The Annals of the Ancient World: An Argument for Historical Antiquity in Genesis

Date

2023-05-03

Authors

Barton, Ethan

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Abstract

The chronological work of Archbishop Ussher was fundamental in instigating a common Christian view called New Earth Creationism, which holds that, according to Scripture, the world is only a few thousand years old. In this thesis, I argue that Ussher’s dates for pre-Abrahamic events are wrong and that, contrary to the claims of New Earth Creationism, the text of Genesis allows for and even implies a very ancient universe. I argue this by offering two textual examinations that seem to advocate for non-traditional interpretations. First of all, the genealogies from Adam to Abraham found in Genesis 5 and 11:10-26 are very likely more symbolic than historiographical; the names tell the politico-geographical story that culminates in Abraham rather than representing individual people, and thus the text rhetorically condenses a long antiquity down to about 2000 years. Second of all, the creation story in Genesis 1:1-2:4a uses function-oriented terminology and develops a function-oriented metaphor, suggesting that the text describes the functional ordering of the universe out of chaos, while its material origins came long before. I thus conclude that Scripture offers no indication of the date of material creation, but indicates only that it was a far longer time ago than New Earth Creationists would believe.

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Keywords

Religion, Bible, Exegesis, Genesis, Science and Religion, Genealogy, Creation, Chronology, Old Testament, Ussher, James

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