Were the Egyptian pyramids built before the Flood?

by ,

Published: 5 December 2019 (GMT+10)
pixabay.compyramid

Many people have asked us about a YouTube video entitled Were the Pyramids Built Before the Flood? by Nathan Hoffman. Over the space of a half hour, he makes multiple erroneous statements, applies several misdirections, and makes many grand assertions that are simply not based upon fact. His main thesis is that the Greek Septuagint (LXX) version of the Old Testament has the correct chronology and the Hebrew Masoretic text (MT) originated from deliberate Jewish tampering. It takes him a while to get to the main point, however, because he starts off talking about Egyptian history and the pyramids.1 However, he makes multiple errors that he could have avoided if he had been more familiar with text criticism and the history of this debate, which is almost as old as the Church itself.

We normally don’t respond to YouTube videos, but so many people have asked us about Hoffman’s video that we have decided to make an exception to our normal policy. His channel includes a few other videos, notably one claiming there is no law stating that US citizens must pay income tax. We will see that it is as ill-advised to take text criticism advice from Hoffman as it is to take tax advice from him.

One challenge inherent to responding to misinformation is that it is possible to make a statement that includes multiple incorrect assumptions in one sentence, each one requiring a lot of time to correct. Throughout the video, Hoffman makes statements that seem plausible on the surface, but his errors take some time to unravel, and the answer sometimes requires knowledge in specialized fields. As a result, we will be linking to articles that explain some of these concepts more fully, and we would ask that you read the linked articles to fully understand our arguments (particularly before commenting below).

The Problem

A superficial examination of biblical and Egyptian chronology seems to indicate that the pyramids were constructed several hundred years before Noah’s Flood. However, the pyramids sit on top of a thick sedimentary rock layer that we believe was laid down by the Flood. This limestone was quarried to construct the great pyramids, and it even contains marine fossils. It would be impossible for even monuments of the size of the pyramids to survive a cataclysmic event like the global Flood. How do we reconcile the biblical chronology with the archaeological evidence?

Hoffman asserts we can solve this dating problem by a combination of revising Egyptian chronology while using the LXX chronology in Genesis 11. Unfortunately, characteristic of many online presenters, he is more concerned about finding a cute video clip to paper over a bad argument, while at the same time insulting anyone who disagrees with him, than he is with accuracy and fair argumentation.

A more careful analysis of the issues reveals that the solution lies not in adopting a different biblical chronology but in recognizing several key facts.

Egyptian history is inflated

The first solution to the ‘date’ of the pyramids is to realize that Egyptian history is inflated. Egyptian chronology is a hugely complicated subject. Our attempt to summarize the issues turned out to be a mammoth article, precisely because there are so many elements involved. However, essentially everyone agrees that Egyptian chronology is inflated, including most serious secular Egyptologists.

Hoffman references Patterns of Evidence, which is an excellent documentary we carry. However, only recognizing the inflation in one point covered by the documentary doesn’t go far enough. Hoffman’s proposed harmonization would still put much Egyptian prehistory before the Flood. The LXX has a longer chronology, which is more accepting of secular Egyptian history, but it does not fix all the problems.

In fact, the pyramids probably fit in a small window around Abraham’s lifetime. The era of large-scale pyramid-building was almost certainly over by the time Joseph arrived in Egypt. There are lots of variables that we need to consider and it’s beyond the scope of this article to do that. We are only attempting to respond to the specific points that Hoffman raised.

Inept textual analysis

No one should be ridiculed for not being able to do good textual analysis—unless they claim to be doing good textual analysis. It is clear that Hoffman does not know the first thing about analyzing textual variants or how to tell which one is more original.

First, he fails to understand and differentiate among the different types of evidence. It is important to define terms correctly. A manuscript is a handwritten document that contains a text. The text is a particular reading, considered separately from the manuscripts in which it is preserved. There are three main text families, each with a different version of the Genesis 5 and 11 chronogenealogies—the LXX, the MT, and the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP). Even though we often cannot know exactly when the unique readings of the MT, LXX, or SP came into being, the manuscripts that contain them can be dated by various means. Hoffman correctly notes that the LXX manuscripts are earlier than the MT manuscripts, though he incorrectly conflates the Masoretic text with the 11th century Leningrad codex (a manuscript).2 After making this glaring error, he concludes the LXX text is earlier, but he fails to consider any other types of evidence.

The text is not only preserved in manuscript form. It’s also preserved in quotes and allusions. So when Jerome (347–420 AD) chooses to use the MT for his translation into Latin (the Vulgate), we know the text existed in the late 300s when Jerome wrote, even though we don’t have a manuscript surviving that early. Yet this is not the only, nor the earliest, evidence for the MT.

The first century pseudepigraphal work Life of Adam and Eve alludes to the MT chronology, meaning that the MT already existed at that time. There is also evidence that the other text types existed much earlier than their oldest extant manuscripts. Jubilees, which uses the SP chronology, was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, thus we know it existed before the time of Christ even though the earliest existing SP manuscript is from the 12th century. The earliest substantial LXX manuscripts (Siniaticus and Vaticanus) date to about AD 350. Demetrius the Chronographer (in a quote preserved by Eusebius) places the LXX chronology in the second century BC. Therefore, all three texts have attestation much earlier than the first preserved manuscript.

Having established that all these texts are early, we must now analyze the texts themselves to determine which is most likely original. In our article Textual Traditions and Biblical Chronology, our analysis led us to conclude that the LXX and SP most likely originated from a Masoretic-like original.

