Associates for Biblical Research Statement on Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Chronologies
The ministry of ABR receives regular inquiries about the chronology of the Ancient Near East and its correlation with the Bible. In response to these inquiries, and numerous serious misunderstandings about ABR's views concerning ANE chronology and the authority of the Bible, we affirm the following:
On Creation, Fall and the Flood
1. A recent, 6 day (24 hour) creation, several thousand years ago. We reject all forms of old-earth creationism, theistic evolution, the framework hypothesis, the gap theory and progressive creationism.
2. A cosmic and anthropologically universal Fall from an original state of innocence due to Adam’s sin.
3. A worldwide, cataclysmic Flood in the days of Noah.
On the Chronology from the Flood to Abraham
1. Although this subject was never an area of focus for our research staff, ABR has always believed in the historicity of the Genesis 11 patriarchs. The general view of the ABR staff has historically been that there was some fluidity (gaps) in the genealogical data from Genesis 11, but the data could not be understood to date the Flood beyond 4000 or 5000 BC at most. The general tenets of this view can be found in the appendix of The Genesis Flood, by Whitcomb and Morris. Based mainly on archaeological considerations, ABR founder Dr. David Livingston placed the Flood around 3000 B.C. The general affirmation of the ABR staff has historically been that the universe is less than 10,000 years old.
2. Since 2010, with the full support of ABR Director of Research Dr. Bryant Wood, ABR staff members have been looking more closely into the chronology from the Flood to Abraham. A number of our staff members have concluded that the fluidity view (gaps in the genealogies) is exegetically and hermeneutically untenable, and that the arguments offered by Whitcomb and Morris (and other scholars) need to be revisited. Not all ABR staff members have been involved with this project, and thus, hold a variety of views generally accepted in theologically conservative circles concerning pre-Abrahamic chronology.
3. Based on these recent developments, ABR has determined that an ongoing and in-depth research project into the chronology between the Flood and Abraham is required by the ABR staff before we advocate a firm date for the Flood as a ministry. This project includes:
a. A full text-critical investigation of the Genesis 11 data in the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint and the Samaritan Pentateuch. All three of these ancient witnesses have divergent numbers in the genealogies of both Genesis 5 and 11.
b. A full text-critical analysis into the veracity of Kainan/m in Luke 3:36.
c. A study of all the relevant references to Genesis 11 in the ancient Jewish writings and the early Church Fathers, and a number of other related sub-sections of such a study.
ABR is not presently prepared to advocate all of the numbers of the Masoretic Text as the original texts of Genesis 11 unless further research leads to such a conclusion.
d. Based on preliminary investigations, an acceptance of the matching SP/LXX siring ages of each patriarch as the original text of Genesis 11 would put the Flood somewhere between 3150 to 3300 BC (depending on the exclusion/inclusion of Kainan as original). The siring age is the key number for calculating the chronology of this era. This would be the outer possible range for the date of the Flood. Any archaeological/historical dates that go back beyond this time range would be considered incorrect and subject to emendation and correction.
4. We reject the conventional dates given for Paleolithic, Neolithic, and Chalcolithic remains. These dates--and the 14-C method itself which they largely depend upon-- are highly suspect, being deeply influenced by evolutionary and naturalistic presuppositions and a de facto rejection of the Flood in advance. This includes dates for the establishment of Egypt and other ANE civilizations that are based solely or primarily on 14-C dating. None of these so-called pre-historic archaeological remains should be dated before the Flood and these archaeological and anthropological remains should be properly understood as humans repopulating the world in an early, post-Flood context.
On Radically Revising Ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian Chronology in the Second and First Millennium BC
1. ABR recognizes that the standard dating for Egypt before the 12th Dynasty (ca. 1979 BC) is highly dependent on 14-C dating. Based on the outermost possible date for the Flood from biblical texts tentatively outlined above (3150-3300 BC), many of the dates given by the secular chronologies for both Egypt and other civilizations before 2000 BC are not viable and require revision because of this dependence on 14-C dating.
However, we reject the notion that adjusting the dating of these dynasties in the third millennium BC (especially the Old Kingdom) necessarily entails a domino effect that demands the wholesale revision of Egyptian/ANE chronology on the order of centuries down into the second and first millennium BC.
2. We believe that various attempts to radically revise (by centuries) conventional Egyptian chronology from ca. 2000 B.C. and down into the second and first millennium BC are unwarranted, unnecessary, and untenable.
Archaeological and historical dates from this period are derived from:
- Written texts
- Astronomical data
- Ceramic typology
- Architectural tendencies and practices
- Cultural practices
- Major events in the archaeological strata (fires and earthquakes)
- Treaties between nation-states
- Royal decrees
- Private communications
3. This enormous wealth of data all converges to assist the historian in determining reasonably reliable dates for events in the ancient world. Any particular piece of data can be crossed-checked versus other known data to test it for accuracy. We believe these dating methods, while not infallible, are generally reliable primarily because they are tethered to human activity, which has an eyewitness dimension to it.
4. We recognize that eyewitnesses can be untruthful and/or in error. For example, ancient kings were notorious for exaggerating their deeds and diminishing or ignoring those of their foes. However, a king who exaggerated his accomplishments in battle against another country in year "X" of his reign did not generally lie about when the battle happened, only about its result. Thus, much useful historical information can be gleaned from the annals of kings, despite their exaggerated claims.
