biblical narrative.

The Solution

There is really only one way to solve the excess energy problem. This energy must not be allowed to remain with the earth. It must be sent back out into space where it came from.

There is also only one way to solve the sudden transfer of momentum problem. The earth's new momentum must not be acquired all at once. It must be acquired more slowly, over a relatively protracted period of time. Notice that if the acceleration of the tablecloth is slow enough, the china will move together with the tablecloth—a much more acceptable outcome in the case of the ark.

I can think of only one way of satisfying both of these requirements. We must go beyond the simple collision model and incorporate a "rocket engine" into our thinking about the Flood.

Notice that any rocket faces problems parallel to the two we have found for the simple collision model. The space shuttle, for example, contains a great deal of energy in its chemical fuel at launch time. I have done no calculations on this but I suspect it contains enough energy to vaporize the entire shuttle, just as the Flood projectile contained enough energy to vaporize the earth. But the shuttle is not vaporized by the release of this energy because the energy is all shot away from the shuttle by its rocket engines. Also, the space shuttle achieves very high velocities, just as the earth did at the time of the Flood. But the astronauts do not all suddenly crash into the walls of the shuttle at takeoff because the rocket engines spread the acceleration out over a protracted period of time. The shuttle acquires its large velocity slowly, rather than all at once.

The secret to the solution to both of these problems in the case of the shuttle is seen to reside with the rocket engines. They automatically solve both problems. This suggests that we must somehow equip the earth with a "rocket engine" at the start of the Flood to solve the problems of the simple collision model. How can this be done? I suggest the following model.

The Rocket Engine Model

We imagine the cosmic projectile, rather than exploding at the surface of the earth, puncturing a deep vertical shaft into the earth, and exploding at the bottom of the shaft. This is just an extension of what we know happens at lower energies. Lower energy asteroids lose their energy high in the atmosphere. Larger asteroids puncture a channel some distance into the atmosphere before exploding. Still more energetic asteroids puncture a channel completely through the atmosphere and explode at the surface of the earth. (This punctured channel is called a "wake" in the technical literature. Adushkin and Nemchinov define the wake as "a rarefied channel through which some part of the [impact] energy can escape the dense layers of the atmosphere".[16]) It is obviously reasonable to suppose that the more energetic an asteroid is, the deeper it will penetrate into the earth before exploding. The extreme energy of the Flood projectile suggests the possibility of penetration to considerable depth before explosion.

The explosion vaporizes a portion of the earth at the base of the shaft, producing a chamber of highly pressurized, very hot gas. This gas is kept "bottled up" by the surrounding earth. The only way the chamber can vent is through expulsion of gas back up the shaft.

This is a rudimentary rocket engine. The explosion chamber parallels the combustion chamber of a rocket engine, and the shaft is like the exhaust nozzle.

Because of the extreme temperature and pressure within the explosion chamber the gas is expelled at extremely high velocity from the shaft. This produces a thrust on the earth which begins to give it a new velocity, just as the expulsion of air from a toy balloon propels the balloon about the room, or as the expulsion of hot gas from a rocket engine produces a thrust which propels the rocket.

The thrust continues until the chamber gases are exhausted, most of the enormous energy of the projectile having been shot back out into space in the form of hot gas.

Because of the small mass of the Flood projectile relative to the mass of the earth, very little momentum is given to the earth by the collision itself. Instead, the earth's new velocity develops gradually as a result of the protracted thrust of the rocket engine which the collision of the Flood projectile has both created and ignited.

This, I suggest, is what actually happened at the time of the Flood.

Quantitative Check

Does this all work out when investigated quantitatively? The following set of questions and answers shows that, in fact, it does.

Question 4

What minimum speed must the atoms of the hot ejected gas have for this rocket solution to work?

Answer 4

The hot gas must escape Earth's gravity. Otherwise the gas will just be pulled back to Earth. This will result in no net thrust, and in the Flood projectile's energy being returned to Earth.

Thus the hot gas must be ejected with a speed greater than or equal to the escape velocity for Earth. This velocity is vesc = 1.12×104 m/s (i.e., 25,000 miles per hour).

Question 5

What temperature does this correspond to?

Physics 5

The most probable speed for atoms in a gas is related to the temperature through the expression

where mg and vg are the mass and the velocity of the gas atoms, kB is the Boltzmann constant, and T is the absolute temperature of the gas. Choose oxygen as the atom involved since it has the highest terrestrial abundance. Then mg = 16×10-3/6.0×1023 kg, vg = vesc = 1.1×104 m/s, and kB = 1.38×10-23 J/K. These values yield T = 1.2×105 K.

Answer 5

Thus the ejected gas must have a temperature in excess of one hundred thousand degrees. This is very high, but it is still a thousand times lower than the temperature achieved in a helium thermonuclear reaction.[17]

Question 6

Can this "Flood rocket" provide enough thrust to achieve the necessary new velocity of the earth?

Physics 5

The minimum momentum given to the earth is mEvE = (6×1024 kg)(3×102 m/s) = 2×1027 kg m/s. This momentum now comes from the mass, me, and velocity, ve, of the hot ejected gas. Thus meve ≥ 2×1027 kg m/s. Setting ve = vesc I find me = 2×1023 kg.

Answer 6

Thus, the Flood rocket can provide adequate thrust as long as 2×1023 kilograms of gas are ejected at Earth's escape velocity. This corresponds to about 3% of Earth's mass being vaporized and ejected. Less mass is needed if the gas is ejected at higher velocity. Since enough mass is available to provide the needed thrust even at the lowest possible velocity, there is no problem achieving the necessary momentum of the earth in the Flood rocket model.

Question 7

What is the minimum kinetic energy of the Flood projectile in the Flood rocket model?

Physics 7

The kinetic energy taken away by the ejected mass is

Using the value of meve found in the previous question, this becomes Ke ≥ 1×1027ve J. Substituting ve = vesc once again yields Ke ≥ 1×1031 J.

Answer 7

The minimum Flood projectile energy is now found to be 2×1015 MT. This is about twenty times less than the minimum energy found previously for the simple collision model.

Figure 3 shows a graph of projectile mass versus projectile velocity. (Notice that this is a logarithmic graph—each grid line goes up by a factor of 10 over the previous grid line.) The minimum energy of the Flood projectile which was just found is plotted as the heavy solid line on this graph. The masses of Earth, Moon, and Ceres (the largest known asteroid), are indicated by horizontal dashed lines. The vertical dashed line shows the highest speed an object can have at Earth and still remain bound to the solar system. Thus the asteroids must all have masses less than (below) Ceres, and velocities less than (to the left of) the vertical dashed line. Notice that the minimum projectile energy line does not intersect this asteroid region. This implies that the Flood projectile was probably not a member of the solar system prior to the Flood impact, as stated above. Rather, it seems likely that it entered the solar system from inter-stellar space just prior to its collision with Earth.

Figure 3: Base 10 logarithm of the mass of the Flood projectile versus the logarithm of its velocity.

Question 8

What was the Flood projectile made of?

Answer 8

Since the Flood projectile was probably not a member of the solar system, it is impossible to answer this question with anything even approaching certainty. However, there is one asteroid type which seems intrinsically well suited to the job of puncturing a deep shaft into the earth. This is the metallic, iron-nickel, type. Iron-nickel meteorites are found to have densities in the range 7.2–7.9 g/cm3,[18] compared to about 3 g/cm3 for the crust of the earth. They also have a very high mechanical strength.

This group, resembling stainless steel in many ways, has very high density and virtually no porosity (except for nodules) thereby possessing the strongest mechanical structure… Fortunately, the relative abundance of this strong material is thought to be low.[19]

It seems appropriate, as a working hypothesis, to assume an iron-nickel composition for the Flood projectile until any evidence contrary to this assumption may be found.

Question 9

What was the size of the Flood projectile?

Answer 9

The diameter of a spherical object having a density of 8 g/cm3 is shown by the scale on the right side of Figure 3. It is clear that a wide range of masses is possible for the minimum energy shown.

If the Kara Sea is the impact site, as has been suggested previously and found to be workable so far, then its diameter sets an upper limit of 420 kilometers on the projectile diameter. In actual practice, however, projectile diameters are generally much smaller than the diameters of the craters they make. Thus it seems probable that the Flood projectile was much smaller than 420 kilometers. Perhaps a diameter of 50 kilometers would be an appropriate guesstimate at this early stage of investigation. This is probably not out by more than a factor of ten either way.

For a 50 kilometer projectile the corresponding velocity is 6×10^6 meters per second, as shown by the X in the graph (Figure 3).

Question 10

What velocity would an object of this mass and velocity impart to the earth upon collision?

Physics 10

The mass of the projectile in this case is 6×1017 kg. This is very much less than the mass of the earth. Thus the velocity given to the earth is

This yields vE = (6×1017) × (6×10^6) / (6×1024) = 0.6 m/s.

Answer 10

The result is 0.6 meters per second, which is just 1.3 miles per hour. Clearly, the collision itself would not produce very much of a jolt for Noah and the ark, which is in harmony with the fact that Noah did not record any jolt at the start of the Flood.

Question 11

How long would the Flood rocket need to be active to keep the acceleration of the earth acceptably low?

Answer 11

Kane and Sternheim state that a normal takeoff in an aircraft involves an acceleration of about g/2 for 10–20 seconds.[20] (Here g is the acceleration due to gravity at the surface of the earth.) This seems a reasonable permissible upper limit of acceleration for Noah and the ark.

A hot gas ejection time (at ≥ vesc) of 40 seconds is all that is required to keep the acceleration of the ark (at its impact latitude) below g/2. An ejection time of just three minutes reduces the acceleration below what is typically experienced on a fast service elevator, and the Flood rocket would only have to remain in operation for about thirty minutes to render the acceleration of the earth probably undetectable in the ark. All of these ejection times seem within the realm of possibility at this early stage of investigation.

Conclusion

Thus the conundrums faced by the simple collision model appear to be solved by the Flood rocket model. While many more questions could, and ultimately must, be asked of this model, those which have been explored above seem sufficient to demonstrate that the suggestion that the Flood was caused by a collision of a very high speed cosmic projectile with Earth is a reasonable one which must be taken seriously.

This leads to an additional conclusion. The investigation which we have just completed marks the final step in a backwards progression through the Flood. I have previously investigated Noah's observations of the waning of the Flood and found them to be naturally explicable within the hemispherical Flood model.[21] Last issue I reported on an investigation of the waxing of the Flood, which also found ready physical explanations in harmony with Noah's observations.[22] The investigation has now been taken successfully back to the very beginning of the Flood—the moment the cosmic projectile collided with Earth. Thus it seems appropriate to further conclude that the hemispherical Flood model provides a workable explanation of the Flood from start to finish.

To the best of my knowledge the hemispherical Flood model is the only model of the Flood for which this claim can be made. This is true despite the fact that other Flood models have had research man hours invested in them far in excess of the time I have been able to devote to this model.

This seems very significant. It seems most improbable that an event as obviously complex as the Flood should be able to find two differing but equally satisfactory explanations. Because of the enormity of the Flood in so many ways one would expect all false models to rapidly founder on either the Biblical data, or the scientific data, or both. One would expect to be able to find only one explanation of the Flood which was in harmony with both the Biblical record and the principles of science—that single explanation which corresponds to what actually happened at the time of the Flood. The evident success of the hemispherical Flood model relative to all other models strongly recommends it as that single explanation. ◇

Readers Write

It is well known that native peoples from many locations around the globe retain legends of the Flood. Do these legends have anything to teach us about the Flood? How accurate is their "memory" of the Flood?

I have benefitted in regard to these questions from two recent communications from family members which I want to pass along here. These suggest the answer to both of the questions above may very well be, "More than you might at first suppose".

Several issues ago I described what it must have felt like at the start of the Flood as the inner core of the earth began to move toward the north. I wrote:[23]

If the inner core were displaced toward the North Pole it would seem to an observer on the surface of the earth that the direction of horizontal had changed. Surfaces which were previously level would now seem to be tilting downhill toward the North Pole, even though they had not actually moved at all—the local gravitational field is all that would have changed. Water which had been standing on horizontal surfaces before the inner core had been displaced would flow "down" those surfaces toward the North Pole after the displacement. If you were standing on a beach which ran east and west during such a displacement you would see the water of the ocean suddenly begin to flow "up" the beach toward the North Pole. More accurately, you would feel that the ocean had tipped up and that the beach had tipped down so that the water of the ocean was suddenly being poured out across the beach.
As the inner core moved toward the north at the start of the Flood, your sum total of experience would cause you to believe that the whole earth around you was inexorably tilting down to the north. Trees growing perpendicular to a previously horizontal surface would remain perpendicular to that surface as you watched the surface slowly tilting downhill to the north. The surface would no longer be horizontal and the trees would no longer be vertical. And all of this would cause you to feel that the whole surface of the ground had tilted, even though the ground had not moved at all—all that had really happened was that the direction of gravity had changed.

The start of the Flood must have been a weird experience, and a memorable one for those who survived the Flood.

Soon after I had explained all of this to my wife, Helen, (my most devoted and cherished supporter) she happened upon a remarkable account in a book she was reading called Childhood and Society. This book is a compilation of the experiences of anthropologists who worked among native peoples earlier in this century. Its purpose, you will understand, is a study of parental practices and attitudes toward childhood in various societies, not a study of Noah's Flood. So the following quote, which appears in the book quite incidentally, came as a considerable surprise to both of us. Fanny is an old Indian woman who functions as a "doctor" to her people, the Yurok Indians of the Pacific coast.[24]

Fanny was in an acute state of gloom when we arrived. Some days before, on stepping out into her vegetable garden and glancing over the scene, a hundred feet below, where the Klamath enters the Pacific, she had seen a small whale enter the river, play about a little, and disappear again. This shocked her deeply. Had not the creator decreed that only salmon, sturgeon, and similar fish should cross the fresh-water barrier? This breakdown of a barrier could only mean that the world disk was slowly losing its horizontal position, that salt water was entering the river, and that a flood was approaching comparable to the one which once before had destroyed mankind.

I found Fanny's "memory" of what the start of the Flood was like, after 5,500 years, just a bit breathtaking! While the idea of "the world disk… slowly losing its horizontal position" is technically incorrect, it is phenomenologically highly accurate.

On top of this, my brother, Allen, who has spent the last year in China with his family, teaching at an A.C.E. school for children of American businessmen stationed there, happened upon the following quote from the school's curriculum:

One legend of the Flood, a Greenland legend, says the earth was flooded because the earth tilted over!

My immediate reaction, once again, was, "Incredible!"

I prefer my brother's reaction though. To fully appreciate it you need to know that, unlike me, he is naturally inclined more toward outdoor adventure than office academics. He wrote, "Wow! If that don't light your fire, your wood's wet!" ◇

The Biblical Chronologist is a bimonthly subscription newsletter about Biblical chronology. It is written and edited by Gerald E. Aardsma, a Ph.D. scientist (nuclear physics) with special background in radioisotopic dating methods such as radiocarbon. The Biblical Chronologist has a threefold purpose:

  1. to encourage, enrich, and strengthen the faith of conservative Christians through instruction in Biblical chronology,

  2. to foster informed, up-to-date, scholarly research in this vital field within the conservative Christian community, and

  3. to communicate current developments and discoveries in Biblical chronology in an easily understood manner.

An introductory packet containing three sample issues and a subscription order form is available for $9.95 US regardless of destination address. Send check or money order in US funds and request the "Intro Pack."

The Biblical Chronologist (ISSN 1081-762X) is published six times a year by Aardsma Research & Publishing, 412 N Mulberry, Loda, IL 60948-9651.

Copyright © 1998 by Aardsma Research & Publishing. Photocopying or reproduction strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.

Footnotes

  1. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Cause of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.5 (September/October 1997): 1–14.

  2. ^  Charles T. Kowal, Asteroids: Their Nature and Utilization, 2nd edition (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996), 39.

  3. ^  Vitaly V. Adushkin and Ivan V. Nemchinov, "Consequences of Impacts of Cosmic Bodies on the Surface of the Earth," Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids, ed. Tom Gehrels (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1994), 722.

  4. ^  Charles T. Kowal, Asteroids: Their Nature and Utilization, 2nd edition (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996), xv.

  5. ^  Charles T. Kowal, Asteroids: Their Nature and Utilization, 2nd edition (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996), 24.

  6. ^  David Morrison, Clark R. Chapman, and Paul Slovic, "The Impact Hazard," Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids, ed. Tom Gehrels (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1994), 59–91.

  7. ^  Clark R. Chapman and David Morrison, "Impacts on the Earth by asteroids and comets: assessing the hazard," Nature 367 (6 January 1994): 33–40.

  8. ^  See, for example, Part VII of Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids, ed. Tom Gehrels (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1994), 897–1132.

  9. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Cause of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.5 (September/October 1997): 1–14 and Gerald E. Aardsma, "Research in Progress," The Biblical Chronologist 3.6 (November/December 1997): 14–18.

  10. ^  Frank D. Stacey, Physics of the Earth (Australia: Brookfield Press, 1992), 454–455.

  11. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Research in Progress," The Biblical Chronologist 3.6 (November/December 1997): 16.

  12. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Cause of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.5 (September/October 1997): 12–13, and Gerald E. Aardsma, "Zoogeography and Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 4.1 (January/February 1998): 1–7.

  13. ^  Clark R. Chapman and David Morrison, "Impacts on the Earth by asteroids and comets: assessing the hazard," Nature 367 (6 January 1994): Table 2, page 36.

  14. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Research in Progress," The Biblical Chronologist 4.1 (January/February 1998): 11–16.

  15. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Cause of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.5 (September/October 1997): 10–12.

  16. ^  Vitaly V. Adushkin and Ivan V. Nemchinov, "Consequences of Impacts of Cosmic Bodies on the Surface of the Earth," Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids, ed. Tom Gehrels (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1994), 726.

  17. ^  David Halliday and Robert Resnick, Fundamentals of Physics, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1974), 349.

  18. ^  John L. Remo, "Classifying and Modeling NEO Material Properties and Interactions," Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids, ed. Tom Gehrels (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1994), 558.

  19. ^  John L. Remo, "Classifying and Modeling NEO Material Properties and Interactions," Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids, ed. Tom Gehrels (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1994), 590.

  20. ^  Joseph W. Kane and Morton M. Sternheim, Physics, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1980), 94.

  21. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Research in Progress," The Biblical Chronologist 3.6 (November/December 1997): 14–18.

  22. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Research in Progress," The Biblical Chronologist 4.1 (January/February 1998): 11–16.

  23. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Cause of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.5 (September/October 1997): 8.

  24. ^  Erik H. Erikson, Childhood and Society, 2nd ed. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1963), 171–172.


Volume 4, Number 3May/June 1998

The Location of Eden

The date and the nature of Noah's Flood are now behind us, and pre-Flood Biblical chronology beckons. Before venturing into chronology proper in this early portion of the Biblical/historical narrative it is necessary to get our geographical bearings. Just as the Biblical narrative of the Exodus and Conquest must be tied into the geographical location of Egypt and Palestine to be properly understood, and just as the Biblical narrative of the waning of the Flood must be tied into the geographical location of Ararat to be properly understood, so the pre-Flood Biblical narrative (Genesis 1 through 6) must be tied into its proper geographical location to be properly understood.

