"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 8, Number 2, February 2005
“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.
For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;
Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.
I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.
I will show partiality to no one. Nor will I flatter any man.”
[“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God. The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.
AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com. You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address. Back issues sent on request. All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org
All articles are by the editor (unless otherwise noted) and are copyrighted but may be reproduced for distribution, provided the following conditions are met: 1. articles must be reproduced in unedited, unabridged form; 2. the writer must be properly credited; and, 3. such reproduction must be for free distribution only. Permission to distribute in any other form must be secured in writing beforehand. Permission for reproduction in Christian print periodicals will generally be given.]
“When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again, . . .”--A Personal Note
From June 22, 2004 until January 29, 2005--seven months and seven days for those counting, and we were--, our son Matthew J. Kutilek, 1st Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps, was deployed to Iraq as leader of the 40 men of the 3rd Platoon, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines. They were at the beginning assigned to Haditha on the Euphrates River a couple hours west of Baghdad. They were repositioned to Fallujah in early November and took part in the subjugation of the terrorists there, and finally were based out of Abu Graib.
In spite of nearly daily exposure to small arms fire, mortars, rockets and IEDs (improvised explosive devices), to say nothing of oppressive heat and sandstorms, God was merciful to Matthew and his men (I need not add, and to us as well) in answer to a multitude of prayers. Though in constant and imminent danger throughout the deployment, not one of the 40 was killed. There were three injured in a Humvee roll-over in October (that the marine manning the .50 cal. machinegun did not suffer a fatal broken neck was scarcely short of miraculous), and four were wounded in the Fallujah operation (all are recovering), but no fatalities, a reality for which we prayed the whole time of the deployment.
Around noon on the 29th, Matthew’s platoon and several others in the 1/8 exited the eight buses that had brought them from the Cherry Point airfield to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Matthew was the last man off the last bus. Looking thinner and rather tired, he was soon smothered in a blanket of hugs and kisses. And additional prayers of gratitude were sent on high.
Other thousands and tens of thousands wearing the uniform on our behalf remain in harms way, engaged in a war that must be fought sooner or later--sooner is always better in such cases--to preserve our free and open Western way of life. Let us not be so thoughtless, so ungrateful, so self-absorbed, that we sin against God by ceasing to pray for them as well.
Spurgeon’s First Sermon in the Tabernacle: an Excerpt
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. VII, 1861, sermon #369
Spoken at age 26, after 7 years as Pastor
“I would propose (and O may the Lord grant us grace to carry out that proposition, from which no Christian can dissent), I would propose that the subject of the ministry of this house, as long as this platform shall stand, and as long as this house shall be frequented by worshippers, shall be the person of Jesus Christ. I am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist, although I claim to be rather a Calvinist according to Calvin, than after the modern debased fashion. I do not hesitate to take the name of Baptist. You have there (pointing to the baptistery) substantial evidence that I am not ashamed of that ordinance of our Lord Jesus Christ; but if I am asked to say what is my creed, I think I must reply — “It is Jesus Christ.” My venerable predecessor, Dr. Gill, has left a body of divinity, admirable and excellent in its way, but the body of divinity to which I would pin and bind myself forever. God helping me, is not his system of divinity or any other human treatise, but Christ Jesus, who is the sum and substance of the gospel; who is in himself all theology the incarnation of every precious truth, the all-glorious personal embodiment of the way, the truth, and the life.” (p. 169)
“My dear friends, let a man stand up and exalt Christ, and we are all agreed. I see before me this afternoon members of all Christian denominations; but if Christ Jesus is not the topic that suits you, why then I think we may question your Christianity. The more Christ is preached, the more will the Church prove, and exhibit, and assert, and maintain her unity; but the less Christ is preached, and the more of Paul, and Apollos, and Cephas, the more of strife and division, and the less of true Christian fellowship.” (p. 176)
[Editor’s note: this sermon, based on Acts 5:42, is the very best by Spurgeon I have ever read. I have read it through at least 4 times, and urge others to consult it at once].