Historical nonsense

We have also analyzed multiple claims from LXX proponents and have found their best arguments to be quite weak. This does not mean that LXX advocates wouldn’t be able to do a proper analysis and put forward a better argument, but we have not seen any LXX advocate even try to do so. We refuted the argument that an early 2nd century Jewish leader named Rabbi Akiba originated the MT chronology in order to mess with a chiliastic timing of the Messiah’s arrival.3 We concluded this was impossible because 1) the MT variant existed before Akiba, 2) the necessary change involved several layers of impossible events, and 3) it conflicts with what we know Akiba actually did. See The Masoretic Text of Genesis 5 and 11 is Still the Most Reliable for more information.

Even though several important LXX advocates claim the changes were made for eschatological reasons, Hoffman has a completely different reason why Jews might have created the Masoretic text.

Hebrews 5–7 compares Jesus to the ancient king and priest of Salem (later Jerusalem) named Melchizedek. He was originally described in Genesis 14, and appears again in the OT only in Psalm 110:4. After defeating a large army and rescuing his nephew Lot, Abraham gives a tenth of all the spoils to him. The theology of Melchizedek is both interesting and difficult to understand, because we are not given much information about him.4 But the author of Hebrews cites Melchizedek as a precedent for Jesus’ non-Levitical priesthood. Hoffman claims the Jews changed the genealogy so Melchizedek could be Shem (a son of Noah and an ancestor of the Jewish people).

If Melchizedek was Abraham’s ancestor, he is also the ancestor of Aaron, the first high priest of Israel. Thus, if the Levitical priesthood came from Melchizedek, Aaron himself would have been ‘a priest after the order of Melchizedek’. However, this argument goes nowhere, first because many Christian theologians of the past had no problem associating Shem and Melchizedek. Second, even in the MT chronology Melchizedek is probably still not Shem (Hebrews 7:3). Third, Melchizedek still supersedes Aaron. Jesus is still a “better” priest.

Hoffman thinks the MT was created around 60 AD, in the wake of the writing of the biblical book of Hebrews. But this would require someone to intercept the book of Hebrews very early in its existence, before it became widely known, decide it was a massively important work, and then convince the Jewish establishment that they needed to change the Torah to fix the problem. There is a laughable lack of evidence for this.

Another problem with this is that early Christians could not agree on which text, LXX or MT, was original. Some Christians accused the Jews of shortening the genealogies, creating the MT variant, but for reasons completely disconnected from either eschatology or the priesthood. And other Christians (e.g. Augustine) argued just as strongly that the MT variant was original and that it was the Alexandrian Jews who changed the text to make the LXX. Given that Christians were able to make theological arguments for Christ from both texts, it follows that neither one was anti-Christian.

Does the MT give enough time for population growth before Babel?

Hoffman claims the MT timeline does not give enough time for the population to grow from eight people to a population large enough to build the tower of Babel. However, when we examine the assumptions behind this claim, he falls far short of a good argument.

First, he uses a population growth formula that simply isn’t accurate when you’re talking about very small populations. You can’t apply a specific “rate of growth” to very small populations. For example, if all three of Noah’s daughters-in-law have children one year, that’s huge population growth. Likewise, if none of them do the next year, that’s zero population growth. And if a kid gets kicked in the head by a donkey and dies, that has a disproportionate effect on population size when the population is very small. You need a large enough population that random events don’t disproportionately skew the population growth rate. Anyone familiar with statistics knows that random factors have an oversized effect when dealing with small sample sizes. He seems not to have taken this into account.

Second, the one major difference between the MT and LXX is that the LXX has people having children much later than in the MT (most of the children in Genesis 11 are born 100 years later in the LXX), so it’s not all that clear that having more time in his scenario helps the population problem.

As an aside, if people were routinely having children in their 100s just a few generations before Abraham, why was Sarah past her childbearing years by the time she was 60? This is yet another factor that suggests the LXX dates have been tampered with.

This still leaves the question: how did they have enough people to build the Tower of Babel? In the MT chronology, it appears to have been built during the lifetime of a man named Peleg, a 5th-generation descendant of Noah who was born about a century after the Flood. To know how many people would be needed, we have to ask how large a tower we’re talking about. Often, the Tower of Babel is thought to be a huge ziggurat, but that’s assuming that Babel was in ancient Babylon. This is a very common thought among local flood advocates and compromising theologians, many of whom believe that Genesis is a corrupted form of the legends of ancient southern Mesopotamia.

A ziggurat would take a large population, with a significant division of labor among them, but that would require a large cultivated agricultural region around it. You could easily get to a population of a couple hundred people within a century after the Flood, especially if the first generation is still reproducing at the same time as the second and following generations.5 But it would be very difficult to have a population large enough to build a ziggurat of the scale we see in ancient Mesopotamian cultures. Yet, assuming the Tower of Babel is a ziggurat is a grand mistake. A population in the hundreds allows for some division of labor, some excess crop production, and the release of some individuals from the labors of farming to specialize in tower building. We don’t know the scale of the plans, nor how far they got in building it. It could even have been like a medieval cathedral, which was planned to take several generations to build. We simply don’t know.

But Jesus and Paul used the LXX!

Hoffman states that Jesus and the NT authors used the LXX, showing that the LXX is more trustworthy. However, the New Testament authors spoke and wrote in Greek and were writing to Greek-speaking audiences. It should not surprise us that they used the LXX, which is the Greek translation of the OT, which would match what the majority of their readers would be using. It’s the same reason why, when we are writing in English, we use an English translation, even though we know of many shortcomings inherent in every translation.

