BC Volume 7 (2001)
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The Biblical Chronologist Volume 7, Number 1
Report on the Excursion to Mt. Yeroham -- Part III
This is the final part of my report on the excursion Philip Gioja (as cameraman) and I took to Yeroham/Sinai this past June. The previous two parts can be found in the previous two issues of The Biblical Chronologist. In the first part of the report I shared results from my investigation of the bamah (high place) built by Moses at the foot of the mountain four and a half thousand years ago, and my visit to the archaeological remains of stone dwellings built by Moses' Midianite in-laws on another hill at the foot of Mount Yeroham. Last issue I reported on our ascent to the summit of Yeroham and on the early stages of our investigation of the crater of whose rim the summit is a part (Figure 1).
The present article picks up the narrative as we are descending the crater wall to the wadi bed on the floor of the crater. Our purpose is to discover if this crater is due to volcanism or is merely an erosional feature. The events described took place on Saturday, June 24, 2000.Into the Crater
We reached the dry wadi bed at the floor of the crater around 11:35 a.m. (Figure 2). There was little breeze inside the crater, and with the sun almost directly overhead it was uncomfortably warm.
We began to follow the wadi upward, which took us in an overall southerly direction. We were keeping an eye out for any rocks in the wadi gravels which might have been of volcanic origin. After ten minutes of walking along the wadi bed it was clear that if there were any rocks of volcanic origin in that bed, they were extremely rare. All we had encountered were abundant limestone rocks and gravel (Figure 4).
Shortly before noon we came upon the fine ram's horn specimen shown in Figure 7. By that time our water was warm, and so were we.
I am afraid we didn't find much else of interest in the wadi bed. We could find no trace of basalt or other volcanic rock anywhere in the wadi bed that hot afternoon. ...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 7, Number 2
The Cause of Reduced Post-Flood Life Spans -- Part I
I have devoted a substantial fraction of my time on and off over the past two decades to the problem of why humans only live to 75 years on average today while before the Flood they were living to an average of 925 years. Late in 1999 I reported briefly, in the "Research in Progress" column of The Biblical Chronologist that I had once again begun to take a serious look at this problem. Substantial progress had been made in understanding the true nature of the Flood in 1997 and 1998. I felt this new knowledge provided a uniquely advantageous base from which to launch a renewed attack on the longevity problem.
I am happy to report that my progress has been substantial. I feel the time has now come to begin to share in these pages what I have learned so far, and what it all means.
Increasing Human Life Spans: A Christian Perspective
A longstanding question of interest to those of us who believe that Genesis is an accurate account of ancient history is why human life spans were so very much greater in the past than they are today. Figure 1 shows a collection of life span data recorded in several books of the Bible, much of it from Genesis 5 and Genesis 11. The Flood is shown by the dashed line in the column on the right. Notice that life spans (vertical black bars) before the Flood were pretty consistently around 900 years. The only exceptions were Enoch---who did not die but rather was raptured when he was 365 years old---and Lamech, who appears to have died in the Flood. In contrast, life spans after the Flood rapidly became much shorter. The present regime of death near 75 years of age had already been reached by Moses' time, just one thousand years after the Flood. Why did human life spans diminish so dramatically---from 925 years on average to just 75 years on average---following the Flood?
Far more than just curiosity has motivated my research into this matter, of course. The question of why human life spans were once more than ten times what they are today is obviously one of enormous practical significance. Indeed, there is no medical or scientific question of greater practical significance than this one. A correct understanding of why human life spans were so much greater in antiquity raises the possibility that practical steps might be taken to restore human life spans to pre-Flood values today.
To the clear-headed Christian this is a welcome prospect. To Christians, death is no friend. It is a perversion that only entered creation as a result of sin. It will be entirely vanquished and removed from the creation at the close of God's great plan of redemption. Death is Satan's stock-in-trade. The Savior dispenses life. The Christian who follows the Savior and understands His heart thrills at every advance of life and every setback of death.
Christians hail the great life-saving strides which have been made in medicine during the past several centuries. The work of Pasteur, in particular, in elucidating the germ theory of disease has saved millions of lives: from soldiers wounded in battle, to women giving birth in hospitals, to babies and children formerly decimated by smallpox, to patients undergoing surgery, to many, many more. ...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 7, Number 3
In Search of Noah's Ark
I never intended to get involved in a search for Noah's ark. Years ago, whenever I heard of someone searching for the ark, I mainly wondered what made such people tick. Risks to one's reputation are high in this business.
As with most things I research and write about these days, I became involved in searching for the ark as a result of a Biblical chronological discovery I made back in 1990. I discovered that 1000 years had accidentally been dropped from Biblical chronology as a result of an ancient copy error in the text of 1 Kings 6:1. I had no idea of the far-reaching consequences of this discovery at the time.
