Re: pre-Ussher dating schemes?

Murphy (
Wed, 11 Jun 1997 20:23:43 -0400

carol regehr wrote:

> Since Copernicus (1473-1543) pre-dates Ussher (1581-1656), was the
> 6000-year world a common belief even before Ussher? Can someone cite
> a source on this for me?

IF (the major assumption) one assumes that Genesis provides a
unified historical narrative & with a few other assumptions (no skipping
generations in genealogies &c), then one can rather quickly get an
estimate of ~4000 years from creation to the birth of Christ by adding
up intervals from genealogies, lists of reigns, &c. If you try to get
more precise than that you have to deal with the fact that the Masoretic
text, Samaritan Pentateuch, & Septuagint have different numbers in some
places - as well as some other difficulties. The article on chronology
in _The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible_ may be helpful here.
But the figure of ~4000 years as a back of the envelope
calculation was pretty much common currency before Ussher. What he was
attempting was a much more detailed & precise chronology for all of
history. BTW, Gould has a very appreciative essay on Ussher & his work
which, unfortunately, I can't lay hands on right now.

George L. Murphy