Page images

nounce, in the outset, that we are able to demonstrate with precision (en mesure de demontrer), both chronologically and astronomically, the following epochs, viz. :

“ The epoch of the year 14,611 B. C., the Egyptian period called Ma.

“ The epoch of the Egyptian calendar at the end of the seventh dynasty, in the year B. C. 4266.

» The epoch of a reform of the Babylonian calendar, about the year B. C. 2783.

" The epoch of the reform of the Iranian calendar, by King Djemschid, about the year B. C. 7000, according to the chronology, or precisely in the year 7048, according to the cycles and astronomical verifications.

“ The epoch of the commencement of the period, called the Satya Yuga of the Hindus, in the year B. C. 13,901.

“ The commencement of the Treta Yuga of the same people, in the year B. C. 9101.

“ Several other epochs are capable of verification by astronomy, but with less precision ; for example, the era of the Manavantaras in India, corresponding to the year B. C. 19,337, the era of Thoth in Egypt, corresponding to B. C. 17,932, &c., &c.

“ All these eras constitute a complete whole (ont entre elles une solidarité), more or less perfect, but undeniable and characteristic; they proceed one from another by. a filiation which becomes evident as soon as one has caught a glimpse of it. There are thus revealed, among the primitive peoples, connections and reciprocal influences of which history has lost the remembrance.

“ We well know that to announce that our researches

lead to such results is to mark them for the contempt, perhaps even the hostility, of our readers. Every new truth assails at its birth old opinions, which never disap- e pear without offering a resistance more or less active and determined. Reason always ends, however, by triumphing over opposition. Profoundly convinced that our work re-establishes in their ancient rights very important truths which have been long obscured by a fatal misapprehension, we present it with confidence to the small number of readers who may be disposed to examine it without taking sides in advance.” Appendix, C.

Such are the leading features of three elaborate systems of chronology, which profess to extend the period of man's existence to from twenty to thirty thousand years before Christ. They fall in with and seem to strengthen the geological and ethnological arguments for a high human antiquity. And I am not aware that the principles and details of either of them have been subjected to a critical examination. · The consequence is, that our common system (or systems, for there are several, according to the different versions used) of Bible chronology is rejected as unworthy of credence. Many devout believers in inspiration, indeed, who till recently had never doubted its correctness, already feel their faith in it shaken. A professor in one of our colleges writes me that very recently he was visiting the geological cabinet in company with a friend

and professed geologist, when, as they were look

ing at a stone adz, his friend remarked that it was ; certainly the work of man, and "gave unquestion

able evidence, by the situation in which it was found, of being at least one hundred thousand years old.” Similar opinions are finding frequent expression in our current popular literature. One of our most respectable daily papers, after giving an account of a late meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, in which the discoveries in the river-drifts and caves of France and England were related, remarks, "The results of these researches thus far must revolutionize the longaccepted theory of the age of man, and add many thousand years (we dare not venture to say how many) to the period when it is believed he first trod the earth.” *

In view of these things, is there not a call for a new and thorough discussion of the question thus involved? If man has existed on the earth twenty, fifty, or a hundred thousand years, what, precisely, is the evidence of it? What traces of his existence during that long period has he left behind him? Do the facts adduced in opposition to the common view, when carefully and candidly weighed, prove what is claimed for them? Do they invalidate the

• Providence Daily Journal, October 4, 1866.

authority and accuracy of the sacred Scriptures? Especially is it important to ascertain what are the facts. In dealing with these matters, writers have substituted speculations for facts, until the reader often knows not what to attribute to the one and what to the other. He who can eliminate the one from the other, who can show distinctly what is properly substantiated as truth, and what is hypothetical and imaginary, will perform a real, though - it be humble, service both to the cause of science and the Bible. Such is the object which I have proposed to myself in this work. And if in some instances, as will unavoidably be the case, it shall, from a deficiency of the data, be necessary, in order to bridge over a chasm, to make suppositions and draw inferences, - in other words to speculate, I shall endeavor to do it in such a way that my readers shall know I am speculating, and not reciting facts.

Inasmuch as the question before us implies a comparison between the Bible Chronology and that alleged to be demonstrated by Science, there will be an advantage in exhibiting the former in this place.


It is well known that there are considerable discrepancies in the conclusions which have been

reached by different authors on this subject. The ages of the patriarchs who lived before Abraham are variously given in the three ancient versions of the Pentateuch, the Hebrew, the Samaritan, and the Greek of the Septuagint, the variations amounting in the aggregate to about fifteen hundred years. We have not space to go at length into the origin of these discrepancies, or attempt to decide positively which of them is most accurate. Each version may have been subject to alteration, perhaps by accident, perhaps also by design. I will only say that the numbers of the SEPTUAGINT appear to me the most probable, and best give the true chronology as recorded by Moses, - a little indefiniteness being admitted as possible in consequence of various readings.

The following is an outline of the chronology of the Septuagint, according to our most approved texts of that version of the Old Testament Scriptures. These texts are, (1) that of Cardinal Mai's edition, which is after the celebrated Vatican MS., and, (2) that of Tischendorf, which is from a collation of most ancient MSS., the Vatican being the basis. * We make Mai our basis, giving the various readings of Tischendorf.

* Tischendorf says in his title-page, "Textum Vaticanum Romanum emendatius edidit, ... omnem lectionis varietatem

« PreviousContinue »