The region called Eden is most conspicuous in these early chapters; it appears to be the hub of the events which they describe. The importance of the geographical location of Eden to a correct understanding of the early chapters of Genesis seems implicit in the narrative itself. In an otherwise terse historical account, spanning more than one and a half thousand years in just six short chapters, a significant fraction of Chapter 2 is devoted to the task of communicating where the events being described took place. Apparently the Author of Scripture found the geographical setting of Eden an important fact that we should know.

Potential Misconceptions

There are two widespread misconceptions affecting the present study which must be dealt with right at the start if we are to proceed in unison. The first of these is in regard to the impact of the Flood itself on the topography of the earth. The second has to do with a mistaken equating of the Garden of Eden with the region of Eden.

The Flood's impact on geography

A misconception which has arisen out of the cataclysmic Flood model, and which has been greatly popularized by that model's modern proponents, is that the topography of the earth was so dramatically changed by the Flood that the geographical indicators of the location of Eden in Genesis 2 can no longer be used in the post-Flood world. Assyria and the Euphrates river, mentioned in connection with Eden in Genesis 2:14, for example, are asserted, in this view, to correspond, not to the Assyria and Euphrates river with which we are all familiar from post-Flood history and geography, but rather to pre-Flood entities bearing no geographical relationship to the post-Flood Assyria and Euphrates. The post-Flood Assyria and Euphrates, it is claimed, were named after the pre-Flood Assyria and Euphrates by Noah's descendants, who carried the names forward into the post-Flood world, much as early settlers of America carried Old World place names with them to their new homes.

We now know that this claim is false. The obliteration of pre-Flood rivers and the formation of new post-Flood rivers would require entire drainage basins to be restructured by the Flood. An enormous quantity of earth and rock would need to be moved around over the surface of the earth to accomplish such a thing. The size and placement of high mountains (whose meltwaters feed rivers during the dry summer months) would need to be profoundly altered, for example. But we now know what the Flood was like, and we know that it did none of these sorts of things.

This fact is most easily demonstrated using archaeological data. We know, from the Bible's own chronology, when the Flood happened, and it is unquestionably the case that many well-preserved archaeological strata can be found in Palestine and elsewhere in the Near East which predate the proper Biblical Flood date. We have repeatedly seen that the Biblical date for the Flood coincides with the close of the Chalcolithic in Palestine,[1] which archaeological period it terminated. But Chalcolithic and earlier archaeological strata are abundant throughout the Near East.

Now if the action of the Flood was gentle enough to preserve pre-Flood archaeological tells—which are just big mounds of archaeological strata composed mainly of dirt—how could it have been violent enough to destroy high, rocky mountains? Furthermore, how could it have reworked the mountains and drainage basins while at the same time preserving the pre-Flood archaeological, layer-cake strata which are found upon these mountains and within these drainage basins today?

The extra-Biblical claims about the violent tectonic potency of the Flood arising out of the cataclysmic Flood model are no longer credible. The cataclysmic Flood model itself has been shown to be false,[2] and its assertions about how the Flood profoundly altered Earth's topography should no longer be given any credence.

Banished from the Garden

A second misconception affecting the present study is that Adam and Eve were banished from the Eden region after the Fall. This would then place them (and the remainder of the pre-Flood Biblical narrative) in some undefined geographical setting away from the Eden region after they had been banished. But this is a misconception. It results from an erroneous equating of Eden with the Garden of Eden.

The Garden of Eden was just a garden in the Eden region—it was not itself the whole of the Eden region. This is clearly shown in Genesis 2:8 which says that the Garden was located "in Eden"—not that the Garden was Eden. The Garden of Eden probably occupied just a few acres in the Eden region since it was tended initially by Adam alone.[3]

Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23–24) only, not the entire Eden region. The narrative implies in several ways that they continued to dwell in the Eden region. For example, the cherubim appointed to guard the way to the Tree of Life[4] was stationed at the east of the Garden, not east of the entire Eden region. The fact that the cherubim had to guard the Garden to keep Adam and Eve out implies that they were still living local to the Garden, and this would mean that they continued to live in the Eden region in which the garden was situated.

Another example is furnished by the emigration of Cain. The text seems to imply that he went out from the Eden region when he was banished for the murder of Abel. Genesis 4:16 informs us that he "went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled… east of Eden".

Thus the Eden region appears to be the proper geographical setting of the central thread of the Biblical narrative from Adam to Noah. This setting is established early in Genesis 2, and no change of setting is indicated until the ark comes to rest upon the mountains of Ararat following the Flood.

Biblical Details

Because of the detailed description of the geographical location of the Garden of Eden recorded in Genesis 2:10–14 it is possible to locate this region with considerable confidence on a map of the world today. The only caveat is that one must not suppose that the topography and climate of the region in question are today identical to those which pertained some seven thousand years ago when the events of Genesis 2 took place. With this in mind, comparison of the Biblical description with modern world geography quickly reveals that Eden is, in fact, obviously to be identified with southeastern Iraq—the land at the head of the Persian Gulf. This conclusion is arrived at as follows.

The mention of Assyria and the Euphrates river in Genesis 2:14 provides a very quick, rough location of Eden. This allows the region of interest to be immediately restricted to that of modern-day Iraq.

Identification of the Hiddekel river (Genesis 2:14; KJV) with the Tigris follows immediately from its association with Assyria in verse 14 and further strengthens this identification. The fact that the Tigris and Euphrates flow in separate channels until they reach southeastern Iraq (just below Qurna) restricts the location of Eden further to this southeastern region. This follows from the fact that Genesis 2:10 informs us that these rivers were joined in the Eden region.

The Gihon river of verse 13, and the Pishon river of verse 11 cannot be equated with their modern counterparts with certainty today. Too little information is given in the Biblical descriptions and too many changes to climate and drainage patterns have taken place in the intervening seven thousand years to allow certainty. But it is still possible to make some probable identifications, and these tend to corroborate southeastern Iraq as the location of Eden.

A dry riverbed crossing the Arabian Peninsula toward the head of the Persian Gulf has recently been identified in satellite photographs.[5] This appears to be a good candidate for the Pishon river at the present time.[6] The river which once occupied this bed flowed into southeastern Iraq from the west.

Two rivers flow into southeastern Iraq from the east today. These are the Kerakh (or Karkheh) and the Karun, both of which drain the western side of Iran. The Gihon is very probably to be identified with one of these, or possibly even a hypothetical ancient confluence of the two.

Thus the modern topography of southeastern Iraq is seen to adequately satisfy the geographical description of the location of Eden given in Genesis 2. No other geographical location on the entire globe does so. There thus seems little reason to doubt that southeastern Iraq is the modern equivalent of the Biblical Eden region.

Clarifying Genesis 2

This geographical identification of Eden, not surprisingly, immediately clarifies two otherwise obscure passages in the narrative of Genesis 2. The first passage has to do with the description of the joining of the rivers in Genesis 2:10, and the second deals with the lack of rainfall and the "mist" which used to rise from the ground in Genesis 2:5–6.

The meaning of Genesis 2:10

Genesis 2:10 is translated today (NASB):

Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers.

I think it is not uncommon for this verse to be understood to mean that a river was sourced (from a spring) in the Garden of Eden, and that after the spring water had flowed out of the Garden it divided into four separate branches which became the Tigris, Euphrates, Pishon, and Gihon rivers. In this view one should look for Eden at the source waters of these four rivers rather than at their confluence.

But such a view immediately encounters two problems. First, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers do not source from the same point today, and neither do the other rivers mentioned above. And second, rivers in general just don't behave this way.

Rivers don't generally start to flow from a single point and then branch out. In fact it is the usual case that even a single river will source its water from a large number of different points scattered over a large geographical region, these different branches then joining together. A glance at a map of the Mississippi river will quickly illustrate this point for example. Rivers don't generally start at a single point and divide into major branches downstream, as this view requires; rather, their separate branches and tributaries flow together as one goes downstream.

Connecting the Biblical description of the location of Eden to its modern geographical counterpart quickly clarifies the intended meaning of this verse. The river which watered the Garden of Eden resulted from the confluence of these four rivers; it was not the source of them. Its modern counterpart is the Shatt al-Arab—although it must be emphasized that the Shatt al-Arab may not be flowing in the same bed as its ancient, Biblically recorded predecessor. The correct understanding of the verse appears to be:

Now a river flowed out of [the] Eden [region, which river served] to water the garden; and from there [the Eden region] it divided and became four rivers.
This view is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Schematic representation (not to scale) of the region of Eden according to Genesis 2.

The meaning of Genesis 2:5–6

The geographical identification of Eden with southeastern Iraq impacts our understanding of Genesis 2:5–6 also. And, interestingly, when these verses are properly understood they further substantially strengthen the claim that Eden was located in southeastern Iraq. These verses are translated (NASB):

Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth; and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.

The meaning of these verses seems very obscure and even internally inconsistent at first reading. These verses, when read together with those which precede them in Genesis 1 and 2, seem to say that there were no plants on earth because God hadn't started the present hydrological cycle involving rainfall yet. But then they say the whole surface of the ground was watered by a mist which rose up from the earth. This seems somewhat confusing. If the ground was watered by a mist, wouldn't that have served to grow the plants?

This is made further confusing by the knowledge we have from Genesis 1:11–13 that plants had already been created on the third Creation Day. Why have these plants disappeared from the narrative in Genesis 2:5?

I suggest that the proper answer to such questions is that these verses are not talking about the global hydrological cycle, and that they are not talking about plants in general. I suggest that confusion concerning the meaning of these verses arises out of a failure to recognize that the perspective of the narrative changes from panoramic to a very geographically localized one beginning at verse 5. I suggest that there is a complete break in the narrative and change in perspective beginning at Genesis 2:5. The preceding verses, starting at Genesis 1:1, have dealt with the Creation of the earth and cosmos. The perspective of these earlier verses is obviously panoramic. But, I suggest, Genesis 2:4 terminates that section of the narrative, and from Genesis 2:5 onward the perspective changes to a very local one.

We have just seen that the setting of the garden of Eden, described in verses 10 through 14, is in southeastern Iraq. This setting, I suggest, also applies to verses 5 through 9. The climate of southeastern Iraq is desert. That is why rain is lacking in verse 5. The plants "of the field", I suggest, should be understood to mean cultivated, agricultural plants, such as rye and barley. These could not grow by themselves in the desert where there was too little rainfall. Their cultivation there would require artificial irrigation—the construction of shallow canals to conduct water from the rivers out to the fields—and this would require human involvement. Verse 5 ("Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth; and there was no man to cultivate the ground.") is simply informing us that the setting of this new portion of the narrative is in the uninhabited desert.

Verse 6 ("But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.") is telling us more about the new, changed setting of the narrative. The NASB notes that the word translated as "mist" might also be translated "flow". Verse 6 then reads "But a flow used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground." While it is very difficult to see what a mist rising from the earth might be referring to, it is easy to see what a flow rising from the earth corresponds to if the setting is near the Persian Gulf in southeastern Iraq. It then naturally refers, I suggest, to the daily fresh-water flooding of regions occasioned by the tides in the Persian Gulf. When the tide was low the river from Eden emptying into the Persian Gulf would drain and expose the surrounding land. When the tide was high the river would back up, flooding the ground near the Gulf. This regular tidal flooding is, I suggest, the physical reality which Genesis 2:6 is describing when it says "a flow used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground".

This periodically flooded land would be swamp or marsh, in which no plants "of the field" would naturally grow either. But these swamps could be easily turned to productive agriculture by the simple expedient of building low earthen dikes to block out the water at high tide and allow controlled irrigation. If the modern slope of the land is any guide to that which pertained seven millennia ago then this tidal flooding may have extended a considerable distance inland from the Persian Gulf.

As much as 500 km north of the Gulf coastline, the general landscape is still less than 20 m above sea level, giving a gradient of 1:25,000.[7]
Earlier, in the nineteenth century, Loftus was similarly impressed with the lush greenery of the cultivated gardens in the palm groves of Qurna [over 100 miles inland from where the Shatt al-Arab empties into the Persian Gulf], and noted that Gulf tides flowed twenty miles to the north, thus always giving the impression that the town was on the sea coast.[8]

Here again, all that was needed for productive agriculture was a man to build the dikes and oversee the irrigation of the land. And this, we are informed in verse 7, was what God supernaturally furnished by the creation of Adam.

Thus Genesis 2:5–6 define the general setting of the Garden of Eden. These verses tell us that the setting was one of mixed desert and tidal marsh. This is precisely what is found in southeastern Iraq below the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers today.

Conclusion

It is obviously a mistake to suppose that the topography and climate of southeastern Iraq is exactly the same today as it was seven thousand years ago. Seven thousand years is a very long time, and even changes which are nearly imperceptible in any individual's lifetime can sum to significant alterations over such a long time.

But an even greater error is to suppose that the carefully detailed topography of the Eden region provided for us in Genesis 2 has no correspondence to the real world today. This is the greater error because it has the effect of muting and distorting the meaning of Genesis 2. Many Christians, for example, have taken the lack of rain in Genesis 2:5 to mean that there was no rainfall anywhere at all before the Flood. They have used this mistaken interpretation to help build an imaginary global "greenhouse" climate in the pre-Flood world, maintained by an extra-Biblical "vapor canopy" above Earth's atmosphere. When Genesis 2 is properly connected to the real world using the detailed geographical description of the location of Eden which the Author of Scripture has been careful to provide, the Biblical basis for the idea that there was no rainfall before the Flood simply evaporates.


While the modern topography and climate of southeastern Iraq cannot be regarded as identical to those which pertained seven thousand years ago, the similarities which yet remain to the Eden region described in Genesis 2 are large and quite striking. Objective analysis cannot help but conclude that the region the Bible calls Eden is essentially the same as the geographical region we refer to as southeastern Iraq today. ◇

Biblical Chronology 101

Noah's Flood from Beginning to End

Over the past several years I have worked my way back through Noah's Flood, slowly discovering more and more about when it happened, what it was like, and what its physical cause was. I have published the stages of this odyssey in this publication as they have unfolded. When read in their published order these yield a view of the Flood in reverse chronological order.

It is now possible, for the first time ever, to tell the complete geophysical story of the Flood in proper chronological sequence from beginning to end. The present "class session" is devoted to that purpose. This is a review, in correct chronological order and all together in one place, of what has been learned over these past many months. I have provided a large number of "chalkboard sketches" (my apologies for their roughness) to help us visualize the various Flood phenomena.


The Flood happened 3520±21 B.C. according to calculations based upon the Masoretic text of the Old Testament and the missing millennium thesis.[9] Secular chronometers corroborate this date certainly to within plus or minus two centuries.[10] The Flood marks the end of the Chalcolithic in Palestine and the end of the Uruk period in southern Mesopotamia.[11] Civilization, which had its roots in southern Mesopotamia and had spread throughout the Near East by 3500 B.C., was abruptly terminated by the Flood.

The root physical cause of the Flood was the collision of the Earth with a very high speed cosmic projectile (Figure 2).[12] My best guesstimate at present is that the projectile was a 50 kilometer diameter chunk of iron/nickel, similar in composition to known asteroids. It was probably traveling in excess of 6×10^6 meters per second (13 million miles per hour) immediately prior to impact. The projectile's very high velocity suggests that it was not a member of the solar system prior to the impact.

Figure 2: The Flood projectile hurtling in moments before impact. (Not to scale; conceptual only. Tail shown behind projectile is added to give sense of motion; in real life there would have been no tail.)

The impact occurred within the Arctic Circle, on the northwestern coast of Asia. The Kara Sea may possibly be the impact site.[13]

The projectile penetrated the atmosphere and punctured a tunnel to some depth into the earth before exploding. The explosion released an enormous amount of energy (greater than 2×1015 MT) at the base of the tunnel, which vaporized the projectile and surrounding earth. The very hot vapor was ejected back up the tunnel and back out into space (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Hot gas jet from Earth moments after impact. The jet propels the solid earth downwards. The oceans tend to stay behind because of inertia. (Not to scale; conceptual only.)

The ejection of hot gas at speeds in excess of Earth's escape velocity persisted for probably many minutes. This produced a thrust on the earth, just as the gases ejected from a rocket engine produce a thrust on the rocket. The result was that the Earth experienced a sustained acceleration, ultimately acquiring a new, southerly velocity component in excess of 280 meters per second (630 miles per hour).

The physics at this point is familiar to any who have experienced takeoff in a jet airplane. The thrust of the jet engines causes the aircraft to accelerate rapidly down the runway. Passengers feel that they are being pressed back into their seats, though they actually are being pressed forward by the back of their seats so their acceleration matches that of the airplane. Otherwise they would be left behind.

If you placed an aquarium partially filled with water on the floor of the aircraft and watched it during takeoff you would see the water pile up toward the back of the aquarium (because of inertia) as the aircraft began to accelerate down the runway, even while the aircraft was still horizontal.

The same phenomenon occurred when the earth was accelerated by the thrust of the very hot gases escaping into space. The waters of the oceans of the earth began to flow toward the impact center and pile up there because of their inertia. This resulted in rapid flooding of much of the northern hemisphere of the earth.[14] After a few hours an enormous mountain of water had collected above the north impact pole (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Formation of water mountain over impact site hours after impact due to inertia of oceans. Arrows show ocean currents (relative to solid earth) set up by the acceleration of the earth. (Not to scale; conceptual only.)

Eventually the water mountain began to collapse under its own weight. The result was an enormous reflected pulse of water. This rapidly developed into a globe-circling, giant tsunami rushing toward the south at tsunami speeds (Figure 5).

Figure 5: World-circling Flood tsunami resulting from reflected water pulse hours after impact. Arrows show direction of water flow. (Not to scale; conceptual only.)

Within 24 hours of the impact the initial motion of the water of the oceans had largely ceased—the water mountain had collapsed and the Flood tsunami had dissipated (Figure 6). But much of the water of the southern oceans had drained away to the north and the northern hemisphere remained flooded.

Figure 6: Static water profile, with most of northern hemisphere entirely under water, one or two days following impact, due to the displacement of the inner core of the earth to the mantle. (Not to scale; conceptual only.)

This water profile persisted for some 150 days. It was maintained by the gravitational attraction of the inner core of the earth which had left its normal central position and risen to the mantle as a result of the acceleration of the earth at the start of the Flood. The inner core remained pinned in its off-center position by the motion of the outer core fluids which surrounded it (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Full Flood profile persists for roughly 150 days as inner core is held pinned against mantle by rising plume of outer core fluid. The fluid was set in motion by the rising of the inner core. (Scale diagram.)

One hundred fifty days—nearly five months—later, the outer core fluid had slowed sufficiently for the inner core to begin its slow descent back to the center of the earth. As it fell the Flood diminished in the northern impact hemisphere and the southern oceans began to fill toward their normal level once again.

The descent of the inner core proceeded slowly, but by a year following the impact the inner core and the water of Earth's oceans were pretty much back to normal (Figure 8). The principal residual effect of the Flood was that the plant, and especially the animal populations of the northern biosphere had been devastated and would need to start up again pretty much from scratch.[15]

Figure 8: A year following the impact the inner core and water have returned to normal. But the biosphere of the northern impact hemisphere (including humanity) has been wiped out and must start over. (Not to scale.)

A Personal Note

This, I believe, is an accurate outline of what happened at the time of Noah's Flood. I have called this view of the Flood the hemispherical Flood model since only one hemisphere of the earth was flooded in this view.[16] While this scientific model yet requires a great deal of quantitative tuning, I am aware of no data at present, either Biblical or secular, which this basic model fails to satisfy. I am also aware of no other scientific model of the Flood which is able to make this claim (including the very popular "model" within academia at present that the Flood never happened).