In hindsight, I should have known. Chronology is, after all, the backbone of history. You can't overlook a full millennium in Biblical chronology and expect there to be no consequences for Bible history.
In point of fact, as I began to investigate the matter, I quickly found that Bible history was in a serious mess. Every turn of the archaeologists' spades seemed to be proving the Bible false. Nothing the archaeologists were finding seemed to tell the same story the Bible told about the past. The scholars had abandoned the Biblical account of the Exodus and the Conquest and were making up their own stories about how the nation of Israel had come to be. They had abandoned the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They weren't even talking about the Flood, or the Garden of Eden any more. These they treated as outright fairy-tales.
Well, of course. What else should one expect with Biblical chronology shortened a full thousand years relative to secular chronologies? You can't find the Exodus in archaeology if you are looking for it 1000 years later in history than it happened.
Nobody that I heard ever mentioned these problems from the pulpit or on religious broadcasting. The few who even mentioned archaeology said that it overwhelmingly confirmed what the Bible said---about the Conquest of Jericho for example! I don't know how they came to such conclusions, but I do know they didn't come to them through any rational process rooted in archaeological facts. The archaeologists had found that Jericho hadn't even existed as a walled city at the traditional Biblical date of the Conquest. But I guess it's pretty difficult to make a winning sermon out of that.
What a difference, though, when once this missing millennium was restored to Biblical chronology. Suddenly archaeology and the Bible began telling the same story. I found I was able, for the first time, to make sense of many things which previously had seemed hopelessly obscure.
Noah's Flood is a case in point.
The Bible informs us that the Flood lasted a year, that it covered the high mountains, and that it drowned all but a few individuals living at that time. Here was no ordinary event. No ordinary flood---not even a very BIG ordinary flood---covers high mountains. The Biblical narrative seemed clearly to imply that Noah's Flood was a global-scale catastrophe.
And therein lay the problem. No one seemed able to say just when in history this Flood had happened. But catastrophes are generally easily dated. They bring many physical processes to a screeching halt, so that those processes must start up anew when the catastrophe is over. This is wonderful for dating purposes. For example, when a volcano erupts, it may bury whole landscapes beneath a blanket of hot ash. When the volcano quiets down again, new trees begin to grow on top of the ash. If one does not wait too many centuries, the date of the eruption can be determined by simply counting the number of annual rings in the oldest trees growing on top of the ash. And even if one does wait too long for this simple dating method to work, they can still---even after many millennia, if conditions are right---dig up charred logs of trees which were buried by the ash and date them using radiocarbon.
Catastrophes are great for dating.
So how come nobody seemed to be able to date the Flood---evidently the king of all catastrophes?
This was important. Inability to assign a historical date to the Flood has serious consequences for the credibility of Genesis. It makes the Bible look like it is telling fairy tales rather than true history. Notice that nobody has ever been able to assign a definite date to Goldilocks' encounter with the Three Bears either...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 7, Number 4
The Cause of Reduced Post-Flood Life Spans -- Part II
Spin-offs frequently accompany scientific research. The topic of this series of articles is a spin-off resulting from the past several years of scientific research in the field of Biblical chronology---the present article itself shows how this is so. But it is much more than a casual spin-off. The topic of the reduction in human life span which followed the Flood is of extreme practical importance in several ways.
First, it is obviously of extreme importance from a human health perspective. All other health problems combined dwarf in significance relative to the more than ten-fold reduction in human life spans which followed the Flood, as discussed in the introductory article in this series.
Second, it is of extreme importance to Biblical historicity and apologetics---at present the 900+ year life spans of pre-Flood individuals seems to many secular scholars to be prima facie evidence that the early chapters of Genesis, including the accounts of Creation and the Flood, are simply mythological.
Third, superlongevity is of considerable significance to eschatology (see, for example, Isaiah 65:20).
And last but not least, pre-Flood superlongevity is of great importance to Biblical chronology itself. Notice, for example, that pre-Flood Biblical chronology depends entirely upon the age at which certain individuals fathered sons (Genesis 5), and that five of the nine ages recorded before the time of Noah---numbers which are critical to pre-Flood Biblical chronology---are in excess of 100 years. These five instances give ages of the father at the birth of the son as 130, 105, 162, 187, and 182 years. Clearly, pre-Flood Biblical chronology is dependent upon the historical reality of pre-Flood superlongevity.
Thus, the present topic is not only a spin-off from Biblical chronology research, it is also, in one sense, foundational to a significant segment of Biblical chronology.
Why were life spans so much greater before Noah's Flood than they are today? And what might be done to bring about greater life spans at present?
