I have a special place in my heart for books about Bible chronology. It is a subject that I love to see through other believers eyes. For those who have studied the topic in any depth you know it is a most challenging and rewarding endeavor. Chronology is the thread which provides continuity and context to our Creators redemptive message from Genesis to Revelation.
In this book, From Eden to Patmos: An overview of Biblical History, author Timothy W. Berrey provides a well written overview of Bible chronology first book of the Bible to the last. I found the book to thorough enough to address the important points of Biblical history while at the same time not getting bogged down in the minutia of some of the more controversial aspects of Bible chronology.
They say context matters and this I believe is especially true in study of Biblical history. I found this book helped me make contextual synchronisms between people and events that really brought a new way of looking at some of this chronology.
In the spirit of respectful criticism there were several aspects of this book which I would have like to see a more in depth explanation of the authors reasoning. In particular I would have like to see the author’s basis for his chronology of Ezra and Nehemiah and their place in the second temple era.
For well over a decade now I’ve searched books on Biblical chronology looking for a thorough rendering Biblical rendering of the chronology of the 2nd temple era. This is an especially important subject because much of our modern view eschatology has its roots in the events of this era. You see Daniel 9 and the prophecy of 70 weeks is a major pillar of futurist eschatology yet few establish this prophecy on a solid Biblical chronological basis.
In this book Mr. Berrey looks briefly at the chronology of Ezra and Nehemiah placing them in the reign of “Artaxerxes” Longimanus, yet this seem to conflict with the most natural reading of the books of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah. For example:
- Ezra’s age makes him a contemporary of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes (by reign of Longimanus he would have been at the very least 2 decades older than Moses)
- Shallum, Akkub, Talmon the porters were also contemporaries of Darius.
- The preists and Levites of Neh. 10 & 12 (chief of their fathers) were not only alive during the repatriation under Joshua and Zerubbabel but they were also contemporaries of Darius “Artaxerxes”. (By the reign of Longimanus they would have had ages which require an unreasonable understanding of the text)
There are several more synchronisms which show Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes yet this is not mentioned in this book or nearly any other book on Biblical chronology. Further because modern thought ignores these facts we then must see Ezra 4 as a chronological interjection takn out of its most natural chronological order. Further this then requires the uncomfortable reorganization of Ezra 6:13-15 and the insertion of another “Artaxerxes” into the events leading up to the completion of the 2nd temple by the 6th year of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes.
Maybe someday Mr. Berrey or one of his peers will take a serious skeptical look at the Bible’s chronology of the 2nd temple era and reevaluate it in light of a natural and reasonable reading of the text.
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In summary my criticisms notwithstanding I enjoyed this book on Biblical chronology and I learn a lot. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a good summary of the Biblical Chronology.
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Author: Timothy W. Berrey
Book Title: From Eden to Patmos: An Overview of Biblical History
Author Website: http://www.livewithamission.com/blog
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse