DOES THE BIBLE TELL TIME? WHEN DID THE FLOOD AND THE TOWER OF BABEL OCCUR?

The following article is taken from Chapter Two of Rebooting the Bible, Part Two. The topic focuses on which ancient source supplies the correct, authentic timeline of Genesis 1-11, that tells us the biblical witness for all the great storylines of the opening chapters of the Bible. The Protestant and Catholic Bibles rely upon the conventional Jewish version, The Masoretic Text (MT). The Greek Orthodox Bible (and the Bible used by the early Church for its first 500 years) builds upon the Septuagint (LXX).  When analyzed closely, we see there are dramatic differences in the timelines for when the Flood occurred, the Tower of Babel, the Birth of Abraham, and so on. In this excerpt, we see that the most ancient sources are the most reliable and they tell a very different story from what we Protestants have been taught.

Endorsement for Rebooting the Bible, Part Two

“When I picked up the book and started to read first, I said WOW! I literally said to myself, ‘this is the book I have been looking for!’  Then, as I began to read through it, I was absolutely blown away. This book researches many of the most critical questions about the Bible and especially the Creation, and even investigates pre-history with scholarly integrity. Doug Woodward has written one of the most powerful, explosive, and essential books that I have read in a long time! This book is an absolute must for anyone seeking to understand the Bible and especially the Book of Genesis.  Woodward goes where other theologians fear to go. In a riveting style, this book investigates Creation, Pre-history, and the great secrets of what happened before and immediately after the Flood.  Rebooting the Bible, Part 2, should be required reading for anyone seeking truth and especially as a guide for pastors and teachers.”

 Dr. Paul McGuire, author of 30 books, including co-author of The Babylon Code and Trumpocalypse Paul McGuire Report, Professor of Eschatology Kings College and Seminary

THE NUMBER ONE RELEASE ON AMAZON IN OT CRITICISM

FROM REBOOTING THE BIBLE, PART TWO


Is “Telling Time” Historically Part of the Judeo-Christian Tradition?

The idea of using the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 to pin down the dates in the primeval history of the Bible has remarkable precedent. Author Jeremey Sexton tells us:

Biblical interpreters had been reading the genealogies as chronologies since before Christ. Jewish historians Demetrius (ca. 200 BC), Eupolemus (ca. 160 BC), and Josephus (ca.  AD 93), as well as the authors of Jubilees (ca.150 BC) and Seder Olam Rabbah (ca.  AD 150), used the genealogies for chronological computation. Several early and medieval churchmen—for example, Theophilus of Antioch (ca.168), Julius Africanus (ca. 218), Origen (ca. 230), Eusebius (ca. 315), Augustine (ca. 354), Bede (ca. 723), and Cedrenus (ca. 1060)—did likewise. Luther dated creation to 3960 BC, Melanchthon to 3963 BC, and “Geneva” 3943 BC. During the interval between the Reformation and the publication of Green’s essay, Ussher dated creation to 4004 BC, Vossius to 5590 BC, Playfair to 4007 BC, Jackson to 5426 BC, Hales to 5411 BC, and Russell to 5441 BC. This is merely a small sampling of those who used Gen(esis) 5 and 11 for the construction of a chronology.[1]

Even William Henry Green, with whom we opened the previous Chapter,  acknowledged that Genesis 5 and 11 appear to give us a timeline of events – to use his words, “prima facie impression” of a chronology.[2]  But he stuck by his guns regardless of this

WILLIAM HENRY GREEN 1885

“impression,” claiming that gaps existed in the lists of names despite the author bothering to provide begetting ages and longevity. Because he held that gaps existed, he could insist that the Flood occurred before the first Egyptian dynasty (ca. 3100 B.C.), even though the “chronology” as given in the Masoretic Text places the Flood ca. 2348 B.C. Of course, with the chronology of the Septuagint, the Flood took place well before this point in time – no gaps are needed to “make the numbers work.”  Thus, we should believe that the LXX comprises the authentic timeline for the earliest events presented in Genesis 1-11.

The Witness of the Ancients

In RTB-1 and articles on my website (faith-happens.com), I present extensive evidence that other Hebrews relied upon the same chronology as the LXX; namely, Eupolemus writing circa 158-7 B.C., Josephus (A.D. 37-100) who penned his Antiquities of the Jews two centuries later, and an author that has come to be called Pseudo-Philo, who wrote Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum.[3] The experts reference this mouthful with the acronym, LAB. And while scholars confirm that our eleventh-century copy of LAB was in Latin[4], initially, a Jew composed this document originally in Hebrew slightly before the destruction of the Second Temple (A.D. 70). This preceded the rabbinic school at Jamnia (circa A.D. 80-90), since LAB’s chronology coincides with the longer chronology of the LXX.  However, after Rabbi Akiba, all Jewish scholarship adopted the shorter MT chronology. Even Josephus’ works, which also rely upon the more extended LXX chronology, was “updated” by rabbis in the second century A.D., amending his chronology to reflect theirs.  Too bad, the rabbis inserted some incorrect calculations within summary statements Josephus made elsewhere, which conflicted with his stated begetting ages. This fact proves someone tampered with his writings, and the extended chronology must have been his original timeline.

