Chronology of the Bible  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The chronology of the Bible is an elaborate system of lifespans, "generations," and other means by which the passage of events is measured, beginning with Creation and extending through other significant events. A widespread scholarly understanding is that the Bible marks out a world cycle (Great Year) of 4,000 years, beginning with Creation and ending, presumably, around 164 BCE, with the year AM 2666 for the exodus representing 26 2/3 of 100 years or two-thirds of the total." It was theological in intent, not historical in the modern sense, and functions as an implied prophecy whose key lies in the identification of the final event.

The count begins with creation and Year 1. The passage of time from the Creation to the Exodus is measured by adding the ages of the Patriarchs at the birth of their firstborn sons, later through express statements, and later still by the synchronised reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah. The Exodus takes place in the year anno mundi 2666, or AM 2666, exactly two thirds of the way through the four thousand years, the Temple is commenced 480 years, or 12 generations of 40 years each, after that, and 430 years pass between the building of the Temple and its destruction. The 50 years between the destruction of the Temple and the "Decree of Cyrus" and end of the Exile, added to the 430 years for which the Temple stood, produces another symmetrical period of 480 years, and the 374 years between the re-dedication of the Temple by the Maccabees and the Edict of Cyrus completes the 4,000 years.

As recently as the 18th century, scholars of the stature of Isaac Newton believed that the date of Creation was knowable from the Bible. Today, the Genesis account of Creation has long since vanished from serious cosmology, the Patriarchs and Exodus are no longer included in most serious histories of ancient Israel, and it is almost universally accepted that Joshua and Judges have little historical value. Even the monarchy is questioned, and although scholars continue to advance proposals for reconciling the chronology of the Books of Kings, there is "little consensus on acceptable methods of dealing with conflicting data."

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