We aren’t the first to have this debate

Hoffman seems to have a passing familiarity with some historical facts that are convenient for his argument. But a more scholarly view of history gives us important perspective. Christians have realized there were differences between the biblical manuscripts as soon as they started looking seriously at them. We start to see evidence of the debate about manuscripts in the early centuries, almost as soon as Christians stopped being persecuted for their faith. Over and over again, the Christians with the best grasp of Hebrew and the most access to the different manuscripts came to the conclusion that it was the Masoretic that was the most reliable. As we said above, it formed the basis of Jerome’s Vulgate, which was the most influential Bible in the Western church for 1,000 years. The MT also formed the basis for all the Reformation and post-Reformation translations of the Old Testament from Hebrew into various world languages.

Conclusion

Textual criticism has a long history. Godly Christians have been looking at the various texts for nearly 2,000 years, trying to see which is most probably original. And Christians have arrived at both sides of the debate—so this is not a debate about who is saved and who isn’t. But chronology is important, which is why we keep writing articles about it. And like most informed Christians of generations past, we have come to the conclusion that the Masoretic is most probably original when it comes to the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies.

Were the Pyramids built before the Flood? No, they weren’t. And we don’t need the LXX to understand why.

References and notes

  1. By way of background, when people refer to ‘the pyramids’, they generally mean the great pyramids of Khufu (father), Khafre (son) and Menkaure (grandson) on the Giza plateau near Cairo. Most people are unaware of the fact that over 130 pyramids remain in Egypt, and some would have been constructed even before the great pyramids (e.g., the Step Pyramid, the Bent Pyramid, and the Red Pyramid). And some pyramids are not made from limestone at all, but mud bricks. Return to text.
  2. In fact, while the Leningrad Codex is the oldest complete manuscript, the oldest Masoretic manuscripts are 9th century; the Aleppo codex, another significant manuscript, which was complete until the Torah was lost in 1947, is from the 10th century. Return to text.
  3. Chiliasm is an apocalyptic scheme that tries to place the arrival of the Messiah after 6,000 years of history, after which His 1,000-year reign is inaugurated. This corresponds to the seven days of creation week. Return to text.
  4. For example, see footnote 14 in Extensive Mixing Among Israelites and non-Israelites in Biblical History. Return to text.
  5. Carter, R. and Hardy C., Modelling biblical human population growth, J Creation 28(1):72–79, 2015. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

Bill P.
The Pyramids are very impressive even by today's standards. BUT, when I read scripture about The Flood of Noah's Day and I come to the part about "The Fountains of The Great Deep being opened up" I see very very large land masses being torn apart like a piece of paper. If I'm anywhere near correct in my imagination of the things that happened here on earth because of the flood during Noah's Day if the Pyramids (although very impressive) had been built before The Flood they would not be standing today and maybe not even a trace of their existence would even be left.
I enjoy reading the work your people do on this site very much but for me the extra added proof concerning this subject about the Pyramids is the Power and Glory of The True and Living God Creator of heaven and earth. Everything about HIM from His mercy to His wrath should NEVER be underestimated by man.
Nathan H.
Thank you for the detailed and thoughtful response, and for taking this matter seriously.
Christian R.
Are you familiar with the Anne Habermehl 2013 ICC paper "Ancient Egypt, the Ice Age, and Biblical Chronology"? In it, she argues that the Ice Age ice sheets must have built up and receded a while before the Nile Delta (which was formed by the excess water from the melting of the ice sheets) existed and Egyptian civilization was established. If the Masoretic text holds the correct chronology, then the 700-year long Ice Age eclipses the timeframe of Egyptian history, even if the Egyptian history is severely reduced. What is your position on Habermehl's argument?
Robert Carter
Yes, we know of her paper, and Ann is well-known within the circle of biblical creationists. We do take exception to her support of the LXX (see here and here and here), however, so we discount many of the arguments put forth in this paper. As far as the Ice Age goes, Oard's model is not set in stone. It would be trivial for the timing to change by a century or two on either end. Also, her thesis is very much dependent on the extent and timing of glaciation in equatorial Africa, which is a matter of hot debate. With the exception of global sea level, there is no reason to assume that Ice Age effects were uniform across the world. That is, equatorial regions could have recovered more quickly than temperate ones. Interestingly, she did not discuss variations in Mediterranean sea level during these climate swings, nor the fact that the Med appears to have been a fresh water lake that flowed into the Atlantic for at least some years during the Ice Age. While it is true that it is difficult to fit all these events into a Masoretic, post-Flood timeline, it is not impossible. Specifically, there is little archaeological evidence for the first and second dynasties. We do not know where they lived, the extent of their settlements, or the population size at the time. There is much more to say, but space here is limited.
Douglas W.
I quickly saw in professional Staff meetings, that attacking the person was a sure sign of a weak argument. Thank you for this fine, incisive article.
Paul S.
You correctly note several unsupported assumptions made by Hoffman. However, I note one of your own in the claim that the pyramids could not have survived a global flood. We really have no way of determining the local dynamics of the flood in that area, and thus no way of knowing whether the pyramids could have survived it. For instance, if they were subject to a lengthy period of erosion by fast moving waters in the upper levels of the rising sea, they would not have survived - at least not in their present form. However, if they were quickly inundated by deep water and thus not subject to the high speed currents at or near the ocean surface they could well have survived relatively undamaged. Which was the case? We have no way of knowing. Even if we say that there must have been some impact from immersion in the flood waters, it would remain possible that subsequent Egyptians could have restored them.

