Have We Been Wrong All This Time?

In contrast to the majority Christian view that sees the Hebrew Masoretic text’s (MT) timeline of Genesis 5 and 11 as the authentic chronology (the MT is the ancient text upon which most Old Testament’s are based), there is overwhelming proof that it is not what the Bible initially set forth. Instead, the chronology of the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament (the Pentateuch having been translated about 282 B.C. in Alexandria, Egypt), should be regarded as the original primeval timeline of the Bible. The evidence that it’s the correct timeline is compelling. This is so even though – since the time of the Reformation in the sixteenth century – the familiar Ussher chronology (characterized by Adam’s creation in 4004 B.C.) has been the dominant view of Western Christendom.

However, as I will show in this article, Protestants and Roman Catholics hold to the wrong chronology – the same timeline presented in the King James Bible and the Latin Vulgate. Only the Greek (or Eastern) Orthodox Church, which affirms the LXX as the primary Bible for Christians to use, affirms the original and authentic biblical chronology (which I believe was first written in a primitive Hebrew script by Moses) presented in the LXX’s Book of Genesis, chapters 5 and 11.

Scholar William B. Hales made this fact crystal clear in his 1830 book, A New Analysis of Chronology and Geography, History and Prophecy. Says Hale, “Until the Reformation, a majority of Christian chronologists believed the LXX preserved most of the original numbers” (pp. 211-214). But during the Reformation, the MT supplanted the LXX in Western churches, and after that, its shorter chronology (by over 1500 years) became the majority view.  Many scholars still believed the LXX timeline was correct while the MT chronology was corrupt, but their scholarship was given short shrift.  This choice was reinforced for several centuries. Today, the prejudice against the LXX chronology is nearly unshakable. However, the evidence stands up easily against the avid dismissal (and indeed, attack) of those conservative Christians who hold to tradition and “swear by” the infallibility of the King James Bible.

Nevertheless, the LXX chronology is the Hebrew timeline conservative Evangelicals believe was revealed to Moses by Yahweh. Thus, the source of the LXX chronology was the original proto-Hebrew text itself, not a contrivance of the Greek translators. (You may recall that the original Hebrew Bible was compiled and established by Ezra circa 420 B.C.)

Below is a snapshot of the antediluvian chronology (from Adam to Noah) contrasting the dates in the Masoretic Text with that of the Septuagint. Note the difference in begetting ages. The effect is a reduction of 700 years in Genesis chapter 5. Another 680 years will be omitted in the chronology of chapter 11, from Shem to Abraham, for a total reduction of 1386 years.

Figure 1 – Comparing Primeval Dates for the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint Referencing Genesis 5. The only anomaly for the LXX is Methuselah’s age at the birth of Lamech and Lamech’s Lifespan.

Why Bother to Deal with Old Testament Chronology?

My reason for taking this matter up is simple: The thesis of my book, Rebooting the Bible: Part One: Exposing the Second Century Conspiracy to Corrupt the Scripture and Alter Biblical Chronology, contends that the “founding” rabbis purposefully corrupted the authentic biblical chronology after the second temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.  Changing the biblical chronology became one of the principal means to discredit the claims by Jesus’ followers that Jesus of Nazareth was the long-awaited Messiah. This appears to be partly because of an obscure prophecy for the coming of Messiah 5,500 years from Adam. [1] Additionally, with the construction of the Hebrew calendar in the Seder Olam Rabbah, circa A.D. 160, the rabbis of the second century (specifically, Jose ben Halafta, a disciple of Rabbi Akiba), attempted to disassociate Jesus from the fulfillment of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks prophecy concerning the timing of the Messiah’s appearance. Instead, the rabbis argued that the Messiah’s coming was yet future to the second century AD.

