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No Proof of their extreme Antiquity, . .
The Assumption rejected by various Authors, .
AND UNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE.
INTRODUCTORY.- VIEW OF THE BIBLE CHRONOLOGY.
The Subject recently come into Notice. — Former general Assent
to the received Chronology of Man's Creation. — Testimony of Hitchcock and Lyell. — Origin of recent Doubts concerning it. — Geological Discoveries. — Ethnology and Comparative Philology. — Systems of Chronology. --System of Bunsen. — System of Boeckh. – System of Rodier. — These Systems never critically examined. - Call for a new Discussion of the Subject. — View of the Scripture Chronology. – Three Versions of the Pentateuch. – Period I. From the Creation to the Flood. — II. From the Flood to the Birth of Abraham..III. From the Birth of Abraham to the Exodus. — IV. From the Exodus to the Founding of the Temple. – V. From the Founding of the Temple to its first Destruction. – VI. From the Destruction of the Temple to the Birth of Christ. — Statements of heathen Writers.
The Antiquity of Man is one of those subjects which have very recently come into prominent notice among learned men. It is scarcely a fourth of a
century since the apparent teachings of the Bible chronology, which fix his creation at less than six thousand years ago, were generally received without question. For a little time, indeed, the discoveries of the new science of geology had disturbed the commonly received views on this subject, as astronomy in the days of Copernicus and Galileo had so greatly modified the ancient theories of the physical structure of the universe. But a re-examination of the sacred text, with the aid of a broader philology, soon demonstrated that there was no necessary discrepancy between it and the new science; nay, even derived fresh evidence from the very facts adduced by the latter in support of its own correctness. It was seen that the first verse of Genesis, e In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” would permit the date of the creation to be carried back to any indefinite antiquity, leaving the subsequent account to cover successive periods in which the earth was fitted for human abode, stocked. with the present species of vegetable and animal life, and lastly, crowned with the introduction of man, the destined lord and proprietor of all. In this fact of the comparatively recent origin of man, Genesis and geology were entirely agreed. Says Dr. Hitchcock, " As to the period when the creation of such a being by the most astonishing of all miracles took place, I
believe there is no diversity of opinion. At least all agree that it was very recent; nay, although geology can rarely give chronological dates, but only a suc
cession of events, she is able to say, from the monu* ments she deciphers, that man can not have occupied the globe more than six thousand years.” Sir Charles Lyell also, in his " Principles of Geology ” (vol. i. p. 240), a work published before the recent discoveries of fossil human remains, remarks, "I need not dwell on the proofs of the low antiquity of our species, for it is not controverted by any experienced geologist ; indeed, the real difficulty consists in tracing back the signs of man's existence on the earth to that comparatively modern period when species now his contemporaries began to predominate. If there be a difference of opinion respecting the occurrence in deposits of the remains of man and his work, it is always in reference to strata confessedly of the most modern order; and it is never pretended that our race co-existed with assemblages of animals and plants, of which all, or even a great part, of the species are extinct.”
Until very recently, therefore, the researches of science, and the supposed teachings of the Scriptures respecting the age of man on the earth, had been in entire accord. But within the last twenty years a series of investigations has been made which to some extent have again awakened doubt on this subject. Human bones and implements of labor and defense, together with domestic utensils, and even rude attempts of art, have been found in ancient peat beds, in bone caverns, and in the shallow lakes of Europe, in such geological connections as seem to demand for them a much higher antiquity than has hitherto been claimed for the race. Professor H. D. Rogers, of the University of Glasgow, writing in 1860, remarks, " Geologists and archæologists have recently somewhat startled the public by announcing the discovery, in the north-east of France and the adjacent corner of England, of supposed indications of the existence of the human race in the remote age when these tracts were inhabited by the extinct elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, and other animals whose bones are preserved in the diluvium, or great superficial deposit attributed to the last wide geological inundation.” *
These researches have been pursued with great industry and zeal, and are already giving us a new science, not yet twenty years old, called "prehistoric archæology." " It is,” says Lenormant, f " like all sciences which are still in their infancy, presumptuous, and claims, at any rate in the case of
* Blackwood's Magazine, October, 1860, p. 422. + Manual of the Ancient History of the East. Vol. i. pp. 24, 25.