The above is advanced only as a logically and causally possible thesis. I have no evidence for (nor do I even subscribe to) it. I am merely curious as to whether you have considered it.
Lita Cosner
There was nowhere on Earth that was spared the catastrophic effects of the global Flood. The continents themselves were rearranged; no man-made structure could survive that. But even more than that, the pyramids were built with stone laid down in the global Flood!
Nathan H.
You still have to be able to convince the masses of people who have seen my video. After all, does it really make sense for Shem to have outlived so many of his descendants? Doesn't it make sense for each generation to have died, one after the other? This is probably the biggest thing that convinces most of the people who've seen my video. Of course it makes more sense for each generation to have died one after the other. And that's exactly how the Greek Septuagint has it. And we do have examples where Jesus and the disciples appear to be siding with the Septuagint. We also have examples of early church fathers and church historians, like Eusebius, siding with the Septuagint, and defending its chronology. And it just so happens that this chronology perfectly fixes the problem that atheists bring up about the Pyramids and the Tower of Babel. Even the Smithsonian admits that there's no recorded history before 3000 BC, which is exactly when the Greek Septuagint would place the flood. When people see my video and their eyes are open to these facts, it's going to be very difficult trying to convince them to go back to the Masoretic chronology that has Shem outliving so many of his descendants. You don't need a PhD to see that something is wrong with the Masoretic timeline. Any normal child with average intelligence would understand that it makes more sense for each generation to have died one after the other.
Robert Carter
1) Regarding our supposed need to convince others, no, we don't. We have posted this article for the record. It is up to others to educate themselves. You have committed the logical fallacy called argumentum ad populum. Just because a video is popular does not make it right. To put it another way, the number of YouTube views is not proportional to the validity of any claims made. If this is wrong, we should all be secular atheists.

2) Regarding your question about whether or not it makes sense for early generations to outlive later ones, you have committed the logical fallacy called argument from incredulity. Just because you think it is odd does not mean it is wrong. Worse, don't you think it is odd for people to be living for hundreds of years? Don't you think it is odd (in the LXX) for people to be so old when they are having children? Don't you think it is odd for the entire world to have been covered by a giant flood? This is a one-off period of history that has no comparable situation. Everything about it is odd, so your incredulity fails as a rational test.

3) We have studied the LXX vs MT debate extensively. You have not, as we pointed out clearly. Read our materials, digest what we wrote, then get back to us with a rational argument. We want to have a good discussion, but we cannot until you study up on the subject.
Mark S.
I appreciate this article, and also Nathan H's comments and Robert's response. Re: "... whether or not it makes sense for early generations to outlive later ones," I claim no authority in the Masoretic vs. LXX debate. I am an amateur genealogist, and am amazed at how many obits I read, about 100-year-old people (not even a 600-y-o Shen, Adam at 900 :-) ) who have outlived children, grand-children, even their g-grandchildren... That said: I do tend to agree with the CMI folks' logic in preferring the Masoretic text, especially after having read their other articles on same. Blessings all!
Garth G.
I am happy to see you gave credence to the use of the LXX by the early church. I have recently started reading English translations of the LXX and have been blessed seeing the extra breadth it gives: the extra information at the end of Job, the second day being "good," the shorter Jeremiah, and the way the NT references align better with it, and the way the Greek Old and New Testaments share like terms. Your points about the strengths of the MT were enlightening. I like the way you ended the article with an openness to and need for good LXX scholarship, a point with which I heartily agree. I don't know why the scholarship is so much lower than the quality I see among MT research and translations. Maybe if some of the MT scholars themselves take a liking to the LXX and start helping the LXX research, maybe then we will come to more definitive answers. Love the article. Thank you for not beating Nathan up to bad. He means well. God Bless, Garth Guessman
Grant D.
I'm confused. Do both parties agree that the pyramids were post-flood? I would certainly hope that is the case, given the purported geological evidence. On the Peleg issue — and hopefully just to broaden the resources people can use to assess these things for themselves rather than creating confusion — Dr Walt Brown puts Peleg's name down to the division of the land by water and rejects the idea that it was the division of languages.
Robert Carter
1. Yes, both parties believe in post-Flood pyramids. The questions "Were the pyramids built before the Flood" was a ridiculous 'straw man' of the Masoretic position.

