BC Volume 8 (2002)
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The Biblical Chronologist Volume 8, Number 1
The Cause of Reduced Post-Flood Life Spans -- Part IV
The study of degenerative pathological changes of old age... may well belong to a future chapter of vitamin research.
--Casimir Funk, 1949.
In the three preceding articles in this series I have attempted to demonstrate that nobody dies of "old age" today---that what we call "old age" is simply a disease, like any other disease, and that death due to this disease has nothing really to do either with "old" or with "age". I have pointed out, for example, that since Genesis plainly shows us that people once routinely lived in excess of 900 years, even an age of 125 years is clearly not old for humans. Far from supporting the notion that people die of "old age" today, Genesis makes it clear that even the most advanced in years among us are dying at tragically young ages.
I have further pointed out that there seems no good reason to believe in an intrinsic time limit on life---that each species has a fixed life span assigned by the Creator. Biological organisms are not designed to "grow old" and die at all. They are designed to go on living forever. Time does not kill biological organisms; it is entirely benign. Death results only from mishap and disease.
"Old age" is no exception to this rule. We must not allow the complex of symptoms we call "old age" to fool us. "Old age" holds no special status in the field of medicine---it is simply a disease, like any other disease.
In a deliberate effort to leave the universal misconception---the myth---of "old age" behind us, I have previously suggested we (temporarily) call this disease "Malady X-bar".
The Pressing Question
Once it is recognized that "old age" is a misnomer for what in reality is an ordinary disease, the pressing question becomes whether something might be done to cure this disease.
I call this question "pressing" for several reasons. It is "pressing" first of all because many millions of individuals are dying of this disease every year---over 100,000 people die of Malady X-bar each day. It is "pressing" because hundreds of years of potential life span is clearly a very great loss for any individual. And it is "pressing" because Malady X-bar affects each and every one of us---not only those we hold near and dear, but indeed even our very selves---robbing us year by year of strength and health and, ultimately, before the vast majority of us have seen even a dozen decades, of life itself. Neither science nor medicine can field any question today of greater practical importance or urgency than this one.
Is it possible to put a stop to this devastating disease---to discover its cause, and to elicit its cure?
A Moral Imperative
As I have attempted to show previously, it appears that Biblical chronology alone offers a platform from which an intelligent assault on this research problem can be launched. All indications are that the insight into human longevity which Genesis uniquely offers, coupled with the insight into Genesis which correct Biblical chronology uniquely offers, is worth more than any number of medical research degrees or any wealth of medical research funding in regard to this problem. It presently appears that the solution to this problem will be secured from the distinctive platform which Biblical chronology offers, or it will not be secured by any human means at all.
It is curious that such an obviously medical matter should emerge from the discipline of Biblical chronology. But indeed it has, bringing with it an unavoidable moral imperative to take up its cause and do something about it.
For me this has meant increasingly focusing all effort and all resources on this single issue over the past several years. For the past year it has meant going at it hammer and tongs, while neglecting all else, typically twelve to fourteen hours per day, six days per week. I think it likely that none will be more happy than I when the research is complete and the matter is finally resolved! Regardless, I am pushing this work forward as rapidly as personal health and strength permit.
It has meant significant sacrifice and investment of resources by a number of other individuals as well. These do not need or wish me to sing their praises here, but I am truly thankful for them, each one. Without them the work described in this series of articles would not have been possible.
Malady X-bar is real, its toll on human life and health is immense, and, in consequence, the moral imperative to do whatever we are able in regard to it is clear. ...
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The Biblical Chronologist Volume 8, Number 2
Radiocarbon Dating the Exodus
The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred.
--The New York Times, March 9, 2002.
In actual fact, the Exodus did occur. It occurred 2447+/-12 B.C. according to modern Biblical chronology. And, if objective archaeological evidence counts for anything, I might add that it occurred in just the way the Bible says it did.
Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of The Biblical Chronologist, these facts are still far from common knowledge.
The quote above, from The New York Times, speaks for most of the scholarly, academic world today. It also speaks for a rapidly growing segment of their (misinformed) lay disciples. These Exodus-is-fiction folk believe "the entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred" because they think modern archaeology has proven this. They disdain conservative Christians, who cling tenaciously to their Exodus-is-fact view in the face of the overwhelming archaeological evidence (or, as is more often the case, in blissful ignorance of it).
