Vol. 7, No. 5
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James Usher (1580-1656) "fixed the Biblical chronology" (McClintock and Strong), dating creation at 4004 B.C. by analyzing the Hebrew Old Testament. He crafted his biblical chronology by assuming an "unbroken succession of father-son relationship in the genealogical lists of Gen 5 and 11" (New Unger's). Another chronologist, Hales, who used the Septuagint to derive a biblical chronology, dated creation at 5411 B.C. Usher's biblical chronology appeared in the margin of the Authorized Version (KJV); he also dated Noah's flood at 2348 B.C. (Easton). However, some say it is not possible to ascertain with certainty when creation occurred because one cannot be absolutely sure that Genesis' genealogical lists do not omit any names of lesser importance. Yet, any conservative analysis of Bible information concurs with a relatively young earth, scientifically provable (but that is another study) to be not more than 10,000 years old (rather than the fanciful millions of years old per the theory of evolution).
One of the most well known biblical accounts in Genesis following creation is the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. Genesis Three portrays Adam and Eve in the Garden when Satan in the form of a snake tempts Eve to eat fruit off a tree from which God had forbidden the first pair even to touch. Remarkably, a pair of archaeological discoveries in the very part of the world where the Garden of Eden was located date back nearly to and depict the biblical account of the fall of man. By Usher's calculations, the earth is about 6,000 years old whereas these artifacts are about 5,500 years old. Hence, these artifacts are almost as old as dirt (i.e., just a little younger than the created earth itself).
Two Temptation Seals dating before 3,000 B.C. were discovered in excavations at and near Nineveh. Both picture a man, a woman and a serpent. One of them also shows a tree, the woman picking the fruit from the tree and a serpent that is standing erect. Early man appears to have acknowledged from antiquity the story of the temptation in the Garden of Eden. Archaeological discoveries once again bolster a biblical narrative. (Rushmore)
Actually, the first of these two seals is known as the Temptation Seal. "According to some archaeologists, the oldest piece of art known to the human family is that which is recognized as the temptation seal that pictures a tree on the opposite sides of which are seated two persons" ("Beginnings"). "[O]n the left, a woman [is] plucking fruit; behind the woman, a serpent, [is] standing erect, as if whispering to her" (Halley 68). "This ancient piece of art is recognized by scholars as a pictorial representation of the account found in Genesis 3 and is corroborative evidence proving the historicity of the Biblical narrative" ("Beginnings"). "Some of the most startling archaeological finds bear upon the historicity of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, a portion of the Bible that even some Bible-believing scholars have had difficulty accepting at face value. Among these is the Temptation Seal, found among ancient Babylonian [clay] tablets, and presently in the British Museumů" (Riss).
The second seal is known as the Adam and Eve Seal. This seal depicts "a naked man and a naked woman, walking as if utterly down-cast and broken-hearted, followed by a serpent. The seal is about an inch in diameter, engraved on stone. It is now in the University Museum at Philadelphia" (Halley 68). This artifact dating to about 3,500 B.C. shows the first human pair bowed forward while walking, much like more contemporary artists' conceptions of God driving Adam and Eve from the Garden.
Scholars from the time of the discovery of these seals through the present have recognized the significance of them as they relate to the biblical account of the fall of man. However, especially in recent years with the rise of so-called new biblical archaeology, critics of the Bible (and God behind the Bible) have capitalized on the subjectivity of interpretation to discount these seals as having any relationship whatsoever to the biblical account. Rather, critics assert that any resemblance to the biblical narrative is coincidental, and that the Temptation Seal, for instance, really depicts "a sacred marriage icon" ("Sacred"). However, a host of scholars, some of whom with which we are acquainted personally, continue to confidently avow the biblical application of these and other archaeological discoveries. The following observations deserve honest consideration:
Some writers have doubted that there is any real significance to these seals as evidence for the fall. However, the specific personages and elements cannot easily be dismissed in such fashion. For what reason should an artist select such a motif by which testimony is made as to the cause of man's degradation? Rather, one should select a theme that would enhance man's image. (qtd. in Jackson).
It is difficult to explain what the three figures, engraved on a seal dating from the beginnings of human antiquity, are doing if the artifact is not another depiction of the Genesis account. ("Adam")
The Babylonian Flood Tablets also serve as extra-biblical corroboration of the biblical record. Excavation of Nineveh in the 1850's unearthed clay Flood Tablets that correspond to the biblical account of the universal flood of Noah's day. A Sumerian version of the flood also was found at Nippur among tens of thousands of clay tablets (between 1880-1900) (Free and Vos 194). "The Bible tells of it; the ancient Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh tells of it: a terrible deluge left the whole earth under water" ("Evidence"). There are numerous similarities between the universal flood of Noah's day and the extra-biblical, ancient accounts that have surfaced through archaeology. The chief difference between the biblical narrative and the extra-biblical accounts of the universal flood pertains to the polytheism connected with the extra-biblical accounts versus the monotheism of the biblical account.
The same collection of tablets also recount the biblical account of the destruction of the Tower of Babel and the confusion by God of the languages. The Flood Tablets provide human commentary on the events surrounding the Tower of Babel. The tablets read, in part: "The building of this temple offended the gods. In a night they threw down what had been built. They scattered them abroad, and made strange their speech" (Free and Vos 41). Both the biblical and secular history ascribe language to mankind from the beginning and that all humanity initially shared a common language. Some have observed that most languages demonstrate their origin from a single parent language.
So, biblical archaeology provides extra-biblical corroboration of the universal flood and the Tower of Babel also, neither of which events themselves removed overly much from when dirt was created (i.e., almost as old as dirt). This chapter and the other chapters in this book merely sample the vast amount of extra-biblical evidence available today through Digging Up the Past or biblical archaeology.
"Adam and Eve." 31 Mar. 2005 <http://hometown.aol.com/acoxon1274/Adam_Eve_ archaevidence.html>.
"Beginnings of History." 31 Mar. 2005 <http://www.biblicalresearch.info/page11d.html>.
Easton, M. G. Easton's Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Oak Harbor: Logos, 1996.
"Evidence of the Great Flood?" Biblical Archaeology Review. March-April 1997: 10.
Free, Joseph P. and Howard F. Vos. Archaeology and Bible History. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.
Halley, Henry H. Halley's Bible Handbook. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1965.
McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2000.
New Unger's Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Chicago: Moody, 1988.
Riss, Richard. "Archaeology and the Bible." 31 Mar. 2005. 30 Nov. 1996 <http://www.grmi.org/renewal/Richard_Riss/evidences/4archaeology.html>.
Rushmore, Louis. Biblical Companions: Geography, Archaeology & Sacred History. Cameron: Louis Rushmore, 2000.
"Sacred Landscape." 31 Mar. 2005 <http://members.aol.com/marslandsr/land.htm>.