Harold Camping’s Bible Chronology — Weighed in the Balance and Found Wanting -- By: Stephen C. Meyers

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 08:3 (Summer 1995)
Article: Harold Camping’s Bible Chronology — Weighed in the Balance and Found Wanting
Author: Stephen C. Meyers

Harold Camping’s Bible Chronology —
Weighed in the Balance and Found Wanting

Stephen C. Meyers

Stephen C. Meyers, Th.M., is Vice-President/Treasurer of The Institute for Biblical and Scientific Studies, Philadelphia PA.

The following article is a response to “Biblical Chronologies Compared” by Curt Sewell, which appeared in our Winter 1995 issue, pp. 20–31, in which Sewell referred to the work of Harold Camping. — Ed.

Camping’s chronology has amazingly pinpointed the exact day of Creation to 11,013 BC in his book 1994? (p. 245), which usurps Ussher’s date of 4,004 BC. The genealogies in the Bible have gaps and additions in them so we cannot assume there is a direct link back to Creation. For example, in Luke 3:36 the name Cainan is added to Christ’s genealogy, while this name is omitted in Genesis 11:12. Which is right, Genesis or Luke? They both are. One is more complete than the other. The word “begat” can mean descendant, not just a direct father-son relationship as Camping points out (p. 274). Luke followed the Septuagint which reads that Arphaxad begot Cainan who lived 330 years after he begot Sala. This would make Camping off by more than 330 years if he follows the Septuagint reading as Luke did.

Camping, by ignoring Jewish customs, assumes that the genealogies are calendrical and sequential. A better explanation of the large numbers in the genealogies of Genesis is put forth by Cassuto. He believes that the numbers are based on a sexagesimal system rather than a decimal system (1964; cf. Walton 1981; 1989: 127–31). The major purposes of the genealogies in the Bible, as well as the ancient world, were not chronological, but domestic, legal-political, or religious (Wilson 1977: 57–135; NIV Study Bible: 581). Omission of names is common, as seen in Matthew 1 where several names are left out so there are three groups of 14 names. Jews would arrange genealogies to be symmetrical and not chronological. Unimportant names were left out. So one cannot assume a direct chronology back to Creation.

The major reason Camping interprets the genealogies of Genesis as calendrical is based on Exodus 6 (p. 279). When one adds up the numbers in Exodus 6, it comes out to about 430 years. But this does not prove that the Jews used a calendar system based on someone’s age. According to Camping, one individual was chosen to be a calendar and when he died another descendent who was born in that same year...

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