In the introductory article in this series I advanced the following ten statements in relation to these questions:
Mt. Sinai and the Burning Bush
Dear Dr. Aardsma,
I read with great interest your report on Mt. Yeroham [Gerald E. Aardsma, "Report on the Excursion to Mt. Yeroham -- Part I" The Biblical Chronologist 6.5 (September/October 2000): 1--13]. One particular comment stood out that caught my attention. On page ten you listed three of the types of bushes on the mountain. The photographs showed them rather puny in size. As I reviewed the photos of the mountain there are no large plants to be seen.
A couple of years ago my pastor pointed out Acts 7:30, 35 (NASB). Stephen said God appeared in a thorn bush. (Perhaps a type? Our Lord wore a crown of thorns.) I did some checking on this at the library. Here is what I found. ...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 7, Number 5
The Cause of Reduced Post-Flood Life Spans -- Part III
So at last Faramir and Eowyn and Meriadoc were laid in beds in the Houses of Healing; and there they were tended well. For though all lore was in these latter days fallen from its fullness of old, the leechcraft of Gondor was still wise, and skilled in the healing of wound and of hurt, and all such sickness as east of the Sea mortal men were subject to. Save old age only. For that they had found no cure...
The Natural State of Material Bodies
For thousands of years it was believed that the natural state of a material body---a rock, an arrow, a wagon---was rest (i.e., no motion) at the surface of the earth. Though Aristotle (384--322 B.C.) seems to have been the first to formally record this idea, he was doubtless not the first to hold it. Nearly everything we are familiar with in common experience seems to corroborate this idea. When we throw a rock up into the air, it falls back to the surface of the earth and lies motionless there. If we shoot an arrow from a bow, it displays the same behavior. If we give a wagon a push on a level road, it quickly slows down and stops. If we would like the wagon to keep rolling, we find that somebody or something has to keep pushing it. In the everyday world about us, constant motion seems to require a constant force, and in the absence of such a force we observe that a material body quickly comes to rest.
Some two thousand years after the time of Aristotle, Galileo (1564--1642) performed a series of simple experiments which led him to a radically different view of the relation of force and motion. Galileo rolled a ball down an inclined slope, and watched as it rolled a short distance across the floor and then up an upward slope. He noted that the ball tended to rise to the same height above the floor on the upward slope as the height above the floor from which he had released it on the downward slope.
Galileo found this to be true regardless of the steepness of the incline of the upward slope. As the steepness of the upward incline was reduced, the ball traveled further along the incline before stopping and turning around, but it always came to rest and turned around at the same height above the floor from which it had been released.
Galileo reasoned that since the ball traveled further before coming to rest, as the slope of the upward incline was reduced, then the ball should go on rolling forever if the slope of the upward incline was reduced to zero. Obviously, if the slope of the incline was reduced to zero then the ball would never be able to achieve the height above the floor from which it had been released, and in that case it would have no reason to stop and turn around.
The obvious objection to Galileo's conclusion is that, in fact, when real balls are rolled across real floors they do not go on rolling forever. They slow down and come to a halt, as everybody has seen many times.
Galileo's response was that friction---the rubbing of the air and the floor boards against the ball---provided a force which opposed the motion of the ball and brought it to rest. He stated that in the absence of friction and other forces the ball would go on rolling forever.
Today every school child knows that Galileo was right. The natural state of a physical body is not rest at the surface of the earth; rather, its natural state is uniform motion in a straight line through space. This natural state is not easy to see at the surface of the earth because of the ubiquitous presence of forces such as friction and gravity which act upon material bodies there. But if we go away from the earth, out into space, this fact becomes readily apparent. In the space age it is a little easier for us to visualize this than it was back in Galileo's time. A space capsule requires rockets to boost it through earth's atmosphere and away from Earth's gravity field, but once it is free of earth the rockets can be turned off. The capsule will continue to move in a straight line without slowing the rest of the way to the moon, or however much further away its destination may be, because there is no air giving rise to friction in space.
The Natural State of Biological Bodies
There are several lessons which may be learned from Galileo's discovery. One lesson is that it is possible for ideas which seem proven a thousand times over by our everyday experience to still be false. Another is that common sense is not an infallible guide to truth. A third is that it is possible for an idea which has been held true by the near-unanimous consent of all of humanity for thousands of years to still be false.