5. The radical revision of Egyptian chronology demands that the chronologies of many other civilizations across the ANE also be rewritten. Egypt had countless dealings with numerous other nation-states, such as the Hittites, the Sea Peoples (Philistines), the Canaanites, the Amorites, Mesopotamia, Cyprus, Nubia, and of course, Israel. Hundreds of synchronisms from the archaeological record during the post 2000 BC era already exist, some of which are cited on this website in a variety of articles. These synchronizations agree with the biblical dates and cultural setting. Radical revisionism serves to destroy these manifold correlations, undermining their already strong and highly useful apologetic value.
6. We believe that those who advocate such reconstructions have been and will continue to be woefully unsuccessful at resolving the thousands of new synchronization problems that the wholesale disruption of Egyptian chronology creates, even if one were to assume that said advocates have the requisite expertise to revise the histories of all of the applicable civilizations.
No single person could possibly have a grasp of all these thousands of implications or the requisite knowledge required to revise the entire chronology of the ANE.
Unfortunately, the ABR staff has discovered through experience and interaction that most advocates (not all) of such revisionism operate as "lone rangers" who have little or no formal training in either biblical exegesis and/or ANE history, are unaccountable to trained experts in these varied fields, and lack an "iron sharpening iron" dynamic. Sadly, these radical revisionists often derisively berate all those who doubt their revised chronologies and have consistently accused the ABR staff of compromising on the authority of Scripture. We have yet to hear any argument that demonstrates how a rejection of radical revisionism means ABR has compromised on Scripture. We understand that people are free to believe and advocate what they wish concerning ANE history, but such advocacy should be performed in the spirit of Christian charity and with academic accountability.
We therefore urge the Church to stop using apologetic arguments that entail this type of revisionism and seriously take into account arguments that disprove their veracity.
7. We affirm that no secular chronology is infallible. However, the general reliability of Egyptian and ANE chronologies from this period (post 2000 BC) is affirmed by the quality of their synchronisms with the inerrant and infallible chronological data found in Scripture. Thus, as the infallible measuring stick, Scripture informs us that ANE chronology from 2000 BC onwards is generally accurate.
8. While all dating methods entail certain unprovable assumptions, we believe the matrix of data listed above minimizes large errors in chronology because the assumptions can be scrutinized from multiple angles.
Hundreds of examples could be cited to demonstrate how conventional dating from the ANE during the first and second millennium BC is generally in line with the Bible.
9. Conversely, 14-C and other radiometric dating methods are not inherently tethered to human activity. These methods are of a different order because their assumptions are overtly evolutionary and unbiblical (denial of the Flood, assumption of long-ages, and so forth). Thus, archaeological dating methods should not be lumped into the same general category as other dating methods such as: radiometric/radiocarbon dating, tree rings, ice cores, geological strata and so forth.
On the Sojourn, Exodus, Conquest and Divided Kingdom
1. We believe that the length of the Israelite sojourn in Egypt is 430 years (the so-called Long Sojourn view) going back from the Exodus to Jacob’s arrival in Egypt (1876 BC). This chronological view has the best exegetical and textual support in Scripture. We believe the Short-Sojourn view does not hold up to exegetical and textual scrutiny, and disrupts many of the excellent synchronisms between archaeology and the Bible from the birth of Abraham through the time of Joshua.
2. We believe that the date for the Exodus from Egypt is 1446 BC and the conquest of Canaan began in 1406 BC. These dates are based on the internal chronology of the Bible and are affirmed by a wealth of data in the archaeological and historical record. These dates are strongly affirmed by the evidence found in our own excavations in Israel at Khirbet el-Maqatir (Joshua’s Ai), and our extensive research on the destruction of the cities of Jericho and Hazor during the period of the Conquest. Evidence for the occupation and subsequent destruction of these three Canaanite/Amorite cities agrees with the biblical text and thereby confirms the accuracy of conventional Egyptian/ANE chronology from this period. Radically revising Egyptian chronology breaks such important synchronisms.
Our 45 years of published research on the Exodus-Conquest narratives of the Bible and all of the associated archaeological discoveries utterly undermine and disqualify any notion that ANE chronology during the second millennium BC can be revised by centuries.
3. Based on the exhaustive research of ABR Associate Rodger C. Young and the ABR staff generally, we believe the period of the Divided Kingdom was 345 years. The construction of Solomon’s Temple began in 967 BC and Solomon died in 931 BC. These dates are verified through an examination of over 120 pieces of data found in the relevant biblical texts, and are affirmed in hundreds of ways in the archaeological and historical record. We greatly admire Archbishop Ussher for his work in this area, but believe that subsequent scholarship has refined and brought correction to some of Ussher’s Divided Kingdom chronology.
The ABR staff is absolutely committed to the authority, inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible, as outlined in our Statement of Faith and our affirmation of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.
We trust that this statement is received by our supporters in the spirit with which it is intended: to clearly communicate our present position and to clarify our understanding of Scriptural authority and its relation to ANE archaeological discoveries and chronology.