Eden and Biblical Chronology
Chronology is the science of establishing the correct sequence of events and ascertaining the lapse of time from one event to another, in short, the setting of dates. The Bible is a unique book in that it is the only complete one preserved out of the past which gives a continuous, connected story from the first man down to the Greek era of history. Consequently, many have used the Bible as a basis upon which to construct a chronological system reaching back to set a date for the Advent of Man upon earth. However, the results have not been unanimous or conclusive. There are points of divergence of opinion, such as the duration of the Period of the Judges in Israel, and the length of the sojourn of the Children of Israel in Egypt. But these divergences dwindle to insignificance when compared with the enormous difference between the date for the first appearance of man in Biblically based chronologies and the dates given by geologists. The date for Adam is given by the one as about 4,000 B.C., or perhaps 5,OOO or even 6000 B. C. while the geologist puts the advent of man perhaps one million years ago. Is there any hope at all of this fantastic gulf of difference being satisfactorily bridged? In our present state of knowledge possibly, No; but we believe the difference will some day vanish.
Let us be patient, for in due time the real truth will be manifested.
The Date of Menes in Egypt
But what transpired afterwards? Other archaeologists came along, and further information was gained. The word "before" was erased, and Menes was "about" 5,000 B.C. Then more facts came to light, the "5" was erased and "4" written in, making Menes "about 4,000 BC. (What's a thousand years anyway?) Soon that figure was found too high, and Menes sank down past 3,500 B.C. to "about 3,200 B.C." Today his date is settling down to 3,100 B.C.
Now notice, additional light reduced the figure again and again, each time in the direction originally indicated by the Scriptures. What further changes the future will produce we do not know, but it certainly seems unlikely Menes date will be raised; if anything, it will likely be lowered again or remain stationary.
From this example we can see a remarkable trait of the human mind. A new science has a tendency to splurge with large pompous figures, to puff up with impressive accumulations of ciphers! Later facts prick these balloons.
Geology is a relatively new science as yet, and is full of big figures. How do we know but what future light will not drastically reduce and cut down these big figures? In fact, some figures have already under, gone reductions, such as the date for the end of the Pleistocene Epoch. Many still cling to as large a figure as they dare in this case, we suspect the reason to be the desire to envision a long period for the gradual development of early civilizations. An up-to-date encyclopedia gives the time as 25,000 years since the last Glacial phase ended, but we do possess some evidence contrary to such a large figure. For instance, the late Sir. J. W. Dawson, a geological authority, wrote:
"The elaborate and careful observations of Dr. Andrews
on the raised beaches of Lake Michigan -- observations of a much
more precise character than any which, in so far as I know, have
been made on such deposits in Europe -- enabled him to calculate
the time which has elapsed since North America rose out of the
waters of the Glacial Period as between 5,500 and 7,000 years."
A time between 5,500 and 7,000 years ago, would be in ordinary dating 3,500 BC and 5,000 BC. This is a terrific tumble down of dating: It actually means that the Glacial Period may have ended only 400 years before Menes, founder of Egypt's First Dynasty, ascended the throne. This indicates that instead of the Neolithic (New Stone Age) and the "Copper Age lasting from 8,000 to 2,000 BC the span must have been vastly shorter.
The shortness of time since the last Glacial phase is confirmed by the Niagara Falls. As the Glacial ice melted, the Great Lakes stood at a much higher level than now. "Their outlet through the Saint Lawrence River was still blocked with ice, and they drained by various channels in part through the Chicago River to the Mississippi, in part by other outlets. At a later stage they drained through the Mohawk Valley into the Hudson River, and thence to the Atlantic Ocean." ("Encyclopedia Americana," under "Glacial Period.")
Soon the waters broke through the Saint Lawrence channel and the mighty Niagara awoke as the waters thundered and roared over the escarpment, from their high post-Glacial level. The Mohawk Valley drainage outlet soon dried up as the water level fell. But the tearing flow of water at Niagara began eating away the escarpment. Gradually the falls worked their way back to their present location. Calculations based on the present rate at which the falls are retreating indicates that the falls have existed for only a few thousand years, something like 6,000 or 7,000 years; and if the volume of water was greater at first, when the level of the lakes is known to have been much higher, the period might be even less, as the wearing would be much more rapid with even a little more flow than the present rate. Everything of an exact and precise nature seems to emphasize the brevity of time since the last Glacial phase.
Such facts as the foregoing compel us to think twice before too readily accepting estimates of enormously long stretches of time for each phase of the Pleistocene Epoch. We feel some caution is required. Scholars of the evolutionary school of thought have wanted long periods of time in which to envision a slow, gradual progress of man from beast upward. This school is of the opinion that man appeared either late in the Pliocene or early in the Pleistocene, and the evidences support that point, as stone artifacts of middle and early Pleistocene have been found. Dr. Leakey's find of "Nut-Cracker Man' in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanganyika, Africa, has been widely acclaimed as the oldest known toolmaker. These fossils appear to belong to early mid-Pleistocene or to Lower Pleistocene deposits, and was dated by the finder as coming from 600,000 years ago. This is a large figure, but we must re- member that it is wholly dependent upon what view one holds as to the duration of the Pleistocene Period. If the Pleistocene began 1,000,000 years ago, then 600,000 would be not too far ahead of the middle of that figure; but if the Pleistocene was vastly shorter, then the date for "Nut- Cracker Man" would likewise be vastly reduced.
