1. Introduction

The dating of various events in the Bible has attracted a lot of interest over the years and continues to do so today.  Two assumptions are made in this paper.

  • First, the Bible contains sufficient information to construct a definite chronology.
  • Secondly, there are no contradictory statements in the Bible.

The consequence of the second assumption is that when the meaning of a passage is not immediately obvious then the best guide to understanding it is to look at what is said elsewhere in the Bible.

Many people have compiled biblical chronologies and undoubtedly the most famous in English speaking circles is that of Archbishop James Ussher.  The dates given here agree, except in a few small points, with those provided by Ussher.  This is not surprising since Ussher seems to have had similar starting assumptions about the integrity of the Biblical text.

Of course Ussher’s chronology has attracted much derision.  Various scientific theories imply that the world is much older than this chronology suggests.  Likewise archaeological theories also posit human and pre-human life long before the date of creation given here.  When it comes to historical theories however, the evidence fits much more comfortably with this sort of timeframe and many written sources also given chronologies which are similar in span if not always in detail.  The difficulty is that today scientific and archaeological theories about the past are assumed by many to be hard facts whereas historical sources are often treated with little regard.  No attempt is made here to address either the scientific, archaeological or historical data merely to set out the Biblical data.

It should be noted that this article assumes that the surviving Hebrew text is reliable in the sense that it faithfully transmits what was originally said or written.  There are discrepancies between different Hebrew manuscripts indicating that copyists did make mistakes although these are largely not significant.  However, it does mean that one can never be absolutely certain that the Hebrew text follows the original, although in most cases it is beyond reasonable doubt.

More significantly at least one ancient translation of the Old Testament has some different dates and ages.  The Greek Septuagint was a translation made some years Before Christ in Alexandria.  The translators included some material which is not in the Hebrew Bible and at times appears to be a fairly loose translation.  The general view is that the Hebrew is much more reliable than the Septuagint.  Nevertheless, there remains a possibility, which some have advanced, that the Septuagint Chronology is to be preferred.

>> 2. The Key Dates

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