THE SOCIAL SECURITY DEBATE: RANDOM THOUGHTS
When the Social Security system was created in the 1930s, it was designed as old age welfare for the indigent aged in the American populace. Taxes were quite low (something on the order of 1%, a mere fraction of the 15.6% of today), the cut-off point for how much of one’s annual income was subject to this tax was low (now elevated to $90,000), the average life expectancy of recipients--anyone who had reached 65--was only a few months (in contrast to the 6 to 13 years today, depending on gender), and some 35 workers supported each recipient (today: 3). It was not designed, nor able, to provide the whole of a person’s retirement income.
In the 70 years since its creation, politicians have repeatedly used Social Security law as a means of buying the votes of their constituents, especially of the elderly (who are much more conscientious about voting than younger voters, and who have more disposable time to work on campaigns). The pay-out has been vastly expanded and taxes have been continually raised until now more than one dollar in seven of a person’s total income is confiscated by the government to continue the world’s largest Ponzi scheme. Some who retired in the 1950s and 60s, after having paid in at very low rates for only a fraction of their working life, absolutely cleaned up. My paternal grandparents began receiving social security payments in 1963, and lived into the mid-1990s. They received back at least 20 to 30 times what they paid in (with their legendary frugality, they could have gotten by just fine on their own private savings, with nothing from the Social Security system). On the other hand, many who die before retirement get nothing, either themselves, or their heirs (this very thing happened to my mother, who died at 61--she of course never received a cent, and we her heirs likewise got not a single dime of the thousands she had paid in to the system).
Politicians specialize in passing the buck and failing to take action in a timely manner, doing only enough to delay the day of reckoning so that it doesn’t occur on their watch, leaving the blame--and cleanup--to someone else. At least President Bush has the courage to face the issue while some prospect of resolution remains. But, what is to be done?
First, it must be recognized that one significant contributor to the looming crisis in the present system is abortion on demand. Since 1973, some 45 million babies have been legally exterminated in America’s abortuaries. The oldest of these would now be in their 30s, and nearly half would be of working age. At one time or another, virtually all 45 million would work, and we can assume that about 2/3s would work full-time, paying in one dollar in seven into the Social Security fund, supporting those in retirement. Get the picture? Apart from abortion, there would be at least another 30 million full-time workers supporting the system at the very time when the system will experience its heaviest usage--the retirement of the Baby-boomers. But their deaths exacerbate the problem.
Second, the huge illegal work-force in America--numbering in the who-knows-how-many millions (6? 10? 15?), pay no Social Security taxes (and few other kinds, beyond sales tax), yet place a heavy burden on all social welfare systems: hospitals, schools, law enforcement. And why do we have such a flood of illegals? Because it is politically unpopular to secure our borders with fences, walls and armed guards. To do so, would possibly cost a politician the Hispanic vote, which in border states especially is determinative in the outcome of elections. Were a system in place to control guest workers and compel them to pay taxes like us native-born citizens, the Social Security problem (and several others) would be alleviated to a degree.
Third, the system needs to be defined precisely as to its purpose: is it a retirement pension or old age welfare. It cannot be both. If it is old age welfare, it should added as a part of the regular federal budget, and means tested--that is, those who have independent resources sufficient to support themselves at a modest level in retirement should get nothing. Only those with actual need should receive a check. But if it be defined as a retirement pension, it should be wholly privatized. Invariably, private pensions accumulate money faster and in greater amounts that the Social Security system, and better still, whatever a person pays in or accumulates is theirs, and upon death, their heirs. Such privately accumulated wealth would stimulate the economy by investment; there is no investment of Social Security funds (contrary to popular perception)--they are merely transferred in from workers and immediately transferred out to recipients.
Fourth, the payout to current beneficiaries must certainly be too high in some cases. It is a stunning fact that some 300,000--yes, three hundred thousand--busloads of senior citizens are transported annually from the New York City area to Atlantic City, New Jersey to the casinos so they can gamble away their Social Security checks (the heaviest bus traffic each month is on the day after the checks are received). Anyone who has sufficient means so that they can gamble away what the over-taxed American worker is providing to them in retirement benefits is getting too much.
Will the problem be resolved? Politicians being what they are, no, probably not in any meaningful way. I personally am expecting to receive nothing from the system and so am working to have sufficient private means so that it won’t matter.
“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”
ISSUES IN BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGY
Importance of the subject
Chronology--dates and such--is one of the two pillars of historical study (the other is geography). It helps us place events in relative order and gain perspective on the flow of events and especially their relative duration.