The elucidation of the hemispherical Flood model, with its supporting Biblical and secular data, amounts to the discovery of Noah's Flood in history. This is a discovery of major proportions, and one which affects many fields (Figure 9). I would like to report at this point that these many fields have eagerly awaited this discovery and are even now actively reaping the benefits of it. But this is far from the truth. It was nearly fifty years after Gregor Mendel published the laws of inheritance that the world became aware of his discovery. I fear at times that the discovery of the overlooked millennium in 1 Kings 6:1 and all that logically flows from it—including, most recently, the hemispherical Flood model—may break his record.

Figure 9: There are many implications of the Flood impact beyond its obvious Biblical and archaeological ones. This sketch, for example, shows how the plane of Earth's orbit about the sun would have been tilted by the new velocity acquired by the earth at the time of the Flood. This has obvious astronomical and potential climatic implications. (Not to scale.)

There are several problems making communication of the discovery of Noah's Flood in history very difficult at present. Of highest rank is the fact that one must respect the integrity and value of both the Bible and the secular data—especially the chronological data—to arrive at this discovery. I have found that the great majority of contemporary scholars, both Christian and non-Christian, hold debilitating prejudices in at least one of these two areas.

A second problem, for me, is that I have very little time available at present to devote to the task of winning general acceptance of the hemispherical Flood model. The task of discovering the truth is separate from the task of communicating the truth. In the present case both are more than full-time occupations. I have had to choose at each stage of my research whether to focus on communicating the truth which has already been found to that point, to win general acceptance of it, or to press on toward further discovery.

My choice has consistently been the latter. I have, of course, felt a responsibility to adequately document what has been found—hence the book explaining the missing millennium thesis[17] and this bimonthly publication, The Biblical Chronologist, recording the discoveries flowing from that thesis as they are made. And I have certainly been willing to do whatever I reasonably could to communicate to a wider audience the discoveries which have already been made. But I have consistently felt, before the Lord, that my personal primary responsibility is to discover and document the truth, rather than trying to communicate it to the masses.

This may change in the future. My goal of many years has been to harmonize Biblical and secular chronologies of earth history from the present back to the beginning of the Creation. When I began to work on this goal a seemingly wide gulf of seven Biblical/historical books (Genesis through Judges) separated me from it. Now this goal is just six short chapters in Genesis away. It seems possible the goal may soon be reached and that I might then have more time to devote to the problem of communicating all that has been found.

But such a change of emphasis would obviously be inappropriate at this time—pre-Flood Biblical chronology remains to be solved and I must press on with the discovery process. While only six short chapters in Genesis stand between me and the goal, these chapters pose some seemingly monumental problems for Biblical chronology. The problems of the antiquity of man, the age of the earth, and the age of the cosmos lie here. These problems have staggered and crippled Christian apologetics for well over a century now. They need to be solved. Now is no time to let up on the research.

The mystery of the Flood is solved. The mystery of the Creation lies before us. Let us press on. ◇

The Biblical Chronologist is a bimonthly subscription newsletter about Biblical chronology. It is written and edited by Gerald E. Aardsma, a Ph.D. scientist (nuclear physics) with special background in radioisotopic dating methods such as radiocarbon. The Biblical Chronologist has a threefold purpose:

  1. to encourage, enrich, and strengthen the faith of conservative Christians through instruction in Biblical chronology,

  2. to foster informed, up-to-date, scholarly research in this vital field within the conservative Christian community, and

  3. to communicate current developments and discoveries in Biblical chronology in an easily understood manner.

An introductory packet containing three sample issues and a subscription order form is available for $9.95 US regardless of destination address. Send check or money order in US funds and request the "Intro Pack."

The Biblical Chronologist (ISSN 1081-762X) is published six times a year by Aardsma Research & Publishing, 412 N Mulberry, Loda, IL 60948-9651.

Copyright © 1998 by Aardsma Research & Publishing. Photocopying or reproduction strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.

Footnotes

  1. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Radiocarbon Dating Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.6 (November/December 1997): 1–11.

  2. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Research in Progress," The Biblical Chronologist 2.4 (July/August 1996): 9–14.

  3. ^  Genesis 2:15.

  4. ^  Genesis 3:24.

  5. ^  Molly Dewsnap, "How to Find a River—No Divining Rod Needed" Biblical Archaeology Review 22.4 (July/August 1996): 55.

  6. ^  James A. Sauer, "The River Runs Dry" Biblical Archaeology Review 22.4 (July/August 1996): 52–54,57,64.

  7. ^  J.N. Postgate, Early Mesopotamia: Society and Economy at the Dawn of History (New York: Routledge, 1994), 6.

  8. ^  Theresa Howard-Carter, "The Tangible Evidence for the Earliest Dilmun," Journal of Cuneiform Studies 33 (1981): 210–223.

  9. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Chronology of the Bible: 5000–3000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 2.4 (July/August 1996): 1–5.

  10. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Noah's Flood at Elk Lake," The Biblical Chronologist 2.6 (November/December 1996): 1–13. Gerald E. Aardsma, "Noah's Flood at Devon Island," The Biblical Chronologist 3.4 (July/August 1997): 1–16. Gerald E. Aardsma, "Radiocarbon Dating Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.6 (November/December 1997): 1–11.

  11. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Research in Progress," The Biblical Chronologist 1.4 (July/August 1995): 6–10.

  12. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Space Rock Impacts and Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 4.2 (March/April 1998): 1–11.

  13. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Cause of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.5 (September/October 1997): 12–13, and Gerald E. Aardsma, "Zoogeography and Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 4.1 (January/February 1998): 1–7.

  14. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Research in Progress," The Biblical Chronologist 4.1 (January/February 1998): 11–16.

  15. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Zoogeography and Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 4.1 (January/February 1998): 1–7.

  16. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Cause of Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.5 (September/October 1997): 1–14.

  17. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel, 2nd ed. (Loda IL: Aardsma Research and Publishing, 1993).


Volume 4, Number 4July/August 1998

Toward Unification of Pre-Flood Chronology

To unify sacred and secular chronologies of earth history it is necessary to work systematically from the present back into the past—an important lesson I learned the hard way.


By the time I had reached my mid-thirties I had spent over a decade actively trying to understand the disparity between Biblical and secular chronologies of earth history. I had focused on Noah's Flood in much of my chronological research. I had struggled and struggled with the problem of its proper historical date. And I had come to the point of all but despairing of ever finding the answer in my lifetime.

What bothered me most was the conviction that the Flood should be easily datable. The Bible clearly pictures the Flood as a very large disaster accompanied by a major destruction of civilization. Such an event should be easily datable because many natural chronometers are reset by geophysical disasters, and the sudden destruction of civilization at the time of the Flood should have left behind many datable remains. Yet the more I researched the Flood, the more intractable the problem of its proper date seemed to be. Nothing seemed to make sense—I was unable to achieve any satisfactory unification of secular and sacred data.

Fortunately, however, I eventually came to realize that my research strategy had not been good—I had been trying to run before I had learned how to walk. Absolute chronologies are necessarily worked out from the present time, during which the chronologist is living, back into the past. I had been trying to solve the date of the Flood, a remote Biblical historical event, while entirely ignoring all of the chronology of the Bible and its related history which lay between the Flood and the present time. This was not sound procedure. I came to realize that I needed to adopt a new strategy. I needed to focus on the most recent disparity between secular chronology and the Bible and work on solving that problem before venturing any further back in time. Only in this way could a solid chronological foundation be assured for more remote investigations.

This strategy has worked very successfully for me to the present time. By following it I have discovered why the archaeologists and secular historians have been unable to find the Exodus and the Conquest—their dates for these Biblical events are out by a full millennium.[1] And in addition, though I am now only entering my mid-forties, the problem of the proper date of the Flood and its unification with secular data lies behind me.[2]

The task which now lies at hand is the unification of Biblical and secular chronologies in the pre-Flood period (i.e., prior to 3500 B.C.). And the strategy, once again, is to determine at what point secular and sacred chronologies in the pre-Flood period first diverge. To implement this strategy it is only necessary to delineate the chronologies which are to be compared, and then to compare them.

To this task I now turn.

Pre-Flood Biblical Chronology

Figure 1 shows a time chart of pre-Flood Biblical chronology. The numbers used in its derivation are shown in Table 1. I have discussed most of these numbers previously in other contexts.[3] The only thing which I have added here is the date of the creation of Adam.

Figure 1: Chronology of pre-Flood Biblical history.

Table 1: Primary chain of the Biblical computation, based on the Masoretic text, yielding dates for selected Biblical historical events back to the creation of Adam.

There is not much which needs to be said about this chronology. It is what the Masoretic Hebrew Text of the Old Testament yields when treated in a simple, straightforward manner. The only complexity is that one must recognize that "one thousand" has been lost from the text of 1 Kings 6:1 due to a copy error; one must recognize that the 480 years which appears in 1 Kings 6:1 today was originally 1,480 years.[4]

Reliability

As usual, one must ask about the reliability of this chronology. Chronology building is a process in which we attempt to measure elapsed time from the present back to an event or series of events. Measurements of elapsed time entail uncertainties, as is true of all physical measurements. This chronology, for example, relies heavily upon genealogical data found in Genesis 5. Many have asked whether this genealogical data is complete, or whether it might contain gaps, with the result that the chronology obtained from it is foreshortened. Such uncertainties demand that we inquire into the degree of confidence which the chronology of Figure 1 warrants. How accurate is it likely to be?

The most compelling argument for confidence in this chronology at the present time is that it has been constructed using the same principles and procedures as our highly successful post-Flood Bible chronology. That is, I have used a simple, straightforward approach to the chronological data of the Masoretic Text, supplemented only by the restored "one thousand" in 1 Kings 6:1, in this pre-Flood portion of the chronology just as was done in the post-Flood portion. Nearly every past issue of this publication bears substantial testimony to the fact that this approach successfully integrates much Biblical and historical data. We have found this to be true from the time of Samuel right back into the time of Noah—a stretch of some two and a half thousand years. And a substantial portion of this interval was reliant upon the genealogical data of Genesis 11, just as the present portion of the chronology is reliant upon the genealogical data of Genesis 5. The overwhelming success of this approach in the post-Flood portion of Biblical chronology strongly recommends confidence in the results of this same approach in the pre-Flood portion.

I have previously discussed the significant textual variants which appear in many of the key numbers used to construct this portion of the chronology.[5] These and other considerations do caution against an inappropriate dogmatism—one will want to check this portion of our Biblical chronology in every conceivable way as usual, of course. But I have previously stated that "I will be very surprised if the true chronology which is finally obtained after all is said and done differs by more than a few centuries from that which the Masoretic text alone presents" and I will stand by this statement still.[6] Indeed, it seems even more likely to be correct now than it did when first asserted two years ago.

In support of this assertion note that the date for the creation of Adam which I have found in Figure 1, i.e., 5176±26 B.C., is very much in line with the work of other Biblical chronologists down through the centuries. It diverges significantly from the 4004 B.C. result of Bishop Ussher, of course, but this is almost entirely a consequence of his failure to notice the missing thousand years in 1 Kings 6:1. (It is hardly surprising that he failed to notice this since it is only the work of recent decades in the area of Biblical archaeology which has made this missing thousand years obvious, as I have previously pointed out.[7]) When this missing millennium is added in, Bishop Ussher's result becomes 5004 B.C., less than two centuries from my result. The divergence between our respective measurements of the elapsed time from Adam to the present is, in this case, in fact, just 2.4%.

Early chronologists tended to work from the Septuagint rather than the Masoretic Text. Sextus Julius Africanus ( c. A.D. 170–240) arrived at a date of 5502 B.C. for the creation of Adam by doing so.[8] No adjustment of this date by restoration of "one thousand" should be attempted. I have previously pointed out that the numbers of significance to Biblical chronology appear to have been deliberately altered in the Septuagint in an effort to compensate for the unrecognized, accidentally dropped "one thousand" years in 1 Kings 6:1 of the primary Masoretic Text.[9] Thus Africanus' result of 5502 B.C. is directly comparable to my 5176±26 B.C. The divergence in this case is three and a quarter centuries, or 6.3%.

These results, and many others similar to them by other Christian chronologists through the centuries, show that Biblical chronology does tend to converge somewhere within the second half of the sixth millennium B.C. for the creation of Adam. While claims which are extravagantly outside this range can be found today the science of Biblical chronology, both ancient and modern, does not encourage them.

For practical research purposes it seems reasonable to adopt the chronology shown in Figure 1 in the sense of a "working hypothesis", while bearing in mind the possibility that refinements to this chronology of even several centuries may yet be found necessary. Adjustments beyond this range do not seem possible, however. That the true date of the creation of Adam—the most remote and thus most uncertain point in this chronology—could differ from the date shown here by even as much as 500 years appears essentially impossible.

Pre-Flood Secular Chronology

I showed last issue that pre-Flood Biblical history takes place in the Eden region and that this region is to be identified with the area at the head of the Persian Gulf—the region we call southeastern Iraq today.[10] It is clearly the secular historical and archaeological chronology of this region which is of interest to the present effort to unify sacred and secular chronologies in the pre-Flood period.

Figure 2 shows a modern secular chronology of this region which is widely known and applied within the technical literature at present.[11] The periods are named after the archaeological sites in South Mesopotamia (southeastern Iraq) where pottery and other archaeological artefacts characteristic of that time were first discovered. This is an archaeological chronology, not an historical one. That is, it has been built up from archaeological data without the aid of historical documents (since no secular written materials are found prior to Late Uruk times). Archaeological stratigraphy has been used to determine the relative chronology, and this has been supplemented by radiocarbon to obtain the absolute chronology.

Figure 2: The COWA 1992 secular chronology of South Mesopotamia. Ubaid 2 overlaps Ubaid 1 and 3. The bottom boundary of Ubaid 0 has not yet been determined.

The Ubaid period seems characterized by settled agricultural villages, with abundant, decorated pottery and well-built multi-room houses. This characterization transforms into a fully urban society during the Uruk.

Reliability

That the chronology of South Mesopotamia is not yet settled can be seen by comparing Figure 2 with a corresponding chronology published in the Cambridge Ancient History two decades earlier.[12] There we find the Ubaid to Uruk boundary 500 years later (at 3500 B.C.) and the dawn of the Ubaid well over a millennium later (at 4300 B.C.). Such large adjustments to this chronology over the past several decades make it unlikely that the chronology shown in Figure 2 is the final answer.

And indeed, the possibility of substantial departures from the Figure 2 chronology can be found in the modern technical literature. Joan Oates observes, for example:[13]

Other [radiocarbon] determinations… place the end of Ubaid significantly earlier—perhaps as early as 4800 BC, with its earliest phases presumably to be dated before 6000. Whichever chronological approximation we accept, we must also accept an Uruk period approaching or even exceeding 1500 years.

These observations demonstrate two important facts. First, adjustments of even 800 years to the Figure 2 chronology are not unthinkable at the present time. Second, Figure 2 almost certainly represents a minimum chronology for South Mesopotamia—the true chronology is probably centuries older at all points.

A Better Approximation

Porada et al. were quite clear that their Figure 2 chronology was already out of date at the time of its publication, so some effort to update it seems called for.[14] Modification of the Figure 2 chronology is also called for by what we know of the Flood at present. We feel reasonably confident from several lines of evidence that the Flood happened near 3500 B.C.,[15] and archaeological considerations seem to place the Flood at the Uruk to Jamdat Nasr boundary as I have previously argued.[16] Thus, there seems sufficient reason to believe that the true chronology of South Mesopotamia will place the Uruk to Jamdat Nasr boundary near 3500 B.C., rather than the 3100 B.C. of Figure 2. Purely secular chronological considerations seem to support this as well, as I have previously explained.[17]

Given 1) the obviously unfinished character of the secular chronology at present, 2) the significant indications that the Figure 2 approximation needs to be considerably lengthened, and 3) the evidence from many fields that the Flood happened near 3500 B.C., it seems reasonable to suggest that Figure 2 be modified for the present purpose by the addition of 400 years to the B.C. dates at all points, as is shown in Figure 3. This single alteration does not fix everything which might be wrong with the Figure 2 chronology, of course. But it does bring the Uruk to Jamdat Nasr boundary into coincidence with the Flood. And it also moves the Ubaid to Uruk boundary one half the distance Oates has suggested may be called for. Thus, it should give us a better approximation of the true chronology of South Mesopotamia than Figure 2 alone presents.

Figure 3: A better approximation to the true secular chronology of South Mesopotamia. It is obtained from the COWA 1992 chronology of Figure 2 by pushing everything back 400 years.

Reliability One More Time

Still, Figure 3 is just an approximation, of course. The fact is that the secular chronology of South Mesopotamia is rather uncertain at the present time. This does not indicate any lack of ability on the part of the secular chronologists, but rather the inherent difficulty of building an accurate chronology at such an early time. I mention this only in passing, to point out the great privilege the Bible affords its readers in the relative ease with which remote chronology can be accurately determined from its pages.

Taking all factors into consideration it seems reasonable to assign an absolute uncertainty (3σ) of two centuries to the Uruk to Jamdat Nasr boundary, and five centuries to all points within the Ubaid in Figure 3.

Comparison

Figure 4 shows the two chronologies, sacred and secular, side by side. We must now ask if these two are compatible. In keeping with sound research strategy we prosecute this question from the more recent to the more remote times, looking for the most recent point of divergence.

Figure 4: Comparison of pre-Flood Biblical chronology with the Figure 3 secular chronology of South Mesopotamia.

Fourth Millennium

Our departure point is Noah's Flood, in the middle of the fourth millennium B.C. Previous issues of this publication have thoroughly discussed this important historical event and its significance to the unification of sacred and secular history, so there is no need to dwell upon it here. It is the earlier times which are now of interest.

Unfortunately, the Biblical narrative provides us with very little history in the five centuries of the fourth millennium which precede the Flood. As a result there is not much we can compare to the secular record. However, it is normal to picture Noah and his sons busily constructing the ark in the century before the Flood, and this provides one checkpoint. Is ship-building a known industry in South Mesopotamia by Late Uruk times?

J. N. Postgate provides the following answer. "Boat-building certainly goes back to the Ubaid period in Mesopotamia…"[18]

Clearly there is no anachronism immediately apparent in Noah and his sons building a ship—even a very large ship—in the technologically advanced, fully urban setting of Late Uruk times. Boat-building technology had been in place for probably a thousand years or more by then.

Fifth Millennium

If chronologically controlled Biblical history is sparse in the first half of the fourth millennium B.C., it is all but absent in the fifth millennium. Genesis 5 provides us with the names of eight individuals who were born in succession during this millennium, but no historical details are furnished with this Biblical list.

One might attempt an investigation of the long lives of these individuals. Does archaeology reveal that some people were living for a very long time during the Ubaid and Uruk periods in South Mesopotamia? But it is very difficult to see how to investigate this question. One could study skeletal remains, but what will the skeleton of an individual who lived to be 900 years old look like? Will it be distinguishable from that of an individual who lives to be 90 years old today? We do not know the answers to these questions at present.

There probably are clever ways in which archaeology might get at the question of human longevity. Unfortunately, archaeologists are hardly taking the Bible seriously any longer back at these early times, so virtually no creative thinking is being invested in such questions at present. This potential check is thus not currently available to us.