In one sense their disdain is easily understood. People who hold religiously to the view that there is a live, full-grown elephant in the garage, when every zoo-keeper in the country has thoroughly investigated the garage and found it to be empty of elephants, hardly deserve to be applauded. And still less do certain members of this group deserve to be applauded when they declare the investigation inconclusive because an oil can on the windowsill has not been looked under yet.
But in another, more vital sense, the disdain of the Exodus-is-fiction group is seriously misplaced. For there is an elephant in the garage, perfectly plain for everybody to see if they will only look in the right garage! The elephant is not housed at 1447 BC Street; it is housed at 2447 BC Street.
"I really think you should all stop quarreling---you have all got the address wrong. If you will please follow me down the street a ways, there is something down at 2447 I think you all need to take a look at..."
Facts of the Exodus
The historically documented collapse of the Old Kingdom of Egypt was caused by the Exodus. Phiops II (also called Pepi II) was pharaoh when Moses was born. He is the pharaoh who oppressed the Israelites. He came to the throne at age six, and died in his one hundredth year, having reigned for ninety-four years.
He was still a young man when Moses was born---only twenty or twenty-one years of age if history has accurately preserved his age at death. Thus the Hebrews suffered under his rule for the better part of a century. The book of Exodus remembers his long-awaited death with the words, "Now it came to pass in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died".
The successor to Phiops II was Merenre Antyemsaf II. This was the pharaoh whom Moses and Aaron confronted---the pharaoh who scoffed "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?"---the pharaoh who lost his life in the Red Sea Crossing.
The Israelites left Egypt by means of the road which, from remotely ancient times, has stretched across the northern Sinai desert (Figure 1). When they had put as much distance between themselves and Egypt as their legs would bear that first day, they set up temporary camp. The result was a shanty town of makeshift booths and lean-tos in the middle of the desert. They called it "Succoth"---"Booths".
From there they moved on to Etham, at the edge of the desert, on the border of Canaan. They camped there for a time, but did not venture any further. They were not ready for war---and God was not yet done with the Egyptians. He commanded the Israelites to turn back, and camp in front of the sea at Pi-hahiroth.
It was, of course, just as unlikely back then as it is today that people could camp in a wilderness and leave no garbage in their wake. Modern campers tend to leave their empty drink cans and bottles strewn about the campsite. Back then it was broken earthenware. Several million Israelites make for a lot of broken, discarded pottery shards. Pottery shards are all but indestructible. They are still there today. Thus it is that the locations of Succoth, Etham, and Pi-hahiroth (and, therefore, the location of the Red Sea Crossing) are all clearly revealed by modern archaeology.
The location of Mount Sinai, where the Israelites camped for a year after they had left Egypt, is revealed in the same way. Today it is called Mount Yeroham. The desert plain at the base of Mount Yeroham is littered with pottery shards of the same styles found at Succoth, Etham, and Pi-hahiroth. Many of these shards, discarded by the Israelites four and a half thousand years ago, I have held in my own hands (Figure 2).
Date of the Exodus
Modern Biblical chronology, restoring the millennium lost from the text of 1 Kings 6:1 in antiquity, dates the Exodus to 2447+/-12 B.C., as I have mentioned above. The computation of this date is fairly simple. It was given in The Biblical Chronologist a number of years ago as follows:
We begin with the accession date of Rehoboam, Solomon's son, which is given by Thiele as 931/930 B.C. I assign an uncertainty of +/-10 years to this starting date based upon the range of scholarly opinions I have seen regarding it. To this date we must add the length of Solomon's reign, which is given as 40 years in 1 Kings 11:42 and 2 Chronicles 9:30. We must then subtract 4 and add 1,480 years to take us to the date of the Exodus (1 Kings 6:1). This computes to 2447 B.C. Allowing 5 years uncertainty in the length of Solomon's reign, a 0.5 year uncertainty in the timing of the commencement of the building of the temple, and 5 years uncertainty in the 1480 year figure gives a total uncertainty in the date of the Exodus of about 12 years.
Reasons to Check the Date of the Exodus
I have previously pointed out that Biblical chronology, like all other fields of study, is a human endeavor, not a divinely inspired enterprise. Since humans are fallible creatures, the Biblical chronologies we construct need to be checked in whatever ways we can find to check them.
