Were The Pyramids Built Before the Flood? Correcting The Record

Correcting the Record - Were teh Pyramids built Before the Flood

From the title of the video, “Were the Pyramids Built Before the Flood”[1] by Nathan Hoffman, you might suppose this video was going to focus on the dating issues around which came first, the pyramids or the global flood? If you thought so, you, like me, would be wrong. Next, you might think it was on issues concerning biblical dating, with his suggestion that the earth is older than the 6,000 years that biblical creationists claim it is. If so, you, like me, would be mostly wrong again. While his issue concerns dating, that is not really the focus nor his main issue. As Dr. Watson is a foil to show how smart and clever Sherlock Holmes is, these issues are merely foils to lead into his main issue. The main issue that Hoffman has – which he focuses on in both this pyramid video and his previous video “How Long Were the Israelites in Egypt”[2] – is with the text from which today’s Bibles translate the Old Testament. The Old Testament in today’s Bibles is translated from what is considered the most reliable text by bible scholars, the Masoretic Text (MT). But Hoffman has an issue with it, an issue bordering on an unhealthy antipathy, it appears. Think I exaggerate? Hoffman says of the MT: “All of our Bibles were copied from this corrupted version of the Hebrew.”(29:08)  Corrupted? It is known there are scribal errors in all versions of hand copied ancient scriptures. But scholars, who respect the text, typically don’t call the texts “corrupted” and, in fact, work to identify such errors to get back to what the original text – which we no longer have – said.

Pyramids or Flood First?

I wrote this critique of his video not because of the question in the title. In viewing, it  quickly becomes clear the age of the pyramids is not the main concern for Hoffman because he starts the video by refuting the theory that the pyramids were built before the flood in the first minute of the video when he points out:

“The great pyramids do not have any signs of water damage. If the pyramids were built before the flood, and are still standing after the flood, then that would mean the pyramids would be completely submerged in the flood waters and should have a significant amount of water damage. But they don’t. The great pyramids do not have a significant amount of water damage.

However the pyramids are built on top of sedimentary layers that contain fossils. Creation scientists say these layers were laid down during the flood, which is evidence that the pyramids would have been built after the flood, not before.[3]

Those are two very good evidences that the pyramids were built after the flood, so the title question is answered before the video really gets going. Clearly this is not his main concern, merely a hook to draw you in.

Hoffman’s Issue

His main concern is revealed about four minutes in with his question, “Is the timeline presented by creation scientists really even biblical at all? Well, according to the Greek Septuagint, it’s not.” So there it is. The symptom, the problem causing the symptom, and his solution.  The symptom is the biblical timeline. Hoffman claims the earth is about 6,650 years old instead of the 6,000 years as Biblical creationists claim. The problem, as Hoffman diagnoses it, is the adoption of the Masoretic Text as the standard text underlying all modern Bibles. His solution: the Greek Septuagint as the text for the Old Testament.

The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament (OT). Recall that in the fourth century BC, Alexander the Great had conquered most of the known world. With his conquests came the Hellenization of the conquered people, including the adoption of the Greek language. By the time of Jesus, Greek was widely used and the Greek Septuagint, typically represented by the Roman numerals LXX (for 70), was widely and commonly used. The name and the numerals refer to its origin story, translated, it was said, by 72 Hebrew scholars.[4] Its significance is that it was translated around 250 BC so it is much older than the MT which was translated around 1008 AD. It is commonly accepted that the LXX is translated from a different, older Hebrew text than the one used by the MT. The question is, is that text a better text than the MT?

Accepting the Challenge

When I learned of this video I was hoping I could write it off as another spurious attack on scripture but Hoffman actually makes a number of significant claims and backs them, it would seem, with scripture. And since he attacks two significant foundations of a biblical understanding of Christianity – the age of the earth, and the reliability of the Bible – I felt his charges, though misguided, were significant enough to address.

Approaches to the Problem

Hoffman makes a number of errors, both logical and procedural, which we’ll get to. As I looked at his indictments against the MT, I was hoping it would be a simple matter of getting a third witness to refute him: the Dead Sea scrolls. The Dead Sea scrolls are at least as old as the LXX, possibly older, and provide a third witness, after the LXX and the MT, as to the content of the scriptures. Key scriptures to verify would be Gen 11 to refute his charge that there are an extra 650 years in the age of the patriarchs and thus an extra 650 years need to be added to the history of the earth, making the earth 6,650 years old instead of about 6,000.