2. Regarding Walt Brown, he is not the only one who believes the 'dividing' was along geographic instead of linguistic lines. Yet, this is not the consensus view at CMI. See Flood Models and Biblical Realism for a brief discussion of Brown's hydroplate model and In Peleg's day the earth was divided: what does this mean? for a more detailed discussion of the meaning of erets (earth) and how it was divided. We do not believe Brown's etymological extrapolations are valid here.
Dreme O.
Great discussion and thank you to Nathan for making people aware that this debate is long-running and continuing. Thank you also to the great Dr. Carter and Lita Cosner, who have written many articles and an important 2015 paper on the subject. For an in-depth understanding of the strong case made by the LXX chronology proponents, I recommend reading Henry Smith's 2018 paper, which also addresses the Carter-Cosner paper. (Search for the Associates for Biblical Research.) One glaring problem is that the SP has the same begetting ages as the LXX for the post flood patriarchs, yet the two arose independently. What we do know is that after the destruction of the temple in 70AD, the mainline Jewish religion was in disarray, and the surviving anti-Christian rabbis/scribes DID (without a doubt) edit the MT (or the surviving versions of it). Yes, the MT which is the basis for our old testament today was intentionally dechristianized. The ESV prefers the LXX in many instances where it is obvious that the MT text was changed to eliminate a clear old testament reference to Christ. That said, the MT is still reliable with regard to most text. Encyclopedia Brittanica says that the LXX was presumably created for the benefit of Greek-speaking Jews throughout the empire from 300-200 BC. Wouldn't the rabbis at those ancient synagogues have noticed that the chronology was incorrect (if it was)? When early Christians shared scripture throughout the empire they sent out the LXX, and many Jewish priests converted throughout the empire. They would have known the true dates and could have edited the LXX dates quite quickly or added margin notes (if needed). Also, Abraham didn't think he himself was too old, he just had Ismael at 86! The old patriarchs likely had young, nubile wives.
Robert Carter
1. We wrote a detailed rebuttal of Smith's 2018 paper. See The Masoretic text of Genesis 5 and 11 is still the most reliable. So, no their case is not "strong". In fact, the opposite is true.

2. How do you know the SP arose independently of the LXX? The SP is clearly a recension and shows evidence of being reworked and stylized.

3. The rabbis "without a doubt" edited the MT!? Actually, there is a lot of doubt about this claim. The MT was "intentionally de-christianized"!? In fact, the situation would require an impossible set of circumstances and a very strong conspiracy. Worse, there is no historical or textual evidence for it. See the paper linked above. We have asked the LXX-supporting community to document the facts, yet to date, such a schema has not been produced.

I could say a lot more, but will leave it at that. The papers we have written on this subject cover everything in sufficient detail.

Dreme O.
From Henry Smith, 2018, Associates for Biblical Research: "...Third, and most significantly, the MT’s post–Flood chronology creates four genuine and irreconcilable errors when compared to
Gen 25:8. The verse indicates that the 175–year–old Abraham “died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years…” (ESV). In the MT: 1. Eber was still alive at age 464 when Abraham died at 175. 2. Similarly, Shem’s death at age 600 occurs in the MT only 25 years before Abraham’s death, thrice Abraham’s age. 3. Most remarkably, Noah’s death at 950 occurs only two years before
Abraham was born." Lastly, Gen 11:10–25 (Table 1) repeatedly indicates that the named patriarchs had “[other] sons and daughters.” Thus, thousands of post–Flood descendants would have lived to ages similar to Arpachshad (438), Eber (464) and Shelah (433), making Abraham’s death premature when compared to other unnamed contemporaries. Using the MT, Abraham would have been neither “an old man,” nor “full of years” compared to the world around him. This would be analogous to applying similar statements to a modern man who died at the age of 30 or 35. In the LXX, however, Noah had been deceased for nearly 1000 years, Shem for about eight centuries, and Eber for about four, when Abraham died. Only in the longer chronology of the LXX/SP had lifespans dropped to the point where Abraham’s epitaph could be considered accurate and coherent. The MT’s post–Flood chronology creates an insurmountable problem for MT advocates, for it yields genuine and irreconcilable errors within the sacred text...
Robert Carter
Not so fast. First, you must familiarize yourself with our rebuttal to Smith's 2018 paper. It was mentioned in the article and in several responses already, but here it is again: The Masoretic text of Genesis 5 and 11 is still the most reliable.

Second, the phrase "old man and full of years" was written by Abraham's descendants, who would not have lived as long as him and who knew about their own declining lifespans (hence Jacob's statement in Genesis 47:9). Also, compared to his contemporaries, Abraham was indeed a very old man. Yes, there may have been some long-lived patriarchs around, but they would quickly become a very small fraction of the population. Hence, Pharaoh's only question to Jacob in Genesis 47 (essentially "How old ARE you?") was one of surprise. Since kings are generally from a succession of oldest children, they have the maximal number of generations over any time span and so this pharaoh would have been far from his long-lived ancestors. But this would also be true of most of the people in the population by then. There is no contradiction here. LXX advocates are making mountains out of molehills.
Benjamin H.
The theology of Melchizedek is not that difficult. Hebrews 7:1-3 says that Melchisedec is eternal. 1Timothy 1:17 says only God is eternal. The pre-incarnate Christ is the king/prince of Salem/peace. Christ told the Jews that Abraham rejoiced to see his day. The Jews said you are not yet 50 yrs old, and you have seen Abraham? Jesus replied, "before Abraham was, I am." John 8:56-58
Robert Carter
I wish it were that simple! You mixed the idea that the soul is eternal (hence, Abraham could rejoice to see Jesus' day) with the idea that only God is eternal. Also, Hebrews does not unequivocally say Melchizedek was eternal. If this were so, theologians would not have been disputing this passage over the many past centuries. And of course Jesus could say "before Abraham", for He was the creator of the entire universe! Thus, the fact that Jesus predates Abraham does not equate Jesus to Melchizedek. As far as epiphanies go, if this is an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ, this is a strange one. In all other cases, the visit is brief. To say that Jesus came to live on earth, as a priest-king, for some long period of time, but only in this one recorded instance, makes His coming to Bethlehem as an infant several thousand years later almost moot. Hence, theologians and lay people argue about this passage. The theology of Melchizedek is not simple, yet this is not really the place to attempt an answer.
Yvonne R.
Psalm 104 describes the Creation, the flood subsiding and thereafter man and beast enjoying the abundance of the land in peace and tranquility. Job 6 describes how the caravans of Sheba and Tema experience disappointment when they find the streams dry and so die in the desert, in the heat of the summer. Noah was instructed by GOD to plant a vineyard. There is no mention of an ice age. The ice age by the Word of GOD did not have significance. Thereby is not an ice age by mans interpretation? On the news report this week 20 humans have been found buried with their chariots, not with horses over the past 100 years. In Pocklington East Yorkshire this past week a Celtic warrior grave containing weapons, a shield, upright pony skeletons has been described by experts as a unique and significant discovery. The ancient Britons body was placed in the chariot behind the horses which were placed to look as if they were leaping out of the grave. Were they so placed by humans or was this the result of the flood instantly burying man, chariot, weapons and horses. GOD knows the truth so I am hoping for the HOLY SPIRIT to so inspire and inform CMI as to what the truth is.
Robert Carter
First, God did not "instruct" Noah to plant a vineyard. Genesis 9:20 simply says, "Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard."