Genesis 4:16–24 provides us with a few snatches of history through its recitation of the list of Cain's descendents. But no chronological data is furnished in Genesis 4, and the detailed interpretation of the snatches of history which it provides is far from clear. All that seems safely inferred from these verses is that we should place the origin of tents, musical instruments, and metallurgy in the pre-Flood rather than the post-Flood period. I am aware of nothing against this assertion, and I have previously presented some compelling evidence in support of the metallurgy part of it.[19]

Thus, we have very little Biblical history to go on. It would be an overstatement to claim that sacred and secular chronologies positively harmonize in the fifth millennium and first half of the fourth millennium. But on the other hand it would be altogether false to claim that the two chronologies disagree; no point of divergence is apparent between the two chronologies during these millennia. Consequently it is appropriate to push the investigation back into the sixth millennium B.C.

Sixth Millennium

The sixth millennium takes us back, by any reasonable secular chronology, into the Ubaid. Biblically it takes us back into the first generation after Adam and ultimately to the creation of Adam himself.

Working our way methodically back in time, we first encounter the generation of Adam's immediate children. Genesis 4:2 informs us that one of Adam's sons was "a keeper of flocks" while another was "a tiller of the ground". Here is a checkpoint. Are these two occupations present within the archaeological data of the Ubaid?

The answer to this question is an unqualified yes. The most extensive recent information on the Ubaid in South Mesopotamia has come from archaeological excavations at Tell el'Oueili. Jean-Louis Huot relates what has been found there:[20]

At 'Oueili, the botanical remains were collected by flotation, and by the examination of imprints in clay…

The main plant grown was six-rowed hulled barley ( Hordeum vulgare), of which seeds and internodal stems have been recovered. … As for wheat, the species in question is einkorn ( Triticum monococcum), but this crop is of lesser importance.

We possess but little information about oil-crop plants. Only a single imprint and a grain of flax from the 'Ubaid 4 levels have been found, of the domesticated variety according to its size ( Linum usitatissimum). The presence of the date-palm should also be noted…


Faunal analyses have been carried out by J. Desse… For this entire period, the most striking fact is the low proportion of sheep and goats: only 16.8%, compared with 37.6% of pigs and 45.5% of cattle. All these remains come from domesticated animals.

So there is clearly nothing anachronistic about Adam's sons keeping flocks and tilling the ground. Nor have I been able to find anything else about the Biblical narrative of the first generation after Adam which seems out of place in the Ubaid.

This takes us back to the generation of Adam himself. It is here that we encounter the first real difficulty. There is nothing about the agricultural lifestyle of Adam and Eve, either while they are living in the Garden of Eden or after they have been banished from it, including the cultivation of fruit trees, which is anachronistic. Such a lifestyle is quite appropriate to the settled agricultural setting of South Mesopotamia during the Ubaid revealed by archaeology. The great difficulty is that we had expected Adam and Eve to be the first man and first woman ever created. Isn't this what the Bible teaches, and what Christians have historically believed? How then can the creation of Adam and Eve be chronologically situated in the middle of the Ubaid, an archaeological period overflowing with evidence of human existence and activity throughout?

Central Conundrum

Evidence of the existence of mankind prior to the creation of Adam and Eve is very surprising. We are immediately caused to wonder whether some chronological blunder has been committed. But try as we might, no intelligent solution in terms of chronological error appears.

If we push Biblical chronology to its breaking point and move the creation of Adam by 500 years to 5700 B.C., while leaving the secular chronology of Figure 4 alone, we still have the same problem—the creation of Adam still occurs part way through the Ubaid. If we push hard against the secular chronology and move the dawn of the Ubaid forward 500 years, while leaving Biblical chronology alone in Figure 4, we still have the problem.

If we push both Biblical chronology and secular chronology to their breaking points we may possibly be able to place the creation of Adam at the dawn of the Ubaid. This depends, of course, upon just how remote the dawn of the Ubaid is eventually found to be by the archaeologists (who have so far been prevented by ground water from digging to the bottom of the Ubaid at 'Oueili). But we are certainly out on a limb with such a procedure. If it is improbable that even one of these two chronologies should be out by 500 years—and it is—then it is, of course, highly improbable that they should both be out by that much.

But such forcing of the chronological data would be folly. It would be folly not only because of its improbability, but also because it does not solve the problem of the apparent existence of mankind prior to the creation of Adam anyway. While human culture prior to Ubaid 0 is presently unknown to archaeology in South Mesopotamia, there is ample evidence of human existence prior to Ubaid 0 times in North Mesopotamia and elsewhere, such as Palestine. And this evidence stretches back over thousands of years prior to the Ubaid.

All of the Ubaid levels reveal that the Ubaid people were making and using decorated pottery. As one moves stratigraphically lower at other archaeological sites, such as Jericho in Palestine, one eventually encounters archaeological strata in which no pottery fragments are found at all. These imply that the technology of pottery manufacture had not yet even been discovered at their very early times. Such pre-pottery strata at Jericho date back to at least 8000 B.C.

Thus, secular chronology finds mankind in existence thousands of years before the Biblical date of the creation of Adam. This is the central conundrum of pre-Flood Biblical chronology for the conservative Christian. No appeal to chronological blunder can solve this conundrum. One can try to avoid the problem by embracing chronological anarchy—one can claim that secular chronology is meaningless. But we have not found the Exodus, the Conquest, and the Flood within the secular data by embracing chronological anarchy. The true solution, we believe, will be found in some other direction. ◇

The Biblical Chronologist is a bimonthly subscription newsletter about Biblical chronology. It is written and edited by Gerald E. Aardsma, a Ph.D. scientist (nuclear physics) with special background in radioisotopic dating methods such as radiocarbon. The Biblical Chronologist has a threefold purpose:

  1. to encourage, enrich, and strengthen the faith of conservative Christians through instruction in Biblical chronology,

  2. to foster informed, up-to-date, scholarly research in this vital field within the conservative Christian community, and

  3. to communicate current developments and discoveries in Biblical chronology in an easily understood manner.

An introductory packet containing three sample issues and a subscription order form is available for $9.95 US regardless of destination address. Send check or money order in US funds and request the "Intro Pack."

The Biblical Chronologist (ISSN 1081-762X) is published six times a year by Aardsma Research & Publishing, 412 N Mulberry, Loda, IL 60948-9651.

Copyright © 1998 by Aardsma Research & Publishing. Photocopying or reproduction strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.

Footnotes

  1. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel, 2nd ed. (Loda IL: Aardsma Research and Publishing, 1993).

  2. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Biblical Chronology 101," The Biblical Chronologist 4.3 (May/June 1998): 6–10.

  3. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Chronology of the Bible: 5000–3000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 2.4 (July/August 1996): 1–5.

  4. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel, 2nd ed. (Loda IL: Aardsma Research and Publishing, 1993).

  5. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Chronology of the Bible: 5000–3000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 2.4 (July/August 1996): 3.

  6. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Chronology of the Bible: 5000–3000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 2.4 (July/August 1996): 5.

  7. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel, 2nd ed. (Loda IL: Aardsma Research and Publishing, 1993), 26.

  8. ^  Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964), 146.

  9. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Chronology of the Bible: 5000–3000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 2.4 (July/August 1996): 5.

  10. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Location of Eden," The Biblical Chronologist 4.3 (May/June 1998): 1–5.

  11. ^  Edith Porada, Donald P. Hansen, and Sally Dunham, "The Chronology of Mesopotamia, ca. 7000-1600 B.C.," in Chronologies in Old World Archaeology, volume 2 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992), 94,96.

  12. ^  I.E.S. Edwards, C.J. Gadd, and N.G.L. Hammond, ed. The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 1, part 2. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971), 997.

  13. ^  Joan Oates, "'Ubaid Chronology," Chronologies in the Near East, ed. O. Aurenche, J. Evin, and F. Hours (Oxford: BAR International Series 379 (ii), 1987), 474.

  14. ^  Edith Porada, Donald P. Hansen, and Sally Dunham, "The Chronology of Mesopotamia, ca. 7000-1600 B.C.," in Chronologies in Old World Archaeology, volume 1 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992), 121.

  15. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Chronology of the Bible: 5000–3000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 2.4 (July/August 1996): 1–5; Gerald E. Aardsma, "Noah's Flood at Elk Lake," The Biblical Chronologist 2.6 (November/December 1996): 1–13; Gerald E. Aardsma, "Noah's Flood at Devon Island," The Biblical Chronologist 3.4 (July/August 1997): 1–16; Gerald E. Aardsma, "Radiocarbon Dating Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.6 (November/December 1997): 1–11.

  16. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Research in Progress," The Biblical Chronologist 1.4 (July/August 1995): 6–10.

  17. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Research in Progress," The Biblical Chronologist 1.4 (July/August 1995): 8.

  18. ^  J.N. Postgate, Early Mesopotamia: Society and Economy at the Dawn of History (New York: Routledge, 1994), 230.

  19. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Radiocarbon Dating Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.6 (November/December 1997): 1–11.

  20. ^  Jean-Louis Huot, "Ubadian Villages of Lower Mesopotamia," Upon This Foundation – The Ubaid Reconsidered (Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen, 1989), 26–27.


Volume 4, Number 5September/October 1998

Toward Unification of Pre-Flood Chronology: Part II

We are presently embarked upon a mission to unify pre-Flood sacred and secular chronologies. This is neither a frivolous nor an easy task. It warrants our full attention and our best effort. It demands that we adopt a sound method of attack on the problem. And it demands that we proceed logically on the basis of available evidence, deliberately putting pet theories and prejudices aside, if we hope to obtain the truth.

We have tackled some very difficult chronology problems in this newsletter in the past. None has been as intrinsically difficult and as urgently in need of solution as this present one.

Review

Last issue I compared pre-Flood Biblical chronology with the secular chronology of South Mesopotamia.[1] I found the most recent point of divergence between these two chronologies to be at the creation of Adam, 5176±26 B.C. The divergence results from the fact that secular chronology finds mankind in existence thousands of years before this date, while we had expected Adam to be the first man ever created. I have called this the central conundrum of pre-Flood Biblical chronology. It is toward the solution of this conundrum that we must now direct our effort.

Possible Solutions

There are only nine conceptually possible solutions to this conundrum that I am able to find. My method of enumeration is as follows.

The conundrum exists between Biblical and secular accounts of earth history. Specifically, the secular antiquity of mankind seems to extend beyond the Biblical date of the creation of Adam. This gives rise to two categories of solution: 1. an error of some sort is being made on the Biblical side of the problem, or 2. an error of some sort is being made on the secular side of the problem.

These two categories each bifurcate according to whether the problem is chronological or historical in nature. For example, the conundrum could arise because of some sort of problem with the Biblical chronology of the creation of Adam (i.e., the date), or it could arise because of some sort of problem with the Biblical history regarding the creation of Adam (i.e., the details).

Each of these branches bifurcates again according to whether the problem is intrinsic or extrinsic. For example, the conundrum could arise because Biblical chronology is intrinsically false (i.e., the data are fabricated), or it could arise because we have made an error in our handling of the Biblical chronological data.

These three bifurcations give rise to eight (i.e., 23) conceptually possible solutions. The ninth possibility is that there is nothing wrong in either the Biblical or the secular side of the conundrum; the evidences from both sides are valid and require only proper integration. In this ninth possibility the problem is seen to lie in our profound ignorance of the nature of creation events, rather than in the data from the Bible or in the data from secular studies.

These nine possibilities are enumerated as follows:

  1. The Biblical chronological data leading to the creation of Adam are false (i.e., fabricated).

  2. The secular chronological data leading to a great antiquity for mankind are false (i.e., fabricated).

  3. The Biblical history which teaches that Adam was the first man to be created is mythological or otherwise fabricated.

  4. The modern secular teaching that mankind existed in remote antiquity is a hoax or fabrication.

  5. We have misunderstood the Biblical history of the creation of Adam; the Bible does not really teach that Adam was the first man ever to be created.

  6. The archaeologists have misunderstood the history of mankind; archaeology does not really show the existence of humans before Adam.

  7. We have made some mistake in the computation of the Biblical date of the creation of Adam (i.e., the basic Biblical chronological data are valid, but they have been misunderstood).

  8. The secular chronologists have made some mistake in their computation of the antiquity of man (i.e., the basic secular chronological data are valid, but they have been misunderstood).

  9. The Biblical and secular evidences must both be accepted as legitimate; the truth lies in a proper synthesis of the two.

Our procedure must now be to work our way through this list, considering each of these possibilities in turn. Our purpose is to attempt to discover which of these nine solutions is most likely to be the correct one.

Are the Biblical Chronology Data Fabricated?

The first possibility is that the basic data from the Bible leading to the date of the creation of Adam are fabricated. That is, they have no basis in any real record of historical events. Rather, they have been fabricated more or less out of thin air.

This possibility encounters two principle difficulties. First, it is in violation of the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy. Second, the recent track record of this sort of claim is very poor.

The doctrine of Biblical inerrancy functions relative to the study of the Bible in much the same way as the law of mass/energy conservation functions relative to the study of the physical world. Both have proven to be guiding principles of no small merit, with the result that those who have experience with either are most reluctant to believe it will ever be shown false.

For example, in nuclear physics the discovery of beta decay led to an apparent violation of the scientific law of mass/energy conservation earlier in this century. Beta decay is one way that an atomic nucleus (the "parent") can spontaneously transform into an atomic nucleus of a different element (the "daughter"). In beta minus decay, an electron is ejected from the parent nucleus in the course of the transformation.

The apparent violation of mass/energy conservation resulted when it was found experimentally that the electrons for any given type of beta-decaying nucleus could be ejected with a whole range of energies. Since the parent and daughter each had a fixed mass/energy, then, according to the law of mass/energy conservation, the ejected electron should have had a fixed mass/energy too, exactly equal to the difference in mass/energy between the parent and the daughter.

The experimentally observed failure of the ejected electrons to have a fixed mass/energy could have been taken as a clear falsification of mass/energy conservation. But, shunning this possibility, Enrico Fermi proposed, in 1933, that the missing mass/energy was being carried away by yet another particle, emitted from the decaying nucleus together with the electron. To make this suggestion work, however, it was necessary to also propose that this additional particle was almost impossible to detect, since beta decay had been observed extensively in many laboratories, and no one had ever detected any additional particle.

To the novice, here was a contrived solution if there ever was one—a ghost particle that carried away the missing mass/energy but couldn't be detected. How very convenient!

But to those in the know, the law of mass/energy conservation is worth staking one's reputation on, no matter how improbable the proposal necessary to preserve it may seem. And, in point of fact, twenty-three years later Fermi's proposal was conclusively proven correct when the ghost particles were finally observed by Frederick Reines and Clyde L. Cowan, Jr. Today the neutrino—partner of the electron in beta decay—is a common-place, well-known entity of particle physics.

The doctrine of Biblical inerrancy is the same way. It has worked so well in such diverse instances, those in the know refuse to set it lightly aside no matter how pressing the evidence against it may seem to be.


In addition to this there is the fact that the proposal that the Biblical chronology data are fabricated has not been faring very well lately. This proposal has been around for quite some time, and it has been applied in many more contexts than just the creation of Adam. For example, over forty years ago archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon wrote in regard to the destruction of Jericho by Joshua:

we may take it in the first place that chronology based on the Biblical record cannot be taken literally.[2]
Kenyon believed the Biblical chronology data leading to a date for the conquest of Jericho were fabricated. As a result, she paid scant attention to them.

But I have shown that Kenyon was quite mistaken about this.[3] Indeed, we can only conclude that this fabrication hypothesis did Kenyon an enormous disservice. It caused her to fail in her attempt to find the Biblical city of Jericho which had been destroyed by Joshua at the time of the Conquest. The evidence was all there. She excavated it and handled it herself. She commented on how the walls had been subjected to a fierce conflagration by the attackers who had destroyed the city—just as the Bible tells us Joshua did to Jericho. But because she regarded Biblical chronology as fabricated, and therefore unworthy of serious study, she failed to make the critical connection between the evidence she held in her hands and the history of Jericho recorded in the Bible.

Not only is properly executed Biblical chronology literally correct in dating the conquest of Jericho, I have shown that it is also literally correct in dating the Exodus and numerous other Biblical events right back to and including Noah's Flood.[4] In each instance the Biblical data have proven reliable despite widespread insistence that they are not.

For these reasons I judge that the true solution of our conundrum will not be found to lie with the proposal that the Biblical chronology data leading to the date of the creation of Adam are fabricated.

Are the Secular Chronology Data Fabricated?

Absolute dating of archaeological artefacts is highly dependent on radiocarbon dating. Is it possible that the radiocarbon dates have been fabricated—that rather than being the result of real measurements on real archaeological samples from the archaeological contexts of interest, these "dates" have been pulled merely from thin air?

No, this is not possible. It is not possible because the archaeological artefacts to be dated are supplied by many different archaeologists from many different countries working independently at many different sites, and because the samples are submitted to many different radiocarbon laboratories all over the world. One can certainly imagine how situations might arise in which a given archaeologist might be tempted to pull a "radiocarbon date" out of thin air to support a pet theory, but it is impossible to imagine all archaeologists doing this, and even more impossible to imagine all radiocarbon labs going along with such a thing. In point of fact, I am well acquainted with a number of individuals who are intimately involved in dating samples using radiocarbon, and whatever their personal foibles, one cannot fault them along any such lines as these. They are devoted to making the most accurate physical measurement possible of the radiocarbon content of the samples submitted to them. They know full well, as do the archaeologists, that their claims can be checked by others, and very likely will be eventually, and it is a matter of professional pride for one's work to stand up to any amount of scrutiny. They also know that to be caught fabricating data means irreversible and quite possibly fatal damage to their professional careers.

The solution to our conundrum will not be found by waving the radiocarbon dates aside as so much fabrication. They are real—so real that you yourself would find the same result were you to make the measurement—and must be come to grips with as such.

Is the Biblical History False?

The next possibility—the idea that the Biblical account of the creation of Adam is simply mythological or otherwise false—is very prevalent at the present time. I reject this possibility for essentially the same reasons as the first possibility. That is, it violates Biblical inerrancy, and the recent track record of this sort of thinking is exceedingly poor, as nearly every issue of this newsletter has demonstrated since its inception.

I would only add here that this same sort of claim can be found historically in other than just Biblical contexts. For example, there was a time, not too long ago, when academic scholarship looked with distinguished disdain even upon the idea that the Troy of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey was a historical place. Skepticism, in this case, was snuffed out by the archaeological work of the self-educated Heinrich Schliemann in the closing decades of the last century, which work entirely revolutionized the accepted scholarly view of Greek history.

But the maxim that "the only thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history" seems, unfortunately, all too true in regard to scholars' general evaluation of the voice of the ancients from the past.

Is the Secular Teaching a Hoax?

The idea that the antiquity of man claimed by secular scholarship is a hoax can be dealt with relatively quickly. This falls into the category of conspiracy theory. The idea here is that the secular scholars have conspired to foist a view of the past which they know is false onto the unsuspecting public. They do this from evil motivations. Dissent within the ranks is essentially impossible because these evil-motivated scholars control the academic institutions, publishing houses, and granting agencies. They are easily able to snuff out all opposition before it ever really even gets going.

The problem with this theory is not that it characterizes scholars as motivated by evil. From what I have seen, many of them are! But the evil which motivates them is the ordinary, self-centered sort, and it is because of this fact that the theory fails. You only have to rub shoulders with these scholars for a short time to realize that any scheme, evil or otherwise, requiring that they cooperate is doomed to failure right from the start. Their pride would simply not allow it—they would each one claim the idea was originally theirs, and would each insist on being in charge of the whole operation. Nationalism, racism, sexism, and religious and anti-religious prejudices, always just beneath the surface of every gathering of scholars I have ever witnessed, would be sure to bring the whole scheme to ruin in short order.