As my book argues, the motivation at the center of these rabbinical corruptions was that they despised Jesus and His disciples. They sought to stop the conversion of Jews to the new Christian faith. This should not be surprising.  The rabbis formerly comprised the sect we know as the Pharisees, the self-righteous enemies of Jesus who were adding burdens to the shoulders of the people.  Changing the Genesis chronology and overturning the application of Daniel’s prophecy regarding Jesus was included in their creation of a revised Tanach – one that would also alter the wording of two dozen or more Messianic prophecies. Once a new Hebrew text had been completed, a project was commenced to create a new Greek version of this altered Hebrew Bible since most Jews in the diaspora understood Greek and not Hebrew.

 Aquila, around A.D 140, created the first of the different versions. Aquila’s translation was “slavishly literal” to the revised Hebrew Vorlage of Akiba. However, two other Greek Bibles would be created later in the second century by translators still loyal to the new rabbinical version but eager to produce an elegant Greek translation.  Symmachus and Theodotion did these two other translations. Unfortunately, while regarded as acceptable Greek translations, they suffered from the same corruption finagled by the early rabbis.

The rabbinical plan might have worked except for the fact that Ezra’s original Hebrew compilation testified to a very different chronology, expressed in the original Greek translation (sometimes referenced as “the Alexandrian Septuagint”) and corroborated by several other ancient historians before the time of Jesus which we will look at another time.

We would be amiss if we did not note that the Qumran manuscripts (i.e., the Dead Sea Scrolls) also contained fragments of the Septuagint, helping to verify its authenticity. Numerous scholars, including the eminent authority Emanuel Tov, confirm this. Says Tov:

Although the LXX has been transmitted into Greek, these details [the numbers in Genesis chapters 5 and 11] should not be ascribed to the translator[s], but the Hebrew Vorlage [the original proto-Hebrew used in the Septuagint translation] … The LXX translation of Genesis is relatively literal … any recalculation of the chronological lists by a translator is highly unlikely. [2]

In other words, the LXX translator didn’t insert the dates. Instead, he brought forward the Hebrew dates as they had been authenticated by Ezra’s work 140 years earlier.

How the Chronology Was Corrupted

The Bible’s altered chronology was made public sometime after the close of the first century A.D.  The timeframe would be between 100 A.D. and no later than 160 A.D. This was when Justin Martyr accused the Jews of corrupting the scripture to harm the Christian witness to Jesus as the Messiah (stated in his treatise, Dialogue with Trypho, ca. 160 A.D.) Who else made the same accusation? The evidence has been compiled for us in an article by Henry B. Smith Jr., “The Case for the Septuagint’s Chronology in Genesis 5 and 11.” [2]. Smith’s excellent paper lays out the evidence in meticulous detail, disposing of any doubt about the correct chronology. To begin, Ephraem (306-373) blamed the post-Temple rabbis for changing the chronology of Genesis 5 and 11 to attack Jesus as Messiah. Smith identifies five other ancient scholars of the Church who carried on the conversation, to wit, the corruption of the chronology by the Jews. These scholars are the Vulgate author Jerome (340-420 AD), Julian of Toledo (642-690 A.D.), Jacob of Edessa (640-708 AD), George Syncellus, a Byzantine chronologist who died in AD 810, and Armenian historian Bar Hebraeus (1226-1286 A.D.)

Once we prove that the LXX chronology reflects the original Hebrew chronology, we establish that the MT fabricated its biblical timeline by which the rabbinical authorities sought to rewrite history. As noted earlier, they shortened the timeline.  But how exactly did they truncate so many years?

In Genesis 5 and 11, there are 13 patriarchs in which changes were made to the age when that Patriarch begat their “child of promise” (the lineage through whom the Messiah would one day come – not necessarily their firstborn). In all 13 cases but one, this amount was decreased by 100 years (e.g., from 130 years to 30 years) while the life span of the Patriarch was not changed.  Of the 13 Patriarchs, only Nahor’s begetting age was reduced by a different amount – 50 years instead of 100. The remaining missing years come from the omission of another Hebrew Patriarch, Canaan (a son of Shem), and a slight discrepancy in the age of Lamech, the father of Noah. This seemingly odd construction tells us the history, end to end, from one Patriarch to the next.

