Biblical Chronology

The events related in Holy Scripture are only occasionally correlated with events of secular history and are seldom dated according to an era or epoch. Hence, an attempt to fix the period of these events according to the Christian era necessarily results in a variety of opinion. Some events can be dated with reasonable certainty; others must remain for the present a matter of conjecture; still others, e.g., those that precede the time of Abraham, cannot be determined even approximately. In Genesis, 5 and 10, we have fables of chronological units, but for various reasons the numbers given in our present text are considered corrupted and the fables themselves incomplete. Abraham seems to have lived c.2168 B.C. The Israelites were led out of Egypt by Moses, c.1448, if the exodus occurred under Amenophis II, or two centuries later (1220) if under Merneptah. The kingdom was established probably, 1038, in which case Saul reigned from 1038-1011; David from 1011-971; and Solomon from 971-929. During the period of the two kingdoms we come to the first dates on which all authorities agree, because they are found recorded on Assyrian monuments. These are: King Achab's defeat at Karkar, 854 B.C.; Jehu's tribute to Salmanassar II, 842; Manahem's tribute to Tiglath-Pileser, 738; the assassination of King Pnakee, 736; the capture of Samaria, 722; and Sennacherib's expedition against Jerusalem, 701. The destruction of Jerusalem by Nabuchodonosor probably occurred, 587-586. The first Jewish expedition returned to Judea from exile, 538, the first year of the reign of Cyrus. The revolt of the Jews against Antiochus IV of Syria under Judas Machabeus took place, 167.

Our Christian era begins presumably with the year of Christ's birth; but due to a miscalculation, it was made to coincide with the year 754 of the Roman era, which is about six or seven years too late. Our Lord was born "in the days of king Herod" (Matthew 2), who died, 750 A.U.C. (4 B.C.), and during a census ordered by Augustus and carried out in Syria and Palestine by Cyrinus (Luke, 2). This census, according to the Monument of Augustus found in Ancyra, was begun, 746 A.U.C. (8 BC), and was probably taken in the provinces in the following year. Hence, we must probably advance the year of Our Lord's birth to 747 or 746 A.U.C. (7 or 6 BC). Jesus began his public ministry when He was about 30 years of age (Luke, 3), a few months after Saint John began to preach on the banks of the Jordan, which was "in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cresar," or in A.D. 28-29. His ministry lasted three and a half years according to some commentators, two and a half according to others. Astronomical calculation has fixed three dates as possible for his death: viz., 18 March 29; 7 April 30; and 3 April 33. The second has found more general favor.

Closely associated with the death of Jesus are His Resurrection, His Ascension, and the coming of the Holy Ghost. The first missionary work of Saints Peter and John also belongs to the year of Our Lord's Crucifixion. The stoning of Saint Stephen occurred somewhat later, probably just after the deposition of Pilate in. A.D. 36. Saint Paul's conversion took place in the same year. The death of Saint James, the great famine in Jerusalem, and the relief brought to the sufferers by Saints Paul and Barnabas occurred shcrtly before the death of Herod Agrippa, which happened in 44: Saint Paul's first missionary journey may be dated from 45-49, which ended with his return to Jerusalem to defend his cause before the first Council of Jerusalem. His second journey probably lasted from 50-52, in the course of which he was brought to trial by the Jews of Corinth before the Proconsul, Gallio, who entered upon his office, 51-52. The imprisonment and trial of Saint Paul, and his subsequent voyage to Rome, are dated from the departure of Felix and the arrival of Festus in Palestine; but every year from 55-61 has been claimed for this event. Recent writers favor 59 or 60. The Apostle reached Rome the following year and the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles closes with the year 62 or 63.

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