The Problem with Bible Genealogies

“When shall we date Adam, then? The chronology which was added in 1701 to the Authorized Version of the Bible (1611) was calculated by James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, from the biblical genealogies. By working backwards he reckoned that Adam was created in the year 4004 BC. But the genealogies never claim to be complete. For example, it is written in one of the genealogies of Jesus that Joram “begat” Uzziah, whereas we know from the Second Book of Kings that he was actually not his father but his great-great-grandfather. Three complete generations have been left out. And recent Near-Eastern studies have confirmed that such omissions were a regular practice in genealogies. Certainly the purpose of the biblical tables was more to establish the line of descent (for example, that Jesus was descended from David) than to provide a comprehensive family tree. If, then, they do not profess to be complete we have no ground for complaining about their omissions. Nor can we use them to calculate a detailed chronology.” -John Stott, Understanding the Bible

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