Secular scholars from many different disciplines have been claiming a great antiquity for mankind for at least 100 years now. It is difficult to imagine a worldwide group of scientists successfully cooperating on anything voluntarily for even 100 days. That they should be able to do so for 100 years is simply preposterous.

The secular teaching that mankind existed long before the creation date of Adam cannot simply be dismissed as a gigantic, evil hoax.

Does the Bible Allow Mankind Before Adam?

This brings us to the fifth conceptually possible solution: that the Bible doesn't teach that Adam was the first man ever to be created.

The discussion of this possibility takes us out of the realm of science and into the realm of Biblical hermeneutics. Since my formal training is only in science I cannot give an "expert" opinion on this question. But the most striking fact one encounters relative to this question is the near-universal agreement among those Christians who accept that Adam was a real, historical person—including many who do qualify as experts in Biblical hermeneutics—that the Bible does indeed teach that Adam was the first man to be created. That being the case, I am hopeful that the following, somewhat lengthy discussion, which explains only why I think we must accept that the Bible does teach that Adam was the first man ever to be created, will suffice for the present purpose. I am hopeful that it will be found, if short of "expert", at least refreshingly original and stimulating.

To show conclusively from the Bible that Adam was the first man ever to be created is not the trivial exercise one might at first suppose. The prime difficulty is that the Genesis narrative of the creation of Adam never explicitly states that he was the first man to be created. One might imagine, for example, that other men had been created before Adam, but the Bible doesn't record these earlier instances. Just because the creation of Adam is the first to be recorded in Scripture does not guarantee that it was the first to ever have happened.

Mother of all living

I suspect that Genesis 3:20 figures prominently into the popular acceptance of the idea that Adam was the first man ever to be created. This says (NASB):

Now the man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.
This is generally understood as establishing Eve as the first female ancestor of all mankind. And if Eve was the mother of all mankind, then Adam, her husband, must have been the father of all mankind. And in that case it is clear enough that Adam must have existed prior to all other men.

But a critical approach to this line of argument shows it to be quite frail. In the first place it is possible to argue that since Adam named his wife Eve while they were still living in the Garden and isolated from the rest of the world, he was unaware that other people existed outside the Garden, and so he thought Eve was the mother of all the living even though she really wasn't. In this view, Genesis 3:20 faithfully records what Adam named his wife and why he gave her that name, while never intending to imply that Adam's reason was correct.

But more cogent to me are difficulties with the verse itself. The verse seems curious in two ways, and until these can be satisfactorily explained, I am loathe to apply it to any problem for fear of inadvertent misapplication. This would not be the case if what this verse says was repeated elsewhere in Scripture, but, in fact, it stands alone.

The first curiosity with this verse is that it seems chronologically out of place in the narrative. It sits near the end of the account of the Fall, in the middle of God's judgment of Adam and Eve's sin. It seems an interruption of the flow of the narrative to be told what Adam named his wife and why he named her that at this point in the account.

It also seems unlikely that Adam would actually have named his wife at this point in the narrative. This is such a solemn, tragic moment, following God's pronouncement of their sentence. Would Adam have been occupied in naming his wife while God was making skin clothes for them and preparing to banish them from the Garden?

Second, the internal chronology of the verse does not seem right. We are told that Adam called her Eve "because she was the mother of all the living". The difficulty is that at this point in the narrative she was, in fact, the mother of no one. As far as the narrative tells us we have just Adam and Eve, and Eve has not yet had any children. Proper internal chronology seems to require a different wording, something like "because she was to be the mother of all the living". The wording which actually appears in the text seems only appropriate in a retrospective perspective, in which the writer is looking back across generations to the Garden. But this perspective is not that of the rest of the narrative, all of which seems to be taking place then and there. It is as if this explanation, "because she was the mother of all the living", is a scribal gloss which has become incorporated into the text, rather than being part of the original narrative.

In any event, both the external and internal chronology of the verse do seem to me to estrange it from the rest of the narrative. This is just another way of saying that I, at least, find this verse to be somewhat enigmatic. And since this is true, it seems necessary to exclude this verse from the present discussion, even though the sense in which it is normally understood is in agreement with my conclusion.

Aura of primacy

The idea that Adam was the first man created, though never explicitly stated in the narrative of the first few chapters of Genesis, is naturally inferred from it in several ways. Adam is the first human character to appear in the narrative, and there is an aura of primacy about his entrance into the narrative. He is created from the dust of the ground, rather than being generated by any human parents. One has the impression that he had to be thus created, precisely because there were no human parents around to produce him at that time. This impression is reinforced with the entrance of Eve into the narrative. One naturally infers that her creation from Adam's side was also not an arbitrary miracle, but rather a necessary one too, there being no other human females in existence at that time.

Test and see

The aura of primacy is further reinforced by the "test and see" character of the Genesis account of the creation of Adam. "Test and see" cases are natural to any invention which is the first of its kind; they have no natural setting with later duplicate copies of that same invention. We seem to be witnessing the initial "test flight" of the first human being as we watch God's interaction with Adam in the Garden.

The principle "test and see" case is the test of obedience posed by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of course. God has obviously given Adam free choice to eat or not to eat, and He is watching to see what the outcome of this test will be.

But this is not the only "test and see" episode which the narrative presents. Another one occurs with Adam's naming of the animals. Here the text is quite explicit that this is, indeed, a "test and see" case. Genesis 2:19 records, "And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name" [my emphasis].

Still another "test and see" case leads up to the creation of Eve.

Eve was not created simultaneously with the creation of Adam. Only after the passage of some time (presumably hours), during which Adam was alone in the Garden, was Eve finally created. One feels from the account (Genesis 2:18–24) that God has watched Adam to see his reaction to the world in his first several hours of existence, before concluding, "Yes, you see, he does indeed need a suitable companion."[5]

These "test and see" cases seem to place the reader in a setting of first-of-its-kind newness.

Note also that in this setting the narrative of Adam and Eve's creation finds deep meaning, while the idea that other humans had been previously created turns many aspects of the narrative from profound to trite. Yet it is the case that the narrative of the creation of Adam and Eve is always treated as pregnant with meaning in the New Testament, and never as trite or in any way eclipsed by a still earlier precedent.

A Textual Confusion Explained

In addition to these argument there is the fact that the idea that Adam was the first man ever to be created explains an otherwise curious confusion which appears in the Hebrew text. The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia explains the confusion:

In the OT the word 'adam is used more than 500 times in the sense of mankind as well as in the sense of a proper name. Both uses appear in the Genesis record, but only from Gen 4:25 onward can it definitely be claimed that the specific person Adam is exclusively under consideration.

As a single example, consider Genesis 5:1–3. Leaving the Hebrew 'adam as it appears in the untranslated text yields:

This is the book of the generations of 'adam. In the day when God created 'adam, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them 'adam in the day when they were created. When 'adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.
That the intended sense is not always immediately obvious is easily illustrated by comparing different English translations of these sample verses. For example, the NASB translates two of these four instances of 'adam as Adam, one as man, and another as Man. The KJV translates three of them as Adam, and the other as man.

This confusion exists throughout the creation narrative of Genesis, not just in these few verses of Genesis 5.

This confusion must strike the uninitiated as very strange. Why should the concepts of "Adam", a specific creature, and "man", all creatures of Adam's class, be indistinguishable like this in Hebrew? And why would God allow a confusion of this sort to permeate something as foundational and important as these accounts of the Creation and the Fall in the early chapters of Genesis? Since so very much of faith, our understanding of the Bible and of God, and our understanding of man necessarily derives from these earliest chapters, one would hope for distinct clarity here if anywhere. There is, after all, the Hebrew word 'îsh, also translated "man" (e.g., Genesis 2:23) which might have been used to separate clearly between the concepts of "Adam" and "man" in each instance within the early chapters of Genesis. Why was such a duplicity of meaning allowed in these chapters, of all places?

The idea that Adam was the first man ever to be created provides an explanation of this curious apparent confusion. This lack of differentiation in vocabulary is expected in the case of there being only one specimen of a class of similar objects in existence.

Suppose for a moment that you were the owner of the only dog in the world. Then it would be perfectly understandable if you always referred to your dog simply as "Dog". If you said, "Dog, come here", there would be no confusion. The lack of differentiation in your vocabulary between your dog, "Dog", and the class of all creatures of the same type, "dog", would be entirely understandable in such a case. It would be a simple consequence of the fact that no such class of creatures of the same type existed.

Only in the case of there being two or more dogs in existence would it be necessary to provide some means of differentiating them. Only in that case would you need to increase your vocabulary from "Dog" to "Dog" and "Dog 2", or, if you had more of a flare for esthetics, perhaps "Rover" and "Spot".

I suggest that this lies at the root of the apparent confusion over this word 'adam in the early chapters of Genesis. These chapters, I suggest, provide a faithful witness to a time when no confusion resulted from a failure to separate between "Adam", the specific individual, and "man", the class of all such individuals, because Adam was then the only member of the class—the only man in existence.

1 Corinthians 15:45

These arguments fall short of proof positive because they are inferential. To settle the matter beyond all doubt, one really requires an explicit statement from Scripture saying directly that Adam was the first man ever to be created.

The closest Scripture comes to such a statement is in 1 Corinthians 15:45. There the apostle Paul writes [NASB. Small caps and italics are in the original. Small caps signify direct quote from the Old Testament. Italics signify word supplied by the translators.]:

So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
This verse does explicitly say that Adam was the first man. But, it does not explicitly say that Adam was the first man ever to be created. This allows the possibility that "first man" might be interpreted in some other sense, such as "the first type of man". I think it is very common, in fact, for the "last Adam" of this verse to be interpreted as a reference to Christ, and such a figurative meaning for "last Adam" hardly favors a literal interpretation of "first man, Adam".

The figurative meaning for "last Adam" seems mandatory when this passage is read in the King James translation. This is because verse 47 is there rendered as, "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven". This seems to show that Paul has a contrast between Adam and Christ in mind in these verses.

But verse 47 is rendered quite differently in the NASB. There we find simply, "The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven". This gives no hint of an analogy to Christ, which allows the possibility that the "last Adam" of verse 45 may not be intended figuratively at all. But a decision on this matter requires considerably greater expertise in New Testament textual issues than my training in science has afforded me.

There is another approach to this verse which does not seem to require great textual expertise, however, and which does seem to lead to the conclusion that this "first man, Adam" is intended to be understood in the sense of Adam being the first man ever to be created.

Notice that what Paul says "is written", in verse 45, is not an exact quote. The phrase, "man became a living soul", is all that is found in Genesis 2:7. To this has been added "the first" and "Adam" in verse 45, and yet Paul claims that all of this "is written". In what sense can it be said that the entire phrase, "the first man, Adam, became a living soul", "is written"?

The answer would seem to be that, while "the first" and "Adam" are not explicit in Genesis 2:7, the rest of what is written in the immediate vicinity of Genesis 2:7—the context of Genesis 2:7—clearly implies these additional words.

But if these additional words are implied by the context of Genesis 2:7—so that one may justifiably claim that they are "written" along with the rest of the phrase from Genesis 2:7—then it clearly must be the context of Genesis 2:7 which determines their meaning, and not the context of 1 Corinthians 15:45. And in that case it is perfectly clear that their meaning must be "the first man ever to be created" for Genesis 2:7 clearly sits within a creation context.

If we go back to Genesis 2:7 and put these extra words in there, as the Spirit explicitly warrants through 1 Corinthians 15:45, then we read:

Then the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the first man, Adam, became a living soul.
Here there can be no question. The context here is not analogy or typology. The context here is creation, plain and simple. And in that case we must conclude that the Bible does, in fact, teach both implicitly and explicitly that Adam was the first man ever to be created.

I judge that the Bible does require us to accept that Adam was the first man ever to be created. The resolution of our conundrum is not to be found in the idea that the Bible allows for the existence of mankind prior to Adam.

Are the Archaeologists Misreading the Data?

The sixth possibility is that the archaeologists are mistaken in their interpretation of the archaeological data. We are not thinking of chronology at all here (that comes in with the eighth possibility). For this possible solution the secular chronology is assumed to be valid. We are only thinking that the archaeologists are mistakenly identifying archaeological artefacts from pre-Adamic times as being related to human activity, when, in fact, they have nothing to do with humans.

One does not have to read very extensively in the archaeological literature to learn that this idea is impossible. The pre-Adamic archaeological artefacts are of the same sort as the post-Adamic ones. They include skeletal remains indistinguishable from modern man; painted pottery bowls, jugs, and plates; remains of houses which are nearly indistinguishable from even their modern counterparts in that same part of the world; houses arranged in village structure, frequently with a surrounding wall; animal and plant remains testifying to agricultural occupations; graves testifying to burial of the dead and belief in life after death; carved or molded statuettes; and much more. There can be no mistake about the fact that one is viewing truly human assemblages in these archaeological data. The solution to our conundrum does not lie in this direction.

Is Our Biblical Chronology Mistaken?

The seventh possibility is that we have made some mistake in the computation of the Biblical date of the creation of Adam. A simple quantitative analysis quickly reveals that our conundrum cannot be resolved in this way.

Secular chronology places the origin of modern mankind (i.e., the first Homo sapiens sapiens) very far back relative to seven thousand years ago. Skeletal remains anatomically indistinguishable from modern man, together with art work, and clear evidence of burial of the dead date back to at least 25,000 years ago on the secular time scale. (In fact, 35,000 years more accurately reflects the current secular estimate.) Thus, to resolve the conundrum of mankind before Adam by an appeal to a mistake in our handling of the Biblical chronological data, one or more errors totaling at least 18,000 years must be found.

I noted last issue that Biblical chronologists have been arriving at a date for the creation of Adam very similar to my 5176±26 B.C. (i.e., well within 10% of it) right back to the time of the early church. Thus, if this date is out by 18,000 years, a great number of competent, godly scholars have somehow been terribly misled through the years. But let us suppose that this, indeed, has happened, and press on with our quantitative analysis.

We have verified Biblical chronology from the present back to 3500 B.C., the time of Noah's Flood.[6] Thus, these 18,000 missing years must fit somewhere in the interval between Adam and Noah, an interval we have calculated to be just 1,700 years long. Quantitatively, then, we are required to somehow stretch the interval from Adam to Noah by more than a factor of ten over what we (and others) have previously calculated from the Bible. I judge this to be an impossibility.

This 1,700 years was calculated on the basis of the explicit chronological data given in the genealogical list from Adam to Noah found in Genesis 5. Thus, this 18,000 years must fit somewhere in this genealogical list. Said another way, this list must somehow be stretched by over a factor of ten.

Some have argued for missing generations in these genealogies, to be sure. But our quantitative analysis shows that we require more than ten missing generations for every one which is given in Genesis 5. That is a lot of missing data for a list which gives every impression of having been compiled with accurate chronological computation in mind.

The Genesis 5 list is very similar in construction to the one in Genesis 11 which extends the genealogy from Noah to Abraham. The Genesis 11 list was a vital part of our Biblical chronology computation of the date of the Flood. In that computation we assumed no missing generations. Since our Biblical date for the Flood checks with many extra-Biblical chronological indicators, our treatment of the Genesis 11 chronological data must be regarded as sound. This means that we have yet to find any chronological evidence of even one missing generation in Genesis 11. Is it, then, credible to propose that ten generations are missing for every one which is given in Genesis 5?

I am willing to concede that there may, in the most pathological case, be even as much as 500 years error in my computed date for the creation of Adam, as I have previously stated.[7] But the suggestion that this computation may be in error by 18,000 years is way outside the bounds of any reasonable analysis of the Genesis 5 chronological data. The apparent existence of mankind prior to the creation of Adam cannot be resolved in this way.

Recess

Only the eighth and ninth possible solutions remain:

  1. The secular chronologists have made some mistake in their computation of the antiquity of man (i.e., the basic secular chronological data are valid, but they have been misunderstood).

  2. The Biblical and secular evidences must both be accepted as legitimate; the truth lies in a proper synthesis of the two.

But these are both far too lengthy to undertake here. Stay tuned! ◇

Biblical Chronology 101

In its September 7, 1998 issue, Christianity Today ran the cover story "Did the Exodus Never Happen?" by Kevin D. Miller.[8] The byline reads: "How two Egyptologists are countering scholars who want to turn the Old Testament into myth".

I had mixed emotions when I learned that Christianity Today had run an article on Biblical archaeology in the period before the monarchy. A virtual information blackout has been the lot of the everyday Christian in regard to pre-monarchical Biblical archaeology ever since Kenyon overturned Garstang's conclusions at Jericho in the fifties. (In the thirties Garstang excavated at Jericho and claimed to have found the walls which fell before Joshua's army. This is where the Sunday-school story—still in circulation today—originates, about the archaeologists finding Jericho's walls fallen outward. But twenty years later, when the science of archaeology had progressed considerably, Kenyon carried out her own excavation at Jericho and showed that the walls Garstang had found dated much earlier than he had supposed.) The result has been a generation of Christians who view Old Testament history as divine fairy-tale—wonderful, inspiring stories, absolutely heavenly true, and blissfully detached from anything in the real world such as history, geography, or even archaeology. So, on the one hand, I was pleased to find Christianity Today exhibiting the courage to break the silence at long last.

But on the other hand, I was worried. The truth is that mainline conservative Biblical archaeology is in a mess in the pre-monarchical period. The conservative archaeologists were soundly defeated at Jericho in the fifties, and the progress of the war has been all downhill from there.

Now if you have been following the results of my research over the past several years, you know that the defeat at Jericho results from mistaken chronology.[9] There is a thousand years missing from traditional Biblical chronology just prior to 1000 B.C., with the result that the traditional Biblical date for the destruction of Jericho (and everything else prior to the book of 1 Samuel) is 1000 years too recent. If you look for a destruction layer in an archaeological mound a full millennium later on (i.e., higher up in the archaeological strata) than the destruction happened, you are most unlikely to find what you are looking for, and you are likely to come away with the conclusion that the destruction never happened. Which is precisely what has happened at Jericho.

It is unequivocably the case that if you look in the mound of ancient Jericho exactly 1000 years earlier than traditional expectations tell you to look, you find a destruction layer which matches the Biblical description of the conquest of Jericho to the letter. In fact, one of the walls which Garstang identified as having been the Biblical wall (he thought he had found a double wall at the time of Joshua, but the second wall of this double wall idea is from an earlier period still, showing that it is unrelated to the first wall) is the wall belonging to this 1000 year earlier, destroyed and burned with fire (as the Bible says), city. So Garstang was at least partly right (and Kenyon partly wrong). So, as I began to say two paragraphs ago, if you have been following my research, you know that the archaeological defeat at Jericho was hardly the blow to conservative Christianity that many have subsequently supposed.

But mainline conservative Biblical archaeology doesn't know this—despite my best efforts. Attrition has had an awful effect on the conservative archaeological army since Jericho, and a few old soldiers, together with a leavening of younger, starry-eyed recruits is all that remains of this once grand army. As you might guess, this tattered remnant is in an extremely defensive mood. Indeed, they are shooting at anything which moves. Which makes them a little difficult to communicate with.