As stated above, the chronologies are those in Genesis 5 and 11.  We see 1,386 years are cut out of the timeline.  Where are the remaining 165-195 years?  They are missing from the previously mentioned Jewish calendar, the Seder Olam Rabbah. This missing-history ‘adjustment’ disqualified Jesus as the Messiah predicted by Daniel in his 70 Weeks’ prophecy (Daniel 9). How was this accomplished? The Jewish calendar omits several Persian kings from their history, reducing biblical chronology by another 165-195 years. [4]

The two Genesis chronologies are also (and primarily meant to be) genealogies. The point of both is to take the reader from Adam to Abraham.  Genesis 5 covers Adam to Noah.  Chapter 11 identifies the sequence of ancestry from Noah to Abraham. Unlike the genealogy in 1 Chronicles, beginning in chapter 1, its writer provides a much more comprehensive lineage without attempting to fix the lifetimes of those listed. No chronology was implied – the records convey a different purpose.

While most Evangelicals and Roman Catholics argue that these genealogical lists from Genesis chapter 5 and 11 are NOT meant to infer chronologies, Smith and his writing partner Jeremy Sexton prove this majority viewpoint wrong in three separate articles. [5]

Smith’s material used as the source here is a fourth, consistent with the others, but slightly more recent, containing more information about how the ancient sources confirm the authentic biblical chronology. Again, these voices are independent and reliable. In a subsequent article, we will pick up the story and flesh it out further, adding striking evidence from non-Christian and later Church historians.

[This article is drawn partly from the book, A Biography Of The Christian Bible By S. Douglas Woodward, Faith Happens Books].

End Notes

[1] The legend of the 5,500-year prophecy is presented in post-Christian apocryphal literature, such as the Gospel of Nicodemus, the Cave of Treasures, and the Forgotten Edenic Books of Adam and Eve.  See But I have notfound extant evidence of this prophecy before Christ. It was an oral tradition or writings existing long before the birth of Christ but is no longer in existence. But Church Patriarchs did reference it. William Hales said:

Ephraem of Syria [306-373 A.D.] is the first known ancient source to explicitly argue that the Jewish rabbis of the second century AD deflated the primeval chronology by ca. 1300 years in their Hebrew MSS for the purpose of discrediting Jesus as the Christ: “The Jews have subtracted 600 years [in Genesis 5] from the generations of Adam, Seth, etc., in order that their own books might not convict them concerning the coming of CHRIST: he having been predicted to appear for the deliverance of mankind after 5500 years.” Ephraem was one of many ancient authors who claimed that the rabbis deliberately reduced the primeval chronology for messianic reasons.

See Hales, W. 1830. A New Analysis of Chronology and Geography, History and Prophecy. Vol. 1. Chronology and Geography. London, United Kingdom: C.J.G. and F. Rivington.

[2] Tov, E. (2015). “The genealogical lists in Genesis 5 and 11 in three different versions.” In Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, Qumran, Septuagint, pp. 221-238.

[3] Smith’s article is downable from at The_Case_For_The_Septuagints_Chronology_In_Genesis_5_And_11.

[4] Therefore, according to Orthodox Jewish tradition, 1,556 years were removed from biblical history. And since the Jewish calendar year date of 5782 anno mundi (AM) reflects this emendation – the actual date of the Jewish calendar ought to be 7338!

[5] Smith, Henry B. (2017). “Methuselah’s Begetting Age in Genesis 5:25 and the Primeval Chronology of the Septuagint: A Closer Look at the Textual and Historical Evidence.” Answer’s Research Journal 10 (2017) p. 169-179.

Sexton, Jeremy. “Who was born when Enosh was 90? A Semantic reevaluation of William Henry Green’s Chronological Gaps.” Westminster Theological Journal 77 (2015), p. 193-218.

Sexton, Jeremy, and Smith, Henry B. Jr. (2016)/ “Primeval Chronology Restored: Revising the Genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11.” Bible and Spade 29.2

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    John Carbone
    February 19, 2023

    Interesting information .thanks Doug for your incredible work. So in your opinion is the 6000 year time line is moot?

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