Second, the Bible is not a science book. When it talks about science, it should be right, but why would we expect it to describe the climatological situation in Siberia or Antarctica? Note, however, that the book of Job, which some believe was written very early, has more mentions of snow and ice than any other section of the Bible, including the passage you referenced. Also, we do not know why the early post-Flood people came down from the mountains. Were they becoming unsuitable for living due to increasing cold? Why was there a famine in Abraham's day, was this a world-wide phenomenon of shifting climate patterns or just a local event?

Since the Bible is silent on the issue, and since science is so very clear on the issue, and since it does not challenge the biblical timeframe, there is no reason to reject the idea that the earth went through a period of intense ice build-up at high latitudes. See our Ice Age Questions and Answers section.

Regarding the Pocklington chariot, which I did not take time to look up, if this is a Flood event, then almost everything else in the archaeological record must also be pre-Flood, including everything in biblical archaeology! So, sadly, this cannot be a Flood-associated setting. That would require too much reworking of the archaeological record.
Nathan H.
You say that the reason the apostles side with the Septuagint when they quote the Old Testament is because they were writing in Greek, to Greek-speaking audiences. However, most early church fathers agree that the book of Hebrews was written by Paul in the Hebrew language, to Hebrew-speaking Jewish believers. Then Luke translated it into Greek later on. Even if Paul wasn't the author, the audience was a Hebrew-speaking audience. And yet, we find the book of Hebrews siding with the Greek Septuagint when quoting the Old Testament more often than not. The most logical explanation of this would be that the writer of Hebrews was quoting an older, accurate copy of the Hebrew Bible, which was consistent with the accurate Hebrew Bible that the Septuagint was translated from. So, to say that every New Testament book was written in Greek to Greek-speaking audiences is not entirely true. Hebrews was written in Hebrew, to a Hebrew-speaking audience, yet it sides with the Septuagint. Also, Stephen the Martyr gave a lengthy speech to Hebrew-speaking Pharisees, and he says things that agree with the Septuagint throughout his speech. The Pharisees never stopped and corrected him when he said "75 people." Instead, we find Dead Sea Scrolls written in Hebrew agreeing with him. Sounds to me like he's quoting an older, accurate Hebrew Bible, not an inaccurate Greek translation.
Robert Carter
There are some early people who wrote that Hebrews was originally written in Hebrew, but this is not a universal or even majority view. Plus, what Hebrew-speaking Jewish believers? They spoke mostly Greek and those from near Israel may have spoken Aramaic. You have no evidence that Luke translated Hebrews into Greek. There is also not a shred of evidence for a Hebrew version of Scripture that includes LXX-like numbers, so there is no data to back up the idea that the author of Hebrews wrote in Hebrew, and indeed Hebrew does not even have words for some of the concepts discussed in that book. Etc. Etc. We must educate ourselves on both sides of arguments like this. You are taking one side only, but the case you are trying to make is not nearly as strong as you think.
Ken A.
Pretty interesting article. However, I believe that we are going to find that the Egyptian civilization which rose after the flood was a concerted revival of a previous Empire which predated the flood, which lies below the siltbed. In my opinion, after the confusion of languages, peoples went searching for remains of previous civilizations in order to jump start their own civilization based on historical accounts handed down from Noah's family. You are looking at texts and manuscripts written by men. I am looking at human nature. If the great flood were to occur tomorrow and life began again, people would seek out remains of civilization where they can obtain the knowledge and resources to help to excellerate recovery and, of course, as we do today, find treasures. Therefore, I believe the culture of early Egypt may have predated the flood, even if the architecture doesn't. Does that make sense?
Robert Carter
No, this does not make sense. See our two-part article Where was Eden? (part 2 is here). Egyptian archaeology clearly goes back to the earliest evidence. The pyramids were clearly post-Flood, since they are sitting on a Flood-derived limestone platform and made from Flood-deposited rocks. What else would they have been looking for? The scant earlier material is little more than campsites along the Nile. There would be no reason to go looking for that. And if the Egyptians went to look for an antidiluvian Egypt, what about the Mesopotamians, subcontinental Indians, etc.? Instead, consider that the Flood did a major reworking of the entire surface of the earth and led to the creation of essentially the entire rock record. It is not enough to "believe" something. Our ideas have to be tested and we need to fit them into the bigger picture. This one does not fit.
David B.
The tone of this article speaks a thousand words. In my opinion, Nathan did a much more thorough job of convincing the viewer/reader than you did in this article by calling him names. You did not successfully refute any of the key points, including why the bulk of New Testament references (from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, and Jesus himself) agree with the Septuagint and not the MT (regardless of the language it was written in), nor did you refute the commentaries by the Post-Apostolic theologians including Irenaeus and Origin. How would it be possible (as you claim, even if you say not probable) that Shem is Melchizadek if, according to the scripture, Melchizadek has no beginning and no end. If Nathan's population growth rate was possibly too aggressive, does that not strengthen his claim? You assert that childbearing years changing over a few generations is somehow odd, but the dramatic change in lifespans post flood is not? You assert that the Tower of Babel is a tiny thing easily constructed by a couple of hundred people, yet it prompted God's divine intervention to confuse their languages? Does it make sense that such a small population was dispersed at that point, and survived to expand across the entire Earth? In my opinion, Nathan's proposition is far more convincing than this article.
Robert Carter