The Bible contains an abundance of information regarding chronology: days, months, years, co-ordinated chronologies, lengths of lives, reigns, oppressions, enslavements, and on and on. We can supplement this information, of course, with pertinent chronological data from the various nations and civilizations in antiquity--the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Hittites, Egyptians and others.
Difficulty of the subject
Yet, in spite of the fact that we possess a substantial mass of raw facts of a chronological nature in Scripture and other ancient sources, this does not mean that the subject is not plagued with numerous difficulties and problems, as well as unresolved issues. The first problem is the incompleteness of known records. In the NT era, we have fairly abundant information from Roman, Greek, and Jewish sources (besides the NT), though not enough to settle every issue involving dates with certainty. Reaching back to the OT era, in the 1st millennium B.C., the records from the Greeks, Persians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Egyptians are far from complete. For example, though Nebuchadnezzar is the most famous and well-documented of neo-Babylonian kings, there are big gaps in the documentary remains from the latter part of his reign. For some peoples of importance in relationship to OT Israel--the Phoenicians, Philistines, Arameans, Moabites, Ammonites and Edomites--records are rare or entirely non-existent.
But the situation gets worse in the 2nd millennium. We are reduced to fewer sources--Egyptian, Hittite, Akkadian, and a few others,--but rarely do these come into direct connection to the Biblical record. And here there is often a paucity of materials, even for the most famous rulers. Most have heard of King Hammurabi and his famous law code, yet even for him, chronological information is so incomplete that there are three possible chronologies for Hammurabi’s reign in the first half of 2nd millennium B.C., the so-called high, middle and low dates, which vary in all by about 150 years. In spite of decades of research, the issue is still unresolved.
In the 3rd millennium, the situation is even worse. There is little outside of Egypt that is usable or relevant.
Writing was invented, as best as can be determined, around 3100 B.C. in Mesopotamia by the Sumerians, so anything documentary earlier is impossible, outside of the earliest chapters of Genesis. And with Genesis there are issues of interpretation that complicate the use of Biblical materials.
To make more difficult the use of the materials available to us, we are faced with the use of diverse dating systems among the various nations and periods in the ancient world. Some places (such as Egypt) used a solar calendar; others used a lunar calendar (as Israel did and Moslems still do). Solar and lunar calendars are almost always out of “sync.”
The new year was calculated to begin on different dates in different places. (This should not surprise us; in English history, the new year was calculated as beginning on March 25, not January 1, until 1752, though in Anglo-Saxon times, the new year began December 25). Israel had two systems for calculating the new year--one considered the year as beginning in March (preceding the Passover), the other in September (“Rosh Hashanah”). They also had two sets of names for the months, and periodically added a thirteenth month to the twelve standard ones, to resynchronize their lunar calendar with the sun.
And then there were numerous ways that eras were dated. We are used to dating all years from the supposed year of Christ’s birth (A.D. 1), though it is widely recognized that this calculation is off by at least 4 years and perhaps as many as 6 or 8. The Romans calculated the era as beginning in the traditional year of the founding of Rome (anno urbis conditae, or A.U.C.), which corresponds to our year 753 B.C. The Greeks dated things from the time of Alexander the Great (they used a different system before his conquests). Arabs, in contrast, date things from the year of the migration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina (622 A.D.). Jews date things anno mundi, that is, since the supposed date of the creation of the world in 3761 B.C. (which does not agree with Ussher’s date, being shorter by nearly 250 years). The famous Hebrew Bible manuscript, Codex Leningradensis or “L,” the oldest complete Masoretic Bible manuscript in existence, has a colophon which gives the year of the manuscript’s completion according to four dating schemes, which when co-ordinated, yield three different years A.D.! The subject, then, is exceptionally complex, as the reader will quickly see by perusing the articles “Calendar” in the Macropedia and “New Year festival” in the Micropedia portions of Encyclopedia Britannica.