Unfortunately, when I attempted to look up those passages in the Dead Scrolls this is what found – namely the needed chapters, particularly chapter 11, is missing. The reason: the Dead Sea scrolls are not a complete copy of the Old Testament. There are portions missing and, unfortunately, the passages needed to directly refute his clearly erroneous charges were among the missing portions. Thus a different approach is needed.

It appeared the next easiest way to refute his claims of irredeemable errors in the MT and an incorrect age of the earth was to produce what I personally have not seen: a detailed, step by step timeline of events from creation to the Exodus using biblical date indicators and tying them to well-known events, whose dates are certain, in order to correlate them to our currently-used BC / AD dating system. This will allow us to simultaneously confirm the biblical timeline while also showing Hoffman’s timeline doesn’t fit known facts or history. Yes, I’m aware of Ussher’s Chronology, he gets the overall timeline correct (origin of the universe) but he’s off on a few of the details leading up to the exodus that I will identify and correct. The result will be a Bible-based chronology that addresses apparent problems and contradictions that Ussher misses and thus gives Bible-believers powerful evidence to both refute claims like those of Hoffman and support, with clear evidence from the Bible, a young, 6,000-year-old earth and the inerrancy of scripture.

Resolving apparent contradictions in the Bible

Before we get to it, here are a few comments on the sources of error, the proper way to resolve them and the keys to solving this problem. As respected Bible scholar and problem resolver Gleason Archer states, many biblical problems have at their root a scribal copy error. To resolve those and other questions regarding scripture, we should remember that, since the scriptures are the inerrant word of God, we must be confident that an explanation exists.[5] To resolve this problem, we will correct the errors in Hoffman’s use of scripture, identify his primary error along with a few others, show the proper understanding of the scripture and then demonstrate that, with that proper understanding, the MT is indeed the more reliable text and the age of the earth remains as creationists have identified: about 6,000 years. To do so we will take three known dates counted from the beginning of creation. These are the dates of the creation of Adam, the global Flood and the Exodus and show how the age of the earth and of the patriarchs fit within those time markers and then convert the date count from the biblical reference (years after creation), to secular dates (years BC, i.e. Before Christ).

Part 1 – The Length of Time in Egypt

The initial insight Hoffman presents in his first video is a valid one. Bibles today, based on the MT, indicate the length of time the children of Israel were in Egypt is 430 years: 

“Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years.
Ex 12.40 NIV

But he demonstrates that, based on the ages of Moses, his father and grandfather, this is impossible. The resolution of the problem: Paul’s statements in Gal 3.16-17 where Paul includes Abraham’s time in Canaan in his reckoning of the 430 years between the promises to Abraham and the Exodus from Egypt. Here’s the statement:

16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.


17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later,

Gal 3.16-17

Well, that statement in Galatians looks straightforward to me. When I read it, my understanding is that Paul is indeed including Abraham’s time in Canaan in the 430 years. Is it just me? As it turns out, no. I checked and numerous commentators[6] across the ages all have the same understanding, including Ussher, whose date for the entire age of the earth I agree with. Hoffman points out that the Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Apostle Paul in Gal 3.16-17 and Flavius Josephus (Antiquities 2.15.2) all support the clear meaning of the text: the 430 years includes time in both Canaan and Egypt. Note that he lists the Septuagint as the first of his witnesses. The LXX  will be key in his next video, the one we’re primarily concerned with. The following is a graphic Hoffman presents of the 430 years from the promises to Abraham to the Exodus, which Josephus, among others, splits down the middle between time in Canaan and time in Egypt:  

Time in Egypt and Canaan

You’ll see in the chronology I present below that I approach it from the other side from Hoffman. Hoffman calculates the time in Canaan. I calculate the time in Egypt after Joseph ending up with 210 instead 215 years as one difference. But Hoffman misses some key events in the first 215 years of his graphic, so, if you do an actual chronology of the time from when Abraham departs Haran to the Exodus, you get 495 years. So Hoffman has missed some key events and the calculation of the 430 years is clearly not from Abraham’s departure from Haran. What is the correct date to begin the 430 years then? We’ll get to that below after some explanations of some of the details in the chronology.

Part 2 – The Age of the Earth and the Patriarchs – Video 2

I don’t know what happened between video one and video two but it seems in the time between that Hoffman picked up some additional hostility toward the Masoretic text, to the point where he can call it a “corrupted copy”(5:16,  9:55, 18:10, 29:05) which omits things that cause “major distortions in the biblical timeline.” (5:48) Pictured below is the heart of his argument. Displayed are the ages of Patriarchs from Genesis 11:10 – 23, the section I was hoping to find in the Dead Sea scrolls but is missing. The point he makes is the Septuagint (LXX), Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) and Josephus all record the ages with an additional 100 years added to their age when they became fathers (a key reference point), where as only the Masoretic text (MT) has two-digit ages for all the patriarchs listed below.