So, on the other hand, as I began to say four paragraphs ago, I was more than a little worried about the content of the article. To be honest, I feared the author, Kevin D. Miller, might have put together a dreadful piece of propaganda. For I doubt seriously that Beethoven himself would be able to extract any real melody from the desperate cacophony which is mainline conservative Biblical archaeology in the pre-monarchical period today.

So I was much relieved to find that Kevin Miller simply opted to present the cacophony. This option may not provide the audience with greatest listening pleasure, but at least it is high fidelity.

The article is an accurate reflection of the current state of mainline conservative scholarship within the pre-monarchical period of Old Testament history. It bears no explicit message (unless, perhaps, a "reassurance" that we still have some soldiers in the field) and displays numerous duplicities. This is as it should be, for it is a fact that mainline conservative Biblical scholarship in this early period of Old Testament history has no explicit message to deliver (the only honest thing it could say at this point is that it has been routed and is in a state of complete disarray, but it is, understandably, unwilling to make this admission), and that it is currently characterized by (perfectly understandable, but unfortunate nonetheless) duplicities.

Unfortunately, the duplicities are somewhat beneath the surface in the article. While this also accurately reflects the state of the field, I am concerned that many of the article's less sophisticated readers may come away from it feeling somewhat confused. In what follows I assume the role of the unsophisticated churchman and attempt to give his confusion a voice.

Who are the bad guys?

The byline (recall: "How two Egyptologists are countering scholars who want to turn the Old Testament into myth") clearly establishes a good-guy/bad-guy framework for the article. This byline informs us that there are two good guys, and that the bad guys are "scholars who want to turn the Old Testament into myth". As we begin reading the article we quickly learn that the bad guys are the "biblical minimalists", while the good guys are "Kenneth Kitchen, James Hoffmeier, and a handful of others". This much I follow.

But then we are introduced to a debate which took place between two biblical minimalists, Niels Peter Lemche and Thomas Thompson, and two other scholars, William Dever and P. Kyle McCarter. It is perfectly clear that Lemche and Thompson are bad guys, because they are clearly identified as biblical minimalists. It is over the proper category for Dever and McCarter that confusion arises.

Since Dever and McCarter are taking on the bad guys in the debate, presumably they are good guys—two of the "handful of others" who, like good-guys Kitchen and Hoffmeier, are "countering scholars who want to turn the Old Testament into myth". But then we find Dever being quoted in the article as saying,[10]

I agree with you that [the Book of] Joshua has little to do with any historical events… If you guys think I—or the Israeli archaeologists—am looking for the Israelite conquest archaeologically, you're wrong. We've given that up. We've given up the patriarchs. … Tom, I don't care in the least whether Solomon ever existed. I'm probably more of a disbeliever than you. I don't really care about the tradition. I don't believe any of the myths.
Someone help me—is Dever a good guy or a bad guy? I thought it was the bad guys who wanted "to turn the Old Testament into myth"?

Why are the good guys having such a rough time these days?

The article early on tells us a happy story of William Foxwell Albright's conversion from skepticism to belief. (Albright was an archaeological heavyweight roughly two generations ago.) The story we are told is how Albright was predisposed to disbelieve the Biblical account of the history of Israel because of certain destructive theories about how the Bible had come to be, which were rampant at the time he was a student in training. But when he got out into the field in Palestine, and began to dig up the past for himself, the hard evidence from the ground soon caused him to change his mind.

Later on in the article, however, we are told that the reason things aren't nearly so happy in the field of Biblical archaeology today is because of "the hermeneutics of suspicion". This dread philosophical blight, we are informed, seizes the minds of modern archaeologists, causing them to adopt a "guilty until proven innocent" approach toward Biblical history—in sharp contrast to scholars of Albright's generation, we are told, who held the Bible to be "innocent until proven guilty".[11]

Now I hope you all find this as confusing as I do, and that I am not just missing something here. Because I thought the Albright conversion story was cast in a setting of a whole generation of scholars who had concluded the Bible was guilty before they ever bothered to look at the archaeological evidence because of some silly theories about the Bible. Indeed, I thought the whole conversion story was about a young scholar who was infested with this "guilty until proven innocent" disease until the evidence from the ground whipped it out of him. Now which is it? Did Albright and the scholars of his generation assume the Bible was "innocent until proven guilty" or "guilty until proven innocent"?

Why, really, are the good guys having such a rough time getting other scholars to buy what they are saying these days?

What do the good guys do?

Still another duplicity arises over the matter of what it is that good guys do. The bad guys, we know, try "to turn the Old Testament into myth". So the good guys, we would suppose, uphold the historicity of the Old Testament, against all odds—as one expects good guys to do.

This deduction does seem to be borne out early in the article when the good guys are introduced:[12]

But before anyone scribbles "Fiction" over the title page of the Old Testament, some scholars want to tell another side to the story, one that Kenneth Kitchen, James Hoffmeier, and a handful of others are meticulously piecing together.
This is as expected. This makes it perfectly clear what the bad guys do and what the good guys do. The bad guys write "fiction" on the Old Testament. The good guys write "fact" there.

But as we continue to read the article this all begins to unravel. For example, the bad guys, the article informs us, think the account of the Exodus is fictional because, among other things, the whole idea of "a million-plus runaway slaves traversing a desert" is to them incredible. It seems they could handle a thousand, or maybe even ten-thousand, but a million is just too big a number. So the bad guys write "fiction" over the Biblical record of "a million-plus runaway slaves traversing a desert". Fair enough. That's what bad guys do, of course.

But we are not alarmed when the bad guys do this, because we know that good-guys Kitchen and Hoffmeier and a handful of others are there to write "fact" over this matter of "a million-plus runaway slaves". Indeed, we have read our Bibles, and we know that the bad guys are in for a hard time from our good guys on this particular issue. For if ever the Bible provided unambiguous support for the factuality of a Biblical number, this, we know, is the case.

Exodus 12:37 says point blank, "Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children". (Even adding one child for each man will bring the total to "a million-plus".)

But this 600,000 figure is not just found in Exodus 12:37. In Exodus 38:26, in context of the financing of the building of the tabernacle, we find a more precise numbering, of "603,550 men".

Then, in Numbers 1:45,46 we find, "So all the numbered men of the sons of Israel by their fathers' households, from twenty years old and upward, whoever was able to go out to war in Israel, even all the numbered men were 603,550."

Then in Numbers 2:32 we read, "These are the numbered men of the sons of Israel by their fathers' households; the total of the numbered men of the camps by their armies, 603,550."

Then, if that is not enough, in Numbers 11:21,22 we find, "But Moses said, "The people among whom I am, are 600,000 on foot; yet Thou hast said, 'I will give them meat in order that they may eat for a whole month. Should flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to be sufficient for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to be sufficient for them?"

And, to add to the heap, in Numbers 26:51 we read, "These are those who were numbered of the sons of Israel, 601,730."

But the Biblical evidence of the integrity and perspicuity of this number doesn't stop there. In Numbers 1 and again in Numbers 2 we find this number broken down into its component parts according to the twelve tribes; the number of men in each tribe being given separately, and the sum of these twelve numbers being 603,550.

Finally, the same procedure of numbering by tribe is carried out with the new generation in Numbers 26. The twelve individual numbers in this case sum to the 601,730 of Numbers 26:51, mentioned above.

So if ever the Bible has given our good guys a basis for standing firm, and boldly declaring "fact", this is it. Writing "fact" on the Old Testament is what good guys do, and we can expect our good guys to do so here if anywhere.

But what is this?

If it seems incredible to believe that 600,000 men plus women and children could have survived as a people in the Sinai wilderness for 40 years, we may be misinterpreting the number, says Hoffmeier [my emphasis].[13]
Whoa a minute. The article told us up front that Hoffmeier was a good guy. I thought the thing good guys did was to write "fact" on the Old Testament.
"The issue of Exodus 12:37 is an interpretive one," says Hoffmeier. "The Hebrew word eleph can be translated 'thousand,' but it is also rendered in the Bible as 'clans' and 'military units.' When I look at the question as an Egyptologist, I know that there are thought to have been 20,000 in the entire Egyptian army at the height of Egypt's empire. And at the battle of Ai in Joshua 7, there was a severe military setback when 36 troops were killed. If you have an army of 600,000, that's not a big setback." In other words, the head count may have been far fewer than suggested by a literal reading of Exodus 12:37.[14]

Now I'm really confused.

Look. The Bible is certainly clear that the defeat at Ai was a major military setback for Israel, and it is equally clear that only about 36 men were lost. But it does not for a moment intimate that the loss of the 36 men was why the defeat was a major military setback. The fact that this defeat was a major military setback did not rest in the number of Israelite soldiers who were killed; it rested rather in the fact that the Israelites had for the first time in roughly forty years been defeated! The military setback was that they would, from this time forward, no longer appear invincible to their enemies. The setback was in the psychological impact the news that Israel and its conquering God had lost a battle would have on the enemy nations. The defeat at Ai gave the enemy every reason to take courage, join forces, and wipe out the entire nation of Israel. This is so very clear, one wonders how anybody versed in the text could possibly fail to understand it:

Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth before the ark of the Lord… And Joshua said, … "Oh Lord, what can I say since Israel has turned their back before their enemies? For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and they will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what wilt Thou do for Thy great name?[15]

But why am I having to explain the Bible to the good guys? I thought these were our heroes—the ones who understood, believed, and wrote "fact" over the Old Testament!

Somebody help me here—my pulse is racing, and I fear my logical faculties may be clouded by emotion at the moment. Tell us what it is the good guys do.

Who is winning, the good guys or the bad guys?

One more duplicity, and then I'll be done.

Who is winning, the good guys or the bad guys?

We learn early on in the article that the bad guys are making some impressive progress:[16]

As far-out as their pronouncements may sound, their work is filtering its way into our world through seminary textbooks and media soundbites. The effect is a wholesale rejection of the Bible's accounts of Israel's origins—a matter of no small concern to believing Jews and Christians.

But we have been assured in the byline that the two good guys are "countering" these bad guys. And, we are told, they are doing so, "through top university presses and in academic conferences".[17] So one gets the impression that our two good guys are valiantly battering back the forces of evil on the field of battle.

The bulk of the article seems certainly calculated to add to this impression, as we struggle through more than four pages of bulleted arguments from the good guys.

But when the last shot has been fired, one still feels a strange sense of uneasiness. Yes, the good guys have made a lot of noise with their canonry, and there's no denying they've produced a powerful lot of smoke, but one still wonders whether they've hit anything. After all, it is a simple matter of observation that, while the good guys have been entrenched along these same basic lines for several decades now, the bad guys' work seems to be "filtering its way into our world" just the same, and at a steadily increasing pace at that.

And the ending of the article certainly doesn't seem to leave us in possession of the high ground. We are advised by good-guys Hoffmeier and Kitchen to patiently keep our heads down in our foxholes—to "wait and see".

But can we afford to "wait and see"? It is difficult not to notice that we have been playing this "wait and see" game for forty years now, and the only result so far is that the bad guys are swarming the field, their ranks bulging, while our entire fighting force is down to two good guys "and a handful of others".

Now if the best that Christians can do is "wait and see", while the bad guys' stuff continues "filtering its way into our world", and while our troops are all but petered out due to defection and old age, who, then, is really winning this battle?

Epilogue

Not too long ago I ran across an article with the title "Cranks, Crackpots, and Charlatans" in a conservative Biblical archaeology newsletter. The purpose of the article was to keep the faithful from straying from the old mainline conservative position.[18] Its keynote, in regard to other views, was, "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is". I thought the author's time would have been better spent with a more introspective theme. For the question which is begging an honest answer of the old mainline conservative position today is: if it looks too bad to be true, what then? ◇

The Biblical Chronologist is a bimonthly subscription newsletter about Biblical chronology. It is written and edited by Gerald E. Aardsma, a Ph.D. scientist (nuclear physics) with special background in radioisotopic dating methods such as radiocarbon. The Biblical Chronologist has a threefold purpose:

  1. to encourage, enrich, and strengthen the faith of conservative Christians through instruction in Biblical chronology,

  2. to foster informed, up-to-date, scholarly research in this vital field within the conservative Christian community, and

  3. to communicate current developments and discoveries in Biblical chronology in an easily understood manner.

An introductory packet containing three sample issues and a subscription order form is available for $9.95 US regardless of destination address. Send check or money order in US funds and request the "Intro Pack."

The Biblical Chronologist (ISSN 1081-762X) is published six times a year by Aardsma Research & Publishing, 412 N Mulberry, Loda, IL 60948-9651.

Copyright © 1998 by Aardsma Research & Publishing. Photocopying or reproduction strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.

Footnotes

  1. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Toward Unification of Pre-Flood Chronology," The Biblical Chronologist 4.4 (July/August 1998): 1–10.

  2. ^  Kathleen M. Kenyon, Digging Up Jericho, (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1957), 258.

  3. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel, 2nd ed. (Loda IL: Aardsma Research and Publishing, 1993), 86–90.

  4. ^  See Gerald E. Aardsma, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel, 2nd ed. (Loda IL: Aardsma Research and Publishing, 1993) and the previous issues of this newsletter.

  5. ^  I trust my failure to overlay the simplicity of the text at this point in the discussion with theological concepts of God's omniscience and sovereignty will not seem intolerable to the theologians. My reason for failing to do so is that the text itself seems deliberately void of these concepts at this point.

  6. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Noah's Flood at Elk Lake," The Biblical Chronologist 2.6 (November/December 1996): 1–13. Gerald E. Aardsma, "Noah's Flood at Devon Island," The Biblical Chronologist 3.4 (July/August 1997): 1–16. Gerald E. Aardsma, "Radiocarbon Dating Noah's Flood," The Biblical Chronologist 3.6 (November/December 1997): 1–11.

  7. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Toward Unification of Pre-Flood Chronology," The Biblical Chronologist 4.4 (July/August 1998): 4.

  8. ^  Kevin D. Miller, "Did the Exodus Never Happen?" Christianity Today (September 7, 1998): 44–51.

  9. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel, 2nd ed. (Loda IL: Aardsma Research and Publishing, 1993).

  10. ^  Kevin D. Miller, "Did the Exodus Never Happen?" Christianity Today (September 7, 1998): 46.

  11. ^  Kevin D. Miller, "Did the Exodus Never Happen?" Christianity Today (September 7, 1998): 46.

  12. ^  Kevin D. Miller, "Did the Exodus Never Happen?" Christianity Today (September 7, 1998): 44.

  13. ^  Kevin D. Miller, "Did the Exodus Never Happen?" Christianity Today (September 7, 1998): 48.

  14. ^  Kevin D. Miller, "Did the Exodus Never Happen?" Christianity Today (September 7, 1998): 48.

  15. ^  Joshua 7:9.

  16. ^  Kevin D. Miller, "Did the Exodus Never Happen?" Christianity Today (September 7, 1998): 44.

  17. ^  Kevin D. Miller, "Did the Exodus Never Happen?" Christianity Today (September 7, 1998): 45.

  18. ^  Charles F. Aling, "Cranks, Crackpots, and Charlatans" Artifax 12.3 (Summer 1998): 26–27.


Volume 4, Number 6November/December 1998

Toward Unification of Pre-Flood Chronology: Part III

Review

Two issues ago I introduced the "central conundrum" of pre-Flood Biblical chronology.[1]

The conundrum is the apparent existence of mankind, according to secular scholarship, many thousands of years before the creation date of Adam determined from Biblical chronology.

Last issue I enumerated nine conceptually possible solutions to this conundrum.[2]

  1. {The Biblical chronological data leading to the creation of Adam are false (i.e., fabricated).}

  2. {The secular chronological data leading to a great antiquity for mankind are false (i.e., fabricated).}

  3. {The Biblical history which teaches that Adam was the first man to be created is mythological or otherwise fabricated.}

  4. {The modern secular teaching that mankind existed in remote antiquity is a hoax or fabrication.}

  5. {We have misunderstood the Biblical history of the creation of Adam; the Bible does not really teach that Adam was the first man ever to be created.}

  6. {The archaeologists have misunderstood the history of mankind; archaeology does not really show the existence of humans before Adam.}

  7. {We have made some mistake in the computation of the Biblical date of the creation of Adam (i.e., the basic Biblical chronological data are valid, but they have been misunderstood).}

  8. {The secular chronologists have made some mistake in their computation of the antiquity of man (i.e., the basic secular chronological data are valid, but they have been misunderstood).}

  9. {The Biblical and secular evidences must both be accepted as legitimate; the truth lies in a proper synthesis of the two.}

These nine, I believe, cover the entire field of possibilities.

Last issue I discussed the first seven of these and showed that they each failed to present an adequate resolution of the central conundrum. This leaves two possibilities, the eighth and the ninth, to be explored.

Introduction

This issue it is the eighth possible solution which is the focus of our attention. We are inquiring into the reliability of the secular dating of the antiquity of mankind. We are not questioning the validity of the basic physical data used in this dating process. The idea that the basic physical data are somehow fabricated has been discussed previously as the second possible solution of my enumeration. This idea has already been set aside as false. Thus, I take as a starting point for the present study that the measurements of the radiocarbon content of ancient human artifacts upon which the secular dating is based are good, valid, physical measurements, so that we would find the same radiocarbon concentrations ourselves were we to make the measurements on these ancient samples. The concern in the present study is not with the measured concentration of radiocarbon in the samples, but rather with the interpretation of those concentrations in terms of elapsed calendar years. Doesn't the process of converting a measured radiocarbon concentration to a calendar date involve certain assumptions? What guarantee is there that these assumptions are valid?

Radiocarbon Dating: Can You Trust It?

Notice that the discussion has already focused on radiocarbon dating, to the exclusion of all other dating methods. This is as it should be. The context of the present discussion is the putative existence of mankind prior to 5176±26 B.C., the creation date of Adam found from Biblical chronology.[3] We are trying to resolve whether absolute secular dates for human artifacts prior to 5176±26 B.C. are legitimate. Since there are no secular written records extending that far back into the past, the only way to determine the absolute date of an artifact at such ancient times is radiocarbon dating. So it is radiocarbon dating—and not potassium-argon dating, or rubidium-strontium dating, or any other dating method—which is of exclusive interest to the present discussion. Only radiocarbon dating functions in actual practice to furnish reasonably precise absolute dates to the secular archaeologists in the time period of interest to this investigation.

It is important to notice, however, that it is not the whole of radiocarbon dating which is of immediate concern to us here. The putative range of radiocarbon dating is roughly 50,000 years. But in this study we do not need to concern ourselves, at least initially, with the question of the reliability of radiocarbon dates 50,000 years ago. Recall that sound research strategy dictates that we focus on the most recent point of tension between sacred and secular chronologies.[4] This point is now at the creation of Adam, 5176±26 B.C., or roughly 7200 years ago, not 50,000 years ago. Thus, our strategy must be to find a set of radiocarbon determinations for human-related archaeological samples in the millennia immediately prior to the creation date of Adam, and investigate those radiocarbon dates critically to see if they are truly reliable. If they are not reliable—if we are able to show that some faulty assumptions have been made so that those human-related samples should really be dated after, rather than before the creation of Adam—then will be the time to critically examine yet older radiocarbon dates. If, on the other hand, they are found to be reliable, then the apparent existence of mankind prior to the creation of Adam is affirmed and there is no reason to pursue the reliability of radiocarbon any further back in time—at least as far as the present investigation is concerned.

