Synchronized Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms




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Introduction: Sacred vs. Secular Chronology … page 1
Chapter One: Sources of Chronology … page 7
Chapter Two: Synchronized Chronology Tables … page 13
Chapter Three: Assyrian-Urartian Synchronization … page 41
Chapter Four: Supplemental Notes … page 55
Conclusion: Just a Question of Time … page 77

Excerpt – Introduction: Sacred vs. Secular Chronology

Biblical chronology and Assyrian chronology have waged a back-and-forth battle for supremacy in the halls of academia over much of the past two-hundred years. In the beginning, as the lands of ancient Mesopotamia were opened to nineteenth-century archaeologists, most of whom were biblicists as well, the Bible and its Ussher-based chronology held sway, with Assyrian chronology being forced by well-meaning men of faith to conform to the biblical record. By the mid-1800s, the two chronologies had been aligned in that manner, admittedly somewhat awkwardly, and everything chronological seemed settled.

Then, attitudes began to change. A period of re-assessment was initiated as new artifacts were found and old archeological finds were re-evaluated by scholars in the quickly developing field of Assyriology. Of critical importance to chronologists were the Assyrian Eponym List and Chronicles found by Layard and others. As more and more archaeological evidence became available, the debate between the biblicists and the newer secular-scientific archaeologists evolved into an uneasy understanding, with academic acknowledgement of the Bible as a useful but chronologically flawed document, at best a secondary source, and an almost universal acceptance of secular Assyrian chronology as “established beyond doubt” by the Assyrian Eponym List and Chronicles and the mathematical certainties of modern astronomy. Given that development, the only course left open to college-affiliated biblical scholars wanting to be taken seriously among their secular colleagues was to make the best of it by somehow coaxing biblical chronology to conform to the timeline of Assyrian chronology, and that is what most of them did.

In what turned out to be the most influential step in that process of submitting the Bible to the constraints of secular scholarship, the early twentieth-century Seventh-day Adventist biblical scholar Edwin R. Thiele, by accepting without question the traditional Assyrian timeline based on details preserved in the Assyrian Eponym List and Chronicles, which had been anchored in time by Sir Henry Rawlinson’s 763 BCE date for the Bûr-Saggilê eclipse (and certified as the correct date by no less a personage than Queen Victoria’s astronomer), produced a convincing harmony of the reigns of the Hebrew kings for his doctoral dissertation at the University of Chicago. Thiele’s harmonization was published as a book in 1952 under the title The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings.

The manner in which he harmonized the reigns and synchronized them with traditional Assyrian regnal chronology, namely, by postulating long, undocumented coreigns by more than a few Hebrew kings and by assuming scribal emendations in the biblical text in those places where he could not make the reigns harmonize with one another while maintaining agreement with the Assyrian timeline, at least not while using the biblical text as written, has for more than sixty years been accepted as the “final” word on the matter in both secular and religious circles. In that span, no one has been able to convincingly challenge the accuracy of his chronology, and certainly not the inviolability of the Assyrian chronology upon which Thiele based his results. This book attempts to do both.

—Dan Bruce, Author