Eupolemus stated that the Creation occurred in 5307 B.C.  He followed Demetrius the Chronographer, writing 50 years earlier (220 B.C.), who came up with the very same date – 5307 B.C.  Obviously, Demetrius’ source was from either the Hebrew version of the Bible (likely a copy made directly from Ezra’s master ca. 430 B.C., located in triplicate in the Jerusalem Temple) which had the more extended chronology. Little doubt that it was the Vorlage used by the translators of the Septuagint who completed the Pentateuch in 282 B.C.  For those who argue that Bible tricksters created the LXX over 100 years AFTER the crucifixion of Christ, please listen carefully: You can hear Demetrius and Eupolemus emitting loud sighs from deep within their graves. “Oy vey” they whisper.

Expanding on Josephus, the scholars hold a consensus view that Josephus worked from a Hebrew version exhibiting the longer chronology. He references it in many places in his Antiquities. (1:67, 83-87, 149-150; Tables 2 and 3). And he expressly states that he was writing in Greek but was directly translating himself from the Hebrew. (Antiquities 1:5, 9:208, 10:218; and in Against Apion 1:1, 54). Henry B. Smith cites studies by three theologians, Norton, Attridge, and Feldman, who “all confirm that he had a Genesis Hebrew text in his possession.”[5] This fact means his Hebrew text contained the longer (LXX) chronology.

Ancient Witnesses Align With the LXX, not MT

“Burying the Lead” and the Evidence

According to Shutt, says Smith, Josephus even “Hellenized” Hebrew names from Genesis that differed from the Septuagint’s names as transliterated from Hebrew. This is another dead giveaway that he was indeed translating from Hebrew into Greek.

Quoting Josephus directly, “Those antiquities contain the history of 5,000 years; and are taken out of our sacred books but translated by me into the Greek tongue” (Against Apion, 1:1). He echoes this in Antiquities 1:13, “The things narrated in the sacred Scriptures, are, however, innumerable, seeing that they embrace the history of 5,000 years…” Given that the Masoretic Text extends the period from Adam to Artaxerxes less than 3,500 years, it becomes glaringly apparent that the longer chronology of the LXX was Josephus’ timeline. Historians don’t overlook a 1,500-year variance.

The later corruption in Josephus, mentioned earlier, are substantiated by the scholars. They argue that this proves someone who had a vested interest in deflating the chronology was trying their best to bury the evidence – not just by eliminating contrary versions of the Pentateuch but Josephus’ words too. Smith says, “there were instances of chronological statements in Josephus later corrupted by scribes.” Those summary statements (aka epochal summations in Antiquities 1:82 and 1:148), were intentionally deflated to match totals derived from the MT since his “begetting ages” in other places match the LXX. This becomes obvious when he says, “These years when added together amount to the aforementioned total “(Antiquities 1:88) [6]  But after the rabbinic tampering, they didn’t add up.

Notes

[1] Sexton, Jeremy B. “Who Was Born When Enosh Was 90? A Semantic Reevaluation of William Henry Green’s Chronological Gaps,” Westminster Theological Journal, (WTJ 77), 201: p. 193-218.

[2] Green, William Henry. “Primeval Chronology,” p. 285-86. Green wrote a landmark article circa 1890 that argued Genesis 5 and 11 do NOT attempt to supply a chronology. This has been proven wrong on many counts by a number of sources discussed in depth in the book.

[3] Book of Biblical Antiquities. The book claimed that Philo of Alexandria wrote it. But scholars believe it does not fit in with the traits of Philo’s writing. Therefore, it is pseudepigrapha.

[4] Its discovery was in the Nineteenth Century… previously only known through references of other authors like Eusebius writing circa A.D. 330.

[5] These references are without attribution as I cannot find the originals. From the article by Smith, Henry B. Jr. “Setting the Record Straight on the Primeval Chronology of the Septuagint,” Bible and Space, 31.4, Fall 2018, p. 127.

[6] All citations in this subsection are from Smith, Henry B. Jr., “The Case for the Septuagint’s Chronology in Genesis 5 and 11,” p. 123-125, in Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Creationism, ed. J.H. Whitmore, pp. 117-132.