Jericho

There are any number of suitable radiocarbon determinations which might be chosen for critical examination in the present context. I suggest, however, that we focus our attention on radiocarbon measurements from Jericho. My main reason for this suggestion is that Jericho is already somewhat familiar to most of us. Thus, it does not entail quite the difficult learning curve of other less familiar archaeological sites. Also, Jericho ties in very neatly with Biblical chronology at the time of the Conquest.[5] This provides us with a well established Biblical chronology reference point, which is convenient for checking the results of radiocarbon at Jericho at least that far back in time.

Archaeology at Jericho

Jericho is a conspicuous mound located about 6 miles (10 km) north of the Dead Sea. The mound rises on average about 50 feet (17 m) above the surrounding plain. The mound is made up of the debris of thousands of years of human occupation at the site. It is like a huge layer cake, with each layer representing one chapter in the history of Jericho. The oldest layer is at the bottom, with successively more recent layers above. This results from generation after generation of occupants leveling older remains and building anew on top of the compacted rubble of the past.

Figure 1 is a schematic diagram of the dwelling styles found within the layer-cake strata at Jericho. Only the order of the strata are represented in the figure, not their relative thicknesses. We owe our ability to construct such a diagram to the work of the British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon. Between 1952 and 1958 she labored with a substantial crew, digging several very deep trenches into the mound of Jericho to expose its ancient buried history.[6]

Figure 1: Archaeological strata at Jericho.

The right column illustrates only a small portion of what Kenyon found by digging through the mound at Jericho. I have chosen to illustrate the style of domestic architecture which she discovered to be characteristic of the various layers, but the remains of houses are not all that Kenyon and other archaeologists found at Jericho, by any means. They also found stone tools, art-work, burials, animal bones, pottery fragments, seeds and other plant remains, metals, and much more. All of these artifacts show pronounced differences from level to level within the mound, revealing the markedly different ways of life of the occupants of Jericho from period to period.

Before we proceed I need to point out that my illustrations of the dwelling styles found at Jericho are very rough sketches of the basic forms only—they are not technically precise at all. Note also that Kenyon did not find instances of these dwellings all nicely preserved in the various strata in every case. Rather it was generally the case that only the foundation remained intact, and she had to deduce the form of the rest of the building from the rubble of the collapsed walls and roof which covered it.

But the major point to notice is that clearly-identifiable remains of domestic dwellings and many other types of artifacts are found—the mound is not just a hodgepodge of randomly scattered rocks and dirt by any means—and the characteristic styles of these dwellings and other artifacts vary markedly from one level to the next within the mound.

Distinct material differences in the artifacts recovered from various levels are not only found at Jericho but, indeed, at all ancient mounds throughout the land of Israel. Meanwhile, similarities in domestic dwelling styles, pottery styles, tool styles, and so forth, can be traced from mound to mound throughout Palestine in the same succession found at Jericho.

The patterns of artifact styles are, in fact, persistent and widespread. Their obvious stratigraphical separation clearly assigns them to different, successive periods of time. A set of names for these successive periods, such as "Chalcolithic" and "Early Bronze", has grown up over the decades of archaeological research in Palestine. These are shown in the left column of the figure, opposite the illustration of the dwelling style found at Jericho corresponding to that period.

Now I must briefly clarify the significance of these period names. They were originally coined on the basis of evolutionary notions of the development of man and his tool assemblages. While mankind's technological abilities have increased throughout history, just as they continue to do today, the simplistic evolutionary scheme imagined by the inventors of these period names has not been supported by subsequent archaeological research. For example, "Neolithic" ('neo' = new, 'lithic' = 'stone') originally implied a period during which mankind had passed from the use of crude stone tools into the production of more technologically advanced stone tools. Today its meaning has come to imply a settled agricultural lifestyle, rather than any sweeping generalizations regarding the technology of stone tool manufacture. These period names are retained by archaeology today because of historical precedence, not because of any intrinsic descriptive value or literal significance, and they should not be interpreted literally by the reader.

The figure shows the archaeological strata found at Jericho from bedrock up until Middle Bronze II (MBII). There are yet more recent layers on top of the MBII stratum, but these are of no interest in the present context.

Adding Absolute Time

Figure 1 shows only a relative progression of domestic dwelling styles at Jericho. It does not tell us when, in calendar years, these various styles were in use there. If this relative progression was all the archaeologists had to say about Jericho there would be no problem—no central conundrum—at Jericho at least. We could imagine that the slight tents or huts at the bottom of the mound were constructed by some of Adam's great-grandchildren, for example, who had migrated to Palestine from Mesopotamia.

But the archaeologists don't stop with Figure 1. Archaeologists quite routinely attempt to couple their archaeological data to chronological data (and please note that the two are not the same thing at all) in an effort to produce an accurate reconstruction of the past. It is this process of adding absolute time to Figure 1 which gives rise to our central conundrum.

The youngest (highest up) strata shown in Figure 1 are in historical times. They can be assigned absolute (calendar) dates on the basis of written sources. I will do this below.

It is the older strata—especially the Neolithic strata—which are really of interest to the present study. No written records are ever found in these early strata—one naturally infers that writing was unknown to these people—so that it is impossible to date them using contemporaneous historical texts. The only way reasonably precise absolute dates can be obtained for these strata, as I have mentioned above, is through application of the radiocarbon dating method.

Radiocarbon Dates at Jericho

James Weinstein has compiled a convenient and pretty much exhaustive list of radiocarbon dates from archaeological sites in southern Palestine.[7] My procedure in this section is simply to display every radiocarbon date listed by Weinstein for Jericho from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (Weinstein calls this the Early Neolithic I) through the Early Bronze IV period. It is the Neolithic radiocarbon dates which are of real interest to the present study, but I have included the more recent radiocarbon dates as well, up through the Early Bronze, so we can see how well radiocarbon does in these more recent, historically dated periods.

Now I must make you aware of a slight deviation from my just-stated procedure. Weinstein lists sixty radiocarbon dates from Jericho in the period of interest. The oldest three of these dates, from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A period, encounter a technical problem which necessarily excludes them from our study.

Radiocarbon dates are routinely calibrated today whenever one wishes to talk in terms of absolute calendar years, as is the case in the present investigation. (I plan to discuss more about the calibration procedure next issue.) The problem with these three oldest dates is that they extend beyond the range of the (computerized) calibration table.[8] This means that absolute calendar dates cannot be specified for them at present. It is necessary to exclude them from this study for this reason. This exclusion does not impact the outcome of the present investigation in any way. It merely reduces our sample of dates from sixty to fifty-seven.

I must also point out, in passing, that we are very privileged to have access to this sort of data today. The cost of a single radiocarbon determination on a sample today is roughly $300. Thus, it is our privilege to work, free of charge, with a set of data which we must value, in modern terms, in excess of $17,000. And this does not take into account the prodigious expense of obtaining the samples from deep within the mound of ancient Jericho, the result of several years of archaeological excavation.

Fifty-six of the fifty-seven radiocarbon dates of interest are from charcoal samples. Since radiocarbon measures when a tree grew, not when its wood was used by humans, it is possible to get older dates than we should for a given strata in some instances. But we would expect this inaccuracy to amount to no more than several decades in most instances, and we would expect it to exceed a century only very rarely. Because wood rots, dead trees are not likely to sit around for several hundred years before being used by humans in some construction project, or as fuel for their fires. So this source of dating error is not expected to be a problem for the present purpose. Uncertainties of a few decades or even a few centuries for radiocarbon dates in the Neolithic are of little concern to our present purpose, being much smaller than the problem of the thousands of years before Adam which we are endeavoring to resolve.

Figure 2 shows the graphical output from the calibration computer program for the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A radiocarbon dates. Seventeen of the fifty-seven samples fall in this group. Each horizontal bar in the figure represents one of these seventeen samples. Each sample is given a unique label, shown at the right side of the graph. The letters at the front of a label identify the radiocarbon laboratory which made the radiocarbon measurement on that sample. The numbers following the lab identifier are sample numbers, used by the laboratory to distinguish one sample from the next.

Figure 2: CALIB 3.0.3 output for seventeen Pre-Pottery Neolithic A samples from Jericho.

The broken horizontal black bars indicate the intervals in which the true calendar date of the sample is most likely to lie (i.e., when the original wood sample most likely grew). Radiocarbon does not furnish a single date for a sample, but rather it gives a probability distribution describing the relative probability the sample originates in a given time interval. The probability is roughly two-thirds that the true date of the sample falls somewhere in the black barred regions, and one-third that it falls outside those regions. As a general rule, the farther one goes away from the broken black bar on the time line, the more unlikely it is that the true date of the sample falls there.

GL-46 and Pretreatment

Most of these dates group together on the time line, as they should if all of the samples originate from the same approximate time. However, sample GL-46 is suspiciously different (more than 1000 years) from all the others. This is the one sample of the fifty-seven which is not charcoal. In fact it is listed as "humic extract", which offers an immediate explanation of its relative youthfulness.

An ancient lump of charcoal is likely to become contaminated by modern living things before it is taken from the ground. For example, there may be rootlets from modern plants penetrating it. Or there may be bacteria or fungi growing on it.

If the whole lump of charcoal with all these modern contaminants is dated, one will get a date part way between the age of the charcoal and modern times. Said another way, the modern contaminants will make the radiocarbon age of the sample come out too young.

To get the true date of the charcoal, it is important to get rid of all contaminants before the sample is dated. One could physically remove rootlets using a microscope and a tweezers, for example. And one could remove fungi and bacteria, which reside on the surface of the sample, by dissolving away the surface of the charcoal with a suitable chemical.

Such procedures are called sample "pretreatment". They are routine in all radiocarbon dating laboratories today.

The "humic extract", sample GL-46, does not represent an archaeological sample at all. Rather, it is the part of the sample with all the contaminants which was dissolved during pretreatment. This sample would only have been "dated" by the radiocarbon laboratory to check their pretreatment procedure. One could imagine dissolving an ancient lump of charcoal in stages, and "dating" the dissolved portion of the sample at each stage. The first stage would contain the most contamination, and would give the youngest "age" as a result. Subsequent stages would contain less and less contamination, as more and more of the surface of the sample was dissolved away. The dates for these subsequent dissolved portions of the sample would become progressively older, until, eventually, all of the modern contamination was gone. After that each new stage of dissolved sample would yield the same, true date.

This is the sort of experiment a radiocarbon lab would run in the early days of its operation to determine how much pretreatment was necessary to remove all contamination from a sample. GL-46 appears to be only the forty-sixth sample to have been processed by the GL laboratory. Thus, this is very likely the explanation of GL-46. It is not a proper date of an archaeological sample at all, and, strictly speaking, should never have been included in Weinstein's archaeological list. I will eliminate it from subsequent discussion.

Other GL Samples

Once lab identifiers and sample pretreatment are understood, a red flag goes up with three other samples in Figure 2. We notice immediately that the other three GL samples all date significantly younger than the samples which were dated by the other two labs. At this stage we cannot tell whether this is because the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A period lasted this late in time, and the GL lab just happened to get the youngest samples from this period, or whether the GL lab, at this obviously early point in its history, had not yet perfected its pretreatment technique. To resolve this we need to go to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B radiocarbon samples. These are shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: CALIB 3.0.3 output for twenty-one Pre-Pottery Neolithic B samples from Jericho.

A comparison of Figures 2 and 3 shows that the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B starts (and hence the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A is over) before the GL dates of Figure 2 on the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A samples. Figure 3 also shows three of five GL samples significantly younger than the samples from the other labs once again. These GL measurements seem to show inaccuracies due to a lack of refinement in experimental technique. This is not too surprising since they were made very early on in the history of radiocarbon dating.

In quantitative terms the GL samples' inaccuracies are not all that large. They are, in fact, less than 10%. That is, the difference between the GL measurements and those of the other labs is less than 1000 years, out of a total measured time (from the present) of more than 10,000 years.

Inaccuracies on this order are common in science when one first sets out to make physical measurements of any sort. There are many things which can go wrong when one attempts to make physical measurements in the real world (because God's great creation is, in fact, not at all a simple affair) and one generally only learns about all the things that can go wrong by a painful process of them all going wrong. So these GL inaccuracies are understandable and even excusable. They cannot reasonably be taken as evidence of some general inaccuracy inherent in the radiocarbon dating method.

It is normal in science to eliminate from further consideration measurements which one knows are inaccurate. It is reasonable to do this with these inaccurate GL measurements at this stage. Since the reason for the inaccuracies in this case appears to be lack of experience on the part of the GL lab, it seems best, in order to avoid subjective bias, to simply exclude all GL dates from our final data set, whether they are in agreement with the results of other labs or not. There are a total of ten GL dates in the original set of fifty-seven, so this shrinks the total number of usable dates down to forty-seven. These forty-seven are still quite adequate for the present purpose, so I will follow this simple procedure in my final assignment of absolute dates to the Neolithic strata at Jericho.

BM "R" Samples

Now notice that many of the BM samples in both Figures 2 and 3 have the letter R appended to the sample number. The R in this case stands for "revised". The radiocarbon dates of these samples were initially measured and published in the 1980s. After publication the BM laboratory discovered that the dates on these and several hundred other samples processed during the same interval of time by their lab were incorrect. This resulted from some systematic errors in the calibration of the radiocarbon counters during the period when these measurements were being made. The BM lab found it necessary to revise the dates on these samples by several hundred years to correct for these systematic errors. Sample numbers with the R appended are the new, revised, published dates.

Weinstein's list, which was published in 1984, contains the original, uncorrected dates. I have used the revised dates, which were only published in 1990, rather than the original dates listed by Weinstein.[9]

All of these inaccuracies and blunders certainly do not enhance radiocarbon's image. But they do belie the notion that radiocarbon labs are all in cahoots to scam the general public with a bunch of fabricated dates. They also falsify the idea that only selected dates, in agreement with some predetermined time scale, ever get published. And they certainly illustrate that radiocarbon is not a magic wand—a thing you wave over an archaeological sample and out pops the date of interest. Radiocarbon dating is a normal, intricate scientific procedure, carried out by normal, fallible human beings. And despite the best efforts of scientists and technicians, not all space shuttles return safely to the ground.

But we must not be distracted from our present purpose by these human errors. We are not interested, in the present investigation, in the question of whether radiocarbon scientists and technicians are infallible. They clearly aren't, but this fact is neither very surprising nor very helpful. It is not random human blunder, but rather systematic methodological error which interests us here. The fact that some of the dates in Figures 2 and 3 can be shown to entail random human errors of one sort or another, introducing inaccuracies as large even as 1000 years in some cases, only teaches us that we must not trust lone radiocarbon dates. Rather, we must demand evidence of reproducibility of results, preferably by several different labs. But this rule is quite generally applicable to scientific measurements of all sorts, and it does not add anything of interest to the present study. What we wish to learn at present is whether all of the radiocarbon dates in these two figures are somehow systematically too old by at least 3000 years.

Younger Strata

There are, unfortunately, no radiocarbon dates yet from Jericho for the Pottery Neolithic or the Chalcolithic. No samples have been submitted for radiocarbon dating from the Pottery Neolithic strata, and it is not clear whether Chalcolithic strata exist at Jericho—the site may have been unoccupied during that period.

The next set of dates at Jericho comes from the Early Bronze I period. These are shown in Figure 4. There are only five dates for this period so far, and one of them is clearly an outlier. This is a GL determination once again, further confirming our suspicions regarding these early GL dates.

Figure 4: CALIB 3.0.3 output for five Early Bronze I samples from Jericho.

The next set is from Early Bronze III (Figure 5). There are twelve determinations in this set.

Figure 5: CALIB 3.0.3 output for twelve Early Bronze III samples from Jericho.

The final set is just two dates from Early Bronze IV (Figure 6).

Figure 6: CALIB 3.0.3 output for two Early Bronze IV samples from Jericho.

Absolute Time at Jericho

These radiocarbon determinations purport to provide rough absolute dates for the stratigraphical units from which they were taken. They aspire to inform us when, in absolute time, these stratigraphical units were being formed. They suggest that Kenyon's stratigraphy of Jericho be assigned absolute dates as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7: Absolute time assignments for the archaeological strata at Jericho.

Before proceeding notice that this time chart covers eight millennia. Thus, the time scale is very compressed compared to other time charts which have previously appeared in this publication. From the perspective of Biblical chronology, this is a very panoramic view.

I have ventured period boundaries for the Pre-Pottery Neolithic on the basis of the radiocarbon results from Jericho shown in the "Radiocarbon" column.[10] (Note that all GL samples have been excluded from this column as discussed above.) The boundary between Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B is probably secure to within a century since it is bracketed by radiocarbon dates both above and below. The other two Pre-Pottery Neolithic boundaries are not nearly as secure, however, since they each have radiocarbon dates on one side only. Future radiocarbon determinations at Jericho may require that these boundaries be substantially adjusted.

I have not attempted to draw a boundary between the Chalcolithic and the Pottery Neolithic because we have no radiocarbon data from Jericho for these intervals. However, it is important to realize that radiocarbon dates do exist from other archaeological sites for the Pottery Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods in Palestine. Weinstein lists thirty-three radiocarbon dates for these two periods from other sites.

I have not used radiocarbon to establish any of the Bronze Age boundaries. Rather, I have used what we already know about these periods from my previous chronological work.[11] The Bronze Age places us within the historical period, and historical documents giving lengths of the reigns of kings and similar chronological information are preferred to radiocarbon because the dating uncertainty arising from them is generally much smaller than it is for radiocarbon. Note that there are NO historical documents for any of the Neolithic, so radiocarbon is the only way period boundaries within the Neolithic can be determined.

Observations on Radiocarbon Dating at Jericho

In regard to our primary question this issue—the reliability of radiocarbon—note, first of all, that the radiocarbon determinations from Jericho in Figure 7 leave the stratigraphy in its proper order. The lower strata are indeed the oldest, according to radiocarbon, and the upper strata the youngest. This immediately tells us that radiocarbon can be trusted to provide reliable relative dates, at least, regardless of what one may eventually conclude about the trustworthiness of its absolute dates.

Notice also that there is nothing capricious or erratic about the radiocarbon dates in this figure. There is some scatter, but it is well within what one should expect from the shown uncertainties in the individual measurements. The results are systematic, rather than chaotic, with radiocarbon dates from a given stratum grouped together, rather than spread helter-skelter here and there all over the time chart. The overall behavior of the data is really quite ordinary, as far as physical measurements go. This tells us that radiocarbon is measuring something which is really there, not something imaginary.

Notice, finally, that the radiocarbon dates from the Early Bronze IV stratum fall within the historically delineated Early Bronze IV period of time. The four radiocarbon dates from the Early Bronze I stratum are similarly all in harmony with the historically delineated boundaries of that period. This is evidence that radiocarbon does merit some degree of trust, not just for relative but also for absolute dates, at least as far back as 3500 B.C.

The twelve radiocarbon dates from the Early Bronze III (EBIII) stratum seem at first to undermine this conclusion somewhat. Only seven of them overlap the Early Bronze III period shown in the time chart. The remaining five seem to demand an Early Bronze II (EBII) or even late Early Bronze I (EBI) setting.

Recall, however, that there is really no archaeological distinction between EBII and EBIII.[12] Indeed, it appears that EBII and EBIII are contemporaneous—rather than separated as shown in the time chart—with EBII pottery and culture being typical of southern Palestine, and EBIII pottery and culture typical of the rest of Palestine, as Cohen has previously argued.[13] [14]

That being the case, we actually expect there to be no EBII period evident at Jericho—EBIII should follow directly after EBI there. This, in fact, is the principal thing these twelve radiocarbon dates from the EBIII stratum at Jericho actually show. Thus, rather than undermining confidence in radiocarbon's absolute dating ability, these twelve dates reinforce our confidence in it—at least back to 3500 B.C.