There are three good reasons why we would like to check this 2447+/-12 B.C. Exodus date. ...
Dear Dr. Aardsma,
Thank you for the copy of the issue on aging [BC Volume 8, Number 1]. You present the problem of aging in a logical way. Can it be solved? ...
Regarding the age "600" of Noah you state was the oldest he reached (or went beyond) for having children, I am not going to correct you even though it refers to age 500 in Genesis 5. ...
The question of whether the problem of aging can be solved can be answered with an unequivocal yes---Isaiah 65:20 assures us of this fact. Whether now is God's time for this mystery to be revealed is quite another question. Time will tell.
You are quite right about the "600". ... I
Dear Dr. Aardsma,
I just read an article in Biblical Archaeology Review called "Exodus Itinerary Confirmed by Egyptian Evidence" (Sept./Oct. `94) which traces city lists in Numbers 33, Joshua 10:36 and Judges 4--5 as recorded in Egyptian sources. The main chronological thesis is that these Egyptian lists are from the Late Bronze Age---1500 to 1300 B.C. This makes the Bible record [of the Exodus/Conquest at the traditional dates] seem to be "verified". However, the digs they mention seem to require that these cities were uninhabited or destroyed in the 1500 to 1300 BC period and only "existed" in ca. 900 B.C. -- very late [and contrary to the traditional dates of the Exodus/Conquest].
The question, then, is do you know if any of the digs mentioned in the article are complete enough to go back your extra 1000 years? I.e., if any of these digs showed evidence of existence and or destruction in 2400/2300 B.C. it would support your chronology. What do you think?
Yes, the archaeological evidence from the first two of the three cities discussed in this article by Charles R. Krahmalkov does support the missing millennium chronology. (The third city, Qishon, is not mentioned in the Bible in connection with the Exodus/Conquest.) The first two cities, Dibon and Hebron, tell the same story as Jericho and Ai. That is, they are cities which, according to the archaeological evidence, were uninhabited at the traditional 1400--1200 B.C. dates for the Conquest (Late Bronze Age), but which were clearly inhabited 1000 years earlier (at the close of Early Bronze III) as the missing millennium chronology requires. ...
Biblical Chronology 101
I've asked my eldest son, Mark, to step into "class" this session and introduce us to a new tool he is putting together for us on the web. I am personally very excited about this new tool. Here's Mark.
In the fall of 1999 I was a sophomore in the communications program at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Adam Crumpton, my good friend and unofficial roommate at the time, was working through a large book on the history of art, and another thick volume called (as I recall) A History of the World. I was reading Francis Schaeffer's How Shall We Then Live, a historical review of western thought as it relates to the Christian worldview. We felt we needed a way to store and organize the mass of historical facts we were reading so we could find and use the information at a later date.
Adam and I began to visualize a computerized database of historical information. Adam, believing that history centers around persons, suggested the name "Persona" for this database. This seemed fitting since persona means a person as a character in a story.
From the start Adam and I wanted Persona to be able to generate custom timelines from the historical facts stored in its database. Geography, the study of the surface of the earth, is inherently spatial. It involves the use of physical coordinates to indicate the positions of places on earth. Although it is possible to communicate geographical information in words or lists of numbers, the graphical nature of maps makes it much easier to understand and learn geography. Similarly, history, the study of the past, is inherently chronological. It involves the use of calendar dates to indicate the positions of events in time. The "maps" of chronology are timelines. Just as good maps are helpful when studying geography, good timelines are helpful when studying history---including, of course, Bible history.
Adam and I quickly imagined web-based timelines that could be navigated, zoomed, and scrolled according to the user's interest and preference.
Now, almost three years later, our ideas are becoming reality. ...
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The Biblical Chronologist Volume 8, Number 3
The Cause of Reduced Post-Flood Life Spans -- Part V
Is it possible for a son to die of old age while his father is yet in mid-life? Genesis says yes---and reveals important properties of vitamin X in doing so.
The Biblical life expectancy data (right half of Figure 1) display a more-or-less uniform, natural decline from Noah to Moses. The only real irregularity in this uniform decline, allowing for normal scatter in the datapoints, is a sudden drop in life expectancies between Eber and Peleg (third and fourth life expectancy data points after the Flood). I have highlighted this irregularity by darkening the line connecting the Eber and Peleg datapoints.