Ages - Arphaxad to Serug

He takes that to be a three-to-one vote in favor of the three-digit ages (a misapplication of 2 Cor 13.1 which is quoting Deut 19:15 on judging evidence of crimes, not text criticism) and goes on to state since these ages are wrong in the MT which is in our modern bibles, the age of the earth supported by biblical creationists is wrong. After adding another 50 years for a supposed error in the age of Nahor, he comes up with a total of 650 years that the MT is missing and must be added, he reckons, to the total age of the earth.

But already he has made some glaring errors. It seems he was a bit more careful in his first video (although the error with Josephus reckoning below is repeated). So, as mentioned above, here are some of his logical errors (he makes a number of them, I won’t list them all) and his one big procedural error.

Hoffman’s Errors

First, he keeps stating that the LXX, SP and Josephus are based on the “original” Hebrew text (9:37, 11:32, 12:13, et. al.) He doesn’t know that. All he knows is that they’re based on an older text that the MT. Logically, such an assumption is an argument from ignorance. The original five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, written by Moses, were written shortly after the Exodus in 1446. So there are a thousand years between the original Hebrew text written by Moses, and the text that the LXX, and SP are based on – plenty of time for another ancient, but not original, text or texts to have been copied.

Second, he assumes that the LXX and Josephus both appeal to a Hebrew text. That is true for the LXX since that was the point of its creation – to make a Greek text based on the Hebrew scriptures. But Josephus wrote his works in Greek. If you’ve seen the works of Josephus, you know they’re extensive, meaning he understood Greek well. That is not surprising given he lived in the first century in and around Rome and Jerusalem, where the official language was Latin but the common language was Greek. I’ve already pointed out that the LXX was the primary translation used in the first century. How do we know Josephus was not using the widely used LXX? Appeals to Josephus may merely be appeals to the LXX. It’s another assumption, an argument from ignorance, to state Josephus is appealing to the “original” Hebrew manuscript.

Third, he doesn’t follow good text criticism practices when stating the LXX reading is better than the MT reading. (In passing, for a good summary of the rules of textual criticism, see Archers book[7], pps 42-43.) Among those rules: the shorter reading is likely the original (scribes tended to add, not take away) and the more difficult reading is more likely to be the original (scribes tended to add explanatory comments to make the reading less difficult). The MT is both shorter (to go from thirty to one hundred thirty you need an extra word (two words in English)). The same is true in Greek and Hebrew, so the MT is shorter. It is also the more difficult – which Hoffman himself points out with the decreasing longevity of generations after Shem. (I’ll discuss this below.) He points out that Shem outlived most of his children and the children in succeeding generations down to the eighth generation. He views that as impossible but there is a scientific reason for that which we’ll get to.

Fourth, the biggest error is a procedural one, specifically his attempted correction based on what he considered incorrect ages. This is where having fixed references are helpful. He makes a huge error by adding the missing ages backwards instead of forward. The erroneous ages occur in people who live after the flood. But his corrections add time backwards before the flood and thus erroneously add time to the total age of the earth. Instead his corrections need to add time to the years before the Exodus. The error becomes obvious once you list out the ages in reference to fixed points.

Regarding fixed points, as noted above the fixed points we’ll use to validate the timeline are the original creation by God – which is the origin or 0 (zero) which cannot be changed in any scheme you adopt.  The next fixed point: the year of the Flood, which is clearly identified as 1656 years after creation. Hoffman does not dispute any dates from the creation to the flood, and there is no reason to think they are incorrect.

Finally, the year of the Exodus, 1446 BC, which will be key to showing how wrong Hoffman’s timeline is. Why is the date of the Exodus important? Not only is it a clear and identifiable fixed reference point dated by two different scriptures (Ex 12.41, 1 King 6.1) but also because scripture says that the children of Israel left Egypt (and Canaan – LXX) 430 years to the day from when Abraham received the promise concerning the blessings and his “seed”. So the Exodus, a historical event which must have happened on a certain fixed day, also providentially happened a fixed amount of time to the day after one of God’s promises. Since there are number of time markers – clues – given to that fixed and precise date, we should be able to calculate to the year when it happened.  (I’ve calculated to the year since the day is not given though some calculate the day based on when the Passover would have been that year.)