The Central Conundrum at Jericho

But now let us zero in on our central conundrum. To help with this I have added a "Bible" column to the time chart (Figure 8). I have placed three key Biblical events at their appropriate times in the chart according to Biblical chronology.[15] The conundrum is immediately apparent—the Neolithic and earlier strata at Jericho, with their plethora of evidence of human activity, predate the creation of Adam in this time chart.

Figure 8: Chronology at Jericho relative to three key Biblical events.

This happens solely because of the radiocarbon dates on the charcoal samples from the Neolithic strata. Are these radiocarbon dates accurate? Can they be trusted?

Biblical Checks on Radiocarbon Dating at Jericho

In relation to these questions note, first of all, that no attack on radiocarbon which calls its assumptions into question in a general way can be accepted. In addition to the evidences in favor of the general validity of radiocarbon back to 3500 B.C. mentioned above, Biblical chronology affords us two checks of the radiocarbon method back to that same time, and these yield the same conclusion in favor of radiocarbon.

The first check is the Conquest. We now know that EBI through EBIII is the civilization of the Canaanites.[16] We know that EBIV is the civilization of the early Israelites whose history is chronicled in the book of Judges.[17] We know, from the Bible, that Canaanite civilization was terminated, and Israelite civilization in Palestine initiated, by the Conquest. Finally, we know from Biblical chronology that the Conquest happened 2407±13 B.C.[18] Thus, if radiocarbon dating is reliable, then radiocarbon dates on artifacts from the EBI through EBIII (Canaanite) strata should fall before 2407±13 B.C., and radiocarbon dates on artifacts from the EBIV (Israelite) stratum should fall after 2407±13 B.C. Figure 8 shows that the requirements of this Biblical check on radiocarbon are satisfied. Thus we find that radiocarbon agrees with Biblical chronology back to the Conquest.

The second Biblical check is Noah's Flood. We now know that the Flood terminated Chalcolithic civilization in Palestine, and that the Early Bronze civilization sprang up there through the spread of Noah's descendants following the Flood.[19] Thus, if radiocarbon dating is reliable, then radiocarbon dates from Early Bronze Age artifacts should date after (more recent than) the Flood. Figure 8 shows that this requirement of this Biblical check on radiocarbon is satisfied for eighteen out of eighteen Early Bronze radiocarbon samples. Thus we find that radiocarbon checks with Biblical chronology right back to Noah's Flood.

Thus, the idea that radiocarbon is quite generally faulty because of some mistaken, basic assumptions simply cannot be accepted. If there is anything wrong with radiocarbon dating, we see immediately that the problem can only enter in for dates before the Flood, i.e., prior to about 3500 B.C. The evidence is very plain that radiocarbon is trustworthy after the Flood. The only question remaining is, "Is radiocarbon trustworthy before the Flood?"

But this question cannot be properly treated in any brief space, so I hope to deal with it at length next issue. ◇

Readers Write

Dear Dr. Aardsma,


Last night I attended a seminar by an amateur archaeologist, Ron Wyatt. He presented conclusive evidence of the precise location of the Red Sea crossing by the discovery of 4, 6, and 8 spoked chariot wheels at the bottom of the Gulf of Aqaba. The wheels belong to the 18th Dynasty of Egypt, which confirms a 1446 B.C. Exodus. This [date for the wheels] was confirmed by the Egyptian Department of antiquities.

Mr. Wyatt believes as you do that Djozer was the pharaoh Joseph served and that Imhotep is Joseph and also the seven year famine. I was going to ask him a pointed question at the end of the seminar as to how he could identify Joseph as Imhotep when Djozer and Imhotep supposedly lived during the 2700th year B.C. At the end of the seminar, before question time, he proceeded to answer my question without me having to ask it. He explained that modern scholarship has "created" an entire dynastic period in ancient Egypt which has created an error in chronology by 1000 years. He is referring of course to the Old Kingdom. He explained that Djozer and Imhotep lived around the time of the Middle Kingdom because pharaohs went by many different names by the districts they ruled.

If he is right, which he seems to be, he clearly vindicates the accuracy of the 480 years of 1 Kings 6:1. What do you think?


George Karakasidis
Australia

P.S. I've enclosed a sample paper of his findings.


Dear George,

Thank you for your letter and the copy of the International Discovery Times[20] summarizing Ron Wyatt's claims. Since all of my work in Biblical chronology is based on the claim that the 480 years found in 1 Kings 6:1 today was originally 1,480 years, Wyatt's claims certainly strike at the foundation of The Biblical Chronologist. If what he is claiming is backed by "conclusive evidence" as you have stated, then my work in Biblical chronology is obviously seriously mistaken. You are quite correct in bringing Mr. Wyatt's claims to my attention, and in requesting an explanation of me.

The critical question, of course, is whether Wyatt's claims are really backed by "conclusive evidence". In the following paragraphs I aspire to show that they aren't—that in actual fact the evidence is conclusive against them.

The hub of Wyatt's claims is the supposed discovery of the true Mt. Sinai, a mountain to the east of the Gulf of Aqaba, in modern Saudi Arabia, called Jabal al Lawz (Figure 9). According to Wyatt, the Israelites crossed the Gulf of Aqaba, about mid way along it, in their flight from Egypt on their way to Mt. Sinai. According to Wyatt this is the site of the famous "Red Sea" crossing which the Bible tells us about, where God parted the waters, the Israelites crossed safely, and Pharaoh and his army were drowned when they attempted to follow.

Figure 9: Wyatt's suggested route of the Exodus (dashed line), suggested location of the Red Sea crossing, and proposed identification of Jabal al Lawz with Mount Sinai. Williams' suggested route is shown as the dotted line.

As "proof" of this crossing site Wyatt claims to have found wheels and other chariot debris, together with "human and horse remains" ( International Discovery Times, page 4), scattered across the floor of the Gulf of Aqaba at this location. Furthermore, he claims to have found memorial pillars, erected by King Solomon on either side of the crossing site, commemorating the Biblical Red Sea crossing at this point.

The chariot wheels provide the critical chronological link. According to Wyatt he found four, six, and eight-spoked wheels at the bottom of the Gulf of Aqaba, and, claims Wyatt, "according to numerous sources, it was only during the 18th Dynasty that four, six and eight spoked wheels were all used" ( International Discovery Times, page 4). Since the 18th Dynasty lasted from about 1550 B.C. to about 1300 B.C., this seems to place the date of the Red Sea crossing somewhere in that range. This, in turn, seems to confirm the "480 years" of 1 Kings 6:1, since when this number is taken at face value Biblical chronology yields a date of about 1450 B.C. for the Exodus.

This all looks very impressive, and I am sure it was very much so at the seminar, with color slides of chariot wheels and all, and Mr. Wyatt himself telling the story of his adventures. I can certainly understand how you would come away from the seminar with the feeling that you had seen "conclusive evidence". But this whole thing begins to unravel rather badly when subjected to a little cross examination.

For the purpose of my cross examination I will call upon three witnesses to testify below. These three are Larry Williams, radiocarbon, and the Bible.

Larry Williams is, in some sense, a follower of Wyatt. He has followed Wyatt to Jabal al Lawz, Wyatt's "true" Mt. Sinai. He is obviously a believer in this site, for he has gone to it twice—illegally, as did Wyatt before him—to explore and photograph it. (And he was caught, and thrown in jail by Saudi authorities—as was Wyatt before him—for his illegal activities. You can read all about it in Williams' book, The Mount Sinai Myth.[21])

Since Williams must obviously have been well-familiar with Wyatt's claims regarding Jabal al Lawz before he risked the potentially serious consequences of illegal entry into Saudi Arabia, it is reasonable to suppose he was also well-familiar with Wyatt's claims regarding the site of the Red Sea crossing—including the chariot wheels, "Solomon's" pillars, and all. The chronology of events seems also to confirm this supposition—Wyatt's discovery of his crossing site dates to 1978 ( International Discovery Times, page 4), a full decade before Williams first ventured into Saudi Arabia ( The Mount Sinai Myth, page 147).

So my question for Williams, now seated in the witness stand, is this, "You obviously agree with Wyatt's claim regarding Jabal al Lawz; what do you think of his Red Sea crossing site?"

Williams' answer is clearly portrayed in the map of the route of the Exodus which he draws. I show his proposed route of the Exodus in Figure 9. Notice that Williams places the Red Sea crossing at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, not half way up that body of water. Apparently Williams, who we may conclude has had reason to take as careful an inside, close-up look into Wyatt's claims as any man might, flatly rejects Wyatt's Red Sea crossing site. Evidently he finds the chariot wheels, horse and human remains, and Solomon's pillars—Wyatt's "conclusive evidence"—not all that conclusive, because he proffers an entirely different crossing location.

Now if Williams, as close-up familiar with Wyatt's chariot wheel evidence as anybody is likely ever to be, rejects the claim that these are genuine artifacts from the Red Sea crossing, then we may suppose that there may be some good reasons not to accept Wyatt's claim in this regard, however hidden from our eyes those reasons may be. And in that case it follows immediately that the date of these alleged chariot wheels—18th Dynasty or whatever the truth may be—is irrelevant to the matter of the proper date of the Exodus.

My second "witness" is radiocarbon dating. You say Wyatt claims that the secular scholars have goofed up the historical chronology of Egypt, creating a fictitious dynastic period—that the Old Kingdom is basically synchronous with the Middle Kingdom rather than preceding it as the secular scholars claim. In this view the problem between secular and sacred chronologies is not that traditional Biblical chronology has accidentally dropped out a full millennium, as I claim, but rather that the secular scholars have added in most of an additional millennium to the chronology of Egypt.

It is easy to check this claim using radiocarbon. Radiocarbon dating is completely independent of the historical texts used by the secular scholars to construct the chronology of ancient Egypt. If the secular scholars have goofed in their historical dating by 1000 years, then one should find that Old Kingdom artifacts come out 1000 years younger than the scholars' expectations when dated using the radiocarbon method.

A very extensive radiocarbon dating program was carried out on Old Kingdom artifacts by Haas et al. over a decade ago.[22] Over seventy samples were dated in this study. In point of fact they found, not that the radiocarbon dates were 1000 years younger than the historical chronology, but that they were several hundred years older (Figure 10). While this is completely contrary to Wyatt's claim, it readily harmonizes with the predictions of Biblical chronology when allowance is made for 1000 years accidentally dropped from the text of 1 Kings 6:1, as I have previously shown.[23]

Figure 10: Radiocarbon ages of Old Kingdom artifacts relative to standard historical chronology of Egypt. (From Herbert Haas, James Devine, Robert Wenke, Mark Lehner, Willy Wolfli, and Georg Bonani, "Radiocarbon chronology and the historical calendar in Egypt," Chronologies in the Near East: Relative Chronologies and Absolute Chronology 16,000–4,000 B.P., ed. Olivier Aurenche, Jacques Evin, and Francis Hours (B.A.R., 5, Centremead, Osney Mead, Oxford OX2 0DQ, England, 1987), 600.)

My third "witness" is the Bible. As I mentioned above, the hub of Wyatt's claim is that the true Mt. Sinai is located in Saudi Arabia. If Mt. Sinai is not located in Saudi Arabia, then there was no reason for Moses and the Israelites to cross the Gulf of Aqaba to get there. And in that case, whatever artifacts Wyatt may have found at the bottom of the Gulf of Aqaba clearly have nothing to do with the Exodus.

The difficulty for Wyatt at this point is that the Bible excludes the possibility of Mt. Sinai being in Saudi Arabia. I have explained this before, in relation to my critique of Larry Williams' book, so I will review only briefly here.[24]

The region to the east of the Gulf of Aqaba, where Jabal al Lawz is located, is recognized by scholars to correspond to the Biblical land of Midian. Wyatt labels the region as Midian in his graph in which he shows his proposed Exodus route ( International Discovery Times, page 4).

The Bible tells us that Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, lived in Midian (e.g., Exodus 3:1). After the Exodus, Jethro came to meet Moses at Sinai (Exodus 18:5). Following his visit the Bible informs us that Jethro "went his way into his own land". Thus, Jethro reentered Midian after leaving Mt. Sinai, and therefore we must conclude that the Bible places Mt. Sinai outside Midian's borders.

The Bible testifies that Jabal al Lawz is not Mt. Sinai. Thus, there is no apparent reason why the Israelites would ever have crossed the Gulf of Aqaba.

On the basis of the testimonies of Larry Williams, radiocarbon, and the Bible we may safely conclude that whatever Mr. Wyatt may have found at the bottom of the Gulf of Aqaba or on its shores has nothing to do with the Exodus or the Red Sea crossing.

So what are we to make of Mr. Wyatt's chariot wheels? It may seem to you that the slides you have seen and the story you have heard are conclusive evidence of real chariot wheels found by Mr. Wyatt at the bottom of the Gulf of Aqaba at his Red Sea crossing sight. I am skeptical, but let us not quibble about this. Let me merely point out that it does not take a great deal of imagination to see how chariot wheels and many other commodities might have wound up on the sea floor of this ancient shipping lane through circumstances having nothing at all to do with the Exodus.


Gerald E. Aardsma, Ph.D.
Loda, IL

The Biblical Chronologist is a bimonthly subscription newsletter about Biblical chronology. It is written and edited by Gerald E. Aardsma, a Ph.D. scientist (nuclear physics) with special background in radioisotopic dating methods such as radiocarbon. The Biblical Chronologist has a threefold purpose:

  1. to encourage, enrich, and strengthen the faith of conservative Christians through instruction in Biblical chronology,

  2. to foster informed, up-to-date, scholarly research in this vital field within the conservative Christian community, and

  3. to communicate current developments and discoveries in Biblical chronology in an easily understood manner.

An introductory packet containing three sample issues and a subscription order form is available for $9.95 US regardless of destination address. Send check or money order in US funds and request the "Intro Pack."

The Biblical Chronologist (ISSN 1081-762X) is published six times a year by Aardsma Research & Publishing, 412 N Mulberry, Loda, IL 60948-9651.

Copyright © 1998 by Aardsma Research & Publishing. Photocopying or reproduction strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.

Footnotes

  1. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Toward Unification of Pre-Flood Chronology," The Biblical Chronologist 4.4 (July/August 1998): 1–10.

  2. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Toward Unification of Pre-Flood Chronology: Part II," The Biblical Chronologist 4.5 (September/October 1998): 1–10.

  3. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Toward Unification of Pre-Flood Chronology," The Biblical Chronologist 4.4 (July/August 1998): 2–3.

  4. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Toward Unification of Pre-Flood Chronology," The Biblical Chronologist 4.4 (July/August 1998): 1.

  5. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, A New Approach to the Chronology of Biblical History from Abraham to Samuel, 2nd ed. (Loda IL: Aardsma Research and Publishing, 1993), 86–90; Gerald E. Aardsma, "Wood's Jericho Tumbles," The Biblical Chronologist 2.3 (May/June 1996): 1–6.

  6. ^  Kathleen M. Kenyon, Digging Up Jericho, (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1957); Kathleen M. Kenyon, Archaeology in the Holy Land, (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1960); Kathleen M. Kenyon, "Jericho," The New Encyclopaedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, Vol. 2 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993), 674–681.

  7. ^  James M. Weinstein, "Radiocarbon Dating in the Southern Levant," Radiocarbon 26.3 (1984): 297–366.

  8. ^  Calibration of all dates discussed in this article was carried out using the bidecadal dataset of CALIB 3.0.3. See M. Stuiver and P. J. Reimer, "Extended 14C Data Base and Revised CALIB 3.0 14C Age Calibration Program," Radiocarbon 35.1 (1993): 215–230.

  9. ^  S. G. E. Bowman, J. C. Ambers, and M. N. Leese, "Re-evaluation of British Museum Radiocarbon Dates Issued Between 1980 and 1984," Radiocarbon 32.1 (1990): 59–79.

  10. ^  There are some slight differences in the plotted radiocarbon date ranges of Figure 7 relative to Figures 2–6. Figures 2–6 are direct copies of the graphical screen output of CALIB 3.0.3, while for Figure 7 I have used the Method B, one sigma ranges output in CALIB's .TXT file. The slight differences which appear are internal to CALIB 3.0.3. These differences are very slight and do not affect the present study in any way.

  11. ^  Early Bronze through Middle Bronze period boundaries are taken from Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Chronology of Palestine in Relation to the Bible: 3000–1000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 1.4 (July/August 1995): 5. The date of the termination of the Chalcolithic period is fixed by Noah's Flood. It's date is taken from Gerald E. Aardsma, "Chronology of the Bible: 5000–3000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 2.4 (July/August 1996): 2–3.

  12. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Chronology of Palestine in Relation to the Bible: 3000–1000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 1.4 (July/August 1995): 3.

  13. ^  Rudolph Cohen, "The Mysterious MB I People – Does the Exodus Tradition in the Bible Preserve the Memory of Their Entry Into Canaan?" Biblical Archaeology Review 9.4 (July/August 1983): 16–29.

  14. ^  Biblically, the EBII culture appears to be the Amalekites, and the contemporaneous EBIII culture is the Canaanites. To draw this correctly on the time chart the horizontal line between EBII and EBIII should be changed to a vertical line spanning the entire EBII/EBIII period, with EBII on the left and EBIII on the right.

  15. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Chronology of the Bible: 3000–1000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 1.3 (May/June 1995): 1–3; Gerald E. Aardsma, "Chronology of the Bible: 5000–3000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 2.4 (July/August 1996): 1–5; Gerald E. Aardsma, "Toward Unification of Pre-Flood Chronology," The Biblical Chronologist 4.4 (July/August 1998): 1–10.

  16. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Chronology of Palestine in Relation to the Bible: 3000–1000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 1.4 (July/August 1995): 1–6.

  17. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "The Chronology of Palestine in Relation to the Bible: 3000–1000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 1.4 (July/August 1995): 1–6.

  18. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Chronology of the Bible: 3000–1000 B.C.," The Biblical Chronologist 1.3 (May/June 1995): 1–3.

  19. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Research in Progress," The Biblical Chronologist 1.2 (March/April 1995): 6–8.

  20. ^  The International Discovery Times is an eight page color advertisement, in newspaper format, describing Ron Wyatt's claims to a number of archaeological discoveries. It was produced by Discovery Seminars, PO Box 7250, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia, in preparation for two groups of Ron Wyatt seminars held in Australia, September 20–29, 1998.

  21. ^  Larry R. Williams, The Mount Sinai Myth (New York: Wynwood Press, 1990).

  22. ^  Herbert Haas, James Devine, Robert Wenke, Mark Lehner, Willy Wolfli, and Georg Bonani, "Radiocarbon chronology and the historical calendar in Egypt," Chronologies in the Near East: Relative Chronologies and Absolute Chronology 16,000–4,000 B.P., ed. Olivier Aurenche, Jacques Evin, and Francis Hours (B.A.R., 5, Centremead, Osney Mead, Oxford OX2 0DQ, England, 1987), 585–606.

  23. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Evidence for a Lost Millennium in Biblical Chronology," Radiocarbon 37.2 (1995): 267–273.

  24. ^  Gerald E. Aardsma, "Biblical Chronology 101," The Biblical Chronologist 2.2 (March/April 1996): 9–12.

 
 
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