With all the varying systems of calendars used in various places and at diverse times in the ancient world, co-ordinating and synchronizing dates in various systems and nations takes on nightmarish aspects at times. Even in the NT, where we have the most internal and external resources for chronological calculations, few dates or events can be fixed with absolute certainty. Usually, the range of dates is “within a year or two or three of the year XX A.D.” Only when we have the occurrence of a solar or lunar eclipse to work from (these can of course be calculated to the precise second) can we be dead sure of dates and years. One example: first century Jewish historian Josephus reports that a lunar eclipse occurred less than a month before the death of Herod the Great. We know that such an eclipse happened in March, 4 B.C., and therefore we deduce that Herod died that year and in either March or April. Therefore Jesus was born before that date, and because Herod’s age at death is known, the chronology of his life and reign can be calculated with a fair degree of precision.
Chronological studies have occupied great minds in the era since the Reformation. Gerardus Mercator (1512-1594), the famous map-maker, also published a 450-page folio volume, Chronology . . .from the beginning of the world up to the year 1568, done from eclipses and astronomical observations. A yet greater achievement was that of Joseph Scaliger (1540-1609), reputed to be the second most learned man in all history, after Aristotle. In 1583, he published his study, On the Improvement of Time, which examined, co-ordinated and corrected chronological calculations relating to the classical period, Bible and the Ancient Near East (as far as then-available resources would allow). James Ussher (1581-1656) wrote what has likely had the widest influence, The Annals of the World (translated from Latin into English only in the last decade, and published as a 960 page tome; purchasers should be cautioned that Ussher’s information is 350 years out-of-date, and that he makes some assumptions that are either suspect or invalid in making his calculations). Famous scientist and mathematician Isaac Newton (1643-1727) found time to write The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended, which was published after his death (1728). Many others have continued the work in the centuries since, employing the increasing flood of materials made available by archaeology and linguistics. (For information on each of these above named men, the relevant entries in Encyclopedia Britannica and the pertinent pages of The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin can be consulted with profit).
There are numerous questions and issues relative to chronology with reference to the OT. Naturally, the ultimate date, that of creation, is an important matter. Ussher in the 17th century arrived at 4004 B.C., a date Scofield published in his reference Bible as late as the 1910s. To arrive at the date of creation (and most others in the OT) requires starting with a known or fixed date, then stair-stepping backwards, using dates and numbers recorded in the OT. But to do this raises certain questions. Are the genealogies in Genesis and elsewhere absolute, that is, without any skips or omissions of generations? It is a fact that genealogies in Scripture sometimes demonstrably do have gaps--Luke 3:35 in the genealogy of Jesus lists a name not found in Genesis 10:24 or 11:12-13; Matthew 1:8 skips three Judean kings, and 1:11 skips another. Matthew 1:1 calls Jesus the “son of David, the son of Abraham,” with a skip of 30+ generations between Jesus and David, and of 14 between David and Abraham! These (and several other examples) strongly suggest the possibility that the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 10, 11 are not absolute, which, if true, means it is not possible to arrive at a fixed date for creation based on their data. Add to this the fact that neither in Genesis 5 nor in 10-11 are there statements that total up the years of the lives of the individuals listed, and there are no summary statements such as “all the years from Adam to Noah are XYZ years.” And assuming that the genealogies are absolute creates certain difficulties. The drop off in the years of life from Shem to Abraham would be extremely precipitous, and Shem (and even his father Noah!) would have lived until Abraham’s day, which begs the question--then why isn’t that fact mentioned?
In Genesis (and sometimes elsewhere in the Pentateuch) the numbers and figures given in the Masoretic Hebrew text vary significantly from those given in the Samaritan Pentateuch (a divergent Hebrew tradition) and the Septuagint (the pre-Christian Greek version). While the Masoretic text very likely preserves the original numbers in most if not all instances, the divergence of the others needs to be accounted for, and in a few cases, they may have claim to being original (K. F. Keil in his famous commentary on Genesis, at chapter 5, gives a handy chart of the different numbers for the genealogy there). Likewise, there are questions, based on differences in readings between these witnesses as to whether the 400 years associated with the Egyptian captivity included or excluded the sojourn in Canaan.
Furthermore, if the origin of writing can be accurately dated to around 3100 B.C., then certain facts necessarily follow. First, the Babel incident must pre-date writing, since the earliest written records testify to the existence of at least three languages--Sumerian, a Semitic language, and a third unknown tongue. Babel must therefore be earlier (one well-informed researcher guesstimated a date of about 3800 B.C. for Babel. The Flood of course must be yet earlier by some hundreds of years, perhaps 5000 B.C., not the 24th century B.C. as Ussher concluded (so late a date for the Flood is impossible; even so, some among young earth creationists cling to Ussher’s date even today).
