Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Timeline: Genesis, Job, and John

Courtesy of Faithlife Logos software
I love studying history sequentially. It just helps make sense of the whole subject when things flow in order.

Studying the Bible is no different, at least for me. I like reading passages within their proper historical context. Let me take a moment to present the overview of the passages you're reading this week.

Genesis (Beginning events happening circa 8,000-4,000 BC and covering almost 2,000 years in the first 10 chapters; recorded by Moses many years later during the years of the Exodus)

The book of beginnings! If you believe that God created the world exactly as He said that He did in Genesis chapter 1 then you believe that there is no such thing as "prehistoric" anything as far as it pertains to the earth. Take a moment to think about that. If history began in Genesis chapter 1 then there is no "pre" history since God tells us exactly about the first moment of earth's existence!

That's exactly what I believe, just in case you're wondering. I believe the world to be no older than 10,000 years.
(****A tip for homeschoolers or anyone who is curious: If you ever want to do a really neat math/history project take sheets of paper or half-sheets of poster board and mark them off in 1/4 inch segments to make a timeline. Allow each 1/4 inch to represent 10 years. That's your scale. Then devote a different color of pencil or marker and make a thin bar line graph for each Biblical patriarch from Adam to Jacob using the book of Genesis as your guide. You'll need some decent math skills to plot on the graph where each man belongs when he is born, when he becomes a father to the son that is given, and when he dies. Don't put the years in BC until later but mark your time in "years of creation." For instance, Adam was created in Year 1, became the father of Seth in Year 130, and died in Year 930 according to Genesis 5:1-5. If you do this you will be amazed by many things! First, you'll see that Adam saw many generations of his "greats," if you know what I mean. Second, you'll see that Methuselah died the year of the Noah's flood. Third, the colorful bar graph will help you visualize just how many generations there were alive at the same time since men lived to be over 900 years old! This is a great assessment of early historical events. Make sure you have LOTS of paper or half-sheets of poster board before you begin. Adam's life alone will cover 23.25 inches which means his life ends 1 1/4 inch from the beginning of the 3rd piece of 8.5 x 11 inch paper taped together longways. Once you've got your generations plotted through Jacob find a Bible commentary to give you an approximation of when he lived and you will be able to go backward through time to assign years in BC notation to approximate the year of creation. We did it ourselves over twenty years ago.)

So starting our reading in Genesis (no matter what your creation theology) probably makes sense to you. But what's the reasoning behind choosing the books of Job and John for this first week?

Job (Events happened approximately 2,000 BC; recorded many years later)

The book itself was written later than the events that occurred in it (as was the case for the creation story contained in Genesis that is credited to the authorship of Moses; the same Moses might have been used of God to record Job's story, too, but no human author took credit for it). Several scholars (including John MacArthur: see The MacArthur Study Bible, c. 2006, notes for Job; and especially Dr. Henry M. Morris The Remarkable Record of Job, c.1988, Chapter 1) think that Job was the contemporary of Abraham. This would be possible because the name of Uz, the probable ancestor of Job for whom his hometown received its name, is listed in Genesis 10 near that of Abraham's ancestors (cf. Genesis 10:21-25).

Morris and MacArthur also point out that the land of Uz was likely near the land of Midian. This could be another reason to suggest the authorship of Moses since he spent time in Midian prior to returning to Egypt and leading the Jewish Exodus.It seems reasonable to place the Book of Job after Genesis 11:9.

The Gospel of John (References creation c. 8,000-4,000 BC but deals with the life of Jesus c. 4 BC - AD 29; recorded by John circa AD 80-90)

John was not the first gospel account written but it is the first that we'll read. Actually, John's gospel was probably the last of the four written yet I enjoy reading the Gospel of John alongside the Book of Genesis. "In the beginning . . ." they both begin. Unlike the synoptic gospels, John references Jesus as the creator of the world! This opening statement is enough to immediately establish Jesus' claim to deity.

Each of the four gospels concentrates on a different aspect of the nature of Christ. John focuses on Jesus as God and there's no beating around the bush! He boldly proclaims this by going back to the creation account to do so. That's why we're reading the Gospel of John first even though other gospel accounts were written earlier.

In conclusion, our Old Testament timeline covers about the first 2,000 years of the world's history (c. 4000-2000 BC) and the New Testament timeline is of the life of Christ from eternity past (which is the only "pre" history I believe existed) through to the life of Christ (birth c. 4 BC - death c. AD 29).


  1. I've tried other "graphing" of the patriarchs, I'm going to have to give yours a try! Great post!


Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Psalms 19:14 (KJV)