This sudden drop in life spans between Eber and Peleg has been used by some to argue for gaps in the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies from which much of these life span data have been taken (Table 1). The argument in this case is that it is unlikely that life spans would have changed so dramatically in a single generation---from 464 years for Eber to just 239 years for Peleg. If one makes the reasonable assumption---so the argument goes---that life spans continued a natural decline between Eber and Peleg, then clearly there must be a number of generations missing between Eber and Peleg.
In point of fact there are no generations missing between Eber and Peleg. The sudden drop in life spans between Eber and Peleg is real history. That is, it really was the case that Peleg was Eber's direct, first-generation son, and that Peleg died of `old age' nearly two centuries before his father died of `old age', while his father was yet in mid-life.
I think I will have proven this assertion to everyone's satisfaction before too many more articles in this series have gone to press. For the present, however, my purpose is more modest. I want, this issue, to show only how such a thing is possible. And even this is secondary to the much more urgent goal of elucidating the properties of vitamin X---the anti-aging vitamin---in hopes of identifying what substance this elusive vitamin is. I aspire, this issue, to take a first small step toward this goal by demonstrating two properties of vitamin X: first, that it must have a relatively long biological half-life, and second, that it must have a relatively short environmental half-life. These properties both follow logically from the sudden drop in life spans which the Bible records between Eber and Peleg. ...
Biblical Chronology 101
Though Ai, the second city of the Conquest, was excavated over sixty years ago, the average Christian, in America at least, knows nothing of the mass of factual information unearthed by the archaeologists at Ai. A large part of the reason for this widespread ignorance lies in the fact that the original excavator found no city existed at Ai at the traditional date of the Conquest. This problem caused a great deal of confusion in scholarly circles initially, which, with mounting evidence of similar problems everywhere in Palestine over the ensuing decades, slowly transformed into skepticism, and then outright rejection of the Biblical account of the Exodus and Conquest---as is the unhappy (and unnecessary) case at present.
A smaller part of the widespread ignorance regarding the factual data from Ai lies, I am convinced, in the simple fact that the excavation reports from the first major work at Ai were published in French. The shame here is that these original reports go a long way toward showing that both the archaeology and topographical situation of Ai match, in detail, with what one might naturally expect from the Biblical account of the Conquest of Ai. They thus show that the only real issue at Ai is the chronology of the site relative to the traditional Biblical chronology date of the Conquest.
I have previously shown that it is traditional Biblical chronology which has the problem---it has accidentally overlooked a full thousand years because of a minor copy error in 1 Kings 6:1. Once this has been understood, all apparent difficulty between the archaeology at Ai and the Biblical narrative of the Conquest of that ancient city disappears.
The only remaining impediment to full appreciation of the archaeological finds at Ai, then, is the language barrier posed to much of the English-speaking world by the French of the early excavation reports.
My ability with foreign languages is extremely limited---despite the best efforts of some fine high school teachers several decades ago. Fortunately, however, my eldest son, Mark, demonstrates considerable aptitude with languages. He undertook to translate the excavation reports from Ai some months ago. I have invited him into class again this issue to begin to share with us---for no other reason than a general broadening of our knowledge---some of what he learned in this exercise. Once again, here's Mark.
I set out to translate Les Fouilles De `Ay, (The Excavations of Ai), the published report of the first major excavations at Ai, because I knew that Ai was an important archaeological site to modern Biblical chronology, and I wanted to make sure we hadn't missed anything important in our previous skimmings of the French text. I found no new grand facts or solutions to any major mysteries, but I found a story there that I believe is worth retelling. It's a story about people---men, women, and children who lived at Ai and died at the hands of Joshua's soldiers---and the story of a young woman whose greatest passion was to discover the long-forgotten truth about those people.
It is necessary to note that I am not a professional translator, nor even a fluent speaker, of French. I am doubtless to blame for any oddities or errors in the quotations below. Also, in the interest of accurate and precise transmission of the original content my translation tends to be more literal than paraphrastic, preserving the complex sentences and grammatical arrangements of the original. I ask your patience in reading the sections that don't flow as smoothly as they otherwise might. I think your patience will be rewarded, for here is an opportunity to participate in a valuable exercise, nearly extinct in modern society---looking back through the mists of time to learn from the ancient past. ...