When did the patriarchs live? Perhaps the earliest firm date we have, working back from later firm dates, is the birth of Abraham in 2166 B.C. (his “Ur,” by the way, is certainly not the famous “Ur” excavated by Sir Leonard Woolley in southeast Mesopotamia, but is to be sought in northwest Mesopotamia, as Genesis 24 clearly indicates).
How long was Israel in Egypt? When does that period begin? What is the date of the Exodus? To this latter question, there are two proposed answers, the early date--circa 1446 B.C. (based on seemingly plain statements in Judges 11:26 and 1 Kings 6:1) and the “late-date” view, which appeals to archaeology, and resorts to interpreting the statements of Judges and Kings as other than literal (unfortunately, Egyptian evidence--wholly lacking in this instance--neither corroborates, nor contradicts, either view).
How long did the judges rule? A simple addition of the dates and years given in that book gives an impossibly long period (about 407 years), and requires that at least some of the judges must have served contemporaneously with other judges in diverse parts of the country. But who served with whom?
When did the monarchy begin? How old was Saul when he became king and how long was he king (what must surely have been a defect in the Hebrew manuscript copy at I Samuel 13:1 leaves these in doubt; see NIV, margin)?
One of the biggest puzzles regarding OT dates has been co-ordinating the reigns of the various kings of Judah with their contemporary numbers in Israel. Taken at face value, it seems that the dates given in Kings and Chronicles for the contemporary Judean and Israelite kings never quite add up (try it-- it’s like trying to balance and rebalance your checkbook, always with varying results). However, the key to the puzzle was unlocked by an Adventist scholar Edwin Thiele who determined that, among other things, variant systems were used in the two kingdoms for calculating reigns. One kingdom began the year in the Spring, the other in the Fall, and one counted as the first year of a reign any part of an incomplete year from ascension to the new year, while the other considered only the first complete year of the reign, from new year to new year, as the first year (and right now, I cannot recall which did which). Further, there were multiple cases of co-regency, that is, a son or grandson was crowned as king while his father was still alive, thus insuring an orderly succession, and in at least once case, a father, son, and grandson, had all three been crowned and served contemporaneously. In some cases, the regnal dates include the time of co-regency, in others they do not. Complicated, no?
We know the Babylonian captivity was prophesied by Jeremiah to last 70 years. Does that mean exactly 70 years? When does the period begin, with the first, the middle, or the final captivity, and what year did each of those occur (the consensus dates are 605, 597 and 586, respectively)? And when do the 70 years end?
What of Daniel 9’s “Seventy Weeks”? Are they weeks of years? If so, are they solar or lunar years? Do leap years fit into the equation? Are the seventy weeks continuous or is there a break between the 69th and 70th weeks? Is it all past, or is part yet future? When does the period begin? And when does it end? And what do the various periods of days in Daniel 12 refer to?
These are a sample of chronological issues faced in interpreting the OT.
The NT is not free from chronological questions: what year was Jesus born? There are about 6 or 7 different lines of evidence, all circling around the period 6-4 B.C. What are these lines of evidence, and how much credence do they merit? Can we say what day or time of year Jesus was born? How did December 25 come to be celebrated as the date of the nativity?
What year did Jesus’ public ministry begin? How long did it last? What was the year of the crucifixion? What day of the month and day of the week did He die (I am wholly persuaded it was on Friday, but thought differently in the past).
When the Gospels speak of hours of the day, were they using Jewish or Roman calculation? And just how did the Jews and the Romans calculate time? When did the day begin and end in their reckonings? Do all the NT writers follow the same system of time calculation?
What was the year of the conversion of Saul? How long was he in Tarsus before Barnabbas came for him? What years did each of his missionary journeys begin and end, and how long did they last? How long did he stay in each place he visited? Can any events in his life be pinpointed to the exact year?
In what years did each of Paul’s two arrests and imprisonments (assuming there were two and not one) occur? When did he write his various letters (the same question concerning date can be asked of the other NT books). What year did James son of Zebedee die? James brother of Jesus? Paul? Peter? John?