I’ve actually made that calculation previously in the article “Do Ancient Chronologies Challenge the Bible, Part 1 – The Date of The Exodus” where the date of the Exodus is identified as 1446 BC using a number of different evidences but I didn’t relate it to the age of the patriarchs or give the precise timeline since the beginning of creation. So, in the chart below, I make those correlations:

Caldwell's Chronology from Creation

Timeline – Creation to Exodus (Click to enlarge)

Timeline Notes: How to read

Let’s look at the first entry, starting with the item under “Event”. The event noted is Adam’s creation. To the left is the date given in the years after creation and, to the left of that, years BC (Before Christ). For the first event we know the years after creation is zero for Adam since he was created on day six (Gen 1.27-31), which is our starting point. To the right of the event is the scripture that identifies the next event and the next column “after these years” identifies the years that intervened between the event on the left and the next event on the right, listed under “New Event”. (Click to see the full chart. “Concurrent event” is just that, described later.) The new event is then carried down to the next line where the “Date after Creation” plus “After these years” on the line above are added to yield the date of the new event which has been carried down and listed as the first event on the line. So the first two lines can be read, First line: “Adam was created at the beginning of the creation, year zero. Gen 5.3 states 130 years after Adam was created Seth was born, which would be 130 years after Creation. Second line: Seth was born 130 years after creation and Gen 5.6 states that 105 years after Seth was born, Enosh was born.”

Cainan
Thus the timeline is, as you can see, straightforward but a few events are worthy of further clarification. First: the inclusion of Cainan after Arphaxad. Here Hoffman undercuts his own case and makes a misleading claim about the text. He undercuts his case by claiming the inclusion of Cainan in the LXX is a mistake (18:55) after having argued that the LXX is the more reliable manuscript. On what grounds does he think it should be removed? He only states the oldest copies of the LXX and the gospel of Luke (3:36) do not contain the reference. I’ll restrict my comments to the reference in Luke since my copy of the LXX does not have a critical apparatus to gauge the manuscript support. But using just the evidence from the gospel of Luke is sufficient to make the point.

Regarding text criticism in general, age is only one of a number of criteria for evaluating a variant reading. (A couple of others were given above.) His statement concerning its inclusion in Luke is quite misleading. He states the “Oldest known copies of Luke do not include extra Cainan.”(19:12) First of all there’s only one old manuscript (or copy) noted with that reading: p75 or papyri 75. So it’s one “copy” not multiple “copies.” And it’s noted that the condition of that one copy at that point in the text is so poor that the reading (Cainan omitted) is in question. The other manuscript that omits it is the relatively late uncial D from the sixth century, some 300 years after p75.

More important are the reliable published editions of the Greek New Testament that include it or, more precisely, a version of it. The reading of the text in the Greek New Testament, agreed on by scholars of the Nestle-Aland (26th Edition, 1979), the United Bible Society (Third Edition 1966) and Westcort and Hort (1881) Greek New Testaments, all include the name and spell it “Kainam” with a final m. There are a number of manuscripts that support what our English bibles indicate “Kainan” with a final n that include the well-respected  Alexandrinus ((A) – fifth century). Perhaps it’s worth noting how small a variation this is: final “m” vs. final “n”. Note that these minute variants don’t obscure the meaning. The overriding point, however, is that the reading chosen by three sets of scholars, which is actually included in their published works of the Greek text, include the name, contrary to what Hoffman states. The name listed – Kainam – has strong manuscript support which includes both of the highly respected and reliable fourth century manuscripts Sinaiticus(א) and Vaticanus(B)[8]. Let me repeat. The judgment of three separate groups of scholars reviewing the Greek manuscripts of Luke all conclude that Cainan belongs in the text of Luke 3.36, with the harder spelling of final “m”.