Apparently, tone is in the ear of the listener. And if Nathan did a more thorough job of convincing, it was because he carefully selected his material. But we have already extensively documented why these arguments are fallacious. Please follow the links given in the article and in several comments above. We did not need to talk about Irenaeus and Origen again. Also, you are not reading our words carefully. We certainly did not say it was probable that Shem was Melchizedek. That would be strange, since we both do not think this. No, his population growth estimates are not strengthened by his missing the greater age of siring children. This is either an argument in favor of the MT dates or it neutralizes his claim that the LXX fits the required numbers better. The rest of your statements are nothing more than arguments from incredulity. But these is no reason to go down this path. First, read our detailed articles. Then come back with a comment. Perhaps we will have changed your mind.
Dreme O.
Your 2019 paper says: "The earliest Christians to charge Jews with changing Scripture for anti-Christian motives did not give the Genesis genealogies as one of their examples but stuck to much more straightforwardly Messianic passages in other parts of Scripture." What are your thoughts on Psalm 22:16 "...they have pierced my hands and feet"? The LXX and Vulgate agree on that. The extant MT seems to have been "pointed" away from that understanding to a non-messianic meaning. So, that alone is an indictable offense to me. We know they had motive. We know their temple was destroyed, they were vagrant, and they were losing Jews to Christianity throughout the empire. Since we already have a guilty suspect with motives, why do MT chronology supporters feel the need to imagine some vast conspiracy spanning 300-200 BC involving THE SEVENTY all conspiring to ship out Greek scrolls to 100s of other Jewish priests that declared the world to be 1,300 years older than it really was, just so they could be slightly closer to Manetho? Then all the Greek Jewish priests kept the error under wraps for hundreds of years with no one attempting to calculate Anno Mundi? This is a kooky conspiracy theory, and one without a shred of evidence! Also, your 2019 paper needs engage the strongest points of Smith 2018: See Nahor's 50 years subtracted vs. added; it only makes sense one way (subtracted); this one point blows apart the logic of your 2015 paper. See also that Josephus declared flatly (apart from his likely posthumously modified geneologies) that the world was just over 5,000 years old in his day, in a book commissioned by the emperor. Also, your Abraham old age defense is illogical: In the MT where much older men were contemporaries, it would be a sarcastic epitaph, almost a sore point!
Lita Cosner
Dear Dreme,
1. Regarding Psalm 22:16, to give an opinion we would have to do a thorough textual analysis. But Isaiah 53:5 is not in question, which is an even clearer prediction that the Messiah would be pierced. So if there were anti-Messianic changes 1) they were not systematic 2) they were not particularly competent and 3) we would have indication that variants might exist because the LXX would preserve the pre-Christian original. This gives us a basis to start our investigation; however, most changes do not seem to have that sort of motive to them. But we can’t ignore the fact that the LXX copies we have today are Christian (five centuries after the original translation), not Jewish, documents. So Christian copyists may have made changes to the LXX to heighten the Messianic themes they saw in the OT as well, just like Christian copyists changed Josephus’ references to Jesus to be more worshipful.
2. “We know they have motive.” But everything you cite—the Temple being destroyed, Jews converting to Christianity, etc—the proto-MT text was extant long before all that! In fact, all three variants of the chronologies existed by Jesus’ day.
3. “We have a guilty suspect with motives” but did they have means and opportunity? Certainly not! Read our previous articles.
4. Do we have a theory involving the 70 shipping out faulty scrolls? No! We’ve never said this and it reveals a fundamental misunderstanding with how the transmission process works. If we’re going to point out kooky conspiracy theories, how about the one where scattered, defeated Jews somehow got organized and rich enough to produce thousands of Torah scrolls with a different chronology and convince every Rabbi from Portugal to Pakistan (modern designations) to destroy their correct scrolls?
5. We don’t need to address any other points in Smith’s paper, because we’ve given several fatal blows to his theory. Namely 1) the Jews couldn’t have created the text after the point in time we have proof it existed. 2) We know historically how the Jews reacted to Christians using their Scriptures, and it contradicts Smith’s story. Akiba was concerned about Jewish conversions to Christianity, and his response was not to change the Scriptures, but to codify the layer of interpretation to hide the Scriptures’ true meaning.
Again, we urge you to familiarize yourself with our previous articles, which incidentally cover all the points in our response to you much more fully and with sources to back up our claims.
Nathan H.
Well, we may disagree about the timing of the flood, but I still believe that CMI is totally right-on with virtually every other issue. You guys are a good ministry, and I still agree with about 99% of everything else you teach. Keep up the good work. And thanks for taking the time to address this issue. God bless.
Lita Cosner
Thank you Nathan, we appreciate that. By the way, this is the type of acknowledgement that radicals are not capable of. We can disagree on one point, but that doesn’t negate other helpful information we can agree about. We wish more people who disagree with one of our ideas would be so generous.
Monte S.
This article, like many of your article responses, is not in a peer-reviewed journal. In fact, any blogger or vlogger can put forth any narrative they want. In your "Inept" argument, you distinguish between "texts" and "manuscripts" and claim that the MT was around as early as 300AD because it is referenced in other texts (or 100AD if you use the pseudogripha). Do you apply this same logic to the LXX? No, you state the first "manuscript" was 300AD? This is very bad, and suggests bad motives. A true academic would lay out the LXX argument equally to the MT argument. There is clearly bias, and at best respresenting an apologists. I thought it was noteworthy that "Nathan H" has documented your responses on his YouTube video, that is correct. That is how we make efforts to seek truth. Our world view is correct because ... this is the same logic used by many in academia and religion that rightfully makes readers/viewers skeptical. A true scholar would disclose their bias. If you read the titles of the subsections of this article, there is clearly angst: "inept, nonsense, [whataboutism]" ... why is that?