All these questions are of interest to the student of Bible history.
I do not pretend to expertise in this matter, and so will direct the reader to sources of information that can lead to answers to these questions. I strongly suggest that the reader work through with diligent attention at least two or three of the following. Every one has merit, and every one has flaws, sometimes of perspective, sometimes of information, sometimes of deduction. All will direct the mind to think along lines not usually considered.
Sources of information (chronologically listed, most recent first)
Unger, Merrill F., “Chronology, New Testament,” in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, edited by Merrill F. Unger (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988), pp. 228-232.
Unger, Merrill F., “Chronology, Old Testament,” in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, edited by Merrill F. Unger (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988), pp. 232-236.
Kitchen, Kenneth A. and Mitchell, T. C., “Chronology of the Old Testament,” in The New Bible Dictionary edited by J. D. Douglas (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1982. Second edition), pp. 188-200.
Ogg, G., “Chronology of the New Testament,” in The New Bible Dictionary edited by J. D. Douglas (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1982. Second edition), pp. 201-205.
Oswalt, J. N., “Chronology of the OT,” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979. Fully revised), vol. I, pp. 673-685.
Armstrong, William, and Finegan, Jack, “Chronology of the NT,” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979. Fully revised), vol. I, pp. 686-693.
Thompson, W. R., “Chronology of the New Testament,” in The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, edited by Merrill C. Tenney (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975), vol. I, pp. 816-829.
Payne, J. Barton, “Chronology of the Old Testament,” in The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, edited by Merrill C. Tenney (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975), vol. I, pp. 829-845.
Armstrong, W. P., “Chronology of the New Testament,” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edited by James Orr (Chicago: Howard-Severance Co., 1929), vol. I, pp. 644b-650. Outstanding.
Mack, Edward, “Chronology of the Old Testament,” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edited by James Orr (Chicago: Howard-Severance Co., 1929), vol. I, pp. 634-644b. Valuable.
Zenos, Andrew, “Dates,” in Dictionary of the Apostolic Church, edited by James Hastings (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1915), vol. I, pp. 274-283.
Hitchcock, F. R. Montgomery, “Dates,” in Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, edited by James Hastings (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906), vol. I, pp. 408-417.
Curtis, E. L., “Chronology of the Old Testament,” in Dictionary of the Bible edited by James Hastings (Edinburgh: T. T. Clark, 1898), vol. I, pp. 397-403.
Turner, C. H., “Chronology of the New Testament,” in Dictionary of the Bible edited by James Hastings (Edinburgh: T. T. Clark, 1898), vol. I, pp. 403-425.
Wood, Leon J., A Survey of Israel’s History. Revised by David O’Brien. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986. This volume, and the next, deal throughout with the chronological issues in the OT.
Merrill, Eugene, Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978.
Thiele, Edwin R., The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983.
Thiele, Edwin R., A Chronology of the Hebrew Kings. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977. These two works by Thiele record the results of his masterful unraveling of the complex problems involved in the chronology of the kings of Israel and Judah.
Hoehner, Harold, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977. Contains an abundance of information, though I find myself often dissenting from details of interpretation.
Robertson, A. T., A Harmony of the Gospels. New York: Harper & Row, 1922. Several among the explanatory notes, pp. 253ff, address in concise form questions of chronology. Excellent.
Thomas, Robert L, and Gundry, Stanley N., A Harmony of the Gospels. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978. Supplementary essays on pp. 320-328 address chronological questions.
Lightfoot, J. B., Biblical Essays. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1994. Several chapters in this book by a Pauline master deal with chronological matters.
Besides these, standard scholarly commentaries on passages relevant to questions of chronology plus lives of Christ and of Paul will ordinarily address issues of interpretation and direct the student to additional sources of information.
Livingstone by Tim Jeal. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1973. 427 pp., hardback. [another edition was published in 1994 by Trafalgar Square]
“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” are famous words that I knew even as a boy. They were spoken by newspaper reporter Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904) to Dr. David Livingstone (1813-1873), Scottish missionary explorer, in November (the exact day is in dispute), 1871 in Ujiji, a village on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika in central equatorial Africa. The meeting was the conclusion of a deliberate months-long search by Stanley, at the behest of his employer, the New York Herald newspaper, whose editor ordered him to ‘find Livingstone!’ Livingstone had by this time become a popular though somewhat tarnished folk hero throughout the English-speaking world and had not been seen by a white European for several years. It was even widely believed that he was dead.