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The Biblical Chronologist Volume 8, Number 4
Otzi the Iceman, and Biblical Chronology
Otzi's body was found in 1991 in the high mountains of the Alps where he lived. Unusual weather conditions produced an unusually large melt of the Alpine glaciers that summer. Hikers happened upon the body, only partially freed from its icy tomb. Supposing they had found remains of an unfortunate modern climber, local authorities were notified.
Many modern climbers have accidents. The bodies are sometimes lost in the glaciers for decades. The team which came to remove the Iceman's body assumed this was simply another such case.
They soon changed their minds. Modern climbers do not carry flint knives and copper axes. In fact, that sort of gear has not been used in the Alps for at least 4000 years. It was soon apparent that the body was that of a man who had lived and died thousands of years previously.
He was soon nicknamed "Otzi" after the Otztal Alps where he was found. Otzi is the world's oldest frozen mummy.
Otzi comes to us from thousands of years ago, almost as one frozen in time. Much of our knowledge of peoples of such ancient times has been surmised from their archaeologically excavated graves. But Otzi was not buried. He died on the mountain in the midst of his everyday activities. He was naturally mummified in ice, and hence preserved, with all of his gear around him. Thus Otzi allows an amazingly clear look into daily life in the Alps over four thousand years ago.
The discovery of Otzi created an immediate sensation around the world. It fascinated the general public, and turned out to be an archaeological gold mine.
I am not an expert on Otzi, by any means. In fact, I am not even especially well-researched on him. At present I continue to be absorbed, as I have been for several years now, by the problem of why human longevity declined following Noah's Flood. At the moment several key experiments are underway in the longevity research laboratory, on which I am waiting for results. I think I am very near the end of this long quest; the experiments presently in progress will show just how near the end I may be. While I wait, a bit of a diversion would be welcome. Otzi nicely fills the bill.
While I am not an expert on Otzi, I am an expert on Biblical chronology. As an expert on Biblical chronology I have noticed for some time now that Otzi is able to make a contribution to our knowledge in this field, and vice versa. In fact, Otzi and ancient Bible history complement each other rather nicely, each shedding additional light on the other.
I have also noticed that nobody else seems to have noticed this affinity. I have seen reference to Otzi's antiquity relative to the pyramids of Egypt---which he predates---but never any reference to Otzi's antiquity relative to Moses, or Abraham, or Noah, for example. I hope, in the present article, at least to remedy this oversight.
I will not spend much time describing Otzi or his gear. You can learn plenty about these things through a simple search of the Internet. He wore carefully stitched leather clothes, a grass cape, and leather boots stuffed with dry grass for insulation (Figure 1). Besides the flint knife and copper axe, he carried a long bow, a quiver full of arrows, a backpack, and a utility belt with an assortment of tools. He was intimately associated with the smelting of copper ores. He appears to have died of an arrow wound in the back.
My goal in the present article is to bring Otzi and Biblical history together. This is clearly a reachable goal, because the history of the ancient past recorded in the Bible is a history of the very same planet---Earth---on which Otzi walked. And, as Biblical history reaches back over seven thousand years, it is certain to include the time when Otzi lived. ...
The Resurrection of Ai: Part II
The city of Ai sat proudly on its hilltop long before the Israelite army ever existed. Around 3100 B.C., about 400 years after the disaster we know as Noah's Flood, a group of people, possibly from area towns, decided to build a village on the hill. Maybe the other towns were getting too crowded. We don't know. Soon the village at Ai grew as more settlers moved into the region, apparently from north of Canaan. The settlement covered an area of about 10 acres, a size rivaling that of prosperous towns built in the same region 2000 years later.
Typical houses in the Early Bronze Age (the time period during which Ai was a city) had one main room, and sometimes a small adjoining storage room. The main room was usually rectangular with a single door set in one of the long walls. This characteristic gives this type of house the name broadhouse. Each family unit apparently designed and built their own house, so there are many variations on the basic broadhouse design.
The floors of the houses tended to be below street level, so a few steps led down from the street. The door turned on a stone socket and opened inward and to the left. Furniture included stone benches along the walls, and stone slabs set on the floor. The roof was supported by wooden poles. They appear not to have had many windows, perhaps to keep the hot sun and wind-blown sand out.
