It has long been recognized by innumerable Jews and Christians that the amazing prophecy given in Daniel 9:24–27 deals with the time of the coming of the Messiah. Yet despite this consensus, coming to agreement about precisely how to understand this passage has been an elusive goal. God inspired Daniel to record the prophecy in such a way that it appears to have been written with purposeful ambiguity, preventing its meaning from being understood for centuries. This should not surprise us, for the Lord Himself said, "Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time" (Dan. 12:9, NASB). Yet at the same time, He intimated that a time would come when the words would be unsealed and understood. ABR staff member Richard Lanser heads up this project, having a conviction that the completion of the New Testament canon, together with the great advances in understanding both Scripture and the historical background of the Bible in the past century, have set the stage for this unsealing.
The goal of this project is to take a whole-Bible, plain-sense, biblical history-sensitive approach to the prophecies in Scripture generally, but most specifically those in the book of Daniel. By this approach we aim to demonstrate there is a single correct interpretation of the "Seventy Weeks" prophecy in Daniel 9:24–27. When this interpretation is identified, it will demonstrate the God-directed inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures by its perfect correspondence with the life of Christ. It will also provide a larger framework for us to understand Messianic chronology found in both fulfilled and yet-unfulfilled prophecies in the Bible. This chronology includes, but is not limited to, the dates of the birth and crucifixion of Jesus, Herodian chronology, and the pattern of the sabbatical years of the Jews since the return from the Babylonian Captivity under Ezra. Once these things are confidently determined exegetically and with awareness of events in biblical history, we will be in a position to properly understand the prophecy of the "Seventy Weeks" of Daniel 9:24–27 without reading into it unjustified personal interpretations. We expect these insights to be possible because God has tied all of Scripture into a seamless whole, where one part interprets another, and in addition has preserved information from ancient history which allows key anchor points to be identified.
A framework will first be established in which to place the prophecies found in the book of Daniel. This will be done by performing a close reading of every prophetic book in both Testaments, including the book of Revelation, seeking to understand how they relate to and clarify each other. From this study will be obtained a broad yet detailed picture of what Scripture reveals about Messianic chronology. A "straightforward" grammatical-historical interpretive approach (taking the plain sense of Scripture as the best sense) will be adopted in developing this framework. The material derived from this study will be compiled in a document which will hopefully become the basis for a future book. An Excel spreadsheet will then be created from the compiled data, into which individually-verifiable facts will be placed so their interrelationships become apparent. Once this framework has been set up, it will facilitate the evaluation of proposed chronologies of the Crucifixion and the Herodian period promoted by various scholars, particularly their exegesis of Scriptures important to their views and their interpretations of details in the writings of Josephus and other sources of ancient history, to see if their interpretations hold up to close scrutiny.
Once the prophecy of Daniel 9:24–27 is fully investigated, it is hoped we will be in a position to develop a fuller view of Messianic chronology extending to the second coming of Christ, one that avoids the extremes to which less comprehensive approaches are prone and have unfortunately beset the study of eschatology for centuries.
To determine if Genesis 5 and 11 and other directly relevant biblical texts yield a calculable chronology of human history from Adam to Abraham. If such a chronology can be constructed, a main goal of the project will then be to establish an approximate B.C. date for the Flood, and a chronology for the time period between the Flood and Abraham (Genesis 11:10-32). These dates can then be correlated with historically grounded, non carbon-14 based, archaeological data from this time period, serving an important apologetic purpose.
Although this subject had never previously been an area of focus for our research staff, ABR has always affirmed the historicity of the Genesis 5 and 11 patriarchs. Historically, the general view of the ABR staff has been that there was some fluidity (gaps) in the genealogical data from Genesis 5 and 11, but the data could not be understood to date the Flood beyond 4000 or 5000 BC at most. The general tenets of this viewpoint can be found in the appendix of The Genesis Flood, by John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, and in the seminal article, Primeval Chronology, published by William Henry Green of Princeton Theological Seminary in 1890. Based mainly on archaeological considerations, ABR founder Dr. David Livingston placed the Flood around 3000 B.C.
We concluded during our initial investigations that the fluidity view (chronological gaps in the genealogies) is exegetically and hermeneutically untenable, and that the arguments offered in favor of chronological gaps in Gen 5 and 11 are inadequate. This project aims to include:
A close and in-depth exegetical analysis of Genesis 5 and 11, along with other directly relevant biblical texts.
