Earliest writing dates?
Feedback 27 February 2004
I have had a brief email correspondence with [an AiG representative] at the AIG Kentucky office and he suggested I send my question to you... saying "You may ask for comments from Russell Grigg since he would probably be the most knowledgeable regarding this subject."
so here goes.
Well, you'll have to make do with me instead, so I hope it helps. ;)
Where are we dating earliest writing and why? I find a 'first writing' date of 3200ish BC in Mesopotamia. I cannot, however, find any sourcing for the date.
This should lead one to question its validity. Actually, many of the dates of the ancient near east are based on correlations with the Egyptian chronology. However, this is severely inflated, leading to theories of centuries-long dark ages across the Mediterranean world. I can do no better than the article ‘The Egyptian Problem’ by James B. Jordan. We have also published Searching for Moses, which explains how lopping off centuries from the Egyptian chronology results in strong correlations with the Bible.
I am interested in the reasoning behind the dating. Is the date intrinsic? Is it astronomical based on mentioned phenomena? Is it based on the location of the tablets- city or strata? Is it based on dating of materials themselves? or is it some other method?
‘The Egyptian Problem’ covers how dates were often arrived at by cross-checking pottery. However, this indicates only that two cultures were synchronous, and the dates of the second culture are only as good as those of the first.
I have looked in all the general and specific research sources that I have, done the library thing and several searches online, but am coming up without sourcing for any 'invention of writing' dates. Could you help?
I want to solidify my understanding of historical dates immediately after the flood. Secular dates for Mesopotamia are at 3500, Egypt 3000, Harrappan 2500 and Chinese 1500. Henry Morris allows for (calls for, even) some extra time in the post-diluvian geneologies in his book the Genesis Flood (pg 478-89).
He was wrong on this point, as shown in Biblical chronogenealogies (PDF). Dr Morris himself later came to favor a strict chronology in The Genesis Record.
Chinese history actually goes back to the Xia dynasty, which began in about 2100 BC. They have stories of a golden era of ten patriarchs and a Flood before that. Dating of Chinese history does not depend on Egyptian dating, but derives from the continuous records kept by the Chinese (they even had a 365.25 day year at 1100 BC). So Chinese history fits well with the biblical chronological framework.
It seems that this may make the secular and Biblical dating relatively congruent.
However, this means treating secular chronology, in practice, as superior to the biblical chronogenealogy. AiG uncompromisingly teaches the primacy of the biblical timescale, and that it's the secular chronology that needs revision, on the lines of the ‘The Egyptian Problem.’
I am seeking physical sources for the secular dating to consider the level of evidence and see how closely they correlate.
Thank you in advance for the benefit of your expertise,
You're welcome. Hope it helps, especially the papers by Mr Down and Dr Jordan, since they are far better versed in archaeological issues than I. May I also recommend our republished Ussher book, because this scholar had an encyclopedic knowledge of ancient history and he did an excellent job of constructing a Bible-based chronology of the world.
Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D.
Scientist, apologist, author and editorial consultant
Answers in Genesis (Australia)
‘Your labor is not in vain’
YES! Keep up the good work, for your labor is not in vain. I am a person of scientific mind, and the more I find out about creation, the more I am in awe of our God.
In my recent studies in scripture, I found that Jesus said, "For if you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?" (John 5:46-47, NASB). He also said, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead." (Luke16:31, NASB).
I believe that for the western world, the attack stopped being directly against Jesus a long time ago. Instead, the attack has been against Moses' writings, in order to discredit the foundations upon which faith is built. Yes, it is the Gospel through which we are saved. But Jesus knew that if the writings of Moses were relegated to the status of myth--including Genesis 1-11--people would not believe in the Christ foretold first there.
Never give up. And when you have done all else, stand!
Yours in Christ,