Another type of house which was common during this time is known as the "front-room" house. These houses had an open courtyard in front where a hearth or silo was often located.
Some of the pottery made by the settlers of Ai had shapes and decorations that hadn't been used in that area before. Archaeologists assume that they either invented these new styles, or learned them from foreigners who joined them in settling Ai. ...
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The Biblical Chronologist Volume 8, Number 5
The Age of the Earth, Virtual History, and Hebrews 11:3
There are Christians who hold that the Bible is the infallible textbook of Christianity, that all the truth of Christianity can be found there and there alone. There is no external appointed interpreter to its meaning: the believer and presumably the theologian will find its meaning clear and authoritative, the unalloyed word of God.
Most theologians have encountered this view of the Bible in its forthright simplicity. It has, however, had to face adverse criticism. First, the natural sciences developed in the 19th century an account of the universe which seemed irreconcilable with the story of creation and other details in the Bible.
-- George Kilpatrick (theologian)
"Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much of the stories in the Bible could not be true."
-- Albert Einstein (scientist)
The Bible teaches, without caveat or apology, that the earth was created approximately seven thousand years ago.
Modern science teaches, without caveat or apology, that the earth is four and a half billion years old.
Are these teachings irreconcilable?
A Simple Thought Experiment
Those who have followed my work in The Biblical Chronologist over the past several years know that I do not find these teachings to be irreconcilable. It is easy to perform a thought experiment which illustrates immediately why these teachings are not irreconcilable. Imagine for a moment creating a cat---bringing a full grown cat into existence out of nothing---so that it is this instant sitting on the floor at our feet licking its fur. We now ask whether the following two statements are irreconcilable: 1. The cat was created approximately five seconds ago. 2. The cat is at least a year old.
These two statements cannot be irreconcilable because they are, we realize, both true. That is, the cat was, in fact, only brought into existence five seconds ago, and anybody who knows anything at all about cats can see immediately that this cat is at least a year old.
Real and Virtual Histories
I have previously pointed out that creation miracles always lead to this sort of situation. In the macroscopic world created things necessarily carry with them an appearance of prior existence. Although the cat was only created moments ago, it necessarily appears to have existed long before its actual creation.
I have previously pointed out that two separate histories attach to any created thing. The first is real history. The cat's real history is that it was brought into existence out of nothing only seconds ago. The second is virtual history. The cat's virtual history is that it was born a year or more ago, and has grown to its present adulthood since that time. Real history corresponds to what really happened. Virtual history is what one finds from analysis of the created thing itself.
These two types of history, real and virtual, are unavoidable in macroscopic created things. The earth is no exception. Its real history is that it was brought into existence out of nothing roughly seven thousand years ago. Its virtual history, as best it is understood by science today, is that it coalesced from stellar debris some four and one-half billion years ago.
It is an error to set these two histories in contrast to each other---to say that one is right and the other wrong. Rather, as with the wave-like and particle-like properties of light which have become familiar to modern physics, they are a duality. Both are valid descriptions in their proper context. One will not have a complete description of reality, which functions to explain all the facts in the present, if they attempt to exclude either a created object's real history or its virtual history. ...
The Resurrection of Ai: Part III
The king of Ai took his seat in the grand room. He was eager to hear the latest news about the swarm of foreigners who were camped on the other side of the Jordan River. There had been news from various sources that these foreigners had produced quite a path of destruction behind them across the Jordan. He was well aware of what had happened to Egypt when they left there forty years previously. Most recently he'd heard that a couple of their spies had been seen in Jericho, but had somehow disappeared. It seemed they were intent on crossing the Jordan. He was getting concerned about the safety of his city.
As he waited for the messenger from Jericho to arrive, reports about the ongoing crop harvest were presented. But his thoughts drifted to a mental review of Ai's fortifications. They were impressive, no doubt about it. The massive walls had been built long before his time, but he had seen to it that they were skillfully maintained to a height of over fifteen feet. The few gates in the walls were securely constructed and well-guarded. Ai was built on a hill, giving it an intrinsic advantage over any adversary. Their gods and these walls had protected them for over 300 years. What did they have to be afraid of?
The breathless messenger was shown in and gave his news. The Jordan had magically run dry when the foreigners began to cross it, and 40,000 of them were equipped for battle and on the move in the plains near Jericho.