These are all important lessons in the present context. My purpose in the present article is to unseat the idea that there is a natural time limit to life span---the idea that the natural state of biological bodies (mice, cats, humans) is to mature, age, and die within a time limit uniquely prescribed for each individual species. In place of this idea I advance the thesis that the natural state of biological bodies of all species is to mature and then go on living forever. In response to the obvious objection that real biological bodies are invariably observed to 'age' and die within a fixed life span, I reply that there is a certain 'biological friction' at work---the exact nature of which I hope to reveal in future articles in this series---which opposes the life of biological bodies and brings them to death. In the absence of 'biological friction' mature biological organisms will not 'age', and if other mortal forces (such as starvation or predation) are also absent, biological organisms will go on living forever. ...
Did Lamech Die in the Flood?
Dear Dr. Aardsma,
Thank you for The Biblical Chronologist. Each issue interests and provokes thought, even thoughts of the minor variety. It is one of these thoughts that I have in mind as I write today. In Volume 7, Number 4, under "The Data" heading you mention Lamech "who appears to have died in the Flood." You cite Genesis 5:31 as evidence as that verse says Lamech died at the age of 777.
Yes, Lamech did live to be 777, but he missed the Flood by five years. Lamech was 182 years old when Noah was born (Genesis 5:28). Lamech lived another 595 years after the birth of Noah (Genesis 5:30).
Noah was 600 years old when the Flood came (Genesis 7:6). If that is the case, Lamech already was dead and had slipped into his eternal rest five years before Noah, wife, three sons and their three wives entered the Ark.
J. E. Kuyper
Thanks for pointing out this detail. I am sure I confused other readers with it as well.
I skipped over this detail because the purpose of my parenthetical comment about Lamech: "[who appears to have died in the Flood]" was to point out that he died of some other cause than Malady X-bar ('old age'), so he should be excluded from the compilation of life span data of Table 1. (See original context.) The issue of precisely how he died was not the focus there, but let me focus on it briefly here.
I agree with the Biblical numbers you have presented, but feel the conclusion that Lamech died five years before the Flood is quite uncertain, and continue to feel that it is not unlikely (though also uncertain) that he died in the Flood. ...
Research in Progress
A review article giving background information for this research project can be found in The Biblical Chronologist, Volume 7, Number 3.
On August 10 we received one of the two images of Mt. Cilo ordered from Space Imaging over a year ago. A tiny segment of the overall image, showing IO3, is shown in Figure 4. The new image appears to be taken from the west, as was the case with the Figure 3 photo, but more overhead than the Figure 4 photo. ...
The Biblical Chronologist Volume 7, Number 6
I have been intending for several years to write an article for The Biblical Chronologist on the origin of writing in relation to the new Biblical chronology resulting from restoration of the missing thousand years to 1 Kings 6:1. Unfortunately, this project has repeatedly been pushed aside by more urgent research tasks. Prospects for an article on this important topic by myself have not looked good for some time.
I was immediately interested, therefore, when Tom Godfrey wrote to me expressing some of his thoughts on this topic. Tom has substantial background training in languages, including a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Texas. I invited Tom to write an article for us, and he has kindly obliged.
Though Tom Godfrey and I have never met in person, we have come to be close friends through an extensive correspondence stretching back nearly a decade. Tom has followed the work of The Biblical Chronologist closely since its inception, and has contributed to it in numerous ways. I believe you will find the following introductory article on this topic to be interesting, informative, and helpful.
Earliest Writing Confirms Missing Millennium
by Thomas James Godfrey
In the premier issue of The Biblical Chronologist, Gerald Aardsma predicted that mainstream bias against his discovery of a missing millennium in Biblical chronology would "only be overcome when the data heaped up against it has become so mountainous that every grade school child can immediately see what it means." It appears that data concerning the earliest writing can now be added to the growing heap.
The argument can be easily summarized. One notes the dates when writing first appeared for specific languages. When these dates are compared with traditional Biblical chronology, a serious difficulty is encountered. Multiple languages are seen to have existed long before the date for the Dispersion from Babel, in apparent contradiction to the record of the origin of language diversity at Babel found in Genesis 11:1--9. This difficulty disappears when the 1000 missing years discovered by Aardsma are restored to Biblical chronology.
The currently accepted date for the earliest texts written in Sumerian cuneiform is approximately 3200 B.C. or perhaps even a century or two later. These texts were discovered at Uruk in southern Mesopotamia at the Uruk IV level, which goes as far back as 3300 or 3400 B.C. ...
Dear Dr. Aardsma,
I am a new subscriber to The Biblical Chronologist. I concur wholeheartedly with your theory of the missing millennium in 1 Kings 6:1. After reading your article in the July/August 2000 issue I have two questions:
I would appreciate very much if you would answer these two questions for me.
No, there are no copper mines at Mount Yeroham. The copper ingots which were found at Yeroham would have been cast elsewhere and carried to Yeroham, possibly by Kennite tradesmen.
One possible source of the copper would have been ...