We must keep in mind that at whatever period science establishes the presence of man, then Adam was created either at or before that period. Adam was "the firs t man" (I Corinthians 15:45). No man could precede the "first" man, or he would not be "first." The opinion on dates may violently clash, but dates are nothing but opinion-tags tied on by us to an event. Later information may force us to change the date tags, jus t as the date tag for Menes fell from "before 5,000 BC to "about 3,100 BC"
The idea that the Pleistocene lasted for nearly 1,000,000 years was built up largely on the conception of very slow changes in climate. But were all the changes so gradual? We do not have the ghost of an idea as to what caused Ice Ages during the Pleistocene, so how can we be sure the changes were gradual? The Encyclopedia Americana confesses:
"What produced this change is one of the most baffling problems in geology." (Article, "Pleistocene Epoch.") A hint that the changes were not too gradual is that it caused the extinction of many types of plants and animals. A very slow gradual change of climate would scarcely do this. In a slow change, succeeding generations of plants would shift or "migrate" to lower, warmer levels, and animals would gradually shift also. But a fairly sudden change would wipe out those not able to shift quickly. The article in the Encyclopedia Americana above quoted, speaks Of, "the extinction of types that could not migrate readily and in particular of the great mammals." This looks suspiciously like fairly rapid change from warm to cold conditions. Again, the evidences of extremely high levels of rivers at times when the climate turned from cold to warm, hints at a fairly quick change back, not a long slow process. If a river had a rise of 12 inches only, average throughout the year, that would indicate a very significant increase in flow. A slow change, and not too slow, could cause glaciers to melt, retreat and produce such an increase in run off.
But when there is evidence of river levels being up 50 feet or more, the melting of the Glacial Sheets could not possibly have been such a snail-pace affair. The temperatures must have gone up by leaps and jumps.
Not long ago several papers carried articles on the suddenness with which the great pre-historic mammoths were frozen. They died and were frozen in before their flesh could begin to decay. One man told my father how he and another found one of these mammoths when digging for gold in the frozen subsoil of the far north. The flesh was perfectly preserved, stored these thousands of years in Mother Nature's deep-freeze. He cut off some of the flesh, fried it and ate it. That animal died suddenly and was frozen -- and such animals do not live in cold climates. There must have been a sudden change. Why, scientists have discovered in the state of the flesh evidences that these huge animals were suddenly frozen, frozen so suddenly that normal changes in flesh which is cooled gradually did not have time to take place. Some of them died so suddenly they did not have time to swallow the food in their mouths-- some appear to have been frozen standing on their feet. What happened, I do not pretend to be able to say, only that it appears so intense a cold instantaneously descended upon these animals that they were killed and frozen before their muscles relaxed. Gradual, slow change over a period of a thousand or two years? Well, certainly not" in these cases, and how can we be sure about other climate changes during these phases of the Pleistocene?
Such factors as these seriously call in question the date tags the scientists have been wont to tie onto the various phases of the Pleistocene Period. Surely no one will deny that I have some ground for hesitancy over those date tags, and suspect that we will see some drastic reductions made before too long.
The Biblical Side
It comes as a distinct surprise to many, to be told that the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 are not complete. The Bible itself makes this clear, as we will show presently. To the Hebrew mind the words in these genealogies conveyed certain meanings which we are inclined to miss. When it is written that so-and-so begat such-and-such to the Hebrew mind this statement includes much more than a direct father and son relation- ship. If such-and-such was the direct son of so-and-so, to the Hebrew at once mind this meant that so-and-so was/the father both of such-and-such and of all succeeding generations following, what we call grandsons, great- grandsons, great-great-grandsons, and so on. The Hebrews had no words for "grandson" or "grandfather," etc. Thus our Lord Jesus Christ is cal1ed "the son of David" in Matthew 1:1 although over 28 generations intervened! The birth of a child included not only the birth of that child but, in a sense, of all the future generations too.
Let us put it another way. A lives 40 years and begets B, then B lives 40 years and begets C. C lives 40 years and begets D. How many years from the birth of A to the birth of D? 120 years. But the ancient Hebrew writers might record A lived 40 years and begat D, entirely omitting any reference to B and C. To their way of thinking, the birth of B involved the birth of both C and D, and B and C might be omitted if they were unimportant or their memory less desirable, etc. The Hebrews were not trying to construct a chronology, but to give sufficient names down the line of descent to identify the family tree. Thus, how many names are omitted in these genealogies is anybody's guess. We do know that at least one generation was omitted between Arphaxad and Salah in Genesis 11:12, because Luke names him in Luke 3:35-36. How many more names were omitted no one today knows.
Again, Jude 14 tells us Enoch was the seventh from Adam, proving positively that the genealogy in Genesis 5 is incomplete, for there Enoch comes in sixth. Some try to get around this, by including Adam's name, and make Enoch the seventh name. By that is definite not what the text states. It says, "from Adam." We are thus forced construct a chronology something like this:-
This table destroys any exact chronology, but is likely nearer the truth. Many names might have been passed over in silence between Enoch and Noah. The final result of these considerations is that the time from Adam to Abraham may have been far, far longer than various Bible chronologies have made it. With this evidence for lengthening Biblical chronologies on the one hand and the evidences we cited before hinting at the need for drastically cutting down the date-tags on the Pleistocene phases, we see some hope of a final agreement. For the present it may be proposed that the Pleistocene Period roughly corresponds with the Antediluvian Age recorded in Scripture.
End of Chapter Seven
|Chapter One||A Few Leading Clues|
|Chapter Two||The Rivers Euphrates and Hiddekel|
|Chapter Three||The River Pison|
|Chapter Four||The River Gihon|
|Chapter Five||The Changing River Courses|
|Chapter Six||Eden in Relation to Geology|
|Chapter Seven||Eden and Biblical Chronology|
|Chapter Eight||Cain's City of Enoch|
|Appendix A||Are the names in Genesis 2 Postdiluvial?|
|Appendix B||Maps, sketches and notes|