When the king heard the news he was relieved. Let Jericho fend for itself---at least his city wasn't under attack.
Over the next week the reports continued to arrive. The foreigners were acting strangely---marching around Jericho once a day. After nearly a week of that the bad news came---Jericho had fallen to the foreigners and was completely destroyed in a great massacre.
Then the king's worst fears began to come true. One of his lookouts thought he saw foreigners lurking around, probably spies. He sent his own spies to the foreigners' camp, and the report came back that attack appeared to be imminent.
That evening, after a day filled with preparations for battle, the king of Ai made his way through town to the temple.
The city was crowded with field hands and residents of the surrounding countryside who had come inside the walls for protection. Children played games in the crowded streets as mothers watched from doorways.
The king climbed the ramp to the temple entrance, walked through the thick smell of incense in the outer chamber, and into the altar room. The citizens of Ai watched nervously as a thin column of smoke rose from the temple. It made a faint silhouette in the western sky, still glowing with the sunset. They hoped their gods, their walls, and their men would protect them from the attack they knew was coming.
The watchmen saw nothing to disturb the peace that night, but the king didn't sleep. The next morning an army of about 3,000 could be seen marching toward the city. That was strange---40,000 men had marched on the plain at Jericho, and Ai was a city of 12,000. Why had they sent only 3,000 soldiers? ...
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The Biblical Chronologist Volume 8, Number 6
The Origin and Antiquity of the Biblical Text
I do not think that there is in the Hebrew Bible written material that can be proven to be earlier than the ninth or eighth century [B.C.], except for vague memories, myths and folk tales.
-- Israel Finkelstein
My thesis in the present article contrasts sharply with the accepted viewpoint of many modern scholars regarding the origin and antiquity of the Biblical text. As the quote above illustrates, many modern scholars believe that the text of the Old Testament does not contain written material composed earlier than 1200 B.C., at the outside---Finkelstein (above) would lower this to 900 B.C. My thesis is that the text of the Old Testament contains historically accurate written material the origin of which dates back to at least 3500 B.C.
To Lay Christians
Before I begin to discuss how it is that I come to this view, I need to say a word about the whole subject of the composition and transmission of the Bible. In my experience, few lay Christians have studied the question of how we got our Bible. Some seem to work from a tacit assumption that God handed Adam a finished Bible on Day 6 of Creation Week. I do not wish to offend such brothers and sisters with the present article. My main purpose, as usual, is to defend the historical integrity of the Bible against unwarranted attack, not to challenge lay Christian views of its origin. But, as many lay Christians are likely to read this article, some groundwork is necessary at this point.
A little deliberate thought on the matter reveals that the Bible could not have been delivered by God fully composed. The Bible contains a great deal of historical narrative, and most of this historical narrative gives the impression of having been composed by contemporaries of the events described. For example, John writes in 1 John chapter 1 verses 1 and 3, "what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled... what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also". But if the Biblical historical narrative was composed by individuals who were contemporaries of the events described, then this historical narrative could not have been composed until after the events it describes had taken place. This leads immediately to the conclusion that there could have been no New Testament until after the birth of Christ. Similarly, there was no Biblical account of the Exodus prior to the Exodus, and no account of the Flood prior to the Flood.
The Bible has come to us through a process of composition which took place over many millennia. My view---normative to conservative Christianity---is that the events the Bible narrates were recorded by individuals who were contemporaries of those events, having access to first-hand knowledge of them---as we have just seen was the case with John.
This view does not exclude the possibility these first-hand reports were edited at a later date. For example, the book of Genesis, in which the description of the Flood is found, is generally credited by conservative scholars to Moses---indeed the Bible itself seems to allow no other possibility. Moses was born hundreds of years after the Flood. My view---normative to conservative Christian scholarship---is that Moses, under the inspiration of God, compiled and edited the Genesis account of the Flood, working from much earlier, written materials which had been originally composed by one or more eye-witnesses to the Flood event.
