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The Date of Creation

  God created the heavens and the earth on the first day of creation.  Man was created on the sixth day, only five days later.  Genesis 5 contains the chronological data from Adamís 130th year to the Noahic Flood.  Genesis 11 contains the chronological data from the Noahic Flood to Abraham.  Other Old Testament passages give information of the time period from Abraham to Nehemiah.  From this time on we must rely on secular historical sources such as the Manethan chronology or the writings of Josephus. 

  A survey of extant Jewish and Christian literature dating from 300 B.C. to A.D. 1700 reveals that the consensus of writers calculated that creation took place between 4,000 and 5,000 B.C.  The best known biblical chronology was produced by James Ussher (1581-1656).  He calculated the date of creation to be 4004 B.C.  Modernists have scoffed at both the date and method of his conclusion.  Ussher was a Hebrew scholar as well as a distinguished theologian.  He understood the issues involved in making calculations from the biblical chronologies as well as any other Jewish or Christian writer in history.  Ussher was certainly not the first or only writer to calculate the date of creation circa 4000 B.C.  Those who calculated the date of creation using the Hebrew Masoretic text include Kepler, 3993 B.C.; Melanchthon, 3964; Luther, 3961; Lightfoot, 3960; Playfair, 4008; and Lipman, 3916.  The most broadly accepted Jewish date claims the world was created in 3760 B.C.  Those writers who followed the Septuagint translation normally calculated the age of the earth to be circa 5,000 B.C.  They include Josephus, Theophilus of Antioch, Clement of Alexandria, Julius Africanus, Eusebius of Caesarea, and Sulpitius Severus. 

Augustine (354-430) makes this statement: 

  They are deceived too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings we find that not 6,000 years have yet passed.  In vain do they babble with most empty presumption, saying that Egypt has understood the reckoning of the stars for more than a hundred thousand years.  For in what books have they collected that number who learned letters from Isis their mistress, not much more than two thousand years ago?  Varro, who has declared this, is no small authority in history, and does not disagree with the truth of the divine books.  For as it is not yet 6,000 years since the first man, who is called Adam, are they not to be ridiculed rather than refuted who try to persuade us of anything regarding a space of time so different from, and contrary to, the ascertained truth? 

  No less a scientist than Issac Newton (1642-1727) took the Egyptians to task for claiming their origins predated 5000 B.C.   John Calvin (1509-1564) made the following statement in his Institutes

  They will not refrain from Guffaws when they are informed that but little more than five thousand years have passed since the creation of the universe. 

  It is only recently that commentators have started inserting gaps into these genealogies to make the earth appear older than the Scriptures assert.   A survey of extant Jewish and Christian literature dating from 300 B.C. to A.D. 1700 reveals that the consensus of writers calculated that creation took place between 4,000 and 5,000 B.C.  Until the rise of uniformitarianism the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 were never interpreted to allow the insertion of thousands of years of gaps between the patriarchs listed.  The consensus opinion of Jewish and Christian writers alike was that the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 were complete and contained the essential data necessary to calculate the age of the earth.  There are internal issues which make the precise calculation of the age of the earth difficult.  There is no internal evidence which substantiates the practice of adding thousands of years of gaps to the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. 

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Copyright 2008 by Joe Fogle.  All rights reserved.