It is no surprise that liberal-critical scholars reject the historicity of the patriarchal narratives, and particularly the begetting ages and lifespans of the men listed in Genesis 5 and 11. Esoteric interpretations such as secret numerical systems or dependence upon Mesopotamian sexagesimal numbering are found throughout the academic literature. In recent times, a number of evangelical scholars have argued that the numbers do not refer to actual ages, but are intended to bring honor to these great men of old. This is particularly the case for Genesis 5, but in some instances, this kind of interpretation has now been extended to include Abraham’s lifespan of 175 years (Genesis 25:7–8). This particular perspective requires that the sacred text cannot be understood properly without modern, specialized knowledge of ancient Near Eastern archaeological discoveries and texts, most of which are from Mesopotamia. Dependence on these outside "authorities" is a deeply flawed hermeneutic that not only places the external evidence in a position of authority over the sacred text, it violates vital doctrines of Scripture: authority, clarity, and sufficiency. This construct necessarily means that the Church and her Jewish predecessors were unable to properly understand vast portions of the Genesis narratives, since they had no access to the “keys” which unlock the real meaning of the sacred text. The true meaning of the numbers in Genesis 5 and 11 (and now, even Abraham’s numbers) has been beyond the reach of God’s people until modern scholars (such as John Walton) came along to reveal the truth to us. This hermeneutical “key” to the numbers in Genesis 5 and 11 is not derived from Scripture itself, but is entirely based on fallible and fallen human interpretations of pagan mythologies and other ancient texts and material culture from the ANE. Moreover, systematic and biblical theology must be pushed aside to make way for the hermeneutical priority of modern scholarly interpretations of ANE literature and material culture (and all the attendant and often erroneous assumptions that are bound up with that perspective). It is not a stretch to say this is a modern form of Gnosticism in PhD garb. An evolutionary instead of biblical anthropology is what ultimately governs this kind of hermeneutical approach to Genesis 5 and 11. Chapter One of “From Adam to Abraham” will provide considerable analysis and an in-depth critique and refutation of this troubling (and ultimately dangerous) hermeneutic.
A thorough text-critical investigation of the Genesis 5 and 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. Most of the divergences cannot be explained by accidental scribal errors. The texts have been deliberately changed. Part of our research will endeavor to propose potential reasons the texts were deliberately altered. These numerical divergences go back to at least the 2nd century AD. Modern conservative scholars have generally defaulted to the MT's numbers, but most treatments are superficial and inadequate. Liberal-critical scholars believe that the divergences present an intractable problem for those who hold to a high view of Scripture, and the chronological/textual matrix cannot be coherently reconstructed. This project would challenge that perspective.
A text-critical investigation into the veracity of Kainan in Luke 3:36 and Genesis 11:13b-14b.
A study of the relevant extra-biblical references to the numbers in Genesis 5 and 11 in ancient Jewish writings and the early Church Fathers. In particular, the references in Flavius Josephus will be closely examined, since his works present one of the earliest extra-biblical witnesses to Gen 5 and 11.
The potential bearing, if any, of extra-biblical, ancient Near Eastern genealogies on our interpretation of Genesis 5 and 11.
Based on preliminary investigations, an acceptance of the matching SP/LXX begetting ages of each patriarch as the original text of Genesis 11 (sans Kainan) would put the Flood somewhere between 3150 to 3300 BC (depending on the exclusion/inclusion of Kainan as original). The begetting age for each patriarch is the key number for calculating the chronology of this era. This range would, preliminarily, be the outer possible range for the date of the Flood.
If solid biblical dates can be established for the pre-Abrahamic era, important archaeological discoveries from this time period will be investigated, such as the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), the Table of Nations in Genesis 10, Nimrod, and other relevant pre-Abrahamic evidences.
We will attempt to publish articles in non-ABR journals and publications for the purpose of exposing ABR to other constituencies and to advance the viability of our research. Articles will also be (re)published on our website and in Bible and Spade.
Henry B. Smith Jr., joins David HaLevy on Jew and Gentile's 100th show to discuss a central topic in today's church. What do we do when archaeologists claim that what we find in the ground doesn't match the Biblical record? Have evangelical biblical interpretations been tainted by Archeologists who do not believe the bible to be inspired?
Controversial topic alert! Henry Smith has been working on ABR's Genesis 5 & 11 Chronology Project, which has a main goal of determining if Genesis 5 and 11, and other directly relevant biblical texts, can result in a calculable chronology of human history from Adam to Abraham. But in studying the source material in different Biblical manuscripts, these numbers in the Genesis 5 & 11 genealogies don't match between the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint and the Samaritan Pentateuch. So then the question becomes, who changed these texts? and why? Which then leads to controversial theories like the ones Henry Smith discusses on this episode.
Surprisingly, the location of Mt. Sinai, one of the most significant places in the Bible, is not known with any degree of certainty. Over the years some two dozen sites have been proposed, none of which meets the Biblical requirements. Dr. Bryant Wood and Gary Byers are heading up research to re-evaluate the Biblical and historical evidence in order to identify the location of one of the most important mountains in the world.
An important field of Biblical studies is the Israelite Conquest of Canaan. Dr. Bryant Wood, Director of Research for Associates for Biblical Research, has reexamined and reevaluated the excavated evidence from Jericho to better correlate that data with the Biblical story of Joshua's conquest as contained in the inspired Scriptures of the Old Testament (Joshua 6).
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