To this I would add that there seems significant evidence of a general updating of many of the place names, units of measure, and so forth of the Old Testament sometime in the first millennium before Christ. I have previously pointed out, for example, that "Ai" means "ruin", and that it is very unlikely the Canaanites called their city "Ruin". Rather, we may expect that it was the Israelites who, with the passage of many years, came to call the broken-down remains of this second city of the Conquest "the ruin"---"Ai". This is like the New King James Bible updating place names, units of measure, and so forth of the original King James to render it more comprehensible and less prone to misunderstanding by modern readers. It is important to be aware of the possibility of a general updating of the Old Testament in the first millennium before Christ because the evidence for this is frequently misconstrued by modern scholars as evidence for wholesale composition of much of the Old Testament in the first millennium before Christ. Because place names, units of measure, coinage ... and even the meaning of words change with time, we may expect such updating to have been necessary probably on more than one occasion.
The argument in defense of my thesis is really very simple. It is a personal argument, however, not shared by Bible scholars in general at the present time. My study of the Genesis Flood account, as a physicist, has given me a unique perspective on this ancient narrative. From this perspective it presently seems about as certain as a thing can be that the Biblical Flood narrative cannot be anything other than a first-hand, eye-witness record of the phenomenal events it describes. Since the date of the Flood is 3520+/-21 B.C., I find the conclusion inescapable that the Bible contains written material at least as old as 3500 B.C. ...
Dear Dr. Aardsma,
My main reason for writing this letter is to comment on your lead article in the latest BC issue. ...
We can agree that God can create a one-year-old cat, a twenty-year-old cat, a twenty-hour-old kitten, or whatever other age He prefers. We can also agree that a statement of the true virtual age of such a cat can be reconciled with a claim that the created cat came into existence much more recently than its virtual age would suggest. Therefore, we can also agree that the virtual age of the earth really cannot contradict our claim that it was created only a few thousand years ago.
The point on which we apparently disagree is your claim, "... modern science finds that the data from all fields shows that all living things, including humans, have come about naturalistically by a process of evolution". I believe your created cat analogy can easily be extended to explain my reason for disagreeing. ...
Your second paragraph explains that you are in agreement with most of my article, so we are only discussing minor potential differences here, not a major disagreement over the whole concept of virtual history.
The points of minor potential difference are your feeling that I have given 1. radiometric dating, and 2. evolution more credit than they deserve. (You have tended to mix these two together in your comments. I would encourage you to separate them out one from another. They are, in fact, two separate areas of science, carried out by scientists with different backgrounds and different interests. In a university setting, radiometric dating is likely to be found going on in the geophysics department, where rocks and radioactive decay are the items of interest, while research into biological evolution is likely to be found going on in the biology department.) ...
Dear Dr. Aardsma,
Am I to assume from your September/October 2002 issue of The Biblical Chronologist that you are saying that there is no examinable scientific difference between a cat that has been created five seconds ago and one that has grown up in the cold, cruel world for one year? Could we not examine its stomach to see if there is the remains of a mouse therein, or some other such test of bodily functions?
New Salem, ND
I once mentioned, in a seminar I was teaching, the idea that God could have created the world, with everything in it just as it now is, only ten seconds ago. I was trying to emphasize that He is able---big enough---to do such a thing.
One member of my audience went home and shared this idea with his nine- or ten-year-old daughter. Her response was an immediate, "No way---it couldn't have gotten this bad that fast."
Your question expresses the same basic thought. The idea behind it is that God would create all things good. Since the present state of this "cold, cruel world" can hardly be called good, it seems we should be able to tell the difference between things which have been newly created by God and those which have been around for a length of time.
I am in total harmony with the theological viewpoint which underlies this concern. That is, I accept the Biblical teaching that God created the world good, and that it has only come to its present state as a result of a historic Fall into sin by two historic representatives of mankind, Adam and Eve. ...
Research in Progress
Research at present is entirely devoted to solving the mystery of why human life spans declined by hundreds of years following the Flood. This problem has absorbed my attention more or less completely nearly every waking moment for the past three years.
I have published in previous issues all of the groundwork I am free to publish on this topic. In the cover letter sent out with the last issue I explained:
I have very much more that I am longing to share with you on this research topic, but I have reached a stage where it is difficult to tell more without telling all, and I am reluctant to tell all before I am quite certain I am right about the cause of aging and have had opportunity to apply for appropriate patents, necessary to the maintenance and progress of this unique "tent-making" ministry. This may take some months yet---I beg your patience and covet your prayers in the meantime. ....
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