So it appears Hoffman adopts used-car salesmen tactics here to mislead you into buying his misguided point that it should be omitted. The final piece of supporting evidence: without the inclusion of Cainan, the date of the Exodus is off by 30 years – the exact amount of time his inclusion adds, bringing you to “the very day” of the Exodus. (Ex 12.41)

Thanks Regarding Age of Cainan

Hoffman makes a big deal of the one hundred years being dropped from the ages of Arphaxad to Serug. (See graphic above.) He’s incorrect but, by making such a big deal of the fact those entries are wrong, he’s pointed out an important error in the LXX. Six wrong entries with an additional 100 years added makes a strong case that Cainan, listed after Arphaxad in the LXX, also has an erroneous 100 years added. So, in the timeline listed above, that has been corrected and Cainan’s age when he fathered Shelah is correctly listed as 30 instead of the incorrect 130, which makes everything after that fit perfectly. So thanks to Hoffman for bringing that to our attention. (And chalk up six for the MT for getting it right, seven if you include the 50 years he adds.) And in passing, as demonstrated below, Hoffman’s timeline with the additional 600 (or 650) years added does not work against the fixed point of the Exodus, which is probably the strongest evidence against the inclusion of those extra one hundred years added to the ages.

The 430 Years “To The Day”

Exodus 12.41 states:

“At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt.”

Given the above timeline we can now see that Paul (Gal 3.16-17), and Exodus 12.41 fit together and are both correct. To determine the 430 years,  a couple of things must be kept in mind.

First, there are a number of promises made to Abraham throughout his life. The correct one must be identified. From the timeline above we can see it’s from the final one in Genesis, given at the occasion of Abraham sending his servant to find a wife for Isaac. (Gen 24.7, 25.20).

Second, there are time references that don’t apply when adding the years between the promise and fulfillment in the Exodus. They are listed in the “Concurrent Event” column. For example, Isaac was 40 when he married Rebekah, but those 40 years are not counted in adding up the years to the Exodus because they run concurrent with the years of Isaac’s life which have already counted.

But once again, providentially the events in Isaacs life are needed to calculate the 430 years. Because, (surprise, surprise), the statement of the promise that is the starting point is not Abraham’s departure from Haran, or the restatement of the promise after Abraham was tested. It was the restatement of the promise surrounding the events of Abraham finding a wife for Isaac, and Isaac’s marriage.

The promise to Abraham about the blessings to his “seed” is restated in Gen 24.7 by Abraham, a prophet of God (Gen 20.7) There is no “Thus says the Lord”, but the word of God spoken by a prophet of God carries the same weight as if spoken by God himself. (Luke 10.16) So the restatement of these words of God by a prophet, is a restatement of the promise of God to Abraham (Gal 3.16)

With that in mind we can subtract the date of  the promise stated around the time of Isaac’s marriage from the date of the Exodus and see it’s exactly 430 years, fulfilling both the Ex 12.41 passage, and the Gal 3.16-17 passage.

In Passing

I note an alternate timeline below for the length of Joseph’s rule in Egypt after Jacob’s arrival as 65 years instead of 70. If that figure is used, the 20 years between Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah and the birth of the twins Esau and Jacob plus the next three events listed also add up to 430. (20 + 130 + 65 + 215 = 430)  And, in fact, the first three events starting with the 20 years add up to 215 and the sum of those events equals the last entry of 215, setting up a split in the 430 years similar to what Josephus stated. But that doesn’t seem to match the time of Jacob’s arrival in Egypt, so ultimately in the timeline presented above I went with what scripture indicates is more likely for Jacob’s arrival.

Abram

Interestingly, after giving precise dates for the patriarchs preceding Abram, for Abram himself, we’re told, “After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.” (Gen 11.26) It is odd that we’re given one date for all three brothers. Were they triplets? That seems unlikely. The text makes special note of the birth of twins (Gen 25.24, 38.27), so it seems unlikely it would have neglected to mention triplets. Bible commentator Gleason Archer suggests that Abram’s father Terah must have been 130 when Abram was born[9], assuming Abram left his father’s house when his father died. But that’s not what the text (Gen 12.4) says. Or perhaps he’s just following Ussher who lists the same incorrect age for Terah at Abram’s birth. Either way it seems odd to say a man was seventy when you really mean 130. Much more likely, it seems, is Terah was in his seventies when the three siblings were born. There’s no indication that Abram was the first (he is listed first likely out of prominence rather than birth order). As it turns out, Abraham is likely the youngest, born in the last year of the decade of Terah’s seventies which would make Terah 80. (The last year of a series like a decade or century ends in zero. Consider the movie 2001, a Space Odyssey, from 1968. In the sixties, many wondered, why it was 2001 instead of 2000, but 2001 is the correct first year of the new millennium, the 21st Century. Had they made it 2000, it would still be in the 20th century – the last year of the century and millennium. Likewise 80 is the last year of the decade of Terah’s seventies.) So the phrase about Terah’s sons apparently means “in his seventies” or more precisely, “in the decade of his seventies.”

