How Long Ago Was the Curse?

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Building on last week’s article, Bodie Hodge, AiG–U.S., shows how to calculate the age of the earth and the time of the Fall.

The Curse would have been fairly soon after the creation of Adam and Eve on Day 6 because it didn’t take long for them to sin (see When Did Adam and Eve Rebel?). We can do a basic calculation to arrive at the date of creation and Adam’s creation. The Curse must have been close to the same time. So, let’s calculate the date of creation.

Adam was created on Day 6, so there were 5 days before him. If we add up the dates from Adam to Abraham, we get about 2,000 years, using the Masoretic Hebrew text (which is the standard Hebrew text that most English translations are based on) of Genesis 5 and 11. 1 Whether Christian or secular, most scholars would agree that Abraham lived about 2,000 B.C. (4,000 years ago).

So, a simple calculation is:

5 days
+ ~2000 years
+ ~4000 years
_____________
~6000 years

At this point, the first five days are negligible. Quite a few people have done this calculation using the Masoretic text and, with careful attention to the biblical details, arrived at the same time frame of about 6,000 years, or about 4,000 B.C. Two of the most popular, and perhaps the best, are a recent work by Dr. Floyd Jones and a much earlier book by Archbishop James Ussher (1581–1656):

  Who? Age calculated Reference and date Table 1 Jones and Ussher 1 Archbishop James Ussher 4004 B.C. The Annals of the World, 1658 A.D.2 2 Dr. Floyd Nolan Jones 4004 B.C. The Chronology of the Old Testament, 1993 A.D.3

Often there is a misconception that Ussher and Jones were the only ones to do a chronology and arrive at an age of about 6,000 years. However, this is not the case. Jones gives a listing of several chronologists who undertook the task of calculating the age of the earth based on the Bible, and their calculations range from 5501 to 3836 B.C. A few are listed in Table 2.

  Chronologist When calculated? Date B.C. Table 2 Chronologists’ calculations according to Dr Jones4 1 Julius Africanus c. 240 5501 2 George Syncellus c. 810 5492 3 John Jackson 1752 5426 4 Dr William Hales c. 1830 5411 5 Eusebius c. 330 5199 6 Marianus Scotus c. 1070 4192 7 L. Condomanus n/a 4141 8 Thomas Lydiat c. 1600 4103 9 M. Michael Maestlinus c. 1600 4079 10 J. Ricciolus n/a 4062 11 Jacob Salianus c. 1600 4053 12 H. Spondanus c. 1600 4051 13 Martin Anstey 1913 4042 14 W. Lange n/a 4041 15 E. Reinholt n/a 4021 16 J. Cappellus c. 1600 4005 17 E. Greswell 1830 4004 18 E. Faulstich 1986 4001 19 D. Petavius c. 1627 3983 20 Frank Klassen 1975 3975 21 Becke n/a 3974 22 Krentzeim n/a 3971 23 W. Dolen 2003 3971 24 E. Reusnerus n/a 3970 25 J. Claverius n/a 3968 26 C. Longomontanus c. 1600 3966 27 P. Melanchthon c. 1550 3964 28 J. Haynlinus n/a 3963 29 A. Salmeron d. 1585 3958 30 J. Scaliger d. 1609 3949 31 M. Beroaldus c. 1575 3927 32 A. Helwigius c. 1630 3836

As you will likely note from Table 2, the dates are not all 4004 B.C. There are several reasons chronologists have different dates,5 but the two primary ones are

• Some used the Septuagint or another early translation instead of the Hebrew Masoretic text. The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament done about 250 B.C. by about 70 Jewish scholars (which is why it is often called the LXX, the Roman numeral for 70). While good in most places, there are a number of inaccuracies. For example, one relates to the Genesis chronologies in which the LXX calculations would have Methuselah living beyond the Flood—without being on the Ark!
• Several points in the biblical time line are not straightforward to calculate. They require very careful study of more than one passage. These include exactly how much time the Israelites were in Egypt and what Terah’s age was when Abraham was born. (See Jones’s and Ussher’s books for a detailed discussion of these difficulties.)

The first four in Table 2 have much higher dates and are calculated from the Septuagint, which gives ages for the patriarchs’ firstborn much higher than the Masoretic text or the Samarian Pentateuch (another version from the Jews in Samaria just before Christ). Because of this, the LXX adds in extra time. Though the Samarian and Masoretic texts are much closer, they still have a couple of differences.

Name Masoretic Samarian Pentateuch Septuagint Table 3 Septuagint, Masoretic, and Samarian early patriarchal ages 6 Adam 130 130 230 Seth 105 105 205 Enosh 90 90 190 Cainan 70 70 170 Mahalaleel 65 65 165 Jared 162 62 162 Enoch 65 65 165 Methuselah 187 67 167 Lamech 182 53 188 Noah 500 500 500

Using data from Table 2 (excluding the Septuagint calculations and including Jones and Ussher), the average date of the creation of the earth is: 4045 B.C. This yields an average of about 6,000 years for the time of the Curse.

The world has been enduring the results of the Curse for 6,000 years and there are still many remnants of beauty and wonder. Just imagine what it was like before sin and what believers can look forward to in the new heavens and new earth where there is no more Curse.

Footnotes

1. See Ancient Patriarchs in Genesis.
2. James Ussher, The Annals of the World, trans. Larry and Marion Pierce, (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003).
3. Floyd Nolan Jones, Chronology of the Old Testament (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2005).
4. Ibid.
5. Others reasons include gaps in the chronology based on the presences of an extra Cainan in Luke 3:36. But there are good reasons this should be left out. It is included in late copies of the Septuagint (LXX). But early copies of the LXX do not have it, so it was added later. The 18th-century Hebrew expert John Gill points out: “This Cainan is not mentioned by Moses in Gen 11:12 nor has he ever appeared in any Hebrew copy of the Old Testament, nor in the Samaritan version, nor in the Targum; nor is he mentioned by Josephus, nor in 1Chron 1:24 where the genealogy is repeated; nor is it in Beza’s most ancient Greek copy of Luke: it indeed stands in the present copies of the Septuagint, but was not originally there; and therefore could not be taken by Luke from thence, but seems to be owing to some early negligent transcriber of Luke’s Gospel, and since put into the Septuagint to give it authority: I say ‘early,’ because it is in many Greek copies, and in the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, even in the Syriac, the oldest of them; but ought not to stand neither in the text, nor in any version: for certain it is, there never was such a Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, for Salah was his son; and with him the next words should be connected.”
6. Biblical Chronogenealogies, Journal of Creation 17(3):14–18, December 2003.