David Livingstone was born in a devout though poor Scottish family and spent much of his youth laboring in cotton mills. Evenings, he would study books and languages, driven by an intense craving to learn, a thing almost unprecedented among mill children. He advanced sufficiently to be admitted to the university where he took a degree in medicine.
After conversion at age 19, he sensed a divine call to become a foreign missionary. He went out under the auspices of the London Missionary Society (his association with the LMS was from 1838-1858). Though originally intending to go to China, he was diverted to southern Africa under the influence of the famous pioneer missionary Robert Moffat (1795-1883). Livingstone later married Moffat’s daughter, Mary.
Livingstone and family worked in remote missions stations, and he developed a lifelong yearning to labor beyond the lines of established missionary work. So developed Livingstone the explorer. As he moved ever further north, he discovered rivers, lakes, and tribes unseen by white Europeans, or at least anyone from Britain (there were not a few Portuguese traders and explorers active in this region of southern Africa).
What Livingstone discovered in the interior of Africa was a booming slave trade: African tribes would capture and sell members of enemy tribes to Arab or Portuguese slave traders. Though on the Atlantic side of the continent slavery was outlawed and suppressed by the presence of the British navy, here in the south central and east side of Africa, tens of thousands were still being enslaved annually. Livingstone saw this trade in human bodies as a massive obstacle to the introduction of Christianity, so he developed a plan of exploration: he would find suitable sites for missions and colonization, where legitimate trade and agricultural activities, along with Christian missionaries, could be introduced as a substitute for slaving. Livingstone in his reports glossed over the difficulties and exaggerated the advantages of the locations he deemed suitable. Two missions established at his recommendation proved to be disastrous, with the death of nearly all involved. These failures, and the realization that Livingstone hadn’t told the whole truth, badly tarnished his reputation for a time.
Once he went to Africa, Livingstone returned to England only twice, once in the 1850s and again in the 1860s, each stay lasting a year or so. During those returns, he published books about his discoveries, which garnered him a substantial income and wide fame. And because his urge to explore and discover was not in harmony with the LMS’s aims, he disassociated himself with them during his first visit to England and became a government employee, and an associate of the Royal Geographical Society which funded in part some of his later explorations.
Livingstone was often calloused or indifferent to the physical sufferings and limitations of others. His own physical stamina and endurance in the face of geographical obstacles and wasting tropical diseases was remarkable, and he had little patience with any who couldn’t keep up with him. He several times unnecessarily exposed his family to sickness, disease, and near starvation. It could be said of him, “does not work well with others, especially white Europeans.” His relations with black Africans were almost always good; his associations with Europeans, almost invariably strained, difficult and unpleasant. This explains why in the last half dozen years of his life, he was content to explore entirely in the company of Africans alone, with occasional contacts with Arabs.
There is no glossing over the fact that Livingstone was anything but a model husband and father. He sent his family back to Britain in the 1850s (to leave him unencumbered in his explorations), without making adequate arrangements for them financially and did not see them for over 4 years, during which they lived in abject poverty. With all but one of his children, Livingstone was almost a complete stranger. One daughter was five years old before he saw her for the first time. He came to very much and often regret this neglect.
Livingstone, for all his personal failures and limitations, did draw the attention of evangelical Christians to the world and peoples of central Africa. And while precious little was directly accomplished in his lifetime for the Gospel’s sake there, in the decades that followed, the slave trade was suppressed, mission stations and trading posts were established, and the initial sowing of the Gospel began. That harvest extends to the present hour, as Africans continue to embrace the Gospel in remarkable numbers.
Livingstone died while searching for the source of the Nile (a quest in which he failed). His body was embalmed by his loyal native servants, who carried his remains for five months to the coast. He was later buried in Westminster Abbey in London.
Jeal’s biography of Livingstone is but one of many; a writer in the “Christian History” magazine issue on Livingstone (XVI: 4) described it as being among the best. It is a thorough work, well written, and well-supplied with photos and maps, though it seems that the author took perhaps a bit too much delight in pointing out Livingstone’s failures. Livingstone’s is a life worthy of examination.