08 February 2008

St. John of Matha, Confessor

With St. Felix of Valois, St. John founded the Order of the Trinitarians for the ransoming of captives who had fallen into the hands of the Mohammedans. He died in 1213.

I just finished reading the book of Genesis for my class on the Pentateuch. Being interested in historical chronologies I decided to investigate the dates given in Genesis from the standpoint of faith in the inerrancy of the holy writings. The question is how to interpret them. Ussher's famous attempt, in which he posits 4,004 B.C. as the creation of the world, ends up in a tangle of difficulties. The difficulty is knowing what to do with the formulaic geneologies found in Genesis, as for example the following:

"When Enosh had lived ninety years, he became the father of Kenan. Enosh lived after the birth of Kenan eight hundred and fifteen years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years; and he died" (Gen. 5:9-11).

Ussher attempted to read this as meaning that Kenan was literally the son of Enosh, a plausible interpretation at first sight. However, this results is absurdities all along the way - just one example is that he trims Israel's time in Egypt to 200 years and something whereas Exodus 12:40 states that Israel dwelt in Egypt for 430 years to the day.

Another approach, however, that I happened across in reading Robert Sungenis, is looking at examples like the above in the following way: when Enosh was 90 he fathered the man who was to become the anscestor of Kenan - who was born himself in the same year that Enosh died. This is certainly a possible interpretation as the word "begat" can refer to sons and descendants at further remove. Exceptions are found where the text states specifically that the father named his son, as Adam named his son Seth, and Seth named his son Enosh. These, then, are literal father-son relationships.

Following this line of interpretation I came up with the following as the historical timeline of Gensis. Dates will be from the creation of the world, along the lines of the Roman ab urbe condita. Enjoy!

1: Ceation of the World
130: birth of Seth
235: birth of Enosh
930: death of Adam
1042: death of Seth
1140: death of Enosh / birth of Kenan
2050: death of Kenan / birth of Mahalalel
2945: death of Mahalalel / birth of Jared
3907: death of Jared / birth of Enoch
4272: translation of Enoch / birth of Methuselah
5241: death of Methuselah / birth of Lamech
5423: birth of Noah
5925: birth of Shem
6018: death of Lamech (Noah's father)

6023: The Great Flood
6373: death of Noah
6525: death of Shem / birth of Arpachshad
6963: death of Arpachshad / birth of Shelah
7396: death of Shelah / birth of Eber
7860: death of Eber / birth of Peleg
8099: death of Peleg / birth of Reu
8338: death of Reu / birth of Serug
8568: death of Serug / birth of Nahor
8716: death of Nahor / birth of Terah
8786: birth of Abraham (this is uncertain because Gen. 11:27 says only that "when Terah had lived seventy years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran." I therefore take Terah to be seventy years old at the birth of Abraham.)
8797: birth of Sarah

8861: Abraham departs from Haran

8872: birth of Ishmael
8885: Covenant of circumcision
8886: birth of Isaac
8921: death of Terah (Abraham's father)
8924: death of Sarah
8926: Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah
8946: birth of Esau and Jacob
8961: death of Abraham
9009: death of Ishmael
9037: birth of Joseph
9054: Joseph sold into slavery
9066: death of Isaac
9067: Joseph becomes steward of Egypt
9076: Jacob goes into Egypt (this is uncertain - the text says that it was the second year of the famine when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. Following this Jacob comes to Egypt and at least two years of famine remain. I therefore take Jacob to have entered Egypt in the second year of the famine.)
9093: death of Jacob
9147: death of Joseph

This would put the Exodus by the way at 9506 - four hundred and thirty years after Jacob's entry into Egypt. If we accept the consensus of historians that the Exodus took place around 1,500 B.C. we can work that back into our timeline and see that Abraham lived about 2,000 B.C., the Flood was about 5,000 B.C. and the creation of the world occured about 11,000 B.C.


Jim said...

You and I had talked a while back about a documentary that talked about Moses. It would appear, that by the evidence that was presented in the documentary, that the scholars and experts had missed it by some 1500 years. According to the documentary the entire event of the plaques coincides with scientific evidence and a fragment of a Pharoah's obilisk that describes the events. It is also know that the name of the Pharoah at the documentary's dates was translated from the Egyptian as "Brother of Moses." I still haven't found it, but when I do I will get both of us a copy.

Nana said...

This is very intriguing... I believe in a "young" earth, somewhere around 10,000 years. Your timeline certainly fits that.
And to think...it all started with the Konos timeline in the back hallway - your interest in historical chronologies, I mean.

John said...

I remember talking to you about that; I'd love to see that documentary.

It just makes more sense, doesn't it? What sort of dates did the Konos timeline give for Abraham and the Exodus? I must confess I don't remember all the details.