Joseph

The providentially provided date points in Joseph’s life are also key to understanding the timeline. Let me give you the highlights:

Joseph was 17 when he is given the coat of many colors. (Gen 37.2)
He’s 30 when he enters Pharaoh’s service. (Gen 41.46)
There are seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. (41.29-30; 41:53-54)
Then Joseph dies at the age of 110. (Gen 50.26)

We’re told Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to get food (Gen 42.1-2). This likely didn’t occur during the years of plenty but rather during the years of famine. Joseph would have been 37 at the end of the years of plenty. Allow at least two years for Jacob and his sons to feel the need, have the sons go to Egypt and then have Joseph put them through troubles as they had to done to him. So by now Joseph is at least 39. By the time Jacob decides to go to Egypt and see him (Gen 45:28) and actually arrives he has to move an entire household and travel the distance in his old age, it is likely that another year has passed. So, by the time they arrive, and Joseph settles them in Goshen (Gen 45.10), Joseph is likely 40 and we’re told Jacob or Israel is 130 (Gen 47.9). These are all key points for the timeline.

Joseph is effectively Lord over all Egypt (Gen 45.9), so no doubt his family and the Israelites were treated well while he lived. If  he was 40 when they arrived and he died at 110 that would have been 70 years of good times under Joseph. Then a pharaoh arose who didn’t know Joseph (Ex 1.8). This is when the hard times and slavery began. Between the time of Joseph’s death and the date of the Exodus is 210 years.

A Nod to Josephus

Interestingly, the timeline also works with Joseph being 45 when Jacob and family arrive. Then he would have ruled for 65 years before his death at 110, and there would be 215 years from then until the Exodus – precisely what Josephus indicates (Antiquities 2.15.2) in this alternative chronology  for Joseph. 

But that also means it takes at least 5 years (and likely 7 or 8) for Jacob and family to move from Canaan to Egypt. Even considering Jacob was over 100 years old, and has to move a large agrarian family of 70 across a continent in ancient times – that seems a bit long. That means by the time they arrive in Egypt the 7 years of famine are over. How did they survive the journey? Seems unlikely, and counter climatic in the telling of the story. The whole reason for going to Egypt has disappeared by the time they arrive in this version. But it’s worth noting that using this alternative chronology, the numbers at least add up, and you get the 215 years in Egypt that Josephus speaks of.

Hoffman’s Error – Why His timeline doesn’t work

Hoffman makes a huge mistake which is not immediately apparent in his video when he stretches out the timeline with slick graphics to accommodate his extra 650 years (15:50, 18:20). But it becomes immediately apparent when you look at either the correct timeline above or, even better, look at the dates you arrive at if you plug in Hoffman’s extra 100 years to each of the patriarchs as he suggestions. When Hoffman’s dates are mapped to the patriarchs the extra hundred years belong to, you see his gross error: he has added the 650 years to the wrong period, applying them backward towards the date of creation, instead of forward, after the flood, towards the Exodus where they belong. Look again at either of the timelines. Note that people for whom each of the 100 years is supposedly missing, starting with Arphaxad, all lived after the flood. Thus the supposed missing 650 years must be applied to the period after the flood, not before it.

The date of creation remains fixed. The date of the flood remains fixed. The only date that would change is the date of the Exodus. So, if you buy Hoffman’s timeline, the date the Exodus occurs is 876 BC. In that timeline, after the Exodus, you still need 400 years of reign by the judges, putting the beginning of the reign of the kings (Saul, David Solomon) beginning around 476 BC. But this is clearly impossible. We know the date of the Exodus: 1446. Even apart from the Bible, archeology tells us the century when Solomon reigned: the tenth century BC.[10] We know the date of the fall of the Northern Kingdom (after the reign of numerous kings): 722 BC. We know the date of the fall of the Southern Kingdom: 586-7 BC. But if you follow Hoffman’s timeline, none of these things could have happened at that time, because, by his timeline, at 476 BC, you’re just reaching the end of the reign of the Judges who ruled before the kings! His timeline is clearly impossible when gauged  against the known history of the Israelites.

Hoffman also  spends a fair amount of time saying there wasn’t enough time to build the Tower of Babel according to the MT but, when using the added years in the LXX, there is sufficient time. He acts as if it were a mighty, magnificent structure to rival the pyramids. (16:30) He seems to miss the part of the account where they had only begun building the city and tower (Gen 11.6) and the Lord came down and stopped them from completing it. (Gen 11.8) So, there was no great tower because the Lord stopped it and there was no large population needed to build it. Instead, with multiplied languages, people did what God had intended they do from the beginning, disperse over the face of the earth and fill it. (Gen 1.28, 9.7)

Motivations?

