Evangelicalism’s Search for Chronological Gaps in Genesis 5 and 11: A Historical, Hermeneutical, and Linguistic Critique -- By: Jeremy Sexton

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 61:1 (Mar 2018)
Article: Evangelicalism’s Search for Chronological Gaps in Genesis 5 and 11: A Historical, Hermeneutical, and Linguistic Critique
Author: Jeremy Sexton


Evangelicalism’s Search for Chronological Gaps in Genesis 5 and 11: A Historical, Hermeneutical, and Linguistic Critique

Jeremy Sexton*

* Jeremy Sexton is pastor of Christ the King Church, 2537 N. Broadway Ave., Springfield, MO 65803. He can be reached at sexton555@gmail.com.

Abstract: This article sheds historical light on William Henry Green’s influential article “Primeval Chronology” (1890), establishes the meaning of the hiphil of ילד (translated “begat” in the AV) throughout Genesis 5 and 11, and analyzes Andrew Steinmann’s recent case for chronological gaps. Interpreters did not challenge the chronological intent of the Genesis genealogies until the ascendancy of Darwinism in the 1860s. Green’s article became the most famous attempt to disrupt the timeline. As a young scholar, Green had ardently defended the chronology, but prevailing scientific claims finally compelled him to abandon this conviction. Recent scholarship (as well as a censored article from the mid-1890s) has demonstrated that Green only showed the possibility of genealogical gaps, which do not entail chronological gaps. Steinmann bases his unprecedented argument for chronological gaps on an idiosyncratic semantics of causation (which he applies to the hiphil of ילד) that contradicts the consensus among Hebraists and other linguists.

Key words: Genesis 5, Genesis 11, genealogies, chronology, historical Adam, age of humanity, William H. Green, Old Princeton, science and Scripture, hermeneutics, Hebrew grammar, hiphil of ילד, semantics of causation

Biblical interpreters did not challenge the chronological intent of the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 until the nineteenth century.1 The unanimous and oft-

expressed consensus for millennia was that the following recurring formula establishes a calculable chronology from Adam to Abraham:

When A had lived X years, he brought forth [וַיּוֹלֶד] B.2

This construction is unique, appearing nowhere else in Scripture or in extant ancient Near Eastern literature.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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