Why so angry? I have lots of issues with the Bible, and seek truth. That doesn't diminish my Christian views, does it? Challenging translation bias is not a problem, is it. Your tagline "In the beginning God created..." may also be a mistranslation, if only one hebrew letter was removed. To suggest intentional removal of text to distort meaning! Blaspheme! Or is it?
Lita Cosner
Monte, please familiarize yourself with our arguments before you fallaciously accuse us of deceptive practices. Of course this isn’t a peer-reviewed article, but some of our articles linked in this response are. And we are speaking not as vloggers. My specialization includes text criticism.
If you read our peer-reviewed works, you will know that we acknowledge that with the fragment of Demetrius the Chronographer preserved by Eusebius, the LXX has slightly earlier attestation than the other variants. If you gave us a quote of what you think we said to imply otherwise, we would change it because we value truth and integrity, and would not want to inadvertently give people the wrong idea.
When we use terms such as “inept” and “nonsense”, we are taking issue with the quality of the arguments, not the position itself. Indeed, we wish that some LXX advocate would do better scholarship so we could have a real discussion.
You imply that we’re angry, but this isn’t an emotional issue for us. We came to this study trying to put aside any prior preconceptions and to examine LXX arguments with an open mind, because we want to know what the most original text of the Bible is. If the LXX was the correct variant, we would need to know that because it would affect biblical creation arguments regarding the timing of certain events. Yet we have not found even one LXX advocate who can deal with our objections on the most basic level.
Dieter S.
Regarding the use of the Septuagint, there is some undeniable evidence based on the Greek words used in the New Testament. Consider Simeon’s prophecy in Luke 2:25–35. In the last verse, Simeon tells Mary that a sword will pierce her own soul. The Greek word for “sword” used here, rhomphaia, is rare in the New Testament--there’s only instance outside of Revelation. A rhomphaia is an archaic, two-handed Thracian weapon, a polearm with a single-edged blade about half its length that was used as early as 400 BCE. There is no equivalent word in Hebrew, even in the Dead Sea Scrolls. But about half the references to sword in the Septuagint were translated rhomphaia rather than makhaira, including the sword in Psalm 22, which Simeon may have been referring to.
Lita Cosner
Thanks Dieter, no one is contesting the fact that the NT generally refers to the LXX variant rather than the MT. That is to be expected, since both were Greek documents. I generally refer to an English translation since I am writing in English, after all, which is a point we made in our article.
Matthew B.
In reply to David B., you might like to look at some more early church references that relate to the Septuagint-Masoretic Text question. One early writer that gives an interesting twist to the debate is Irenaeus. In Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book IV.,Chap. XVII., he quotes Psalm 40:6. "David also says: “Sacrifice and oblation Thou didst not desire, but mine ears hast Thou perfected;47 burnt-offerings also for sin Thou hast not required.”" The footnote in the ANF that says that one word is probably misspelled in the Latin copies that survive: 47 Latin, “aures autem perfecisti mihi;” a reading agreeable to neither the Hebrew nor Septuagint version, as quoted by St. Paul in Heb 10:9. Harvey, however, is of opinion that the text of the old Latin translations was originally “perforasti;” indicating thus an entire concurrence with the Hebrew, as now read in this passage. [Both readings illustrated by their apparent reference to Exo 21:6, compared with Heb 5:7-9.]
In other words, Irenaeus, around AD 180, quoted Psalm 40:6 in a way that was originally similar to the Masoretic Text. But didn't he use the LXX? Probably he did use it, but the LXX copy of the Psalms that he had may have read the same as the MT does today. The LXX reading in Ps. 40:6 today agrees with Heb 10:5. This could be for two reasons: either there were two readings in the LXX of Irenaeus' day, and he used one while the writer of Hebrews used the other; or the modern reading of Ps. 40:6 in the LXX has been harmonized to Heb 5:7. (The oldest codices of the LXX are Christian, after all.) Also, David. might want to read what Augustine had to say on the differences between the LXX and the MT after he gave it some deliberation. They can be found at Augustine, City of God, Book 15, Chapters 10-14. Hope this helps!

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