Hoffman suggests that the age of the patriarchs is intentionally changed in the MT and the reason is to prove that Jesus cannot be the High Priest spoken of in the book of Hebrews. There may be  Jews who wanted (and still want) to prove that Jesus is not the High Priest identified in Hebrews but, if so, it’s unlikely to be on the part of the Masoretes. The Masoretes were the keepers of the text and tradition, and were well known for their meticulous care in the copying of scriptures. The Masoretes took pains to make sure there were no errors or changes to any new copy of the scroll. Consider their practice to verify the fidelity of the text:

“When the final codification of each section was complete, the Masoretes not only counted and noted down the total number of verses, words, and letters in the text but further indicated which verse, which word, and which letter marked the centre of the text. In this way any future emendation could be detected.” [11]

Contrary to what Hoffman suggests it appears that the removal of six or seven words from the Hebrew text would have likely been noticed by the keepers, the Masoretes who were fastidious about accuracy and fidelity to the original. It seems clear that, by their practices to make sure the copy was accurate, it would have been impossible to keep hidden such changes and what would be needed to accomplish such changes: a huge conspiracy. But, as CMI’s Rob Carter and Lita Cosner note in their comments on the video[12], there is no evidence that any such conspiracy, which would have to have been huge and well funded to accomplish such massive changes, ever existed.

Part 3 – The Rapidly Decreasing Length of Life of the Patriarchs

Hoffman commits a quite obvious logical fallacy in his attempt to prove that six of the patriarchs are missing one hundred years from their lifespans. He states that “The loss of a child is generally considered the worst possible grief.” (7:40) He goes on to show that Shem would have seen heirs from seven different generations die. (8:25) Then he asks, why would God allow such grief and what’s going on here? Did you spot the logical error? Hoffman commits the fallacy of  an appeal to consequence. That is when you don’t like the results or consequence of something, therefore you disbelieve it’s true. Obviously, just because you don’t like an outcome doesn’t mean it isn’t true. As to the answer to his question, what’s going on here? In two words: genetic entropy. Briefly, genetic entropy states that the human genome (and all genomes) are decaying rapidly. The decay from the original perfect creation would be exponential. This is according to Dr. John Sanford who has done much pioneering work in this area. In a presentation at CMI (available on DVD[13]) he discusses, and make a strong case for, genetic entropy which, in passing, destroys the possibility that neo-Darwinian evolution can be true. In it he points out that the decline of the original perfect human genome after the fall and curse would have been exponential. He provides this chart  to demonstrate it but the chart does not list the names associated with the data points and there are a number of data points, including one prominent one, that I can’t identify, so I decided to create my own chart:

Declinging Patriarch Age at Death

Declining longevity of Patriarchs

With this chart you can see the decline does indeed fit the curve of an exponential function and, just as importantly, you can see the patriarch name and age at death. There’s one  outlier (Eber) but otherwise it’s a very good fit. So there’s no need to make fallacious appeals to consequence. Genetic entropy explains the rapidly declining longevity of the patriarchs. (For more on genetic entropy, see my article “Y Chromosome Adam Confirms the Bible“)

Part 4 – The Proper View of Available Texts

God has seen fit to preserve his word in the Old Testament in a number of separate text families: The Hebrew Masoretic Text, the Greek Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Dead Sea scrolls and quotes from various historical figures such as Flavius Josephus. Watch the end of Hoffman’s video where he features Frank Turek explaining the benefit of having multiple different texts instead of having a single original manuscript. It appears that Hoffman intends Turek’s discussion to drive home the point that there are text variations in the copies that we have. But he seems to have missed the point of the discussion: having multiple copies actually provides better protection of text.

Those familiar with computer storage strategies to protect data are familiar with RAID drives. RAID stands for “Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks.” When data protection is paramount the data is written across all the drives with one drive (or all of them) having a parity bit. The parity bit allows you to figure out what’s missing if a drive fails (data is missing). Consider a four drive array with the data 1 2 3 written on the three different drives and 6 written on the parity drive. Now if any of the drives fail, you can figure out the missing data. For example if drive 3 fails then the remaining data (1, 2) totals 3. Subtract 3 from the parity drive value (6) and you know the missing value is 3. Turek is making a similar point with scriptural manuscripts. By comparing the various manuscript versions, we can see what’s missing or changed. So having multiple different text families is actual a safeguard for the original text, not an insurmountable problem. This seems to be another point Hoffman missed.

