Ireland's Protestant Archbishop, James Ussher of Armagh, published his famous Annales Veteris Testamenti in 1650.  He declared that Adam was created in 4004 BCE.  In 1654 the Vatican Council decreed that anyone daring to contradict the 4004 BCE date was a heretic, a decree that would stand until 1952.  Now it's time that you heard the rest of the story.

Archbishop Ussher used the Julian Calendar to make his predictions.  Julius Caesar introduced his Julian calendar in 45 BCE.  The Julian calendar was based on the solar year which has 365.25 days.  It operated through a 365-day regular cycle, adding an extra day (the four quarter-days) every fourth year - a "leap year."

Ussher's work became the source from which the "official chronologies" evolved.  They are the "standards" that many scholars use today to date events of the Bible and Egyptian history.  Today, even though the majority of Ussher's reckonings have been proven to be inaccurate, the world is still being bombarded with articles and books written by "scholars" who continue to present them as truth.

The base structure for today's knowledge of the Egyptian pharaohs comes from the pen of Manetho, a Greco-Egyptian priest of Heliopolis.  Manetho was born at Sebennytos in the Egyptian delta and rose to become an adviser to Pharaoh Ptolemy I (c. 305-282 BCE).  In his chronicles, he listed aspects of Egyptian history by way of a series of ruling dynasties, giving a skeleton of chronology from about 3100 BCE (when Lower and Upper Egypt were united as one kingdom) to the death of Pharaoh Nectanebo II in 343 BCE.

Champollion-Figeac, portrait by 
an unknown artist (

Unfortunately, no complete version of Manetho's text exist and his work is mainly known to us through the writings of later chroniclers such as Flavius Josephus, Julius Africanus, and Eusebius of Caesarea.  An additional delemma is caused because although Manetho clearly had access to the Heliopolis Temple records, he did not have access to specific dates for his pharaonic listing.

Even though inscriptions from before the time of Manetho were discovered in later times, these were in the form of ancient hieroglyphs (picture-symbols) and it was not until 1822 that the hieroglyphic code was broken by the French Egyptologist Jean Francois Champollion.  The decipherment was achieved by way of the now famous Rosetta Stone, found near Alexandria, Egypt in 1799 by Lieutenant Bouchard of the Napoleonic expedition.

The black basalt stone from about 196 BCE carries the same content in three different scripts: Egyptian hieroglyphs, Egyptian demotic (everyday cursive writing) and scribal Greek.  Through comparative analysis of these scripts (with the Greek language being readily familiar), the hieroglyphic code was revealed; it was then cross-referenced with pharaonic cartouches (ornamental oval-shaped inscriptions denoting royal names) of the Egyptian kings.  Once the hieroglyphs were understood, the content of other ancient records could be decoded.  Among them are some which give kingly lists to compare with the records of Manetho. 

Click on picture for larger version.

With all these in hand, it is still difficult to fix absolute years for an Egyptian chronology because the lists bear no dates as such.  At best there are given lengths of individual kingly reigns and certain astronomical references, along with some information pertaining to Mediterranean countries other than Egypt.  But, in the context of these records, there is much debate about whether particular pharaohs, or even whole dynasties, rules consecutively or simultaneously.  As a result, alternative chronologies are currently available, wherein dynastic and regnal dates vary between fifty and two hundred years.

Pope Pius XII addressed the Papal Academy of Sciences in Rome in 1952.  He announced that theologians must not ignore the discoveries of geological science, and that it was clear that the Earth had existed for thousands of millions of years.  In making this statement, Pope Pius maintained that time was not really a factor in the Bible's Creation story because the six days of Creation were symbolic, and that, despite all discovery in this regard, God was still left in position as the paramount creator of all.

The scientific developments of today have proven Ussher’s date inaccurate.  If one used the date of Oct. 23, 4004 BCE, and calculated how old the earth would be today, we’d find the earth would only be about 6,000 years old.  Scientists have produced volumes of research based on the scientific investigation of geological structures.  The conclusion is that the earth is in fact a few billion years old.  

Scholars are using the same scientific approach to the study of the histories of Egypt, Israel, and Mesopotamia.  New chronologies are replacing those long held and taught by the powerful authoritarian institutions of religion.  Today, we are being challenged more than ever in our choice of truth. Will our truth be based on what is "known" or will we choose to blindly "believe" what authoritarian institutions of religion tell us?

Never underestimate the power of religious beliefs.  They have been powerful enough to cause well-educated people to drink poison and allow themselves to be burned to death.  Should anyone be surprised if they also cause scholars to not be able to see anything that contradicts them?  Therefore, we shouldn't be surprised to find that there are many scholars who still present James Ussher’s writings as evidence for their conclusions.  

This situation reminds me of an old Catholic joke that made the rounds after the Church ruled that their flock were no longer "commanded" to eat fish of Friday.  

"One of the devils subordinates came to him and asked
what they should do with all of those Catholics 
that were sent to hell for not eating fish on Friday
before the Church changed it's position."

At the Biblical Heritage Center we ask our scholars and students to follow this guideline -

 "Our beliefs must be large enough to include all the facts, 
open enough to be tested, 
and flexible enough to change when error is found 
or new evidence discovered."  

Don't you think it's about time for people to learn how to test our beliefs against the facts?  Since our religious institutions all declare that they are the guardians of truth, shouldn't they be the ones most involved in this endeavor?  I think we will all agree that the cost of doing otherwise has simply been proven to be too great.  

Resource for this article: Genesis of the Grail Kings by Laurence Gardner.

Related Books For Your Library
(Click on book for more information or to order,)

Manetho : History of Egypt and Other Works 
by Manetho, W. G. Waddell (Translator)



Free Web Counter
free counter

Thank you for visiting our site!
Sign up to receive BHC News & Updates by e-mail.

Tell a friend about BHC & FOLLOW BHC ONLINE -- click here.
Copyright 1999-2015 Biblical Heritage Center, Inc.
* Information on this website comes from a wide variety of sources and the inclusion of any source is not to be understood as an endorsement of the position, person, or group.   All comments or statements are those of the source and have been included for educational and research resources.
Jim Myers, Webmaster