Conclusion

The Word of God is inerrant. That is, it is without error in the original manuscripts. It is true we don’t have the original manuscripts. But as illustrated by Turek in the video and the RAID example above, we can figure out what’s in the original manuscripts. God has provided a data protection scheme similar to RAID drives to safeguard his word that protects in a manner similar to how modern technology safeguards data. This means we can fully trust God’s word and today’s translations. In spite of such protection, Hoffman apparently does not believe that God has preserved his word. If Hoffman had started with a basic trust of the Bible and a better understanding of text criticism and preservation, instead of approaching one of the key manuscript as “corrupt”, he may have worked harder to find resolutions to his questions and not fallen into so many obvious and resolvable errors.


Duane Caldwell | March 29, 2023 | Printer friendly Version

Related Articles:
Do Ancient Chronologies Challenge the Bible? Part 1: The Date of the Exodus
Y Chromosome Adam Confirms the Bible


Notes

1. Nathan Hoffman, “Were the Pyramids Built Before the Flood (Masoretic Text vs. Original Hebrew”, YouTube, May 28, 2017,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI1yRTC6kGE

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2. Nathan Hoffman, How Long Were the Israelites in Egypt”, YouTube, Sept 16, 2015,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF0F8YjT1og

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3.  Hoffman, “Were the Pyramids Built Before the Flood”, 00:48
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4.  Paul Lawrence, “A Brief History of the Septuagint”, Bible Archaeology, 31 March 2016, https://biblearchaeology.org/research/new-testament-era/4022-a-brief-history-of-the-septuagint
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5. Gleason L. Archer, “Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties“, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982,  “Dealing with Bible Difficulties.” 15:
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6. Confirmations: Agreement that the 430 years includes time in both Canaan and Egypt:

The Apostle Paul, The Holy Bible,  Gal 3.16-17,
Flavius Josephus, Antiquities Of the Jews 2.15.2
James Ussher’s Chronology,
Gleason Archer,
Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties“, p 403
Moody Bible Commentary (Michael Rydelnik, Michael Vanlaningham Gen. Editors, Chicago; Moody Publishers, 2014, Kindle edition, loc 73443),
James Montgomery Boice, Galations in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol 10, Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976, p.453,
John Sailhammer, NIV Compact Bible Commentary, Zondervan Publishing House, 1994, p.545
Walter C Kaiser Jr “Exodus”  in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol 2, p.380
Gary Burg and Andrew Hill, Editors The Baker Illustrated Commentary, Grand Rapids MI, Baker Books, Kindle Ed. loc 38148

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7. Gleason Archer Bible Difficulties p 42-43
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8. Regarding manuscripts Sinaiticus(א) and Vaticanus(B), One text book states,
“The agreement of B
א remains one of the most highly regarded witnesses to the New Testament text.”
J. Harold Greenlee, Introduction to New Testament Text Criticism, Grand Rapids Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,1964, p.86

In a section labeled “The Greek Witnesses” The Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament (26th Ed.) states:
“Among the uncials B [Vaticanus] has a position of undisputed precedence in the Gospels…”
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9. Gleason Archer, “The Chronology of the Old Testament” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol 1, p.365
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10. Duane Caldwell, “Do Ancient Chronologies Challenge the Bible? Part 1: The Date of the Exodus”, Rationalfaith.com, 1/14/2018, https://rationalfaith.com/2018/01/do-ancient-chronologies-challenge-bible-part-1-date-exodus/
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11 Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Masoretic text.” Encyclopedia Britannica, March 22, 2023. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Masoretic-text.
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12. Creation Ministries International, “Were the Pyramids Built Before the Flood? Deciphering Biblical Chronology” YouTube, Nov 12, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhswjNhwpz0
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13. John Sanford, The Mystery of Our Declining Genes, CMI DVD, 2008
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Frank Hubeny
8 months ago

Although I disagree with Hoffman’s dates I don’t think your dates are correct either because of evidence for “a deliberate and systematic post–AD 70 corruption” of the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies in the Hebrew manuscripts. The quote is from Henry B. Smith Jr’s article “The Case for the Septuagint’s Chronology in Genesis 5 and 11” For the Exodus, Douglas Petrovich provides evidence for the 1446 BC date in his book “Origins of the Hebrews”. which is available at Associates for Biblical Research. These two sources would give me the following dates as benchmarks: 5554 BC Creation 3298 BC Flood… Read more »